by Anastasia Valti-Spanopoulou
It’s no secret, nor has it ever been: Greece is a wildly educational place to be! So apart from its amazing crystal waters and delicious Greek food, you parents have an extra incentive to visit Greece with your little ones. Unfortunately, we all know little ones need little to lose interest in whatever’s happening around them, and what bad news it is when that happens. To be fair, there’s an overwhelming number of Greek tourist attractions and, without a little twist to them, it’s easy for kids to feel like they’re being dragged from one ancient rock to the next all day. But, thankfully for you, we’re somewhat of little twist experts (not to brag…) and we’re here to help! So buckle up: we’re taking you on a ride through the most fun things to do in Athens to nurture that summer family connection.
#1 Deep Blue Something: Explore Athens’ Beaches and Lakes
We don’t have to tell you that going to the beach is one of the most unique things to do in Greece. Sure, many of the best beaches in Greece are on the islands, which is why in one of our previous posts we’ve already suggested that you take a short island hopping holiday and visit some of the best islands in Greece. If you don’t have that luxury, however, you’re still presented with a number of awesome nearby beaches in Athens, which we’ve also taken the time to pick out for you (aren’t we just the best?). Most of these are fully organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, a bar etc. so you don’t have to worry about carrying your entire home’s contents with you to make comfy on the beach. Nevertheless, not all ‘blue’ landmarks in Greece are beaches. For example, have you visited the Vouliagmeni Lake yet? Replenished partly by oceanic water and partly by underground thermal springs, this natural spa is one of the most popular Greek tourist attractions, and certainly one of the best things to do in Athens. The kids will be thrilled to snorkel and discover the lake’s underwater cave, while you can enjoy your aqua aerobics surrounded by the steep rocks and lush vegetation of the area. You can also request for a guided hike on the adjacent Faskomilia Hill, or just laze about till nighttime, when it’s time to enjoy a meal (and a cocktail, for us indulgent adults) in the restaurant surrounded by the now lit-up rocks.
Tip: Certain beachside places, like Balux Seaside House Project in Glyfada, have a playground for kids. Yabanaki in Varkiza is also a great choice for families, as they offer a bouncy playground set up on the beach, family restaurants, water bike rental, water sports, as well as windsurf lessons for kids by super friendly, super-good-with-kids experts, one of our favourite local activities for families.
#2 Nature Calling: Athens' Parks, Hiking & More
Even though the blue of our Greek beaches is undeniably fantastic, a more thorough exploration of the city will convince you that some of the best places to visit in Athens are in fact surrounded by green. Apart from the National Garden, which is definitely an Athens must see, you can also visit the old king’s garden, in Tatoi, where there’s plenty of space for kids to run around and explore the natural landscape. If you’re looking for the best tours in Athens for families, don’t miss out on our suggested Enchanted Forest Family Tour – an easy hike around Mount Hymettus, under the guidance of pros who use games and activities to teach children the relevant myths of the area, the traits and name origins of its flora, as well as the art and history of the local Kaisariani Monastery. For those of you staying in Athens for a while longer, you should also definitely include 'To Perivoli sti Vari' on your day trips list close to the Athens Riviera. This is a garden making an experience out of eco tourism in Greece, with plenty of fun activities for kids (and adults), such as sustainable gardening, cooking with the garden’s organic produce, recycling games and, of course, playing around nature to understand and connect with it! Similar to Perivoli, the Young Vines is an outdoor playgroup for pre-school children held at Ktima Kokotou in Stamata. There, children play games in the vineyard, so the family learn through the day to day activities of the vineyard.
Tip: The best part about Perivoli is that you get to taste the delicious ingredients grown on the premises if you choose to eat at their small restaurant, which constantly changes to accommodate seasonal recipes – where else do you get to pick yourself the fresh eggs you want in your breakfast?
fun things to do with family and friends in (and out) of Athens
#3 Food for Walk: Family Restaurants in Athens
Before we continue on the long list of things to see in Athens, we need to consider the inevitability of the team’s empty stomachs because, let’s face it, sightseeing demands vast amounts of energy! Generally speaking, kids love Greek cuisine because everything’s yummy, but also meze is a big-time player on the table, which means you can take a little bite (or two) of anything and everything. The city center is packed with good tavernas (although try to avoid the more tourisy-looking ones, if you want to get the real deal) and some of the best restaurants in Athens, so you have plenty of choices there, even for healthy-eaters! If you’re looking for something different though, there’s also kids-friendly restaurants like Avocado in Syntagma which serves everything vegeterian and nothing boring, It in Kolonaki or Falafellas close to Monastiraki for falafel wraps on the go. Souvlaki is of course always a good idea, so popping by Thanassis or Kostas for a classic 'Greek wrap' is an easy solution, or else any other of the souvlaki places we suggest in our ultimate souvlaki guide. And speaking of guiding, you also have the option of several food tours in Athens, like The Delicious Athens Food Tour from our hand-picked selection, for exploring food markets, herb stores and other tasty stops that represent Greek local cuisine. For those of you heading South for a swim, we absolutely must encourage you to go for seafood and fresh fish– a good Athens restaurant for seafood is Sardelaki in Glyfada, where we like to order a pile of shrimps and get our hands satisfyingly dirty.
Tip: There's always room for dessert, in which case we feel obliged to underline the fact that the ultimate kids-friendly dessert in Greece is without a doubt loukoumades (Greek doughnuts). You can find some of the best in the real-deal, traditional ‘Krinos’, or a modernised version with greater variety of toppings at the self explanatory ‘Lukumades’ – both very conveniently found on Aiolou street in the city centre! If you're down south, head to the family-favourite Waffle House in Vouliagmeni for, what else, waffles! (Speaking of ice-cream, we've done our 'homework' for the best ice cream in Athens which we happily share here. High five!)
unique things to do in Athens with Kids from our selection
#4 Children First: Museums That Are Interesting for Kids (Too)
As we said before, this much history can be overwhelming for younger crowds, but that doesn’t mean children can’t have a fun time while learning. For example, the award- winning Acropolis Museum frequently organizes workshops for kids, to help them understand the exhibits and general facts about ancient Greece in a more creative way. Equally active are other five-star museums of Athens, such as the Benaki Museum in Piraeus Street, the Cycladic Art Museum, the Goulandris Natural History Museum in Kifissia (for some dinosaur spotting!) and the Foundation of the Hellenic World; the latter hosts an amazing 'Tholos' dome-shaped Virtual Reality 'theatre' worth checking out. Also, there are several different tours available for most historic sights in Greece, many of which aim to explain a few facts about ancient Greece to children in particular. The best tours and guided activities for families in Athens, in our humble yet honest opinion, involve experiencing the Ancient Agora as a Young Athenian through games and activities, learning myths about Athena - the patron goddess of ancient Athens - through stories told on the grass of the National Garden , as well as discovering the myths and wonders of life in ancient Athens through an interactive family tour around the centre. All great options if you’re looking for fun but educational things to do with kids during your Athens holidays. Of course family holidays in Greece wouldn’t be the same without a visit to one of the two museums in Athens dedicated entirely to children (yes, you heard that right!). To start with, there’s the Hellenic Children’s Museum, which presents all of it’s exhibits in interactive ways, so that children can engage in active learning facts about Greece, human history, time, culture and more. Then there’s the Children’s Art Museum, where the very exhibits are made by children from Greece and abroad. Your little ones have the chance to feel like artists for a while themselves, as there are family art workshops in which the whole family can work together on a creative project.
Tip: Ancient Greece for kids is of course a must, but if you're also looking for more quirky things to do in Athens, the Eugenides Foundation Planetarium is always a hit. Here you get to lie on the floor while watching the arched ceiling turn into a planet-shaped screen, showing easy yet captivating clips about our Earth and the wider universe. It's a truly unique experience.
#5 Athens’ Malls: A Little Something for Everyone
If you have a soft spot for shopping, then you’ve probably already read our guide with tips on shopping in Athens. If apart from a soft spot for shopping you also have kids, let us remind you that some of the most popular shopping malls in Athens have several attractions for your children. We definitely recommend Golden Hall Athens in the Northern suburb of Marousi, not only because it won an award for best mall in Europe thanks to its amazing boutiques, but also because it has a wonderful playground for children upstairs. They do charge a small fee for children to get in, but then again they also provide parents with a beeper to communicate with your children, so you can go shopping and leave them happily jumping up and down the bouncy castles without worrying about it. Only a few minutes away you’ll find Avenue, another mall with less fancy options for shopping, but still a few exciting games and installations for children outside. Finally, The Mall Athens has plenty of entertainment options on the top floor, some of which are also suitable for children – for example, a mini fun park, a bowling centre, as well as one of the most popular cinema chains in Greece, Village Cinemas. All three malls offer food courts at the top floor, so you can spend the whole day if need be.
Tip: The nearby area of Kifissia hosts several small parks and large green spaces (for urban standards at least), in addition to a number of up-scale boutiques, restaurants, and bistros serving artisan coffees and sophisticated snacks. Well worth a visit if you're interested in a different experience of life in Athens than the one you get in the centre.
# 6 Athens Zoo aka Attica Zoological Park
Technically, the Attica Zoological Park is the closest thing there is to an Athens zoo, and yet it is still so much more than that. The park was built slowly, with conservation rather than exhibition of the animals being its main goal. As a result, visitors get the chance to see not just a huge variety of beautiful animals, birds and insects, but also understand and experience the environment they are naturally meant to inhabit. This place is pretty far from the center, but apart from fascinating it is also huge, so it’s well worth adding to your Athens travel plans, given that it will keep you occupied for the whole day. The park also offers interactive educational programs about biodiversity and conservation for different age groups (booking required), which include contact with live animals, visual presentations, games, arts and crafts.
Tip: There's also a very entertaining dolphin show for a EUR 3 addition to the original EUR 16 price for adults. Caution, front rows get splashed on!
#7 Other Interesting Kids-Friendly Things to Do in Athens
If you’re still wondering what to do in Athens with the family, you’re admittedly a tough crowd; but you’re also about to be surprised by a few more aces we have up our sleeve as far as Greece for kids goes! First of all, we suggest a family tour of Monastiraki, the best flea market in Athens, as well as a big part of Athens' history. Here children always get excited about the general hubbub and the knick-knacks they get to explore, and sometimes even bargain for! A good idea would be to take the Happy Train after you’ve knocked yourself out shopping, so you can sit back, relax, and take a short ride around Athens along with a tour guide who explains to you what’s what. You also have the possibility to hop on and off at different stops. If you don’t mind going a little further out of the city centre, you can spend a day at Athens’ biggest fun park, Allou Fun Park, in the area of Rendis. The park is divided in two sub-parks: Kidom, which is appropriated to children up to 12 years old, and Allou!, which is designed for teenagers over 12. Finally, last week we encouraged you adults to explore the best open air cinemas in Athens, but this week we’re also pointing out to you that they often show childrens' films, and that kids love them too – there’s a movie, there’s a starry sky, and there’s pizza, hot-dogs and slushies. What else can a young soul want?
Tip: Both Allou fun parks allow you to purchase a day pass, which offers you multiple rounds on most rides throughout the day, however food is not included in the price.
So, that's it dear mamas and papas! We wish you a happy holiday in Athens!
Did we forget something? Send us your favourites from your family trip to Athens!
P.S. All opinions expressed above are 100% personal, suggestions are from the heart, and never promotional in any way!
P.S. 2 Below you can also find a map with all the areas, interesting spots, and top things to do during your family holidays in Greece, as we listed them for you above.
this map of athens is your best guide to your family holiday
local activities and experiences you don't want to miss!
What are your favorite things to do in Athens with your kids?
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