Athens is one of the world’s great cultural capitals. But even mythology-mad kids can tire of all the marble monuments. When it’s too hot for exploring the antiquities, or your kids are crying out for some 21st century entertainment, check out these family-friendly museums in Athens. From child-pleasing activities to educational trails, here’s where to keep boredom at bay for kids of all ages and interests.
The Acropolis Museum
The brilliantly curated and conceived Acropolis Museum knows that the best way to hold a child’s attention is to make learning fun. Everyday life in ancient Greece is brought alive for children here in exciting ways. The freestanding statues of the Archaic Period are far more gripping for young minds than two-dimensional paintings. They can explore all sides of these marble gods and goddesses, lions and snakes. Grab hold of one of the family backpacks (available at the information desk on a first-come, first-served basis) and follow the educational activities geared at kids aged between six and 12 years old (even younger children will enjoy getting involved, with a little help from you). Families work together to solve challenges, aided by colourful children’s exhibit labels in the museum galleries. The backpacks have games with cards, stickers or magnets, puzzles, memory games and more. Smaller kids are better suited to do one of the less intensive Family Trails: theme-based activities based on specific exhibits. Hit the museum shop on your way out for a great selection of activity books, games and children’s titles, many of them inspired by ancient Greek mythology, archaeology, and culture.
- 15 Dionysiou Areopagitou, Acropolis, 117 42
- +30 210 900 0900
The Museum of Illusions
Turn your world upside down at this quirky museum where nothing is what it seems. Calling it a “museum” might be a bit of a stretch, but your kids will love getting hands-on at this well-located attraction that has a range of optical illusions to make them (and you!) think twice about how they perceive the world around them. They can swap noses, put each other’s heads on a platter, experience the absence of gravity, and reflect on infinity in the hall of mirrors. They can also pit themselves against brain teasers designed to stimulate and challenge young minds in the Playroom (many of them are on sale at the museum’s Smart Shop, if you’re looking for educational souvenirs). The Museum of Illusions is just by Monastiraki Flea Market and the Ancient Agora, so you can combine shopping and sightseeing with a little mind-bending fun.
Goulandris Natural History Museum
Are your kids into dinosaurs? Underwater life? Insects? Fossils? You’ll find them all at this peaceful private museum in the suburb of Kifissia. There are lots of life-size animal replicas (including a triceratops and a giraffe), thousands of botanical specimens, and all kinds of shells, rocks, and minerals from all over Greece. The museum provides educational games for children aged between 4 and 8 related to the permanent and temporary exhibitions — from real live reptiles to storytelling events. The Gaia Centre for environmental research and education, housed in the same premises, educates young visitors about humanity’s impact on our planet, using interactive displays such a touchscreens and video walls. After exploring the exhibits, have an ice cream or juice in the garden café, where young kids can usually be found tearing around on their scooters or playing hide and seek among the trees.
- 13 Levidou, Kifisia, 145 62
- +30 210 801 5870
Technopolis & Industrial Gas Museum
There’s pretty much always something afoot at Technopolis, a large industrial complex in Gazi that hosts free concerts, exhibitions, markets and festivals all year round —a lot of them family-friendly. Take the kids to marvel at the original machinery that once powered the city at this former gasworks (the giant coolers, engines, and chimneys have been turned into a small industrial museum). Then climb up to the observation tower to admire Athens from a dizzying height of 30 metres above ground. Afterwards, grab a coffee from the on-site kiosk or cafe and let your kids climb, slide, and jump all over Skywalk, a small but popular adventure playground, while you unwind on the sidelines. In December, Technopolis hosts a Christmas Factory, a festive theme park for children.
The Benaki Toy Museum
Luring your children to “yet another museum” will be a much easier sell when you tell them that this one is dedicated entirely to toys. Vintage toys from around the world to be exact. Give gadget-obsessed kids an illuminating glimpse into a bygone age of more innocent playtime pursuits at this museum that’s housed in a stately stone folly resembling a castle. The extensive collection of rare toys, dolls, puppets and games is among the most important in Europe, and belongs to Maria Argyriadi, who donated it to the Benaki Museum. Keep your eye out for the little horse that great Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos gifted to his grandson for his birthday in 1927. Other curiosities include early mechanised carousels; “modern” theatrical dolls; children’s literature; and popular boys and girls games throughout the ages (some several hundred years old). You’ll find the Benaki Toy Museum in Faliro, not far from the Flisvos marina and park, which works well if your kids want to hit the playground or seaside after your museum visit.
- 14 Posidonos & 1 Tritonos, Palio Faliro, 175 61
- +30 212 687 5280