What to See and Do in Athens with your family if you only have one day to spend? Athens is my hometown and I absolutely love this city. I often take my kids downtown because there is always something to do. On this blog, you can find many activities, tours and places to visit in Athens with your children. But what if you are visiting Greece and you are in Athens only for a day? Your family is here either for your connection to Greece’s amazing islands or you are holidaying somewhere near Athens. What is the best way to see most of Athens' famous monuments and what should you do to discover the Athenian culture if you had only one day in Athens with kids?
One day in Athens with young kids
All parents know that travelling and exploring with young children has its limitations. It is not possible to visit the ‘Top 5 Athens favourites’ in one day. And ‘24-hours’ usually means from ’6am – 8pm’. If your baby is small enough for a carrier or your toddler sleeps in the stroller, you could actually spend a whole day and evening outside your accommodation. But even the most active child cannot walk all day long.
I here suggest a walking tour that I have often followed myself with my young children. It is a realistic and real itinerary that is flexible and suitable for the whole family. It can start around 9am and end around 7pm.
Do you arrive with a car? Park it at Aegli Zappiou restaurant inside the National Gardens (valet parking) or in one of the paid parking inside Plaka. It is not recommendable to try to find a parking at the roads in Athens centre especially if you have to load/unload kids and strollers. Are you uncomfortable driving the narrow streets of Plaka? Just go straight to the aforementioned parking in the National Gardens (you can have breakfast there or will have lunch there later and you will not be charged). If you use public transport, get off the metro at Syntagma metro station.
Before you start your walk, try the real Greek breakfast snack: a fresh koulouri sesame bread ring. They are sold on in bakeries and on every street corner by koulouri vendors including Syntagma Square.
Itinerary for one day in Athens with young kids
9 am Syntagma Square
Syntagma square is our starting point. Here your family can enjoy the Greek Parliament Building. They can also witness the amazing changing of the ‘evzones’ guards at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier right. This takes place every hour, your kids will be fascinated! They will also enjoy feeding the pigeons here.
10 am National Garden
From Syntagma Square it takes about 5 minutes to enter the National Gardens at the entrance on Amalias Avenue. At the national gardens your kids can enjoy the little zoo, the turtle pond or have a break at the playground. Older children will enjoy the children’s library or discover the amazing selection of trees and plants in the botanical gardens. (Found out more about the National Gardens here) There are bathrooms and water fountains inside the playground. The park is stroller friendly.
11 am Coffee break
It is time for a break at Aegli Zappiou restaurant inside the National Gardens. It is a good chance to see another Athenian monument: the Zappeion Megaron. Besides, if you sit outside at Aegli, you have a wonderful view on the Acropolis. There are no cars, the kids can run around outside of the teras area and you will still be able to see them. Aegli has lots of healthy choices in both food and drinks and is family -friendly.
12 The temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch
Exit the National Gardens from the Aegli Zappiou parking and cross the tram rails. You have now arrived at two of the most important archaeological monuments in Athens: The temple of the Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch right next to it. If your children are very young I would suggest to pass by and not enter the archaeological site of the temple, it is not stroller friendly. If your children can grasp some history and enjoy archaeology, do enter the site. The Hadrian Arch is located outside of the site right next to the temple.
13 pm Lunch
It is time to cross the main road (Amalias/Sygrou) at the traffic lights behind the Hadrian Arch. You are now entering Plaka area, the oldest district in Athens. It is time for lunch! In the traditional Plaka area ,there are many options for lunch and most of the Plaka is car free. My favorite places are around the Lisikrati Square. The children love playing inside the ancient monument there and we sit and have lunch in one of the restaurants around this little square. I also love Vyzantino taverna at Kydatheneon square. It is one of the best in the tourist area of Plaka with traditional Greek dishes and the locals eat here too. The kids can play safe here, again car-free zone, and I love the little kiosk in the middle of the restaurant!
14:30 pm The Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum
After lunch, you can walk up to the car-free Dionysiou Areopagitou road. Your kids will love running around here and listen to the street musicians. The New Acropolis Museum and the entrance to the Acropolis are located on this wide street. It depends of your children’s age if you want to visit the museum or the Acropolis Rock. The museum is very family friendly. If you want to skip the museum, it is still worth to visit the museum garden. Parts of the excavations outside of the museum are covered with a glass floor and your kids will enjoy discovering what is under their feet. The walk up to the Parthenon at the Acropolis is rocky and steep. The Parthenon is not stroller friendly. If you decide to walk up Dionysiou Areopagitou you will pass the impressive Odeion of Herodes Atticus and you will still be able to enjoy stunning views on the Parthenon.
Anoifika, Plaka, Monasteraki
Not interested in archeology? Visit the historic Plaka neighborhood instead. You can enter from Dionysiou Areopagitou at the top near the Acropolis too. Walk around the tourist shops and let sounds, colors and smell of herbs, flowers and food inspire you. Can your kids handle stairs, than you can also visit the Anafiotika, an island village inside Plaka. Not stroller friendly! Afterwards, you can visit the flea market in Monasteraki. At the Monasteraki train station, you can return back to our starting point at Syntagma and go back to your hotel. Your one day in Athens with kids has been succesfull.
6-7 pm Dinner
Have you got energy left for dinner in the city? Stay in Plaka for a traditional Greek meal or continue to Agia Irini Square right of Aeolou Street that connects the Plaka and Monasteraki with the market and Omonia square. On this renovated hip square are a souvlaki bar and a Greek tavern for affordable Greek dinner. End your one day in Athens with kids drinking a cocktail or ice cream whilst your kids play safely nearby on the car-free square.