Are you ready to bring Greek mythology to life on a road trip in Greece with kids!?
Kids love stories, and when these stories can be brought to life in the world around them, well, we are onto a winner – so that is exactly what we did on this trip, and now share with you how you can do the same.
Our kids discovered Greek mythology through the National Geographic podcast’ Greeking Out,’ and honestly, this is one the adults won’t mind listening to either.
But who wouldn’t love stories of heroic battles, hideous creatures, and tales of revenge, especially when they explore the bigger ideas of bravery, consequences, and moral decisions- we love these sneaky opportunities for learning when traveling as a family.
Greek mythology is so epic we still see it in our storytelling today.
There are the obvious: the infamous books of Percy Jackson, the Disney version of Hercules, or even the epic battles of the Spartans in 300, but have you heard of Xena Warrior Princess (maybe I’m showing my age now!) or Harry Potter (remember Fluffy, the three-headed dog?).
My point is that these stories still inspire and engage people, and this provided our family with an excellent opportunity to plan an epic kid-friendly and educational road trip for our kids in Greece.
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Interestingly, Greek mythology does overspill the borders of Greece today, but pushing the history to one side, Greece is a wonderful destination to visit with kids.
I mean, have you tried Greek food? That is reason enough to come to Greece! It has something for everyone: mountains, beautiful beaches, and olives…so many olives.
We spent five days in Athens and one month in the Peloponnese. We traveled in October, which is the shoulder season, and honestly, it was absolutely perfect in terms of weather and avoiding the crowds!
Why The Peloponnese?
We all know the stunning beauty of the Greek islands, but we found the Peloponnese to be an amazing region to visit, and a bonus is that it’s all drivable. Just an hour from Athens, the Peloponnese is a large peninsula connected to mainland Greece by the Isthmus of Corinth.
We were drawn to the Peloponnese for the history and a great deal on a monthly Air BnB rental, but it became pretty obvious there is so much more to the region.
“Peloponnese” Means “Island Of Pelops”
Pelops is the son of Tantalus (and grandson of Zeus). Now, Tantalus was arrogant and thought he was the BEST, even more intelligent than the Greek Gods, which is a very dangerous way to think.
One day, Tantalus invited the Gods for dinner and cooked them a delicious stew, which just so happened to contain his son! But you can’t trick a God, so luckily, Zeus brought Pelops back to life and sentenced Tantalus to an eternity of being hungry and thirsty.
Overview Of A Family Friendly Road Trip
This mythological family road trip in Greece begins and ends in Athens. Most places will fly into Athens, and the airport is well connected to the city using public transport.
Suggested Itinerary (7 Days)
Day 1: Arrival in Athens
Day 2: Corinth
Day 3: Olympia
Day 4: Pilos, the beaches at Voidokilia and Polylimnio waterfall
Day 5: Kalamata
Day 6: Kalamata
Day 7: Nafplio and Epidaurus
We spent just over a month exploring Athens and the Peloponnese, and while we suggest possible itineraries, consider how you can make the best of the time you have.
While there are no huge distances to travel, we all know that traveling for hours with kids in the car is not exactly fun.
I’ve included a few optional stops at potential places of interest to break up the journeys too. While the inspiration for this trip was Greek mythology, I’ve also highlighted some amazing places to explore, such as beaches and waterfalls.
We had heard mixed reviews of Athens, but it couldn’t be missed with major sites like the Acropolis and Parthenon.
We’re not usually big fans of the cities. We usually get annoyed with crowds, traffic, and general chaos, but Athens gave us a taste of the city buzz, and we left with a craving for more.
We ended up loving the city, and it was a great introduction to Greek culture and hospitality.
Do You Know Why Athens Is Named After Athena?
Athena and Poseidon competed to be the patron of the city by presenting a gift to the King. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident, and a spring appeared. It was pretty impressive until everyone realized it was saltwater and was undrinkable.
Athena stepped up and thrust her spear into the hill, and an olive tree appeared, offering food, oil, wood, and shade. This tree still stands on the Acropolis hill.
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2. Delphi (Optional)
We didn’t get to Delphi, but it’s worth mentioning. Delphi was considered the center of the ancient Greek world and was home to the famous oracle.
The oracle is what we all dream of when educating our kids when traveling- the all-knowing. It’s a beautiful and well-preserved site with a museum. Get there early, as with most sites, to beat the crowds and the heat of the day.
3. Ancient Corinth
1.5 hours from Athens
The Corinth Canal is one of the first places you will come across. It’s an engineering marvel that cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth, making the Peloponnese an island and allowing boats to pass easily between the Aegean and the Gulf of Corinth.
It can be interesting, especially if you get to see a boat navigating its way through or if there is a bungee jumper waiting to take the plunge, but our timing was terrible, and we saw none of these things, so we popped back into the car and continued on our way.
The Terrible Fate Of Sisyphus, King Of Ancient Corinth
Sisyphus was very popular with the Gods and was the founder of Corinth. He was often invited for dinner with the Gods and got to hear all the latest news of the Greek Gods. But Sisyphus was a gossip and shared this information with other humans,
Zeus didn’t appreciate his secrets being shared, so he sent death to take Sisyphus. But the King knew he had gone too far, so he had a plan. He trapped death, meaning there were no more dead people!
Hades, the God of the Underworld, wasn’t happy with this, so they complained to Zeus, who arranged for death to be rescued. For tricking the Gods, Sisyphus was sentenced to push a massive rock up a hill forever, and just when it got to the top…it would roll back down!
4. The Pegasus Statue (Optional)
15 minutes from Corinth Canal
We all recognize the winged horse of Pegasus. In Greek mythology, he sprang from the blood of the Gorgon Medusa as she was beheaded by the hero Perseus. Nice! It’s a good stop for a quick lunch, too.
5. Nemea And Lake Stymphalia (Optional)
1 hour from Corinth Canal
Visit the sites where Hercules fulfilled 2 of his 12 Labors.
Hercules’ first task given by King Eurystheus of Mycenae was to obtain the impenetrable skin of the Nemean Lion. This creature had never been defeated and was terrorizing the Nemea region by killing both animals and people.
Realizing how useless weapons were against the skin, Hercules strangled the lion, then skinned it to create a new cloak for himself!
2.5 hours from Corinth
After a brief stop at Corinth, we continue the epic mythological family road trip in Greece by heading to Olympia.
This amazing archaeological site was once the home of the original Olympic Games thousands of years ago (776 BCE, to be precise). You can spend hours here!
We fully utilized the running track by hosting our own family Olympics. Using the opportunity to record scores and times but also beat the kids in a running race! It also is an epic hide-and-seek site if it’s not too busy.
Olympia town itself is all about the shops and the busloads of tourists that visit; however, the site is so big that it never really felt busy in the outside space. It’s always a good idea to get there early and avoid weekends if possible.
Before you leave Olympia, check out the Archimedes Museum, with lots of interactive exhibits for kids and adults to test out. It’s a donation-only museum and gives an interesting insight into the Ancient Greek engineering methods.
The Archaeological Museum of Olympia is also definitely worth a visit!
From Olympia, we head down the coast towards Kalamata. The Southern Peloponnese is not far from paradise, and after several years of living in Southeast Asia, I had forgotten that beaches like this could exist in Europe.
But before we reach Kalamata, let me tell you about some of the best spots to stop at.
7. Voidokilia Beach
1 hour 45 from Olympia
This beach is special. As soon as you step foot on the fine golden sand and see the crystal-clear water, you know you have stumbled upon the absolute beauty of a beach. Don’t believe me, check out the picture.
And to make it even better, it has its own Greek myth attached to it.
Walk to the end of the beach and climb up to the Cave of Nestor. It was a slightly perilous walk up because we were totally unprepared in flip-flops and swimsuits…but we survived.
Heracles killed all the sons of the King of Pylos except Nestor, who later became King of Pylos himself. We next hear from Nestor as, an older man in the Iliad and the Odyssey, complaining about how hard things were in his day.
8. Pilos (Pylos)
30 minutes from Voidokilia Beach
A cute little port town with some huge fancy cruise ships stopping by.
9. Polylimnio Waterfalls
Just minutes from Pilos
This never-ending layered waterfall is well worth the hike. Bring swimsuits if you fancy a refreshing dip.
45 minutes from Polylimnio
This is the place for all things olive, but that is just scratching the surface of this little gem. More popular with Greek tourists, this place is filled with local establishments serving fresh, delicious food. The beaches are stunning, the mountains are impressive, and this is a fantastic spot to explore.
The southern coast is full of beautiful places to visit, and if you have the time, I recommend checking out the small fishing villages such as Limeni, or heading to the Caves of Diros.
From Kalamata, we begin our journey back up to Athens, but not before stopping for more exploring.
1.5 Hrs From Kalamata
This one is a definite stop on your Greek mythology itinerary!
According to Greek Mythology, Perseus named the city of Mycenae. On a hot day, Perseus found a water spring. Near the spring, Perseus found some mushrooms – myces in ancient Greek.
And here is Hercules again; he was sent to complete the 12 labors (as a punishment for killing his wife and kids) by his uncle Eurystheus, King of Mycenae.
And I’m still not done; it was from Mycenae that Agamemnon launched the war against Troy.
Mycenae also has many impressive archeological sites, but our kids enjoyed the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus.
The incredibly well-preserved theater has fantastic acoustics, which the kids (and the tour groups) will love. This is also the Sanctuary of Asclepius (the God of medicine). There is a museum at this site, and the rudimentary surgical tools were very interesting to see.
20 minutes from Mycenae
Nafplio is a very picturesque city, Greece’s first capital and you can also see the Venetian and Ottoman influences. With flowery alleyways, boutique shops, and Venetian houses, it’s an Instagrammers dream.
You can explore the Fortress at the top of the hill, which overlooks Nafplio and the Argolic Gulf, just a short walk from the town.
From here, you begin your trip back to Athens, stopping to check out those bungee jumpers at the Corinth Canal on your way back.
1 hour and 50 minutes From Athens
13. Temple Of Poseidon (Optional)
1 hour and 20 minutes from Athens
Perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea, it’s a pretty impressive structure, but there isn’t much else to do around there.
What To Eat In Greece
Greek food, well, if you have never experienced Greek food before, you are in for a treat. Not only will it be perfect for feeding the kids, but it’s delicious, fresh, and did I mention delicious!?
If you are looking for another reason to come to Greece (instead of the fantastic family Greek mythology tour or the beautiful beaches), then this would be it.
Here are a couple of foods to look out for which are always a hit with the kids:
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How Much Does It Cost
Greece has a huge range of accommodations, activities, and eating options for all budgets, making it a great travel destination.
For our trip in October 2022, we spent:
- 350GBP Car hire for 30 days
- 850GBP for 30 days Airbnb in Kalamata
- 2400GBP on activities, petrol, entrance tickets, and food.Looking for more budget travel tips for families? Check out this ultimate guide
Best Time To Visit
January to March – It’s cold! But this could be great for budget travelers.
April to June – It’s shoulder season in spring, a great time to visit temperature-wise, cool enough for exploring.
July to August– Hello, Summer! High season, hot weather, and lots of crowds. It is excellent for the beach but makes exploring the historical sites more challenging for kids.
September to October– A great time to visit; the weather is cooling, but the sun is still shining. It’s also starting to enter the shoulder season, so look out for discounts on accommodation.
November to December– The weather is definitely cooling, but it’s still warmish the further south you head—a great time to avoid the crowds.
Greece is amazing in so many ways, but the history is mind-blowing! Bringing Greek mythology to life for the kids is an amazing experience, and this family trip through the Peloponnese is a great way to experience these stories and characters.