The culture and history of Greece sometimes gets overshadowed by beach holidays and often there are wasted opportunities for visiting the numerous museums and archaeological sites.
For families with children of school age, such visits are even more important. What could be more exciting yet educational at the same time than letting the children explore some of the historical monuments in Greece? Their eyes will open in awe when they see the statues, mythological heroes, frescoes and ancient sites in real life — things they had only seen in books or on television.
Kids Love Greece has selected the top six archaeological sites and museums that should not be missed on any family visit to Greece. All you need is your camera to capture those once in a lifetime moments and impress your friends back home, not to mention the teacher of course.
Acropolis – Athens
Starting in Athens, a visit to the Acropolis is an absolute ‘must’. Located at the highest point of the city you will be in awe of the magnificent temples dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. The children will see the climb up to the top as an adventure, and you will admire the stunning views. Close your eyes for a moment and try to reflect back to the Golden Age of Pericles. If you would like to continue the fun, hop on a tourist train which can take you to various places in the wider area e.g. the Roman market and Supreme Court.
Tip for the family photo: pose in front of the Parthenon and say ‘CHEESE’. Surely this snapshot will deserve a worthy place on the mantelpiece in your living room?
Acropolis Museum – Athens
The Acropolis Museum is your next appointment with history as it houses all the famous exhibits of the Acropolis. The innovative architecture will grab your attention as it gives the impression of climbing up a rocky hill as you go up the different levels, and the transparent floors makes it feel like you are in the air above the archaeological sites. Children’s activities have been carefully selected, all linked to various exhibitions such as the ‘Archaic Colors’ and ‘Looking for goddess Athena’. You can combine the Acropolis visit with renting a family Bike from the FunBike store across the road from the Acropolis Museum (can fit up to 8 people).
Tip for the family photo: say ‘CHEESE’ under the Caryatids columns which prominently dominate inside the museum.
National Archeological Museum- Athens
The National Archaeological Museum is the biggest museum in the country, with a huge range of sculptures, pots, weapons, and jewels covering all periods of antiquity. The neoclassical museum building is impressive in itself. Make sure you get a map of the museum and select the specific collections you wish to see, depending on the age and the interests of your children. If your children are of a younger age, we believe the exhibits that will be more interesting for them are the Cycladic figurines and the sculpture collection. For older children, we suggest the Egyptian collection and also the antiquities from Thira (Santorini) island, located on the top floor of the museum.
Tip for the family photo: say “Cheese” next to the huge and impressive statue of Kouros which is 3 meters in height.
The Oracle of Delphi
This archaeological site at Delphi, the most famous oracle of the ancient Greek world, is definitely worth the 2-hour drive from Athens. Open any Greek mythology book and read about Pythia who was credited for her prophecies which were inspired by Apollo. Delphi was considered to be the ‘center of the world’ in ancient times and it takes only a quick stroll around the ruins to understand why. Delphi is the place where history and mythology fuse together and proof that what was once a glorious mythical place is very real.
We recommend that you visit the museum before walking around the ruins as it explains very well everything you are about to see.
Tip for the family photo: say ‘CHEESE’ as you stand beside the large bronze statue of the Charioteer of Delphi
Palace of Knossos – Heraklion, Crete
One of the most significant parts of Greek mythology and also European history unfolds in Crete, the largest island of Greece. The Palace of Knossos with its 4000 years of history lies just to the south of Heraklion, the island’s capital city. This was the cradle of the first European civilization, the Minoans. Knossos is also associated with great legends such as Theseus and the Minotaur, and Daedalus and Icarus.
Marvel at the colorful frescoes as you travel back in time. The throne room of the great King Minos will impress the boys, while the Boudoir of Queen Pasiphae will go down well with the girls.
Tip for the family photo: say ‘CHEESE’ as you stand in front of the fresco ‘Prince of the Lilies’ or ‘The Blue Ladies’.
Archeological Museum – Heraklion, Crete
The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is located in the center of Heraklion and should be seen as an integral part of your visit to the Palace of Knossos. It has recently been renovated and its new wing adds an extra sparkle to the museum. All the captions are stylish and the explanatory texts will help you understand the glory of all the exhibits. One of the exhibits, the Phaistos disc, will probably be your children’s favorite showpiece as it has an air of mystery to it. As of today, no one has managed to decipher its meaning. Indeed, the National Geographic rightly included it in the X-files of ancient times.
Tip for the family photo: say ‘CHEESE’ next to Phaistos Disc. Put your archaeologist-explorer hat on and try to solve the mystery.
Do you need more inspiration about what to do and where to go in Greece? Visit www.KidsLoveGreece.com for real recommendations by local families.
Enjoy your visit!