Athens – to stopover or not to stopover? A family perspective.

Our product manager, Rachel Gleave, has just returned from a wonderful family holiday to Greece, where she stayed in Santorini, Crete and Athens. Here’s her take on whether to stopover in Athens.

Memories of my last visit to Athens were a quick transit from the airport to the port of Piraeus and straight on a ferry to Paros, one of my absolute favourite Greek islands from my post school, free and easy, island-hopping days!

Ancient Agora

Boy, has life changed since then! I am now a mother of two boys who are 12 and 10, working for Turquoise Holidays with the pleasure of creating dream holidays for a living. Life isn’t bad but holidays have certainly changed for me. As a family you have to plan trips that ensure the kids will enjoy themselves and not get bored – happy kids, happy parents they say.

A beach hotel, St Nicholas Bay, on the Greek island of Crete was the main destination of our latest holiday – beach, pool, kids play area, activity room, can’t really go wrong! It was wonderful. We dovetailed this with a few days in Santorini (and that’s another blog) and 24 hours in Athens on the way home. Athens was a bit of a curve ball as busy cities would not be my kids first choice. However…….have any of your kids read the Rick Riordan books – Percy Jackson, Magnus Chase, Trails of Apollo… the list goes on? These are brilliant fictional books with adventures all tied in with the mythical gods of the Hellenic era. My kids have read them all are now experts on Greek Mythology, which lead me to incorporate a visit to some of Greece’s most iconic historical landmarks.

Athens has this in droves. We spend one night on our way home, with a full day before our evening flight back to London. We booked a fantastic tour with a local company called ‘Alternative Athens’….. this is not a conventional tour they said, and it certainly wasn’t. We had booked a family friendly ‘Young Heroes’ mythical walking tour, which incorporated the famous Acropolis, including the famous Parthenon with a walk down through to the main centre of the city and the Ancient Agora. Our guide stopped regularly to tell stories of the Greek Gods, with background stories on each which brought all the ancient monuments and their significance to life. The boys were totally immersed and enjoyed it immensely.  A definite tick.


The boys said it was one of their favourite parts of their time in Athens…….. that and the amazing dessert café called Little Kook – another must for any families to Athens – imagine an Alice in Wonderland themed street café with the biggest list of indulgent desserts, cakes, ice-creams, crepes and milkshakes you’ve ever seen! I’ll add a warning – order one to share – the portions are enormous!!!

Little Kook

I personally was overwhelmed by how impressive and beautiful it all was. The Acropolis should be on everyone’s bucket list, and I can’t believe I haven’t been sooner. What an incredible creation from all those many years ago and the adjoining Acropolis Museum was equally impressive (and air-conditioned – a perfect respite from the heat outside).

Beyond the icons I loved Athens itself and the different neighbourhoods in the old part of the city. The main area, called Plaka, is a maze of narrow lanes full of boutique shops (grab your leather sandals and handbags here) and pavement cafes, yes it was touristy but not tacky once you walked away from the main square– at night it was quite magical. Many of the cafes also had rooftop terraces with phenomenal views of the Acropolis, perfect to relax after a day exploring as the sun sets over the city. We dined at the rooftop restaurant called ‘The Old Tavern of Psarras’ which I’d highly recommend for delicious fresh food and a perfect setting in the charming area of Plaka (bookings recommended). Another area, away from the core touristy area, and where the locals go try one of the cafes in Psyri neighbourhood, ideal for brunch or a light lunch.

Rachel in Athens

We were there as a family but it was incredibly romantic and I would love to return, just me and my husband for a more leisurely time meandering down the laneways and exploring for longer.

I’d urge anyone to consider stopping over in Athens en route to one of the islands. Not only are the flights cheaper than the direct services to the islands, but you can also access some of the smaller, less developed islands from Athens, whether by ferry or short domestic flight. Paros, for example, doesn’t have a direct flight, which also means it doesn’t have large hotels and crowds of people. The towns are charming with classic whitewashed buildings and cobbled streets. Exactly what you’d dream of in Greece and also at a fraction of the price of the better-known islands.

View of Acropolis

Turquoise can arrange a stopover in Athens as part of an island-hopping itinerary to Greece. Ask one of our team for a tailor-made quote. I’d suggest two nights, so you have one full day to explore. You could also add an additional night and take an excursion out of the city to see the Temple of Poseidon and Temple of Athena.


For A Bespoke Holiday Quote, Or More Information On Family Holidays In Greece,
Please Contact Our Team Of Specialists Today.
Call 01494 678400 Or Fill In Our Enquiry Form


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