Athens is an awe-inspiring city, rich with history and culture. Not just for adults, Athens for families can be an incredible experience with unforgettable memories. From the amazing Acropolis to adorable neighborhoods like Plaka, I’ve put together a travel guide for families looking for places to visit and attractions to see during your time in this historical city.
Athens is a big city so there are many options when it comes to lodging. If you’re an adventurous family wanting the true ‘Athens experience’, I recommend going with an Airbnb. We did and loved the entire adventure. If you’re more of a hotel family, there are many hotel choices as well. The Hotel Grande Bretagne and King George hotels in Syntagma square are both 5-star, luxury options.
Staying in the heart of Athens definitely adds to the overall experience of the city. This was our first time visiting the city so we decided to venture out of our comfort zone (hotels) and stay at an Airbnb. And we were not disappointed!
After all the Airbnb recommendations I’ve received from other travel families, we found an incredible apartment in the Koukaki neighborhood of Athens. The location was perfect – a quiet area in a wonderful neighborhood, with a short walking distance (15-20 minutes) to the center of the city. We logged in many miles of walking during our week stay, but it was so much easier than trying to grab a bus or the metro. If you’re looking for an authentic Athens experience, I would highly recommend living like the locals and finding and Airbnb place in the city.
There are so many attractions to see in Athens for families, even with little children. We traveled all over the city with our 2-year old daughter and a stroller. Most places were fine with the stroller, but there were lots of cobblestone and narrow streets that made navigating a bit more difficult. And with all the walking we did around the city, I am so glad we brought the stroller.
Walking Tip: Be prepared for a lot of walking and wear comfortable shoes with traction. One day I wore sandles and slipped and fell on one of the roads – scraped up my knees and ankles. The local shop owners there were so helpful and told me that many people slip and fall due to the wear and tear on the roads.
The Acropolis is the cream of the crop when it comes to attractions in Athens for families and non families. It’s like traveling back in time to see where Democracy all began. You’ll not only see the Parthenon, but also the Theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes with your entrance ticket.
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You can buy tickets at the entrance of the Acropolis at the time of entrance, or you can skip the lines and buy them online. Depending on the time of day you will be there, the lines can get ridiculously long. Entrance tickets cost 20 euros a person and kids under 3 are free.
Tickets Tip: I highly recommend buying your tickets online! This will save you time and potential tantrums with kids! We bought our tickets online and received a scanable QR code in an email. All you have to do is show your QR code at the entrance and after they scan it, you’re in. No long lines. No whiny kids! Win-Win.
If you’re visiting during peak tourist time (April – October), you’ll want to try to beat the crowds. Especially with kids. Arriving in the morning at 8:00 is honestly the best time to not only avoid tons of people, but also avoid the crazy heat! We made the mistake of going in the early afternoon – worst time ever – and it was HOT and WINDY! Not to mention tons of people!
Sunset can also be a nice option, especially for those glorious sunset pics. Just be prepared for lots of IG families who had the same idea. 🙂 It’s open until 19:30 in the summer, but if you go during winter, check for changes in the time table.
The actual climb to the top of the site looks a bit intimidating from the bottom, but it’s really not that bad. And I say that after climbing with a 2 year old! Strollers are not allowed inside the site, so if your little one isn’t up to the challenge, be prepared to carry him/her up and down many steps. Don’t forget to bring lots of water and sunscreen, especially on hot days. But food is not allowed – and they are very quick to catch you if you try – so make sure your kids have a little snack right before they enter.
Climbing Tip: Wear hiking shoes with good traction. There are lots of areas with loose stones and slipery rocks.
Strollers are not allowed inside the site, but this doesn’t mean you have to leave it at home. The Acropolis site offers a stroller storage room to keep your stroller in for FREE while you’re visiting the site. You’ll want to use the entrance for disabled visitors (not the entrance near the Acropolis Museum). A great feature for making Athens for families a bit more accessible.
Stroller Tip: Leave your stroller in the stroller storage room near the entrance instead of leaving it at home. This way you can still use it up until you enter the site and again when you exit it.
The oldest neighborhood in AThens is a MUST-SEE during your time in Athens! Located adjacent to the Acropolis, Plaka’s picturesque streets and shops are perfect for a leisurely stroll at any time of day. The streets are car-free (most always), which gives kids the opportunity to walk freely around the area. The mixture of shops, restaurants, cafes and of course, ice cream shops makes for a wonderful atmosphere. We spent almost every day walking through Plaka at some point, just because we could!
Plaka Tip: If you want to buy any Greek take-home items, Plaka is the place to buy it. The shops have everything you can imagine.
What’s a trip to a new city without a visit to the national park? Families traveling with little ones know the power that parks have on kids. The National Gardens in Athens is a great way to escape the heat and crowds of the city. And what’s great is that it’s right in the middle of the city! Kinda like the Central Park of Athens.
It’s located right next to the Parliament building and the Panathenaiko Stadium and close to Plaka. The impressive gardens, plants, trees and lots of grassy areas makes it a fan favorite for kids of all ages. My daughter loved it! The freedom to run around and see wildlife was heaven for her!
National Gardens Tip: Pack up the stroller and have a family picnic for lunch in the gardens! It’s the perfect place for a family respite. Plus, it’s super stroller friendly!
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Syntagma Square is the central plaza in Athens. Located directly between the National Gardens, Plaka, the Shopping District and Parliament, Syntagma Square is the hub of city life. You can find city musicians serenading visitors, cafe’s (including Starbucks!!), a central fountain and lots of space for people watching.
At night the square livens up as people come to experience the night-life of Athens. We had a lovely nightly stroll at the square, including a very long stay at the fountain and a serenade of ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’. Yes, my daughter loves fountains!!
Syntagma Square Tip: Watch your belongings! There have been lots of pickpocketing and thefts here, so make sure to guard your items closely as you walk around the square.
Every hour in front of the Parliament at Syntagma Square, the guards hold the traditional ceremony of the Changing of the Guards. The guards are actually guarding the Monument of the Unknown Soldier and are a part of the Presedential Guards who wear traditional uniforms called Evzones. Much like the guards at Buckingham Palace, they stand completely still until the time of the ceremony. It’s a special ceremony that kids of all ages will enjoy.
A trip to Athens with a family wouldn’t be complete without a ride on the Happy Train. I mean, it has happy right in its name! For 5 euros/adult and 3 for kids (our Mia rode for free since she’s only 2), it’s a great way to see the city without exhausting yourself. The short little tour covers a great amount of area and comes with a guided explanation of sites.
What’s great about the Happy Train is that it’s essentially a hop on/off experience. You can get off anywhere and get back on at any of its stops. The cost also covers the entire day, so if you’re tired and need to take a quick ride back to your area, you can just hop on the Happy Train. They are super friendly and even allow for stops that aren’t on the tour if you request them in advance. We loved the Happy Train!
Happy Train Tip: Grab your tickets early in the morning so you can utilize the train all day long.
If you are looking for a chance to get out of the city and explore the area, there are many choices for a day trip outside of Athens. Depending on whether you have rented a car or are using public transportation, your options may vary. We had rented a car for our Athens trip – which we do for most all of our trips – so we took a road trip and drove out of the city.
The Temple of Poseidon is a great day trip from Athens! It’s about an hour and 15 minutes drive if you don’t stop along the way. The drive down along the cost is gorgeous with sea views that are pretty easy on the eyes. The Temple of Poseidon is located at the southern-most point of Greece in Cape Sounion. It sits atop the sea with insane views from all around.
The cost of admission to the Temple of Poseidon is 8 euros, and again, Mia was free. What’s great about the Temple, compared to the Acropolis, is the short ascent and the fact that it is stroller friendly. There are ramps to the top, making it super kid friendly. The crowds are much less than the Acropolis as well, so it’s not as stressful – providing lots of opportunities for great pictures!
Poseidon Tip: The best time to see the Temple is right before sunset. The weather is nice and the sunset can add for some incredible pictures.
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The beaches of Greece are incomparable. If you’re looking for a fun beach day, you won’t have to travel to far away from the city. All along the coast lie family-friendly beaches that can be easily reached by car, bus, taxi or train. On our drive down to Cape Sounion, we noticed some really special beach coves that anyone could just pull over and explore. If you’re an adventurous family, I suggest to find a deserted beach cove and go for it!
Beaches Tip: Bring along water footwear if you have it. Many of the coves are rocky and water shoes will help tremendously. Especially with little ones.
The Greek islands are a MUST, if you are looking to experience the island life for a day. There are so many day trips that you can take from the Pireas port. The ferries come and go, non-stop, to a number of islands. For day trips, the most popular destination are Hydra, Aegina and Poros. These islands are less than 2 hours away, making it a perfect day trip on the water. Tickets can be bought at the port or online in advance.
Island Day Trip Tip: Buy your tickets online in advance. This will save you time and effort on the actual travel day.
Our last activity in Athens was a trip to the Attica Zoo, located right by the airport. We always seem to have an extremely big chunk of time between our check-outs and our airplane departures when we travel. On this particular trip, we had to check out at 12:00 and our flight wasn’t until 10:30pm. We needed an activity for our last day in Athens, so we headed to the zoo.
I actually have some personal issues with zoos and the treatment of animals, but the Attica Zoo had many educational programs to accompany the park. Regardless of your views on zoos, the Attica Zoo is a good choice for an activity with kids. Lots of shady areas to escape the heat, many hands-on experiences for the kids and even a dolphin educational show. Overall, we had a great time at the Zoo.
Zoo Tip: Ask for the educational schedule when you arrive. There are many cool activities for kids that you won’t want to miss.
Overall, we had a good time in Athens. As with any traveling adventures, there will always be ups and downs. Mia was sick for a couple of days on this trip, making us remap out our entire schedule. But flexibility is the name of the game, and we ended up doing all the major things we wanted to do during our stay. And in the end, enjoy yourself and take in the moments with your family!