If your kids are curious and active, love myths and stories, like the sea and mountains and are always asking questions about the world (its past, present and future), then Athens is the perfect choice for a family trip. They’ll be inspired as tales of ancient civilisations and mythology are brought to life, whether you explore on your own or choose a family-friendly tour. You’ll never tire of things to do in Athens with kids… ideal for a city break or longer family vacations, especially as so much of the fun happens outdoors.
Start with the Acropolis… with a twist
There can only be one place to begin your holiday in Athens with kids. The Acropolis isn’t just one of the greatest structures of antiquity, it’s also the scene of some of the most epic tales of Greek mythology. A kid-oriented tour guide will reveal the full mystery of the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum right next door. (There are even ‘Acropolis Museum with a twist’ tours that allow the kids to meet the Karyatides and enjoy a role-playing game with Athena and Poseidon!) Or how about combining your Acropolis visit with a mythology & pottery tour, or maybe climbing Pnyx Hill where the kids can paint the Parthenon. In any case, don’t forget your hat, sunscreen and bottle of water! Your family vacations in Greece have just begun.
Go on a treasure hunt around the Acropolis
Walking along the cobbled streets of Plaka, you explore one of the most ancient and continuously inhabited neighbourhoods of the western world. And Anafiotika, the tiny Cycladic district just above the Acropolis, is special enough… but it becomes an even more memorable family experience on a tour with a treasure hunt!
In winter, you’ll smell the roasted chestnuts and in spring and summer, the aromas of jasmine from the tiny yards will overwhelm your senses. See if you can trace the remnants of Athens’ past: the Roman Agora, the Old University, the Tower & the Bath House of the Winds, the Benizelos Mansion, the Monument of Lysicrates and all the lovely Byzantine churches. Don’t miss the two children’s museums, the Museum of Greek Children’s Art and the School life & Education Museum.
Get philosophical in the Ancient Agora
Feel the heartbeat of Ancient Athens in the most renowned trade centre of the ancient world and discover where philosophy was born. Exploring the Ancient Agora, you walk (quite literally) in the footsteps of Socrates. And in Kerameikos, you will uncover where antiquity’s famous Attic Vases were produced and witness the most important burial ground of the city.
Depending on your kids’ age and your fondness for Greek philosophy, try something a little different to enrich your knowledge of Classical Athens. Take a Greek philosophy tour to the Plato Academy and the Lyceum of Aristotle. It’s travel with kids, but not as you’ve experienced it before.
Be an Olympic athlete for the day
Your family trip to Athens has only just begun! It’s time to discover the green side of the city walking by the banks of the ancient Ilissos River, still flowing underground. Start from Zappeion Hall and the Panathenaic Stadium, where the Modern Olympics were revived in 1896. The horseshoe-shaped stadium was built on the site of an ancient racecourse and is the only stadium in the world made exclusively of marble (it is also known as Kallimarmarο – or beautiful marble).
There are family-friendly tours that allow you to become an Olympic athlete for the day, where you will learn more about the venue and the Olympic flame that is passed to the Games’ host nation at a Handover Ceremony here as it begins the world’s longest relay-run.
Go green in the parks of Athens
Athens with kids isn’t just about archaeological sites and history. One of the most enjoyable family excursions will be taking a walk in the National Garden, an oasis of green in the heart of Athens with more than 500 species mature trees and plants. The 160-acre site is the vision of the nature-loving Queen Amalia, the first queen of Greece, in the 19th century. The sounds of birds – mainly peacocks, as you’ll soon realise – is refreshing all year round! Another green gem is the Diomides Botanical Garden, in the Haidari district in northwestern Athens, where you can enjoy a picnic in nature and meet Greek gods, Muses and mythological heroes as they appear in the names of herbs and flowers on a guided Mythology and Botany Tour.
As the sun is about to set, head back into Athens and take the funicular up to the city’s heights point, Lycabettus Hill.
Seek out the museums kids love
The centre of Athens hides a great collection of fascinating and child-friendly museums. On Vassilissis Sophias Avenue, an area full of creeks in the first years of the modern Greek state, you’ll find a collection of museums in the former houses of distinguished citizens… the Byzantine Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art and the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture amongst them. And a few steps away, in Kolonaki, is the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, ideal for technology buffs! The National Archaeological Museum is an absolute must if you want to get the full picture of Greek history. Away from the centre, you’ll find the Benaki Toy Museum at Flisvos Marina and, in the northern suburbs of Kifissia, kids of all ages will love the Natural History Museum. Not being allowed to touch the exhibits can be frustrating for younger kids. So how about a family-friendly tour guide to fill the gaps with storytelling and fun facts?
Discover the city’s newest cultural gem
A new cultural gem of Athens that the whole family will love discovering is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC), in Paleo Faliro. The grounds are perfect for a family walk (including an interactive Musical Garden) and you can admire the National Library and Opera House, that are part of the complex and modern archaeological masterpieces. You can enrich your experience on an organised tour with a SNFCC curator, who can show you parts of buildings that would otherwise be inaccessible. You’ll learn about the sustainability-focused concept and inspiration of world-famous architect Renzo Piano.
Star-gaze in Athens’ digital Planetarium
The kids will also love Athens’ digital Planetarium, with its 25m-diameter dome screen that gives an area the size of two basketball courts and angled floor perfect for star-gazing. With state-of-the-art 3D animation graphics that stimulate everyone’s senses (from younger kids to grown-ups), it’s a perfect way to learn about the night sky and all those constellations and planets. You’ll love the science and technology perceived from an artistic point of view.
Go on a hike on the mountains of Athens
Did you have Athens down as an ecotourism destination? Well, the truth is that Athens is surrounded by three impressive mountains and the sea, for which we have to thank the city’s great climate and blue skies. You can dedicate a day to exploring any of the three mountains (Ymittos, Parnitha and Pendeli). On Mt Ymittos, you can visit the Kessariani Monastery and hike in the surrounding forest, enjoying panoramic views of the city. An experienced guide will introduce you to the plants that grow here (more than 600 species) and you’ll get to know the stories behind them, including the myths that have been told about certain plants to explain their names, characteristics or properties.
Enjoy ‘wine-tasting’ and a farm-to-table lunch
A favourite weekend activity of Athenians is to visit one of the urban farms around the city. In Marathon, the Kokotos Estate is a unique winery, offering wine tasting for all the family (don’t worry, it’s grape-tasting for the kids!). In Rafina, you and your kids can visit the Magic Garden and learn more about the Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses. In Koropi, you can go for a walk with (not on) a Greek donkey in Gaidourohora. In the Center of the Earth, you can participate in farming and cooking. In Avlona you can meet traditional professions in ‘Once upon a time’. And in the Aristi Estate, Perivoli and Farma Moo, you can dig (and plant) vegetables and enjoy a farm-to-table lunch while the kids play in the playground and feed the animals.
10 Best things to do in Athens with kids
With so many cultural and natural highlights to enjoy, family vacations or a city break with kids in Athens couldn’t be easier or more fun. Family-friendly walks, fascinating museums, Olympian-sized adventures and a never-ending tale of gods, myths and living history await you and the kids as you create memories that last a lifetime. You’ll never have believed it’s so easy to travel with kids.