Well, well, well Athens! You dark horse!
When researching for our trip to Athens, I quickly found out I was probably going to get mugged. Not ideal when travelling with kids.
We are not massive city fans. We like to get a small fix of ‘civilization’ and then escape quick before we get sick of the people, the traffic and the general chaos. We had a small dose of Athens but we left wanting more.
We have two (and maybe me) Greek mythology geeks. This is hugely fuelled by the Nat Geo podcast Greeking Out! If you haven’t listened yet, it’s a fantastic introduction to Greek mythology told in a engaging and interesting way for kids (and adults).
After extensively blacklisting all the areas we were definitely going to be mugged (according to the world of blogs), we chose an Airbnb in the Neos Cosmos area near to Plaka. Everything was within walking distance. My kids may disagree, they hit their step count peak in Athens! There is something to see and discover on almost every street. We usually work through recommendations and pin everything onto our google map, shortlist our must sees and then stumble upon everything else as we walk.
How to get around Athens
We arrived into the airport and heading straight to the train station. From here you can buy a tourist multi day ticket which includes a return to the airport. We didn’t take any other transport but the taxis are something you wll repeatdedly hear about as being hard work.
Here are our top tips for a trip to Athens with kids
- Philopappos Hill
Within a stones throw (well a big throw) is this fantastic viewpoint. A short walk through a park and up a hill takes you to some of the best views of the city and the Acropolis. Head up for sunset, take some snacks and admire the amazing views. We took sketchbooks for the girls to draw the Parthenon. Admittedly, I may have borrowed this idea from a few of the tours but I didn’t need to pay 50 euros to do it myself.
- The Acropolis
This iconic landmark is unmissable. But it is also unmissable for every other person visiting Athens. Get there early, or late, it doesn’t make a huge difference it will be busy. You do want to avoid midday because it gets hot and once you are at the top, the Parthenon has very little shade. We are budget travellers/cheap! That said, we knew that our visit to the Acropolis could be enhanced with some wise wisdom from guide. We researched many different companies but honestly couldn’t justify 300Euros for a 2/3 tour. We managed to find an independent guide to give our family a private two hour Acropolis tour for 100Euros. A splurge for us but absolutely worth it. He introduced the girls to new myths which inspired our next destinations. Our guide knew all the best spots to pause and reveal a gem of history or mythology and once he pulled out the Playmobil Greek gods, our kids were hooked. The whole area is stunning yet it was the information and stories from the guide which brought this whole trip to life. If you would like the details for out guide Aris, get in touch.
- Stroll around Plaka
Get your cameras ready for the picturesque neighborhood of Plaka. Wander the streets admiring the colourful houses and buildings, pick up a snack from the al fresco eateries and try to ignore your children asking to buy every and all souvenirs.
- The National Garden
Just down the road from Plaka, you will find the National Garden of Athens. We always head to the parks. Its space for the kids to run around at its more basic. But usually it is a space which offers some respite from the city or the sun. We had heard rumours of peacocks so the girls were on the hunt. Luckily we found none as the conditions of some enclosures were pretty dismal. It looks like they haven’t had animals for a while. They did manage to find some free roaming tortoises which also meant they were free to roam away from our kids. Interestingly, the park has a colony of green parrots, which are usually found in the Himalayas or the Sahara. You will notice them, they are loud!
- Syntagma Square
Just outside of the National Gardens, you ill find Syntagma Square where you will see the elaborate and intriguing Greek version of the changing of the guard. After seeing the British version in London, it’s clear that these ceremonies seem more about the show than actual function. It would be pretty easy to sneak past them whilst they are parading up and down. I mean, we didn’t, but we did think how easy it could be. The official ceremony is every Sunday at 11am but you can catch a lower key display every hour on the hour.
Eating in Athens
We ate around the Koukaki area, as you walk around, you find streets filled with restaurants with tables sat outside. You can find a great value meal at any of these restuarants.
Souvlaki and Gyros were the biggest hit. Essentially an amazing Greek marinated meat kebab, with salad and CHIPS! All this delicious goodness for 2-3 Euros! Bargain.
You will be brought water and bread automatically, these will be added to your bill so request them to be taken if you don’t want to pay.
We were impressed with Athens, probably helped by the fact we weren’t mugged. But honestly, we felt safe everywhere we went. The city felt relaxed despite the business. The history and cultural elements were amazing, add to that pretty streets and amazing food and it is a definite hit for us.
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