Trying to find a welcoming place to recharge and refuel with a baby? Relax. Athens has a range of family-friendly cafés and restaurants that won’t leave everyone in tears.
By Omaira Gill
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If you’re in Athens with a baby or toddler, don’t be surprised to find bakers proffering free cookies or kiosk owners slipping them a sweetie along with your purchases. Greeks love babies and children and rarely miss the chance to spoil little visitors. They also aren’t afraid of a bit of noise (relish it, in fact) so most café and restaurant proprietors are pretty relaxed about the realities of sitting down to a meal with infants. With all this adoration, visiting Athenian cafés should be a piece of cake for parents. This isn’t always the case. While you will be welcomed with open arms, you could be left literally holding the baby when it comes to finding a high chair to set them down in. Smoke-free cafés in Athens are still a rarity, too.
Thankfully, more cafés and restaurants in Athens are clocking on to the needs of parents and offering clean baby changing facilities and high chairs— in addition to the great coffee so essential to sleep-deprived new parents. Museum cafés such as the one found in the Acropolis museum and large hotels like the Hilton tend to be ahead of the game in this respect, but if you want some local flavour, here are some of the most baby-friendly places to eat and drink in Athens.
Courtesy: Balux House Project
Balux House Project
Located on the beach in the Glyfada neighbourhood, Balux is a café-restaurant with a club-house feel that encourages you to settle in for the long stay. You wouldn’t be the first parent to pop in for a coffee or emergency glass of wine and find yourself there all day. Along with spotless changing facilities, there’s a cheery indoor soft play area for toddlers, a range of outdoor play zones for kids of all ages, and many comfy-cosy nooks where you can enjoy fresh pastries or a more substantial meal. A 20 minute taxi ride will get you there from the city centre (or hop on the tram, which stops at several points along the Glyfada coast).
Got bigger kids to keep sweet too? Oliver Family House, on Glyfada’s main high street, is a pretty good bet. Your baby’s needs will be well catered to and their big brothers and sisters will have a great time either in the indoor play areas or in the garden. When it’s time to eat, their menu uses produce from their own vegetable gardens (where kids can also learn about farming). High chairs are happily provided and the baby changing facilities are generous. The on-site shop sells a variety of creative toys and healthy treats for kids.
After a stroll through the National Gardens, Aegli is a lovely spot to park your baby in a high chair and replenish your energy. In a leafy corner of Zappeion park, Aegli does excellent coffee and cocktails and serves a menu based on traditional Greek cuisine. The interior is stylishly decorated with beige tones and metallic accents. It’s especially popular with locals during the spring when the outside seating areas become bathed in pleasant sunshine that’s just warm enough to shed your coats. Spacious enough to mean you’ll almost always find a place to sit and can allow your kids to safely roam while you people-watch, its baby changing facilities are a bonus.
For a guilt-free treat, hit up IT in stylish Kolonaki. This is one of the best places for delicious, health-conscious dishes and fresh-pressed juices. They also have a stash of toys to keep tiny hands happy while you tuck into their extensive menu. For a caffeine-free pick-me-up, try the Spicy Apple juice made from fresh apple and banana juice with a hint of cinnamon and invigorating spike of fresh ginger.
A relative newcomer on the Athenian foodie scene, Str.Eaters bills itself as Athens’ first food court. With eight counters dedicated to all kinds of ingredients, from pasta to potatoes, chicken to eggs, there’s bound to be something here for even the pickiest of eaters. Drop in for a pit stop and order at the Hola Fresca counter, which specialises in coffees, teas, fruit juices and smoothies. High chairs and baby changing facilities are at hand. And there’s a locally-leaning cocktail bar, wine station and beer menu if you’re fixing for something stronger.
This snug Mexican diner has a high pro-baby rating, which includes a strict no-smoking policy, highchairs and well-kept baby changing facilities. On a serene sidestreet just off bustling Ermou, Taqueria Maya serves Mexican street food (made on the spot in front of you) and especially good tacos and burrito bowls. If baby is having a nap, unwind with one of their margaritas. Still on active duty? A hibiscus tea will revive your spirits (almost) as well.