Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging and then you realize you never wrote about a trip! A year ago, we visited Athens, Greece with our kids and really enjoyed ourselves! So in honor of the 1 year anniversary of the trip, I’m actually going to get around to blogging about it!
We spent three nights in Athens, which is just a short 2 hour flight from Cairo!
Arrived in Athens 12:30 pm. Transfer to Hotel and settled in.
Hiked up Mount Lycabettus for views of the city. From our hotel it was 1.1 miles away, most of that uphill and half of it up the mountain. There is a funicular, but we couldn’t find it and just hiked. Our 2 year old was in a hiking framed carrier and our 4 year old walked. It was definitely some work, but the views were great. We had meant to go up for sunset, but ended up getting up there too early and left before sunset. There is a little church at the top. There is also a cafe, though it was not open and I guess maybe only operates during high season.
We enjoyed watching the sunset with wine on our hotel balcony.
We spent the morning (9-1) doing a private mythological tour by Kids Love Greece. Their website is very informative and their blog posts are worth reading. However, we found that it was very pricy (at least compared to what we’re used to in Egypt) and it was not as engaging for our daughter (almost age 5) as we had hoped. They advertised being family friendly, adjusting content to fit the kids’ ages, and being engaging. For older kids it might have been more fun. We also found the navigating on our own would have been quite easy and we didn’t really need a guide for any of the practical information. So with little kids, I’d suggest just sightseeing on your own.
We started out at the Acropolis to see the Parthenon. This does involve a bit of an uphill walk, but our daughter didn’t find it that hard. DH was wearing DS2. We did bring a stroller because of the distance walking from our hotel and there was stroller parking in a building on the walk up. Our guide did say that sometimes it is randomly closed. The site itself isn’t stroller friendly due to the steps and rocks, but the path to and from the hill and around the rest of Athens is for the most part.
The rock of the Acropolis has always been sacred and a place of worship to Athena. In the 5th century BC, monuments were built on top, including the Parthenon.
After circling the Parthenon and other structures at the top of the Acropolis, we retrieved our stroller and walked past Areopagus hill, the world’s oldest law court. The Pnyx, where Athenian citizens gathered, is the birthplace of democracy.
From there, we wound downhill to the Agora, where the most important political functions happened and where Pericles and Socrates once strolled. The Agora has a museum, various ruins and structures, and the well-preserved Temple of Hephaistos (5th c BC). This site is NOT stroller friendly and they had no stroller parking. They also wouldn’t let us leave the stroller near the ticket counter. So we had to carry it all over, which was a major pain.
After exploring the Agora, we headed to lunch on Adrianou Street. This street is lined with restaurants and cafes. We ate at Carte Postale, which had some nice outside seating. Kids shared a chicken slouvaki platter (chicken, french fries, rice), and adults shared their meat platter for 2 (4 types of meat, french fries, and dip). The platter was huge and we had leftovers and the kids could have shared it as well. Service was fast and friendly. The food was good, though nothing stood out as amazing. We also had some Ouzo, which had quite the kick!
On the walk back to the hotel, we strolled through the National Garden and Zappeio. Kids were worn out and fell asleep on the walk (hence why we brought both the stroller and the carrier). The garden was nice with playground equipment, duck ponds, walking paths, etc.
We spent this day exploring on our own. Our first stop was the temple of Olympian Zeus. Most people simply view it from just outside the fenced area to avoid ticket charges. We chose to go inside, which was great because there were very few people and the kids could run around.
From there it was a short walk to the Acropolis Museum. Our hiking frame was not allowed in and had to be checked. However, strollers are allowed in and they have free ones to borrow if needed. The museum is spacious, though we found the elevator system confusing. Certain elevators only went to certain floors. DD4 enjoyed finding all the Athena references. The restaurant had great views of the Acropolis. The breakfast menu is very Greek (served until 12). Our kids were too picky to find anything they wanted.
Then we wandered through Plaka, a cute neighborhood with lots of shops and cafes. We got some delicious ice cream cones on our walk.
After Plaka, we headed to the Hellenic Children’s Museum for a little bit of playtime. It is closed Mondays and Tuesdays and open from 11-7 on Weds and 11-3 the other days. Admission is free. We found it very difficult to find as it is clearly catered towards locals, not visitors, and there weren’t good signs. If standing in front of the building with your back to the main road, the entrance is towards the left of the building on the side of the main road. Inside, there was art, costumes, a play kitchen, math and science items, play construction site and more. It was a nice break from sightseeing!
We only had a half day in Athens before our flight, so headed up to the Panathenaic Stadium. There was a museum and you could run on the track. The kids enjoyed racing and being Olympians!
One thing to note for visits, on Greek holidays things shut down. Friends went at Easter and at Christmas and none of the tourist sites were open. Some sites close for several days. So if you are traveling near a holiday, check about what is open!
We arrived midday in Athens and settled into our hotel, the Hilton Athens. We picked the Deluxe King Suite with views of the Acropolis. This holds 4 people and has a separate bedroom with a king sized bed, and a pull out sofa in the living room. We actually set up the provided crib (a pack n play) in the king bedroom for our son (2 years) and then brought our small travel cot for our daughter (age 4) and set it up in our bedroom as well. This allowed us adults to stay up later in the living room. The cot fits in my large checked back.
I loved our balcony with views of the city. It had sunset views and we enjoyed having wine while watching the sunset. Our suite also gave us access to the executive lounge with complimentary access to snacks throughout the day and a happy hour with food. Food was substantial enough that the kids used it for dinner, and some nights so did I! The challenging thing about traveling with kids is by evening time they often don’t have the energy or patience to sit through a late (for them) dinner in a formal restaurant. We love finding places where they can a bit earlier (happy hour started at 6) and then after they go to bed, the adults can tag team dinner in the restaurant.
Breakfast buffet was delicious. Large selection of foods. We also discovered that there is a play area in the back corner of the restaurant that serves breakfast. Kids enjoyed playing there after eating and occasionally later in the day.
My only issue with the hotel is the distance from the downtown historic sites. It is technically walking distance (and we did walk it daily), but it takes about 30-40 minutes which means returning for nap and then heading back out again wasn’t practical. It is, however, right near a metro stop. So if Metro is your thing, then that is a good option. From talking to friends who stayed right in Plaka (a neighborhood right by the Acropolis), they enjoyed being able to go out again late afternoon or evening to walk around. If we weren’t returning for afternoon nap, then its location wouldn’t have mattered quite as much.
Transportation to/from the hotel and airport was easy. There are two options. You can take the Metro or a taxi. Metro obviously is cheaper, but we elected on a taxi for two reasons–hauling 2 kids, 2 suitcases, stroller, and hiking framed baby carrier through the Metro and then from the Metro to our hotel is frustrating and potentially having to wait for trains. Taxis have set pricing for trips from the airport to different hotels and locations. We prearranged ours through Welcome PickUps. They are a private company that charges the same as the local taxis, but you can prebook. They meet you at the exit with a sign. They also can provide carseats and boosters (required in Greece), and can even prepurchase you a SIM card or portable wifi hotspots, tickets for popular locations, etc. We had them bring a carseat and a booster, a SIM card, and a portable wifi hotspot. Everything worked great and it was so nice to be able to use my phone while navigating Athens.