Thinking about visiting Greece with your kids but not so sure which island to visit? I’m going to share with you why you should visit Athens, Greece with your kids.
This October, with a mid-term break for Madison from her school, I decided that we wanted to visit a new country or two. I’ve learned in the past that to really experience a country you need at least a week, but you can totally do some of the top attractions in just 2 days. You really don’t need to rush and can simply do an easy-going itinerary.
I’ve always wanted to visit Greece, but have been hearing how oversaturated it’s become with tourists, especially in Santorini. And while Santorini is a popular tourist destination, I personally prefer visiting a place with Madison that has a bit more history, one where we can take in the history and make it a learning experience, so we opted for Athens, and considered doing a one-day trip to Santorini, but once again decided on visiting Hydra. I’ll share in another post why we decided on Hydra and why you should skip Santorini for Hydra instead.
So why should you visit Athens with kids? Here are a few reasons:
1. Historical Significance
Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and has a rich history. From the Acropolis to the Parthenon to the Temple of Zeus, there are plenty of historical sites to explore in Athens. And because of its long history, there’s so much to learn about the city. And while yes, it’s touristy, we found that most tourists were content to just take photos from afar and weren’t interested in venturing up close. If you go early in the morning or later at night, you’ll likely have some of the sites almost to yourselves!
Whenever I travel with Madison, I always incorporate learning into our travels. I like to call it “worldschooling” (and yes, that’s a thing). Since there’s so much history in Athens, it makes for a great learning experience for kids. We downloaded some apps on our iPad (our favorites were Rick Steves Audio Europe, available in the App Store and Google Play store, and PocketGuide, also available in the App Store and Google Play Store), which proved to be invaluable. I highly recommend doing a bit of research before your trip so you can share interesting facts with your kids as you go.
2. Fascinating Culture
In addition to being rich in history, Athens is also home to a fascinating culture. From the traditional music and dance to the delicious food, there’s so much to experience. We enjoyed going to the open-air markets and seeing all of the fresh produce, meats, and cheeses. We loved getting a taste of the culture and learning about the customs and traditions. It’s definitely a city that has something for everyone.
3. Kid-Friendly Attractions
In addition to all of the historical sites, there are also plenty of kid-friendly attractions in Athens. We spent an afternoon at the National Gardens, which is a great place to let the kids run around and explore. And Syndagma Square (where you can watch the changing of the guard) was another hit with Madison. She loved watching all of the action and seeing the soldiers in their uniforms. The changing of the guards is done every hour on the hour, so you’ll have lots of opportunities to catch it.
The Acropolis Museum is amazing for kids (and adults)! It’s very well done and interactive, with plenty of things for kids to see and do. We could have easily spent a couple of hours there, but we only had time for a quick visit. And, of course, no trip to Athens would be complete without a visit to the Acropolis. While it may not be the most kid-friendly activity, it’s definitely something you have to do when visiting Athens.
4. Great Weather
The weather in Athens is great year-round, but we visited in October and the weather was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. And because Athens is located on the coast, there’s always a nice breeze. The days started off cool in the mornings and would reach the mid-20s Celsius ( upper 70s Fahrenheit). We kept it cool in shorts and tees during the day and would add a light jacket in the evenings.
Athens is a very walkable city, which we loved. We didn’t feel the need to take taxis (and only did it to and from the airport and to the ferry) or public transportation everywhere, as most of the major sights are within walking distance of each other. And while there are hills, we never felt like it was too strenuous of a walk.
5. Beautiful Beaches
If you’re looking to take a break from all of the sightseeing, there are plenty of beaches nearby that make for a great half-day trip. Even though Athens isn’t known for its beaches, there are quite a few of them just a short drive or ferry ride away. One excellent way to visit is by taking the hop-on hop-off bus with a beach option that will take you to the numerous beaches around the island. And since Greece is surrounded by water, the beaches here are absolutely breathtaking with their crystal-clear waters. It’s a great way to relax after a busy day of exploring.
6. Delicious Food
If your kids are anything like mine, they’re always down for trying new foods. And the food in Athens did not disappoint. From fresh seafood to Greek salads to delicious pastries, there’s something for everyone. Madison especially enjoyed Lukumade (a fried doughnut-like pastry covered in powdered sugar and ice cream) and Gyros (a Greek sandwich made with meat, typically lamb, tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce). And since Greece is known for its olive oil, you can bet that everything is super flavorful. Yum!
7. Amazing Views
Since Athens is built on seven hills, there are plenty of amazing views to take in. We loved walking around and taking in the views of the city. Our favorite spot was probably Lycabettus Hill, which offers 360-degree views of Athens. But Filopappos Hill and the Acropolis are also great spots for views. If you’re looking for an activity that the whole family can enjoy, I definitely recommend checking out some of the best views Athens has to offer.
The architecture in Athens is simply stunning. From the grandiose buildings to the quaint alleyways, there’s so much to see. I could have spent days just walking around admiring the buildings. We spent hours just walking around and taking it all in. The city is definitely a photographer’s dream.
8. Close to Other Destinations
Athens makes for a great base when exploring other parts of Greece. If you’re looking to add a beach component to your trip or explore some of the other Greek islands, Athens is the perfect place to do it. There are plenty of day trips you can take from Athens, or you can even spend a few days exploring other parts of Greece and then come back to Athens. We took a day trip to Ydra (Hydra) from Athens, which was an easy 2 hour ferry ride, and it was a great way to see another part of Greece.
9. Friendly Locals
Everywhere we went in Athens, we found the locals to be incredibly friendly and helpful. They were always happy to help us with directions or give us recommendations on where to eat. And even though Athens can be a bit chaotic, we never felt unsafe. Everyone we interacted with in Athens was super friendly and helpful. From the taxi drivers to the restaurant staff to the shopkeepers, everyone went out of their way to make us feel welcome. It made our trip that much more enjoyable.
Last but certainly not the least, Greece is definitely not the cheapest country to visit, but we found Athens to be very affordable. It is hands down one of the more affordable countries we’ve visited so far in Europe. Since I was traveling with Madison, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on our accommodations and was able to find a great hotel for under $100/night with breakfast included, very central to everything. I also found the food to be very affordable, especially when compared to other European cities. I don’t think we ever paid more than €30 total for dinner. And since Greece is part of the European Union, they use the Euro, which makes things much easier for me as the Euro is on par with the US dollar.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to visit Athens with kids. If you’re looking for a city with history, culture, and plenty of kid-friendly activities, Athens is definitely the place for you! There’s something for everyone to enjoy, and you can easily spend a week or more here without getting bored. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Athens today!