My family loves being outdoors. We are nature enthusiasts and Greece has so much to offer if we need some vitamin ‘N’. To find nature in Athens you do not have to leave the city very far behind. There are many great places in and around the city to find some green.
In Greece, the most popular family day for a visit to the park is ‘Protomagia’or ‘1st of May’. May 1 is considered ‘Labor Day’ for the Greeks. Many Greek families will take their picnic lunches out to the countryside on this day. Flowers, branches, and garlands feature prominently in the merriment of May. Children are gathering wildflowers and braid these into wreaths that are taken home to adorn front doors or balconies. Another busy day in the parks is ‘Kathara Devtera’ or Clean Monday. When the carnival festive season is over, the period of fasting until Easter begins here. People enjoy this spring day by going out for a picnic and enjoy outdoor activities such as flying a kite.
I have written about the picnic places before. Varnavas picnic paradise near Kapandriti, Malakasa Adventure park (with entrance fee) and the Tatoi King’s Estate was part of previous articles. In this post I describe 3 more of my favourite – easy to find – parks in Athens for a family picnic:
National Garden, Athens centre
The National Garden, formerly called the ‘Royal Garden’, is a public park of 15.5 hectares in the centre of Athens. It is located directly behind the Greek Parliament building (the old palace) and in between the famous monuments of the Zappeion and the Panathenaiko first Olympic Stadium.
I find it an ideal cool oasis and a green escape in the middle of the city centre for a hot summer day. My kids always love the huge and impressive palm trees at the entrance of the park. Inside the National Garden, you will find a little farm with animals and birds and a pond with turtles. There is also a nice playground with a large sandbox. There are impressive botanic gardens, a labyrinth of rare plants and trees and plenty of open grass areas and benches to have a picnic. The National Garden also features a botanical museum, a small cafe and a children’s library.
Address: The main entrance is on Amalias Avenue but you also enter the garden from Vasilissis Sophias Avenue, Herodou Attikou street and the Zappeion park area.
Syngrou Estate in Maroussi
Syngrou Estate is best described as an area of unspoiled countryside where you will forget that you are near the centre of the capital city. The land belonged to Andreas Sygrou, a successful and wealthy businessman. What I love about the very well kept park of Syngrou Estate is the variety of trees and shrubs, the pathways for bicycles and open areas. We can hide in pine tree forests, throw stones in the pond or follow the little streams inside the forest. We can climb in trees, admire the wine yards (500 different varieties of vines!), olive and peach trees and often we meet turtles during our walks. We always feel like adventurers when we are here. There are even volleyball, basketball and football fields in the park. And it is very nice for mountain biking too. At the beginning of the park, you will find beehives and there is also the Institute of Agricultural Sciences. My children love watching the collection of cactuses there. There are expanses of grass for picnics and ball games. It is easy to park at Syngrou Estate although it can get very busy during the weekends.
Address: 182 Kifissias Avenue, Maroussi
Kaisariani Forest & Monastery, Kaisariani
Kaisariani forest is located 5 km from the Athens city centre up and around the forest of Mount Ymittos. The park has many footpaths, beautiful trees, many birds, old churches, ruins and rocks. There is the botanical garden as well and there are large grass areas with picnic tables and benches. There are endless possibilities in this park, both in the sun and in the shade. There are bicycle paths, a playground and a café too. A couple of years ago we organized an Easter egg hunt for our little ones here and had a great family day out. A picnic in this park can be combined with a visit to the Kaisariani Monastery. This monastery was built over the ruins of ancient Greek and Roman temples and dates from the 11th century. It is famous for the frescoes and the magical powers of the water in its fountain.
Address: Alimou-Karea Avenue, Kaisariani
What is your family’s favourite park for a picnic in Athens?