Lifestyle & Culture

Athens for Kids, Pt. 2: Marathons, museums and mountains

(Editor’s note: This is Pt. 2 of a two-part post about the amenities in Athens for kids. You can see Pt. 1 here.)

By Christina Hudson and Daniel Barnias-Hudson

In Pt. 1, my son Danny and I wrote about his favorite green spaces and biking spots. This week, we are going to share some of Danny’s other Athenian favorites.

Athens Authentic Marathon

This classic marathon is beloved by people of all ages for athletic, sentimental and historical reasons. Some Athenians love it only because it is a special day when the city center is car-free and that is a rare treat for those of us who live in this car-congested city.

The finishing line is in the Panathenaic Stadium, the only stadium in the world constructed entirely of marble. This gorgeous stadium has been around in simpler forms since ancient times and, in 1896, it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics.

You don’t have to be a running champ to enjoy this lovely autumn day out in Athens. The 42 kilometers runners genuinely appreciate being cheered on by enthusiastic folks from one of the many vantage points, you can join one of the shorter runs or you can volunteer to help out on the day and enjoy the buzz in a different way.

Danny says:

This year, I ran in the 1.2 kilometer-race for kids 9-to-12 years old with a group from my school. It was fun running downtown with so many people and crossing the finish line in the Panathenaic Stadium was really exciting! After my friends and I all finished, we sat and cheered for runners from around the world as they completed their 42 kilometer runs! Amazing!

Goulandris Natural History Museum

This is a classic childhood museum located in the posh northern suburb of Kifissia. Most schoolchildren in the greater Athens have visited it at some point or another. The Goulandris is worth a visit for those wanting to see taxidermy animals, butterfly collections, gems, minerals and so on.

The museum’s films, plays and special exhibitions are a bit less exciting, in my experience.

The outdoor section of the café/restaurant is well worth a visit, but not for the food or the coffee (those are rather unremarkable, in my honest opinion). The attraction is the lovely atmosphere under the trees next to the main building. The gift shop carries some unique items if you need a special gift.

Danny says:

The first time I visited this museum I was four years old. The taxidermy animals freaked me out and I thought the minerals, gems and rocks were really boring. The only thing I really liked was a virtual reality earthquake exhibit.

The second time I went (years later) I had a very different experience. The taxidermy animals looked cute to me and I thought the dinosaur bones were awesome. The minerals and gems were nice to look and there was an interesting interactive exhibition about climate change and types of pollution. On that second visit, the virtual reality earthquake exhibit actually seemed really boring to me!

Mount Lycabettus

The best spot for 360-degree views of the city, Mount Lycabettus is ideal for a city hike. But, if it’s too hot or you just aren’t in the mood, you can drive or take the funicular railway up to the top. Predictably, sunset is the most popular time for international Instagrammers, but dawn is wonderful too. My personal favorite is actually twilight and watching all the city lights come on.

Danny says:

I like riding the funicular here even though it goes through a tunnel, so you can’t see anything while going up. However, the view from the top is breathtaking and I like to locate the neighborhoods of Athens while looking out over the city and its suburbs from the little chapel. It’s a nice walk down through the tree-filled sides of the hill.

The Benaki Museum of Islamic Art

Located in the city’s historical center, this museum houses an amazing collection of textiles, coins, jewelry, ceramics, metalwork, etc. representing a wide range of Islamic civilization both in terms of time and place.

The café on the rooftop is small and sweetly-decorated and the outdoor area has some of the best views of historic Athens that I have ever seen. Be sure to leave time for at least a quick drink or snack!

Danny says:

My mom and I are doing lessons on religions of the world and this was a kind of field trip for the lessons on Islam. I really liked the very detailed artwork on the tapestries and tiles. I also liked some small figurines and the Arabic writing that was on some of the designs.

Eugenides Foundation Planetarium

The dome is impressive and many of the educational programs, interactive games and exhibitions are a big hit among science, nature and technology lovers. Some of the 3D-movies they show (about nature, space, etc) are known to be a bit silly and/or not always age appropriate, so be sure to read up a bit before booking your tickets.

Danny says:

I went with some other kids for a friend’s birthday last year. It was really cool watching a documentary projected on the big dome. I felt like I was right in the action of the film!


See more about Athens here in Dispatches’ archives.

Read more from Christina here.

Website | + posts

A Pittsburgher by birth, Christina T. Hudson is also half Greek and has – so far – spent most of her life in Athens, the chaotic but captivating capital city of Greece.

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