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48 Hours in Athens: A Family-Friendly Adventure Through the City of the Gods

Panathenaic-stadium small

Are you traveling to Greece with your kids and unsure of whether to plan a short stop in Athens? In this article, I’m going to layout all my insider tips for a weekend stay in Athens with your kids.

I grew up near Greece, only a short one-hour flight from Athens — perfect for weekend getaways and school field trips. 

Since having kids I opted to show them the islands first, thinking they are more representative of quincentennial Greece. I had forgotten what an incredible experience it would be to share with them the incredible, buzzing, history-filled city of the Gods, Athens. This past April, I fell in love with Athens all over again – and so did my kids.  

Our trip was short — just 48 hours, and just enough to scratch the surface. I highly suggest a two-day stop on your way to discover one or several of the famous Greek islands. My kids, nine and seven, were ready to explore. We were also with our friends who were traveling with their four and one-year-olds.  

Here’s what worked for us during our two days in Athens with kids spanning from the ages of one to nine.

 

1. Stay centrally located in Athens

Since we only had 48 hours, staying in a location where everything we wanted to see was walkable, was key for us. 

We absolutely loved the Monastiraki area. Psiri, Plaka, and Syntagma areas are also great options, but I loved the quirky elements of Monastiraki. There are plenty of affordable, modern, clean, no-frills yet lowkey gorgeous apart-hotels in all the areas with rooms big enough to accommodate families of four.

 

2. Bring a baby carrier for the young ones 

While our pre-tweens walked everywhere without complaint, having a stroller and a carrier was key for our friends. However, in places like the Acropolis, you can’t take a stroller up to the monument, having a one or two-year-old walk is a challenge with the slippery marble. A carrier makes the trip easier. 

 

3. Buy your tickets in advance

Athens gets very busy, especially from April onwards (and the summer it’s quite intense). I suggest buying tickets in advance for monuments like the Acropolis, the museums and any sights you’d like to see to avoid long lines. 

 

4. Getting meals at popular places early

The Greeks start the day late, so we managed to get 9 AM reservations to a couple of places that get incredibly busy later in the day. We mostly had the restaurants to ourselves at that time. 

 

5. Beware of limited highchairs

Very few places we ate at had highchairs available, so keep this in mind when traveling with littles. 

 

Itinerary — Athens with Kids in 48 hours

 

DAY 1

 

1. Changing of the Guards at Syntagma Square 

Changing of the Guards at Syntagma Square in Athens with kids

This event happens every hour and it’s quite short, but our kids enjoyed running up the steps to the Syntagma and the guards’ traditional uniforms.

Syntagma steps with kids in Athens

 

2. The National Gardens

Turtles at the National Gardens in Athens with kids

A gorgeous park with a lake (and a pond full of hundreds of turtles!), and a fun playground with huge slides that really impressed our kids.

 

3. The Panathenaic Stadium

Visit the Panathenaic Stadium with kids

The only stadium in the world built entirely of marble, it was originally constructed in the 4th century BC, and was excavated in the 1800s. It’s where the modern times (1896) Olympics took place and the last venue in Greece from where the Olympic Flame handover ceremony to the host nation takes place. Our kids loved doing pretend races on the track and standing on the podiums for their “metals”. Don’t miss the little secret entrance that takes you through a well-lit, magical cave into a stunning room where all the Olympic torches are held.

 

4. The Athens Happy Train 

A cute red, toy-like street train that takes you around some key sites with a guide. Only 5 euros an adult (kids were free), and great for young kids and for parents that need a walking break. We picked it up at Syntagma and it was about 30-40 mins long. Tickets can get you on/off all day.

 

5. Mount Lycabettus for a Sunset View

Getting to the funicular that gets you to the top involves a lot of uphill walking (the closest metro stop is Evangelismos – M3 line). Our friends had the baby in a carrier, and my kids did not complain, but if you have mobility issues, I recommend taking a taxi to the top. The view is absolutely worth it.

 

Our Meal Highlights for the Day

 

This is a fairytale that comes to life both inside and outside, with whimsical and fun decor that mesmerizes our kids. It’s mostly a dessert place but they do have sweet and savory crepes for breakfast, so we went at 9am and it was entirely empty (later in the day the line is around the block). Don’t miss the caramel/praline crepes and Oreo pancakes: they were out of this world.

 

There was a short line but totally worth the pita deliciousness. Get the pork souvlaki with everything in it and you’ll be one happy camper. 

 

The warm, just-out-of-the-oven bougatsa, is mouthwatering.  

 

Get the lamb stew and enjoy the live music!

 

DAY 2

 

1. The Acropolis and the Parthenon

visiting the Acropolis with kids

Started the day early, and walked to the Acropolis, which is exactly as majestic and awe-inspiring as it promises to be. Tickets for young adults/kids under 25 with EU citizenship are free, so make sure you take advantage of this if you qualify. Don’t miss walking around to the Ancient Agora and Library ruins – it’s an amazing sight to behold and so much history behind it. There are several family-oriented guided tours available, some accompanied by fascinating storytelling that would keep young minds occupied. 

 

2. Walking around Plaka and Monastiraki areas 

Plaka neighborhood in Athens with kids

Plaka is incredibly charming, with boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants all over. It does feel a bit more touristy than Monastiraki, but its beauty more than makes up for it. 

 

3. Shopping at Ermou and surrounding streets

This popular shopping street in Athens has charming side streets and boutiques. It’s ideal if you’re looking for leather goods or shoes. 

 

Our Meal Highlights for the Day

 

A three-story beauty of a place, with a gorgeous outdoor rooftop terrace. The breakfast basket was delicious.

 

Don’t let the Italian name fool you, this is a Greek place, that’s super kid-friendly, and right in the most adorable square in Plaka. Don’t miss the feta cheese triangles with honey and sesame.

 

I’m not usually a Cookies & Cream kinda gal, but this place converted me into a cookies & cream worshiper. 

 

Loved the vibe here and the area. Try the gemista and the pork chop – both divine! 

 

A modern twist to the traditional Greek loukoumades, that are finger-licking good. 

 

Extra Tips on Visiting Athens with Your Family — If time allows!

 

Food to try 

  • A tiropita/cheese pie (preferably kasseri), from any of the local bakeries (or really any baked goods). Grigoris is good and so is Ariston Bakery. 
  • A Greek frappe – order it sketo (no sugar), or metrio (a little sugar), and miso/miso (half water/half milk). Greeks like their coffee strong and this one is amazing. Alternatively, a Freddo Cappuccino will keep you caffeinated and cool.
  • Gyros: don’t miss the chance to have a Gyro pita on the go. They are small, so don’t think you can share them. Get it with everything (it often comes with fries inside). Savvas in Ermou and Tylikto in Monastiraki are great options. 
  • A simple Greek salad: there’s nothing simple about the freshness of the juicy, bright red tomatoes, the crisp, sweet peppers, and the savory goodness of the feta. You think you know Greek salads, but not till you’ve had them in Greece. 
  • Galaktoboureko: this scrumptious custard pie, drenched in sweet syrup, will have you smiling for days. 

 

More of my favorite spots to discover in Athens

 

Here you will be amazed by the display of the artifacts found in the Acropolis and surrounding hills. There are a lot of “surprises” for the young inside and also offer family backpacks designed to keep kids entertained.

 

An interactive experience for kids

 

Explore the main port, visit the Electric railway museum  have lunch at Mikrolimano – a delightful little part of the harbor

 

  • Take a short ferry ride on a day trip to the gorgeous island of Aegina

You can be there in as little as half an hour from the Pireaus Harbor. A perfect day trip for something different and a fresh seafood meal by the water.

 

  • Take a day trip to Delphi 

An incredible UNESCO sight.

 

  • Alternatively, take a day trip to Nafplio 

Two hours by bus, one of the most romantic, beautiful seaside towns, with gorgeous castles, churches, and museums.

 

  • Bonus things to do in Athens!

The neighborhoods of Kolonaki, Thisio, Koukaki, and the Athens Riviera all offer something different if you have more time to spend in this remarkable city. 

 

Athens is often highly underrated in all the Greece guides, but if you have a mythology or history buff in your hands, your kids will absolutely love this bustling city and its surrounding beauty. We know we’ll be back soon!



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