Athens, the ancient city of Greece and one of the oldest cities in the world, had been on our ‘Places to Visit’ list for quite some time. Frank and I both studied Greek in high school and red many of the Greek mythology stories, therefore it seemed only fitting we would visit Athens one day.
How to visit Athens with a baby
But where to start?! Athens is a big city and there are so many museums and places to visit, I was a bit overwhelmed when I started planning our trip. Especially since this would be our first family trip! We had a little boy in July 2018 and despite being quite a seasoned traveler I was nervous about our Athens city trip with a baby.
How to decide upon a realistic itinerary? How to access the sites? Would they be stroller friendly? How much distance would we be able to cover with a baby in Athens? What about public transport? And would I be able to breastfeed my baby in public in Greece?
All these questions and more will be covered in this post! So if you are wondering if it’s possible to visit Athens with a baby I can safely say: yes, it most definitely is!
Note: at the time of our visit to Athens our baby boy Daniel was 3 months old. I exclusively breastfed him and therefore we didn’t have to worry about heating water for formula bottles. Daniel had already received his 2 and 3 months vaccinations and no health issues.
I personally found 3 months a very convenient age for a first trip. Baby is still very portable, sleeps a lot during the day and cannot walk (aka get lost) on his own. Also, Daniel loves being carried around in our ergonomic baby carrier which made it easy to explore Athens (and especially the Acropolis, read more below).
Our 48 hour Athens itinerary with a baby
In the map below you can see how we spent our 2 days in Athens with a baby. I’ve also added our hotel and convenient metro stops to the map.
2 days in Athens with a baby: our itinerary
Athens itinerary day 1
While I usually try to cram in as much sightseeing activities in one day as possible, for this trip I did the opposite. I had only selected the major highlights of Athens and therefore our itinerary was very relaxed. And while we definitely didn’t see it all, we did manage to visit the most important sites of Athens with our baby boy.
The Hellenic Parliament (changing of the Guards and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier)
The first stop on our itinerary was the Hellenic Parliament, which houses the Greek parliament. The reason for our visit was to see the Changing of the Guards who watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
I’m always amazed how these guards can stand perfectly still and not show any facial expression whatsoever! It wouldn’t be a suitable job for me;-).
Note: The changing of the guards takes place every hour on the hour, but the most elaborate ceremony is on Sundays at 11am.
Athens National Garden
I love visiting parks whenever I’m in a big city, after all, I’m an outdoor girl at heart… The gardens offer a perfect escape from busy Athens and if the weather is nice it would be a great place for a picnic.
Within the gardens you also find the Zappeion, which was built for the modern Olympic Games and used as the fencing hall during the Olympics of 1896.
Temple of Zeus
The highlight of our first day of sightseeing in Athens was the Temple of Zeus. I can only imagine what an impressive site this must have been in its heyday. The temple is believed to date from 457 BC, so even though only 15 columns remain, that’s still quite a quite a feat!
From the Temple of Zeus you have a beautiful view of the Acropolis (on the itinerary for day 2).
Budget tip: if you plan to follow this itinerary, the most economical option is to buy a combination ticket. This ticket costs €30 per adult and is valid for the Temple of Zeus, the Acropolis, the Roman Agora and the Greek Agora. The ticket is valid for 5 days and also gives access to several other sites we didn’t have time to visit. So if you plan to spend more time in Athens, the combination ticket is an even better deal!
You can read more about the ticket here.
Next to the Temple of Zeus is Hadrians Arch, built in 132 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a dividing point between the old Greek city and new Roman city. Needless to say the arch itself is considered ancient as well by now.
We would have liked to visit the Panathenaic Stadium as well but baby Daniel had had enough of sightseeing and we obeyed his wishes and concluded our day of sightseeing;-).
Also read: flying with a baby under six months
Athens itinerary day 2
We planned to be at the Acropolis first thing in the morning (the gates open at 8am), however, this plan failed miserably due to several reasons.
First of all, Daniel was still fast asleep. And you never wake a sleeping baby;-). Well, sometimes we do, but to avoid having to deal with a cranky (because tired) baby the entire day we choose to wait until he woke up.
The second reason we were at the Acropolis ‘slightly’ later than planned was because of the very extensive breakfast our hotel offered. You can read more about our hotel (and why we loved it) below.
In any case, by the time we arrived at the Acropolis it was around 10am and we were by far the only ones exploring this ancient site.
We entered the complex via the East entrance, the closest metro station is Acropoli on the red line (line 2). It’s a bit of a hike up to the Acropolis but definitely worthwhile to enter via this side as you will come across the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (also called the Herodeon) along the way. Many famous people have performed in this impressive stone theater, you can read more information about the building here.
Once you make it to the gates, also called Propylaea in ancient Greek, you will see the beautifully restored temple of Athena Nike.
On the top plateau of the Acropolis you will find many important buildings and sights, I found the most impressive:
- The Parthenon: temple of Athena, the patron of the city of Athens.
- The Erechtheion: temple of Athena and Poseidon.
- The Porch of the Caryatids: female statues supporting one of the porches of the Erechtheion.
Also don’t forget to check out the sacred olive tree of Athena, next to the Erectheion. Legend has it this olive tree is descended from the original olive tree planted by Athena herself… True or not, it’s a beautiful old tree!
A complete map of the Acropolis can be found here.
Truth be told, we only visited the Roman Agora very briefly as this was the time our baby boy Daniel started protesting. He had been a perfect angel during our visit to the Acropolis (aka, he had been soundly asleep in the baby carrier) but once we excited the Acropolis he started crying as he was hungry and in need of a diaper change.
If you have time, the Roman Agora is absolutely worth a more extensive visit. I’ve read the Tower of the Winds is beautiful on the inside.
After an extensive stop in a lovely cafe in the Monastiraki neighborhood, we were all refreshed and well fed. Daniel went back to sleep as soon as we entered the Greek Agora (he didn’t seem particularly interested in Greek history;-) which gave us plenty of time to explore the site.
On the Greek Agora site there are many things to see as well, my favorites were:
- The Stoa of Attalos: the worlds first shopping arcade.
- The Church of the Holy Apostles: built in the 10th century beautiful frescoes inside.
- The Temple of Hephaestus: built 449 BC and one of the best preserved temples in Greece.
After wandering around the Greek Agora we were pretty tired and we headed back to our hotel.
Note: if we had had more time, I would have loved to visit the Acropolis museum which houses many artifacts from the Acropolis archaeological site.
How to get around in Athens with a baby by public transport
In 2018 Athens switched from paper tickets to an electronic system (similar to the London Oyster card). You can read more about the system here. We bought our anonymous Athena Card from a metro station and charged it with 10 euro each, which was more than enough for our 2 day Athens itinerary. You don’t need a ticket for children under 6 years.
This is the official Athena Card website.
It is quite easy to get around by metro, even with a stroller as all metro stations have elevators and the trains are level with the platforms making it easy to enter and exit. A map of the Athens metro can be found here.
You can take a stroller on the bus but they can be busy. The bus lines are also a lot more difficult to navigate than the metro system (in my experience) but on this website you can plan your journey.
There is also a tram in Athens. I personally didn’t use this to get around in Athens but on this site you can find more information.
Tips for traveling to Athens with a baby
Pick a nice hotel close to a metro station
We stayed at COCO-MAT hotel in the Kolonaki neighborhood. The hotel is located only 5 minutes (500 meters) from the metro station Evangelismos and around 15 minutes (1 kilometer) from Syntagna Square.
COCO-MAT hotel Athens opened in early 2018 and is beautifully designed.
On the first floor is the COCO-MAT store, where there are many beautiful products for sale. It was a good thing we didn’t have that much space left in our luggage or I would have gone into a serious shopping spree…
One floor down is the reception for the hotel. On floor 2-6 there are different types of room (we stayed at an Urban Suite) and on the 7th floor there is a rooftop garden with funky murals and a great view over the city and the Acropolis.
Our suite was gorgeous! Very spacious with a seating area, well-stocked mini bar, two design washing tables with toiletries, a big rain shower and a balcony with view over Athens. Our baby boy doubled the time of his afternoon nap because he was so comfortable on the huge bed.
We ordered room service for lunch and dinner and all the food was delicious, as was the extensive breakfast the next day. We were very sorry to leave after one night only! But we had to catch an early ferry the next morning and relocated to an accommodation near Piraeus port.
Forget the stroller
Athens is not a very stroller friendly city in my opinion. The sidewalks are crooked and sometimes there are no sidewalks at all. Whenever there are sidewalks these tend to be pretty busy, especially near touristic sights, which makes navigating with a stroller a hassle.
Also, the city has many height differences as it’s build on hills. Especially when visiting the Acropolis, a stroller is nothing but an inconvenience as you are not allowed to take it inside. Since you will have to carry your child anyway I recommend bringing an ergonomic baby carrier instead of a stroller when you are going sightseeing in Athens with a baby.
Carry your own baby changing mat
I was a little disappointment by the small number of restaurants and cafes that had a baby cleaning station. Especially in smaller establishments we were happy to have our own padded travel changing mat for our baby. We usually just looked for a hidden corner in a cafe and changed Daniels diaper while he was lying on his changing mat on a table/small couch/large chair/basically any surface that was available.
Take your time when exploring Athens with your kid(s) and don’t cram too much into your itinerary
While your perfect itinerary may be to visit the Acropolis, the Acropolis museum and the Greek Agora in one day, your baby may not agree. As you can see in our Athens itinerary described above we only did a couple of sightseeing activities each day.
Yes, that means you won’t be able to see everything when you are only spending 48 hours in Athens. But it does mean you’ll keep baby happy and well rested. Which in the end makes you happy as well;-).
Visit Athens in spring or autumn (not in summer)
Summer can be grueling in Athens, especially with a baby. With temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius climbing the Acropolis with a baby strapped to your chest is not the best idea. April, May and October have much more pleasant temperatures, usually between 20° and 25°.
We visited in October and while it was a bit cloudy, the temperature very comfortable. Also, it wasn’t extremely busy at the Acropolis which was another benefit. If you do plan on visiting Athens in July or August, be the first one at the gate of the Acropolis (that means 8am sharp) to avoid the crowds and the heat.
Find smoke-free cafes and restaurants (not in name only)
It’s disturbing how many people smoke in Greece… While there are many restaurants and cafes that have no-smoking signs, not many are actually smoke free. We have been to several places where people were lighting a cigarette despite there being signs forbidding smoking. If you want to make sure the restaurant is actually smoke-free, ask the staff about their smoking policy. Also, check if there are ashtrays on the table;-).
How about breastfeeding in public?
I never had any issues breastfeeding Daniel in public places and believe this is well accepted in Greece. When breastfeeding, I used a blanket to drape over myself and Daniel as he gets easily distracted when drinking in busy places.
I have no personal experience with formula milk, but I’m pretty sure you won’t experience any issues getting hot water in a restaurant or cafe to prepare a bottle for your baby.
Our Athens baby proof itinerary: in conclusion
That’s our Athens itinerary! I think we found a good balance between sightseeing and relaxing, which kept both us as well as our baby Daniel happy. We managed to see the main sites, ate good food and didn’t feel rushed. First city trip with a baby = successful, I’m already looking forward to our next family trip!
Have you ever visited Athens (or another city) with a baby? How was your experience?
Disclosure: I was hosted by COCO-MAT hotel. Nevertheless, all pictures and opinions are my own.
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