Bring the whole family to explore history, art, and nature on this kid-friendly 14-day trip to Italy and Greece. You'll kick things off in Rome, where activities like a city-wide scavenger hunt and an art class keep the little ones entertained. Next, catch a flight to Athens where you'll travel back in history to the time of the first Olympic Games. End the trip on the island of Naxos for family beach time, a catamaran cruise, and all-around relaxation.

Highlights

  • Explore the world-famous Vatican with a family-friendly tour
  • Learn to make (and eat!) a typical Italian meal
  • Discover the mythology of the famous Acropolis
  • Enjoy the sea views and sunny beaches on Naxos
  • Sample Greek fare, like loukoumades (fried donuts)

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 Sunset Tour of Cape Sounion & Temple of Poseidon Athens
Day 9 Ferry to Naxos Naxos
Day 10 Beach Day on Naxos Naxos
Day 11 Ancient Naxos Guided Hike Naxos
Day 12 Catamaran Cruise on Naxos Naxos
Day 13 Farm-to-Table Cooking Class on Naxos Naxos
Day 14 Naxos to Athens and Depart  

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.

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: 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 9: Ferry to Naxos

Beautiful blue waters in Naxos
Beautiful blue waters in Naxos

Time to ferry over to bustling Naxos after breakfast. With an active main town where you can shop and admire the Venetian architecture, a historic Kastro (castle) area, and expansive beaches, the island offers opportunities for both laidback relaxation, as well as water or land activities. The rest of the day is yours to unwind as you choose. Try out some of these options:

  • Hike up to the summit of Mount Zas, the mythological childhood home of Zeus, the ruler of the gods, and the highest point in the Cyclades.
  • Head inland to the town of Chalki, home to the island's oldest market and a petite, shady square perfect for whiling away the afternoon. Stop at the kitron distillery to sample the local liqueur and learn about its distillation process over the years.
  • Visit the Temple of Demeter at Sangri. Multiple deities of fertility were worshipped here, particularly the goddess Demeter. The temple was constructed in 530 BCE, during the tyranny of Lygdamis, and represents a precursor of classical Athenian architecture. 
  • Stroll to the Portara, the entrance to the Temple of Apollo. Construction on the temple began in the sixth century BCE but was never finished, but the still-standing entranceway has become one of the hallmarks of the island. You can find it on the islet of Palatia, just over a causeway from the heart of Naxos Town (Chora).

For dinner, wander up the hill through the streets of the Kastro neighborhood to pick out your favorite of the area's tavernas, where you can sample the island's fresh produce in its best forms.

Day 10: Beach Day on Naxos

Aliko Beach on Naxos
Aliko Beach on Naxos

What's a trip to the islands without a day on the beach? With smaller crowds than its Cycladic neighbors, Naxos makes it easy to find your own slice of paradise, whether you want privacy or a more lively scene. Terminology tip: If a beach is described as "organized," that generally means it has sunbeds and umbrellas available to rent and plentiful restaurants.

Agios Georgios is the closest to the main town and generally filled with families enjoying the shallow waters. Neighbors Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios also have plenty of amenities on their sweeping sands, with enough shoreline that you'll be able to stake out a spot but sufficient tavernas to keep you fed.

The more isolated beaches of the southwest coast—including Plaka, Mikri Vigla, and cedar-lined Aliko—are some of the best on the island. They're farther out from the main town, and your travel will be rewarded with quieter sands and scenic surroundings.

Day 11: Ancient Naxos Guided Hike

Kouros in the shade
Kouros in the shade

After breakfast, head to the village of Myli, where you'll pick up an old footpath that leads to the island's ancient aqueduct. Hike up to the nearby quarry, where you'll find two large kouros, unfinished statues of ancient Greek gods, lying on the ground. Originally intended to hold up a temple roof, these giant statues were abandoned by their ancient sculptors when they discovered faults in the marble, but they're no less impressive for that today.

Pass the statues along with olive groves, orchards, and a shady riverside. You'll visit the Catholic church of Theoskepasti, also known as Agios Mamas, the island's oldest chapel, along with Episkopi, the summer residence of the Catholic archbishop, on this 2.5-hour guided hike.

Stop in Mesi Potamia on your way back to town to take a break at a taverna under the trees on the river bank. Spend your afternoon exploring the town along with its neighboring riverside settlements at Ano Potamia and Kato Potamia, connected by a walking path, or return to town for a well-deserved beach break.

Day 12: Catamaran Cruise on Naxos

Dive in!
Dive in!

Get an early start this morning to hop aboard a catamaran in the Naxos Marina for your day cruise around the island. Enjoy refreshments, like baked goods and coffee, served aboard the catamaran as you cruise to secluded beaches and coves around Naxos. A full lunch is also included in the trip, featuring fresh salads, cheese boards, and plenty of alcohol options for the older crowd including local wine, ouzo, and raki

You'll make several stops throughout the day as you sail into crystal blue waters and visit hidden sandy coves to snorkel, swim, and soak in the sun.

At the end of the day, return to the marina for dinner in town.

Day 13: Farm-to-Table Cooking Class on Naxos

Pass the kitron please
Pass the kitron please

Take a leisurely morning after breakfast, adding more shopping or time in the sun to your itinerary. At your choice of time in the afternoon, you'll head to Kaloxylos village to learn how to prepare a typical Greek meal in a local home. Join in the village life, with a 3-course menu that you can help determine based on your personal preferences, season, and what's growing in the village garden. 

Sample (and perhaps even create!) some of the island's better-known dishes, such as loukoumades (fried donuts), keftedes (meatballs with tzatziki sauce and Naxian cheeses), and cheese or olive pie with coffee, juice, bread, fruit, and yogurt.

At sunset, head to the Portara if you haven't yet. The unfinished entrance to the Temple of Apollo on an islet outside of town is one of the island's best views as the sun goes down.

Day 14: Naxos to Athens and Depart

Say farewell to the islands
Say farewell to the islands

It's time to wave goodbye to Naxos! After breakfast, you'll be transferred to either Naxos Port or the island's small airport to return to Athens in time for your departure.

Tasos
Written by Tasos M., updated Dec 17, 2020