If you are taking your family to Athens on a holiday, chances are you have this picture in your mind of days spend exploring the ruins, climbing the Acropolis, visiting museums and hanging out in little restaurants off market streets.
But what happens if the kids suddenly get sick of ruins and museums, or the weather turns bad right as you were about to climb the Acropolis? We had one of “those” days in Athens. We awoke to a cold, wet, windy winters morning and shelved our plans to explore the Acropolis.
That’s when we discovered the Hellenic Children’s Museum.
In the heart of the Plaka just a short walk from the Acropolis is a converted townhouse filled with two floors of rooms containing hands on experiments, science fun, puzzles, arts and crafts, make-believe and cooking lessons designed for children aged 4-12. Even better it’s free!!! There’s also an infants room for younger children.
The museum aims to inspire children to learn and retain information through real world experiences, hands on activities and investigation. And it does a great job. There’s nothing high-tech or fancy here like you’ll see in modern science museums, just great old fashioned interactive projects.
There is a Bubble Room where children can play with water and soap to create giant bubbles, a playground with building materials, a water experiment room, a marketplace with a pretend bakery, pharmacy, grocery store and butchers. Upstairs is a room filled with everyday objects from previous decades, a room dedicated to the human body and health, and a factory room where children learn about mass production.
We learned about the human body, made collages and constructed an actual 3D food pyramid … well with plastic food!
We played with tangrams, saw a machine that large groups could work together to make their own potato chips, made music and did puzzles. All with the assistance of the lovely staff, which gave Mum a great break! It’s always nice to have someone else along in a museum to answer all the kids questions and say ‘yes’ to their every whim!
Hayley loved the play kitchen and marketplace. If I was to put a bed in the corner of the room Hayley would never leave.
If you go there with four or more children, the kids can bake their own cookies or make chocolate (depending on the current theme) and learn about the science of cooking.
Sadly there was just us there so the staff just set us up with aprons and helped the kids to bake pretended cookies. It was still a lot of fun. We even pretended to use the oven and smelt different spices.
The Hellenic Children’s Museum is open from 10am-2pm Tuesday to Friday and 10am-3pm Saturday and Sunday. It’s worth calling ahead before you visit as I’ve heard it doesn’t always stick to these hours and occasionally closes down.
The museum is popular with school groups, so it can be very busy between 11-1 and you may even find that certain rooms will be closed for school groups. The best idea is to arrive at 10am and ask the staff which rooms will be restricted so you can plan your visit and work around the school groups to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the activities.