If your family loves to travel and explore together, look no further than this kid-friendly 10-day trip to the Mediterranean. With a five-day stay in Italy's capital, you'll have plenty of time to explore the city's highlights: the Pantheon, Vatican, Colosseum, and more, with experiences specially designed to keep the kids entertained. Spend the second half of the trip in Athens, where you'll explore the Acropolis, go back in history to experience the first Olympic Games, and luxuriate in a slower pace of life.

Highlights

  • Explore Rome on a city-wide scavenger hunt
  • Walk through the Roman Forum along the ancient Via Sacra
  • Learn to make (and eat!) a typical Italian pizza
  • Discover the mythology of the famous Acropolis
  • Reenact the feats of ancient Olympians

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Rome & Citywide Scavenger Hunt Rome
Day 2 Ancient Rome Tour & Pizza-Making Class Rome
Day 3 Family-Friendly Vatican & Art Class Rome
Day 4 Day Trip to Tivoli & Villa d’Este Rome
Day 5 Flight from Rome to Athens Athens
Day 6 Interactive Mythology Experience Athens
Day 7 Athens Food Tour & Olympic Games Experience Athens
Day 8 Day Trip to Argolis & Nafplio for Families Athens
Day 9 Sunset Tour of Cape Sounion & Temple of Poseidon Athens
Day 10 Depart Athens  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Rome & Citywide Scavenger Hunt

View from inside the Pantheon
View from inside the Pantheon

Welcome to Rome, known as the City of the Seven Hills! According to legend, Rome was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 BCE atop Palatine Hill. As the long-time center of the powerful Roman Empire, you'll find nearly 3,000 years of architecture, history, and culture throughout the city.

After arriving at one of Rome's airports, you'll transfer to your hotel in the historic center. Settle in and relax, then head out for a stroll and your first look at the Eternal City. The next few days will involve lots of sightseeing, and you'll spend your first few hours enjoying some of the highlights. This afternoon, it's the young family members' turn to lead you through the city on a secret zoo animals and monsters scavenger hunt. 

You'll explore Rome's top sites — the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and others — to find all the marble animals lurking in every corner. Learn about the city's history as you follow a trail of marble breadcrumbs, from lions to mysterious mythical creatures that adorn the buildings. Then, experience the magic and mystery of one of Rome´s best-kept secrets: The Marble Zoo!

After the treasure hunt, stop in a local gelateria to sample this quintessentially Roman treat — a reward for the whole family.

Day 2: Ancient Rome Tour & Pizza-Making Class

Family at the Colosseum
Family at the Colosseum

After a relaxing breakfast, it's time to head back out to explore. 

Soak in the sunshine in the beautiful Giardino degli Aranci, the city's vibrant orange tree gardens on Aventine Hill, or relax in the lush greenery of the Villa Borghese Gardens

In the afternoon, dive into the history of the Roman Empire with a 3-hour kid-friendly walking tour of the Colosseum, the world's largest amphitheater (skip the line tickets included), and other highlights of Ancient Rome. Start the tour at the Arch of Constantine, then walk through the ancient amphitheater to take a trip back in time to the days of the Roman Empire. Learn about some of ancient Rome's most famous and illustrious citizens, such as Julius Caesar, Emperors Augustus and Nero, and the Flavian Emperors who built the Colosseum. 

Continue to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. From here, walk along the ancient Roman street Via Sacra to explore the Temples of Vesta, Antonino, and Faustina. See the ancient Basilica Julia and Aemilia and experience the grandeur of the Roman Empire.

The kids will love exploring Rome's history on this educator-designed tour, and the booklets with puzzles, riddles, and a treasure hunt will keep them engaged throughout the whole experience.

In the afternoon, roll up your sleeves and try your hand at making traditional Italian foods. Your professional chef will guide you through every step of the way, from adding the egg to the pasta dough to rolling out the perfect pizza crust. Afterward, enjoy your creations as a family.

Day 3: Family-Friendly Vatican & Art Class

Learning to paint
Learning to paint

Today you will visit the Vatican City museums and Sistine Chapel on an exclusive 3-hour tour designed to be fun for children but interesting enough to keep the whole family engaged. Start at the Vatican, where you'll visit the Pio Clementio Museum, Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of Tapestries, and Gallery of the Geographical Maps

Continue to see the magnificent Raphael's Rooms, ending in the breathtaking Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Experience the magic of Renaissance art as you learn about the secret details and untold stories of the masterpieces.

Enjoy lunch in the city center, but don't get too full—the afternoon will be an active one! 

In the afternoon, let the kids tap into their creative side in one of the art capitals of the world. Your youngsters can choose between ceramics, mosaic, frescoes, or a painting course. They'll get to learn new skills, have fun, and create a handmade souvenir to take home!

All ateliers are located in Rome's city center, so you'll be centrally located for dinner after your Michelangelos-to-be finish their hard work.

Day 4: Day Trip to Tivoli & Villa d’Este

 Villa d’Este, Tivoli
Villa d’Este, Tivoli

In the morning you'll head 20 miles (30 km) east of Rome to Tivoli, located in the hills of the Lazio region. More than a town, it's a jaw-dropping collection of archeological sites,  gardens, and waterfalls—a veritable Eden where affluent Romans came to play over 2,000 years ago. Upon arrival, enjoy the panoramic views from the hillside back to Rome's skyline. Then it will be time to explore. 

Tivoli is filled with ruins dating back to ancient Rome. Here, you'll find an acropolis and temple plus villas built for aristocrats during the Renaissance. The structures utilize the surrounding water, as the River Aniene snakes through town. There are cave grottoes and stone fountains in Tivoli but also waterfalls. In fact, at Villa Gregoriana you'll find the Great Waterfall, which is the second-longest waterfall in Italy. 

You'll see the most spectacular use of water when you visit the Villa d’Este, a 16th-century villa with a grand fountain and awe-inspiring terraced hillside garden. It's truly one of the great landscaping marvels of the world. Naturally, it's also a UNESCO World-Heritage site.

After spending the day at Tivoli, you'll return to Rome in the afternoon.

Plan your trip to Italy
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 5: Flight from Rome to Athens

Monastiraki Square and the Acropolis.
Monastiraki Square and the Acropolis.

Catch your flight from Rome to Athens, home to the iconic Acropolis and so much more. The mythology of this spectacular city precedes it, with towering temples and the ruins of ancient marketplaces rubbing shoulders with lively nightlife, crowded flea markets, and contemporary cuisine. Make the most of your time in the city at some of these spots:

  • Check out the views of the can't-miss Parthenon. (Pro tip: The Parthenon is the temple, the Acropolis is the hill.) This temple to Athena has enchanted visitors since its construction was completed in 438 CE. It's probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of ancient Greece and is visible from many of the city's high points.

  • Stop at the sprawling National Museum for a crash course in ancient iconography. Be sure to seek out the room housing the Antikythera mechanism, essentially an ancient astronomical computer.

  • Visit a smaller archaeological site at the Tower of the Winds, then stroll down neighboring pedestrian Aiolou Street to stop at shops and cafes. 

  • Find your perfect souvenir or sun hat in the busy stalls of the Monastiraki flea market. 

  • Spend your evening exploring the up-and-coming Pangrati neighborhood or amid the nightlife and mezze of the Psyrri district.

Day 6: Interactive Mythology Experience

Interactive games await
Interactive games await

Experience the stories of Classical Greece from a new perspective during this interactive session. Start at the Acropolis, where you'll visit the Parthenon and other sites with guides specializing in children's education. Reenact the battle between the gods and giants for control of the world on the lands where it took place.

You'll visit the National Gardens next, where professional performers will present you with stories of adventure, gods and goddesses, giants, and more in the shadow of the archaeological site. In addition to the stories, the games will also continue, including weaving on Athena's loom, a puzzle challenge that represents the contest between Athena and Poseidon for the heart of the Athenian people (guess who won), and more.

Visit the Plaka neighborhood after the curtain goes down, also known as the neighborhood of the gods. As the oldest neighborhood in Athens, Plaka is home to neoclassical homes rubbing shoulders with outdoor tables lining the streets. Feast on Greek favorites such as the classic horiatiki salad, souvlaki, lamb dishes, and more. Go mezze-style to try them all.

Day 7: Athens Food Tour & Olympic Games Experience

Panathenaic Stadium
Panathenaic Stadium

Meet your guide in Syntagma Square to start sampling the best family-friendly fare that the city's street food stalls have to offer. You'll learn about the Mediterranean diet and its potential benefits while strolling the city streets in neighborhoods you may not have discovered yet and exploring bustling open-air markets.

Parents can say good morning with Greek coffee at one of the city's landmark coffee houses, then pick up some street snacks to sample on the go. Venture into the aromatic Varvakios Market, the largest and most popular fish, meat, and vegetable market in the city, and explore the city's main spice street. Sample olive oils, honey, cheeses from around the country, cured meats, olives, and more. Everything from baklava to souvlaki is available to appeal to even the pickiest eaters.

In the afternoon, switch gears from eating to exercising. You'll start off your Olympic experience at the Zappeion, the first building erected specifically for the modern Olympic games. Your guide will teach you the history of this global event in venues connected to actual Olympic events, along with tips on ancient and modern training methods. Put them into practice with a race beneath the sweeping stands of Kallimarmaro, also known as the Panathenaic Stadium. The grand facility was constructed in 1896 to host the first modern Olympics and is made entirely out of marble to honor the ancient stadiums.

Pay a visit to nearby Hadrian's Arch, the gateway to the city, on your way out of the stadium. It was built just after the construction of the Temple of Zeus to honor the emperor Hadrian. Made of Pentelic marble, the archway has been standing for nearly 2,000 years. 

In the evening, stroll over to Monastiraki to sample some of the city's best souvlaki spots. If you'd prefer a more international set of options, return to the Syntagma neighborhood, where you can find the neo-tavernas of Aiolou Street, street foods, and fresh juices. Sample the loukoumades, fried honey dough balls, to appease your sweet tooth.

Day 8: Day Trip to Argolis & Nafplio for Families

Explore the ruins
Explore the ruins

Spend a day exploring the history and culture of ancient Greece on this family-friendly day trip to Argolis. You'll start in Epidaurus, the most well-known healing center of the Greek and Roman world, considered to be the birthplace of that era's medical knowledge. With the guidance of your certified guide, take a tour of the site and experience dramatic games designed to keep the whole family on the edge of their seats.

From here continue to Nafplio, the first capital of Greece. Tour the city on foot, or choose a more adventurous option, like a bike tour with stops for swimming and a picnic. After your meal, visit an old factory transformed into an art center and enjoy a cup of coffee while the kids try their hand at various art activities.

In the late afternoon, visit Mycenae, the center of the Mycenean civilization and kingdom of Agamemnon (where the Trojan War began). For an artistic spin on the day, participate in a ceramic workshop to create your own souvenir to take back home.

Day 9: Sunset Tour of Cape Sounion & Temple of Poseidon

Temple of Poseidon at sunset
Temple of Poseidon at sunset

Take it easy in the morning, then head down to the Athenian Riviera in the afternoon, an area full of modern luxury, history, and stunning island views. You'll transfer from Athens for a guided tour of roughly 4-5 hours.

Your first stop is at the Flisvos Marina, where you can admire some of the Aegean's most impressive yachts. Then it's on to the seaside suburbs as you head east through the riviera, with a stop at Lake Vouliagmeni. Interestingly, the lake formed inside of a collapsed cave, and its underwater tunnels have never been fully mapped. 

From here, head along the coast to visit the 5th-century Temple of Poseidon, which perches on the very top of Cape Sounion. The cliffs overlook the Saronic Gulf, with one of the best sunset views Greece has to offer — it's no wonder that this site was chosen for Ancient Greeks to worship the God of the Sea.  Check out the Doric columns, where Lord Byron once carved his name.

Wrap up your day with an early dinner at a traditional taverna on the beach, where the seafood on your plate is hyper-local and the soft sounds of the ocean provide a relaxing soundtrack to your meal.

Day 10: Depart Athens

Wave to the Acropolis
Wave to the Acropolis

Time to say farewell to Greece. Enjoy your final Athenian breakfast and sneak in some last-minute exploring before your transfer to the airport.

Tasos
Written by Tasos M., updated Feb 18, 2021