You might be saying to yourself, I thought your kids were teenagers Melissa, why would you visit Athens Greece with baby? You are right….this post is from my friend Katie, a fellow blogger that I met during my European travels who has an adorable baby. She is sharing How to Spend an Awesome Weekend in Athens, Greece (with a Baby) but many of her tips work well for anyone visiting Athens and many of her traveling with baby tips work in all different locales.
Perpetually on the hunt for cheap flights, cold beers, and awesome terraces, Katie has been traveling the world since she was 16, when she somehow persuaded her parents to let her move abroad to learn the ways of hygge in Denmark. Picking up a Canadian husband and a Taiwanese street cat along the way, she’s now based in Budapest. Katie blogs at GreenActiveFamily, which is dedicated to helping parents find eco-friendly and toxin-free products for their kids.
Sipping sidewalk cocktails in hip neighborhoods. Walking through ancient monuments that are so close, you could reach out and touch them. Exploring a city that dates back millennia. If this sounds like a memory from your pre-baby life, think again: Athens, Greece, is an easy and fun destination for new parents looking to test their chops traveling with a baby.
We recently spent a weekend in Athens (and 2 weeks in Greece) with our 10-month old. My best tips for enjoying Greece’s intriguing capital as a young family are below.
Where to Stay in Athens Greece with Baby
Kolonaki and Exarcheia
We spent two days/three nights in Athens, booking a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen, two huge balconies with awesome city views, and a sitting room we used as a second bedroom for our baby.
We stayed on the border between the Kolonaki and Exarcheia neighborhoods, which was fairly central, super hip, and easy to get around (we walked and took the metro around the city).
There were plenty of cool sidewalk bars and cafes for an early evening drink before bedtime, as well as loads of restaurants and grocery stores for meals. We also never had a problem getting a baby chair / high chair at restaurants in this area. Score!
Link to apartment we stayed in.
Search for more accommodation options here.
If you’d rather be right in the thick of things, Plaka is more or less Athens’ historical old town. It’s touristy, but beautiful, and you’ll be within walking distance of many of the main attractions.
Tip: Rent an Apartment so Your Baby has His/Her Own Room
Now that we’re traveling as a family, we tend to eschew hotels in favor of Airbnb or holiday rental apartments. For all its faults, renting an apartment via Airbnb or booking.com has a lot of pros when you’ve got a baby in tow.
Being able to put our baby to sleep in her own room made a huge difference to our trip. We were still able to enjoy quiet afternoons during her nap, and have a few beers on the massive balconies at night. She got the sleep she needed.
Having a kitchen meant we were able to keep her diet somewhat consistent to what she gets at home, at least for breakfast. We were also able to sterilize bottles in the kitchen and store a few pre-made bottles in the fridge. All this would have been much harder in a hotel.
What to Do in Athens with a Baby
One of the things we’ve learned about traveling with a baby is you can’t pack too much into your itinerary. Knowing we only had two full days in Athens and would still need to fit in naps and an early bedtime, we prioritized seeing the Acropolis/Parthenon, generally hanging out in our neighborhood, and enjoying a rooftop bar with great views. Anything beyond that was a bonus.
Generally speaking, we stayed at home in the mornings, so our baby stuck to her normal wake-up, play, eat breakfast, nap routine, and explored in the afternoons and early evening. It worked well, and I’d recommend it to anyone new to traveling with a baby!
Changing of the Guards
We arrived in Athens on a Thursday afternoon. By the time we got into the city center and checked into our Airbnb, we had time to wander around our neighborhood, pick up a SIM card, and grab dinner before it was our baby’s bedtime.
As we wandered, we managed to catch the changing of the guards show in front of the Greek Parliament at Syntagma Square.
I’m not one to get particularly excited about changing of the guards ceremonies, and our baby is generally more interested in watching pigeons than ceremonies. But the Greeks admittedly do a pretty good job of this. The costumes are unique, and the soldiers’ shoes are like tap shoes, adding a bit more interest (and noise) to the whole thing. We showed up at the right time and place, and it was worth the watch. If you have a toddler or a slightly older kid, I expect they’d be even more interested.
We visited the Acropolis Museum and Acropolis/Parthenon grounds on our first full day in Athens.
The Acropolis Museum is fantastic, and is a nice way to orient yourself within the history and archaeology of it all before you visit the Acropolis itself. Add to that, the museum is relatively well set-up for those traveling with children. There’s a separate ticket line for people with young kids, and you’re allowed to bring your stroller and diaper bag into the museum itself (other bags need to be checked for free).
Although the museum is spread across several floors, there are elevators to get you where you need to go: no hoisting your stroller up and down stairs. The museum also has baby rooms for feeding and changing.
Because the museum is filled with ancient artifacts, they’re pretty strict about eating and drinking within the museum, and this also applies to babies. I absent-mindedly gave our baby a bottle when she was fussing, and was quickly shut down by a museum attendant. You need to go to the baby room or cafeteria if your little one is hungry.
If you’re traveling with toddlers, you’ll need to be on high alert here and keep their random running and flailing on lock down; there are a lot of delicate and easily-damaged artifacts on display.
While the Acropolis Museum is stroller-friendly, the Acropolis itself is decidedly not. If you have a stroller, you’ll need to go to the main entrance of the Acropolis and check your stroller. Getting up to the main entrance involves some stairs, so be prepared to hoist. As strollers aren’t allowed inside the grounds, we recommend bringing a baby carrier for the time you’ll spend visiting this Athens highlight.
The toughest thing about bringing a baby to the Acropolis is the heat. We visited in the third week of May, and chose to visit late in the day, arriving at 5pm. Despite still being shoulder season and despite missing the hottest time of day, it was still sweltering. By the time we had climbed up to the Parthenon, I was panicking about how our baby was faring in the heat.
We ended up finding a shady patch of ground within view of the Parthenon, spread out a blanket for our baby, and took turns wandering the grounds. This is a strategy we’ve adopted in several countries now, and is a good way to ensure you can see the attractions on your most-wanted list while keeping your kid happy (in Iceland, we discovered our baby hates waterfall mist on Day 2. The rest of our trip involved taking turns hanging with her in visitors’ centres around the country).
Tip: Visit the Acropolis Late in the Day to Avoid Cruise Ship Crowds
Prevailing Internet wisdom seems to be to visit the Acropolis early in the morning. We did the opposite, visiting the Acropolis Museum from 3 pm to 4:30 pm or so, and arriving at the Acropolis at 5pm.
You may be wondering why we did it this way. As we were traveling with a friend who had already visited the Acropolis earlier in his trip, we got the benefit of his experience. Our friend did visit first thing in the morning, and it was crawling with cruise ship passengers. When he walked by later in the day, the cruise passengers were gone, and the crowds were far more manageable.
When we visited at 5pm, the crowds were manageable for us. It was busy, but it wasn’t shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. A late in the day visit also worked better for our baby’s schedule, as she tends to enjoy being out and about at that time of day (and the distractions reduce her evening crankiness)!
Spend an Afternoon Exploring Plaka
On our second day, we spent the afternoon in Plaka. Plaka is more or less Athens’ historical old town. It’s darn cute, and is probably the most popular area to stay in Athens for tourists. It’s filled with adorable restaurants, tons of shopping (both touristy-tacky and cool-designer), and rooftop bars with million-Euro views of the Acropolis.
In other words, it’s the perfect spot to spend an afternoon wandering, stopping for a lemonade, Alpha (Greek lager) or ice cream as the day unfolds.
Plaka isn’t the most stroller-friendly, but it’s not the worst either. If you stick to the main streets, you’ll get around just fine. That said, we used a super lightweight stroller, and would suggest you do the same. We use the GB Pockit, which is only 6 pounds. Even if I do have to carry it up a flight or two of stairs with our baby inside, it’s manageable.
Tip: Head to Thea Rooftop Bar for Great Views
We opted for Thea Rooftop Bar (21 Apollonos) for our “rooftop bar” experience and would recommend it if you’re traveling with kids. Unfortunately, smoking is everywhere in Athens, and sitting on a patio often means contending with second-hand smoke.
At Thea, we were able to escape the smoke and still enjoy the view and ambiance. The bar is separated into an open-air patio, which allows smoking, and a glass-enclosed interior that is non-smoking. Because it’s all glass, you still get great views of the Acropolis when you sit inside, without the unwanted cancer risk.
General Tips for Visiting Athens with Baby
Consider Bringing Your Own Travel Bed
Most of the places we stayed in Greece offered baby cribs, including the Airbnb we stayed at in Athens. However, as we had already decided to bring our own travel crib with us, we generally declined the offer to have a crib provided.
At one Airbnb stay outside Athens, we said yes to the host’s offer to provide a baby crib, and found the mattress was covered in mildew. Greece is hot and humid, and mattresses don’t hold up well in humidity. In that instance, we were really pleased we’d packed our own baby crib, as that one was disgusting.
Double Check Tap Water Safety (and Bring a Water Bottle for Older Babies)
We used tap water in Athens. We drank it, and we used it for our baby’s bottles of formula and drinking water. It was totally fine, and our understanding is the tap water in Athens is safe. However, if you plan on traveling outside of Athens (or Thessaloniki), double check safety before drinking the water.
Our baby started drinking water around 6 months; as a 10-month-old she drinks quite a bit throughout the day. We brought her Nuby water bottle (with a soft straw) along with us, and made sure she drank plenty of water to stay hydrated in the heat.
If your baby isn’t yet drinking water, it may be worth talking to his or her pediatrician before your trip to discuss keeping cool in the Greek heat.
Bring a Lightweight Stroller
Mentioned above, but worth repeating. We spent a total of 2 weeks in Greece, and there were plenty of times during our trip that we needed to lift our baby in her stroller to carry her up or down stairs, get her over a rocky patch, or get her up or down an escalator. If we had a heavy stroller, this would have been a huge pain, and may have changed how our trip played out.
We use the GB Pockit stroller and have nothing but good things to say about it. We even carried it on the plane. As the Pockit comes with pretty terrible sun protection (okay – I guess I have one bad thing to say about it), we bought a separate removable sunshade on Amazon that works great and is easy to pack.
Bring a Baby Carrier
Some parts of your trip will be completely inaccessible to strollers. Strollers aren’t allowed at the Acropolis in Athens, for example; you have to check them at the main gate before entering. If you plan to visit the Greek Islands after Athens, you’ll probably find some beaches are also unfriendly to strollers.
In those cases, we put our baby in our Ergo 360 carrier, which gave us far more flexibility in terms of our itinerary and activities.
Get a SIM Card
We spent 10 Euros for an 8GB plus talk SIM card at Vodafone. If you don’t have an international SIM (such as some US carriers offer) or an EU SIM with free roaming, we suggest getting a SIM card when you land in Greece. This way, you’ll be able to call police, medical, or fire in an emergency.
Note: your phone has to be unlocked for this to work!
We loved visiting Athens, Greece with our baby, and would encourage anyone who’s considering doing the same to go for it! While your baby won’t remember the experience, your family will create great memories. As it’s a relatively easy destination to visit with a baby, you’re also likely to get a bit more confident in your new role as a traveling parent!
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This looks fun! Thanks for the tips for traveling with a baby. Can’t wait for the whole pandemic to blow over so life can return to normal. I had to cancel a trip because of the situation. Bummer!