Enjoy a mini Greek experience with even the mini members of your family on this seven-day itinerary for families with school-age children. With just one week, you'll start in Athens to hit the mythology highlights, including the Acropolis and its famous Parthenon, with plenty of games and stories included. Then jet off to Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades, to take in the beaches and inland villages via biking, cooking, and more.

Highlights

  • Hear stories of myths and history at the places they happened
  • Play ancient strategy games underneath the Acropolis
  • Relax or windsurf on the blue and white beaches of Naxos
  • Learn to cook the traditional Naxian way in a local home

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens & Explore Plaka Athens
Day 2 Athens Mythology Tour & Ancient Strategy Games for Families Athens
Day 3 Parks of Athens and Private Riviera & Cape Sounion Tour Athens
Day 4 Athens to Naxos & Explore Naxos Naxos
Day 5 Naxos Bike Tour & Beach Day Naxos
Day 6 Naxos Villages & Cooking Class Naxos
Day 7 Naxos to Athens & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens & Explore Plaka

athens
Acropolis views

Welcome to Greece!

Once you've settled in at your lodgings, head out for a walk through the Plaka neighborhood, the oldest and the most charming neighborhood of the city and ideal for an evening stroll. 

Walk in the pedestrian part of the city and try to trace the remnants of the city’s various stages at spots like the Roman Agora, the Old University, the Tower & the Bath House of the Winds, the Benizelos Mansion, the Monument of Lysicrates, and all the lovely Byzantine churches. If you have the time, stop in at one of the two children’s museums, the Museum of Greek Children’s Art and the School Life & Education Museum.

Settle in at a taverna for dinner or pick up souvlaki along Monastiraki Square, then finish it off with some loukoumades, traditional fried dough with honey and cinnamon.

Day 2: Athens Mythology Tour & Ancient Strategy Games for Families

Learn ancient strategy games - Photo from Kotsanas Museum

Explore the Acropolis and Ancient Agora with your family, learning about Greek mythology and history while enjoying views of the city and kid-friendly activities.

After meeting your guide, you'll start your walk up to Acropolis Hill, the "Sacred Rock" that defines Athens. You'll visit all its popular monuments, including the Parthenon, Theater of Dionysus, Temple of Athena Nike, and Temple of Erechtheion. Listen to the legends of the Greek pantheon, such as the mighty Zeus, Athena (goddess of wisdom), Poseidon (god of the sea), Dionysus (god of wine and theater), and more. The stories will keep kids entertained and asking questions.

After enjoying Acropolis Hill and learning the city's secrets, you'll walk down to the ancient marketplace, the Agora. Socrates and Plato hosted many political and philosophical discussions on this plaza. At the end of the tour, enjoy a family activity inside the Agora, using all your newfound knowledge about Greek gods, goddesses, and heroes.

Next, you'll head to the Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology to test your skills and learn about ancient puzzles and strategic games. During an experience designed to maintain the entire family's focus and interest, you'll discover and practice important intelligence strategies used by ancient Greeks from as early as the Minoan to the Late Hellenistic period. 

Start by learning a few games, including pawns and dice, where you'll compete for trias and enneas. You'll also observe the rules of playing tilia and polis before practicing a few rounds yourself. Then, tackle the ostomachion of Archimedes, a puzzle consisting of 14 geometrical pieces. When finished, you can take a wooden version home with you. After the games are done, you'll have time to peruse the rest of this unique institution, which features a fully functional model of the Antikythera Mechanism, the oldest example of an analog computer.

Day 3: Parks of Athens and Private Riviera & Cape Sounion Tour

Explore the Ancient Greek Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

Trade the bustling markets and ancient sites of Athens for a little reprieve in nature. Greece's lively capital is home to its fair share of peaceful and verdant parks and hills, all reachable within the city center.

From the hill atop Mt. Lycabettus, you'll enjoy sweeping, panoramic views of the ancient city, including the famed Acropolis Hill and the Saronic Gulf. Avoid the long lines at the funicular and follow one of the innumerable paths to the top. Along the way, you'll pass several viewpoints and pockets of green to enjoy a rest, picnic, or game of frisbee. The park feels like a different world despite being in the middle of buzzy Athens.

For a different perspective, Philopappos Hill just southwest of the Acropolis is one of the best places to get those perfect city views. On top of the hill, you'll find a mausoleum dedicated to its namesake: a famous mogul and benefactor of Athens. Philopappos lived in the city from the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. Along with the nearby slopes of Pnyx and Nymphs, the hill is a favorite amongst Athenians and tourists alike and a great spot for a pleasant walk or picnic.

Next up, a private car will whisk you along the Athenian Riviera, a beautiful coastline with hidden bays and beaches. You will pass from the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center and Park and then by the Flisvos Marina with its family-friendly restaurants and coffee shops. 

You can make an optional stop here to visit the Neraida Floating Museum, which narrates the business career of the ship’s owner, John Latsis, as well as the history of the ship from its construction in 1939 to the completion of its reconstruction in 2010. If you and your kids love ships and boats, and especially battleships, do not miss the opportunity to visit the Park of Naval Tradition inside the marina. Historic vessels are docked there, such as the destroyer “Velos” (now a museum of the struggle against the military dictatorship), the only copy of an ancient trireme named “Olympias” and the cable-laying ship “Thales of Miletus’ constructed in the U.S. in 1909.

Opposite the marina, you will find the Benaki Toy Museum, which opened to the public in 2017. Its holdings, based on the collection of Maria Argyriadi, include toys, books, ephemera, clothing, and other items associated with childhood from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. You can opt for a private tour and interactive activity here as well.

Further south, another optional stop is at the rescue and rehabilitation center for sea turtles, run by the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece in Glyfada. Its purpose is to treat injured and sick sea turtles and eventually release them back into the sea, as well as to raise awareness regarding this rare species that reproduces in the endless sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. Take part in the sea turtle rescue tours, adopt a sea turtle for 10 days, and enjoy a meal on the Glyfada beach. 

The tour ends at the tip of Cape Sounion, home to the famous Temple of Poseidon that overlooks the Saronic Gulf and its islands. Before heading back to the city, you can opt for an early dinner at a traditional taverna right on the beach. Enjoy fresh seafood caught just a few feet from where you're sitting, plus good company and the sound of the waves lapping the shore as you watch the sunset.

Day 4: Athens to Naxos & Explore Naxos

View over Chora, Naxos
Hop a flight to the islands with a 40-minute plane ride from Athens to Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades.
The evening is yours to explore the dusky beauty of Naxos town (Chora). Start by exploring the narrow streets with their distinctive white and blue accents, admiring the Cycladic architecture. The unique positioning of the buildings protects from the heat and wind, and historically from external threats. 

You'll find hidden alleyways and courtyards, all exposing the daily routines of the locals. Overlooking the town of Naxos and atop a small hill is the Venetian Castle, or the Kastro as the locals call it. All the narrow, twisting streets seem to slowly pass through time, helping you travel back to the Venetian era as you ascend the castle.

Then, make your way down to the seafront promenade for a totally different look and feel. The waterfront is far more lively and cosmopolitan, connecting the island to the rest of the Cyclades. Stop for snacks or drinks while you wander, and don't miss the famous local cheeses—the island is one of the few places in Greece that produces cheese using cow milk. You can also sip on the locals' favorite liqueur, kitron.

As the sun starts to set, walk across a short causeway to the Portara, the Temple of Apollo's entryway. This is one of the best places to watch the horizon change colors and relax as dusk turns to night. The Portara is the only part of the temple that still stands today, proudly enduring on the islet of Palatia.

Day 5: Naxos Bike Tour & Beach Day

Looking to the sea from Naxos

Set out to explore Naxos via bike today. Enjoy a road cycling session with a professional guide on a popular route through the island's western side. You’ll pass by the beaches as well as the traditional villages of Vivlos, Agios Arsenios, and Glinado. You'll also head off the beaten path to a traditional tavern in the town of Mesi Potamia, where you can enjoy this relaxing atmosphere amid the trees by the river. 

If you want, you can expand your trip by an additional 8 miles (13 km) and opt for an inland route rather than cycling by the beaches. You'll still visit the traditional villages, as well as the Temple of Demeter and the Byzantine Church of Agios Mamas.

Once you've sufficiently exerted yourself, it's time to hit the beach. Featuring smaller crowds than its Cycladic neighbors, Naxos makes it easy to find your own slice of paradise on its famed beaches. Whether you're looking for privacy, rustic beauty, or a lively scene, you can find it on Naxos. 

Depending on your preferences, there are a few suggestions for Naxos beaches.

  • Agios Georgios. This beach is the closest option to the main town, offering easy access and proximity to cafes, restaurants, and shops. Generally filled with families, it's the perfect option for enjoying shallow waters and a bit more energy. An Aqua Fun Park for kids can be found in Stelida.
  • Agia Anna & Agios Prokopios. Both beaches feature sweeping sandy banks and offer plenty of amenities, including chairs, umbrellas, and tavernas. With a lengthy shoreline, you can easily claim a spot and enjoy privacy. The shallow water makes them an excellent option for families and snorkeling. You can find pedal boats to rent.
  • Plaka & Apollonas. Like Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios, these two beaches offer amenities, privacy, and family-friendly waters. However, they're slightly less crowded and provide a quieter reprieve.

If your family is on the sportier side, there are options for beginners' classes in kitesurfing, windsurfing, and scuba diving as well.

Day 6: Naxos Villages & Cooking Class

Streets of Chalki
Streets of Chalki

Rent a car today to explore the charming and historic villages of Naxos at your own speed. You'll zip through the island's peaceful nature, stopping to admire quaint towns and savor scenic vistas. 

A great place to start is the village of Apiranthos, situated at the foot of Fanari Mountain, the island's third-highest peak. Known as the "Marble Village," it's home to winding streets and traditional architecture. Many buildings and alleyways feature the famous marble, left untouched since the days of the Venetians. The local dialect also seems preserved in time, with its unique blend of Ancient Greek and Byzantine elements.

While in Apiranthos, enjoy a short hike beyond the village and visit the nearby Agia Kyriaki Church. This former Byzantine chapel is best known for the remnants of its historic murals.

Next, continue to Chalki, once the island's capital and main administrative and trade center. The town sits scenically in the Valley of Tragea, the primary olive cultivation area of the Cyclades. You'll find numerous neoclassical houses and buildings, all a testimony to the wealth and power the village once had. 

As you stroll through Chalki, admire the old mansions, picturesque churches, and colorful alleys featuring a combination of Venetian towers and Byzantine chapels. Amongst Naxos’ oldest churches, you'll find the Church of Panagia (the Virgin). This chapel dates back to the 9th century and features beautiful Byzantine and post-Byzantine frescoes.

Depending on your preferences and the time available, consider visiting another village or two. Some suggestions include Koronos, Filoti, and Sangri. Most of the towns feature pedestrian-only streets so that you can enjoy their charming squares and streets in peace. Get lost amongst the winding pathways that crawl up and down the mountainside and discover the daily rituals of local life.

End your drive in the village of Kaloxylos, home to just 30 inhabitants, for a cooking class. The hamlet's charms range from flower-filled yards to century-old olive trees, classical architecture, an impressive church, and the Cyclades' biggest folklore museum. A local family will welcome you into their home and share stories about everyday life in this traditional little town. Then, you'll prepare a typical Greek meal.

You'll help your host prepare a three-course menu based on fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients. Using traditional recipes passed down from generations, you'll learn about the Mediterranean diet and why it's significant to the islanders. When finished, enjoy your meal the Greek way: alongside local wine (for parents). Swap stories with the family and ask questions about the recipes, ingredients, and Naxian cuisine.

Day 7: Naxos to Athens & Depart

View over Athens
Hop a flight of about  40 minutes back to Athens, where you'll catch your international transfer to head home or onto your next adventure.

Map

Map of City to Cyclades for Families: Athens and Naxos - 7 Days
Map of City to Cyclades for Families: Athens and Naxos - 7 Days