Why visit Greece with kids?
In my opinion, Greece has it all – incredible beaches, beautiful scenery, epic history and fantastic cuisine. The people are kind and welcoming – particularly to children – and the weather is very reliable. It’s also great value – much cheaper than some of its rivals in the Mediterranean.
There are some particularly brilliant places to stay in Greece with kids – converted farms, clusters of apartments sharing a pool, and plenty of good value beachfront accommodation. You’ll also find some amazing luxury family resorts in Greece plus lots of Greek villas to choose from.
In Greece, you can have a truly relaxing holiday. You don’t need to hire a car as many hotels, apartments and villas are located within walking distance of a beach.
However, if you’re looking for an adventure, you can go island hopping, take a road trip, combine city with beach or hire a motor boat and explore some of the Greek islands from the water. There is so much variety on offer in Greece. Water sports are very popular in Greece – snorkelling, diving, windsurfing, kayaking and sailing can all be found in Greece.
When putting together this article about the best places to visit in Greece for families, I asked several travel bloggers for their favourite place in Greece. It’s a rather subjective list – if you have any great suggestions for Greek family holidays do let me know in the comments below.
When is the best time to take a Greece family holiday?
Greece is undoubtedly a great destination for a family summer beach holiday. Whether you like your beaches busy with plenty of people watching, bars and restaurants, or a more off the beaten track experience, Greece has the beach for you. Generally speaking, anytime between May and September works well for a beach break in Greece.
If you’re travelling with young children and you’re worried about the heat in July and August, aim for an island or resort which has a short transfer, accommodation within easy reach of a sandy beach, and the option of hiring a car so that you can avoid any long walks in the heat. Corfu, Kos and Skiathos are all good options.
If you’re travelling with pre-schoolers you can take advantage of cooler weather and cheaper prices by visiting in May, June and September – there will be fewer tourists in those months too.
If you’re visiting one of the resorts where cruise ships dock – Santorini for example – it’s worth checking the arrival schedules so you can avoid the huge crowds on those days. Avoid Crowds is a useful resource for this.
For sightseeing, avoid August if you can – it will be no fun for anyone trudging around historic sites and ancient ruins in the heat, spring and autumn are the best bets. Easter is a particularly rewarding time to visit Greece – there are interesting religious festivals, delicious seasonal cuisine, beautiful wild flowers and the weather is generally pretty good.
Seekers of early or late summer sun should head as far south as possible – Crete and Rhodes sit on the same latitude as North Africa whereas the Ionian Islands are more on a par with southern Italy. Charter flights continue to the southern isles later into the year than many of their more northerly counterparts. May half term is perfect for time to visit Greece with kids – it should be warm enough for sea swimming but bearable for sightseeing too.
Of course, if you want to stay away from tourist crowds, Greece can be visited at any time of year. Just bear in mind that some accommodation, restaurants and attractions will shut outside the main tourist season so pick your destination carefully.
Travel to Greece with kids
The flying time to Greece is around four hours. Many of the Greek islands and mainland resorts have international airports serviced by seasonal charter flights and low cost airlines.
If you’re travelling to Greece with small children and you’d like to keep the travel straight forward, it’s worth picking an island or resort with a direct flight. Transfer times can vary so check if the resort you’re interested in has a short journey from the airport. For example on Kefalonia, it’s two hours from the airport to the popular harbour town of Fiscardo in the north whereas the charming resort of Katelios in the south is about 45 minutes from the airport – others are shorter still.
Exploring Greece on a family holiday
If you’re travelling with slightly older children, the extended journey to reach one of the more remote islands can be a real adventure and a great way to get a better understanding of Greece. You might want to consider flying into Athens at the start of your holiday and spending a couple of days exploring the capital before taking a ferry to one of the islands or driving to one of the mainland resorts.
Another popular option is Greek Island hopping – some of the island groups offer very diverse attractions and scenery. Less common among families, but equally enjoyable is road tripping in Greece. The Greek mainland has some incredible scenery and some exceptional historic sites – yet it’s often overlooked in favour of the islands and their beaches.
Greek Island hopping with kids
The islands of Greece are well connected by a network of ferries and exploring several diverse isles on one holiday is really good fun.
If you’re on a standard two week summer holiday, it’s best to concentrate on one group of islands to avoid overly long travel times. You’ll be dictated to a certain extent by flight schedules and airports – many of the islands can only be reached by ferry so you may need to spend the night on your “arrival” island before continuing on to another one.
So if you were to choose the Cycladic Isles, you might start on lively Mykonos (don’t worry – it’s not like Malia), move on to the quieter but still popular island of Naxos (fantastic sandy beaches) before escaping to one of the Lesser Cycladic Isles such as sleepy Amorgos.
In the Dodecanese, Rhodes and Kos both offer a wealth of history and plenty of family friendly attractions but you’re a short ferry hop away from incredibly quiet islands such as Tilos – which is great for walking (there are views of Turkey from its hillsides) – and Leros which has castles and traditional villages to explore. And of course if you fancy hopping to another country, Turkey is a short ferry ride away too.
Two centre holidays in Greece
If you don’t fancy constantly packing and unpacking on holiday – this can be tiring when you’re travelling with little children – but you would like to experience more than one part of Greece, it’s worth considering splitting a two week holiday over two locations.
Here are some destinations which work well together:
Athens plus an island is a good option if you’d like to holiday on one of the isles which doesn’t have an international airport – Naxos for example. You can spend a few days learning about the history of Greece and exploring the capital’s incredible archaeological sites before hopping on a ferry for your beach holiday. Just bear in mind that it will be very hot sightseeing in Athens in the summer time – little children might not appreciate the finer points of Ancient Greek history with the midday sun beating down on them – keep visits to sites short and ideally go first thing in the morning or as I mentioned above, plan a visit to Athens at May half term.
Corfu and Paxos: tiny Paxos does not have an airport so it attracts far fewer visitors than neighbouring Corfu. It has a rockier coastline than Corfu (the latter is great if you’re after sandy beaches) but it’s great fun to explore by motorboat – pack a picnic and motor round the coast to find your own quiet little cove to enjoy for the day. Paxos also gives you access to tiny Antipaxos – a pretty little isle of around 20 residents with some particularly stunning beaches.
Mykonos and Naxos: the Cyclades are so numerous and so diverse that they are perhaps the best island group for an island hopping holiday. Mykonos and Naxos are particularly good for families as they both have plenty of sandy beaches and things to do away from the beach but if you’d rather experience a more off the beaten track island, twin one of these with an isle from the Lesser Cycladic group such as Amorgos or Koufonissia. Just bear in mind that as there are no direct flights to Naxos, if you’re twinning it with a Lesser Cycladic Isle you might need to overnight in Mykonos or Santorini before heading onwards.
Skiathos and Alonissos – Skiathos boasts a particularly extensive collection of sandy beaches so it’s brilliant for families. Skiathos attracts a lot of visitors so a second week on the quieter island of Alonissos will offer families a peaceful retreat where activities include motoring along the coastline and walking in the forested hills.
Best beaches in Greece for families
When I was a travel agent, I was frequently asked for a resort with a sandy beach – children can spend hours digging in the sand so it’s an important feature of any family holiday to Greece.
Many of the islands and resorts in Greece have sandy beaches but some are definitely better than others. Not all sandy beaches are created equal – if you’re looking for a sandy cove backed by rocks or forest the islands in the north of Greece – the Ionians and Sporades – are best. For those huge stretches of sand you’ll need to head south to Crete and Naxos.
Note: the images you see on social media of stunning empty beaches will be taken out of season or at 6am in the morning. If you visit any of the beaches recommended below in August, they will have a few more people on them!
Crete: much of the northern and western coasts of Crete are sandy so this isle is a really good bet for families. Elafonisi is the famous pink-tinged beach.
Corfu: this Ionian Island is well known for its beautiful beaches. The best sandy beaches can be found on its north and east coasts.
Zakynthos: another popular Ionian Isle with plenty of sandy coves, Zakynthos is well known for its much-photographed shipwreck beach Navagio.
Skiathos: this green island in the Sporades is another safe bet for families – it has sandy beaches along much of its coastline. The south is more popular with families while the more secluded beaches of the north are popular with naturists.
Mykonos: there’s enough sandy beaches in Mykonos to ensure that there’s room for everyone – some are more geared to the party crowd while others are perfect for families.
Naxos: this Cycladic Isle is famed for its long stretches of sand, some of which go on for several miles. The western end of the island has the best facilities for families.
There are also plenty of good beaches on mainland Greece – the southern Peloponnese and the eastern coast of the Pelion Peninsula both feature some impressive stretches of sand.
Which are the best Greek Islands for families?
There are over 200 inhabited Greek Islands – some are tiny with little more than a village and a few sandy tracks while others feel almost like independent countries with their own distinct culture. There are islands which are famed for their archaeological sites while others are perfect for water sports. And despite so many more people now travelling the world, there are still plenty of Greek islands where visitors can experience that off the beaten track feeling.
There are six main Greek Island groups which you’re likely to read about when you’re researching your Greek Island family holiday: Ionian, Saronic, Sporades, North Aegean, Dodecanese and Cyclades. And then there’s Crete, the largest Greek island, which is not part of a group.
Family friendly highlights: late and early summer sun, sandy beaches, ancient ruins, attractive cosmopolitan towns
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete has so much to offer – it’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Greece for families looking for variety. Visitors tend to stay on the northern side of the island which is far more developed than the south coast. Chania in the west has a beautiful Venetian harbour and is a good base for exploring some of the picturesque beaches of the west coast.
On our family holiday in Crete we spent time in the mountainous interior of the island. Typified by ancient olive groves, rocky mountains and hillsides covered in wild flowers, inland Crete is incredibly beautiful. We enjoyed exploring mountain villages, visiting quiet cafes for coffee (which was always served with complimentary cake) and generally soaking up the spring sunshine.
There’s plenty of child-friendly history to uncover in Crete. We paid a visit to Knossos – home to the legendary minotaur – it definitely helps kids to engage in archaeological sites if there’s a mythical beast linked to the history.
Crete has some impressive gorges to hike through – ideal for older children who fancy a challenge. Samaria is the most well known but at 16 kilometres it’s a full day’s excursion. However, there are plenty of shorter ones also worth exploring.
What I loved most about Crete was the exceptionally family-friendly places we stayed at. It’s so much more of a holiday for parents if the accommodation has a family-friendly aspect. Our first stop was Eleonas Country Village which is a collection of stone houses with an excellent restaurant (with play area within earshot) and a heated swimming pool. It was wonderfully peaceful and I’d return there in a heartbeat. Next up was Milia Mountain Retreat which, despite not having anything specific for kids, it was a real hit with our two – they loved the mountain location with plenty of sticks, rocks and mysterious ancient stones to examine. The food at Milia was a real highlight. We spent our final few nights at the much sought after Ammos Hotel which sits right in front of a sandy beach and has an excellent heated pool plus a little play room offering complimentary child care for a couple of hours each day.
The Ionian Islands
The Ionian Islands – including Corfu and Zakynthos – are located off the west coast of Greece. Thanks to Venetian occupation between the 14th and 18th centuries (the rest of Greece was under the Ottoman empire), these islands retain an Italian influence in their architecture, language and cuisine. The Ionian Islands are greener than some of their more southerly counterparts and the landscapes feature mountainous interiors, rocky coastlines and some excellent sandy beaches. Hiring a motorboat is a popular activity on the Ionian Islands.
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Family friendly highlights: sandy beaches, motor boat hire, history
Lying in the north of the Ionian Sea, the beautiful island of Corfu is one of the best places in Greece for families. Known for its sandy paradisiac beaches, the elegant old town dotted with colourful Venetian houses, the rich and green landscape, Corfu offers a wide variety of attractions and activities for kids.
Kids’ most loved activity during holidays is playing on the beach, building sandcastles, paddling in the sea, hunting “treasures”, swimming like little fish. The beaches of Corfu island are ideal for the little ones, as they are mainly sandy, with clean and calm waters, and easy to access. There are also organized beaches, with family-friendly facilities such as water sports, lifeguards, restaurants, and beach bars – these can be found in areas like the Paleokastritsa beach resort, Agios Gordios, Glyfada, among others.
There is nothing more productive than engaging kids with culture and history while on holidays. Head to the old town of Corfu, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visit impressive and important monuments such as the Old Fortress of Corfu or get lost in the winding cobblestone streets dotted with colourful houses and boutiques. The food scene of Corfu is also ideal for families. The island’s traditional recipes consist of delicious and “simple” food, which can be found in any of the hundreds of restaurants sprinkled around the island. Avoid very “touristy” restaurants that will charge high prices for mediocre food.
A wonderful activity for the whole family is booking a day trip with a private sailing boat, where kids can enjoy snorkelling in the Ionian Sea and long dives.
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Family friendly highlights: sandy beaches and boat trips
The island of Zakynthos is so much more than a party destination. Stay away from Laganas strip and Argassi and you will find an island with family friendly resorts and some of the best beaches around.
This holiday spot is blessed with good weather and beach hopping is a popular activity. Kalamaki beach is popular with kids due to its warm shallow waters and the variety of water activities. It is also a nesting ground for loggerhead turtles. In addition to Kalamaki, other areas that are particularly child friendly include Tsilivi and Alykanas with plenty of restaurants, shops, and child-friendly amenities available.
For animal lovers, Askos Stone Park is a must visit. This wildlife park, found in Volimes, makes for a fun day out for the family. Deer are free to roam the park and interact with visitors, while other smaller animals such as racoons, rabbits, and tortoises can also be seen here. Another fun family activity is to spend a day at the waterpark. The two most popular on the island are Tsilivi Waterpark and Water Village that offer something for everyone.
One of the most popular attractions on Zakynthos is Navagio Beach which has a shipwreck from the 1980s washed up on its shore. If you decide to take a boat trip there – it’s not possible to visit by land – ensure you arrive early as the beach gets extremely busy.
While the south and east of Zakynthos are more developed due to their excellent sandy beaches, the north coast is rocky with impressive natural features including caves and arches – best viewed by boat. The island is really enjoyable to explore by car too – roads wind their way through the mountains and despite the island’s tourist appeal, there are several traditional villages worth a visit if you fancy getting off the beaten track.
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Family friendly highlights: colourful harbour towns, sandy beaches, beautiful driving routes, castle ruins
Kefalonia island is full of sensational attractions and things to do that are perfect for families to have an incredible holiday. Kefalonia is the largest island in the Ionian sea, full of pine trees, rugged landscapes and beautiful beaches.
There are beaches with calm and shallow waters ideal for young ones at Assos, Lepeda, Skala and Kaminia. Most of these beaches have tavernas on the beach or nearby. For older children, the beaches of Makris Gialos and Antisamos are excellent. They both offer organised water sports and sunbeds with beach bars. The Aqua Park in Lixiouri has many water slides and activities to keep children busy.
To discover some more natural elements of the island you can head to Karavomylos to explore the Lake and Melissani Cave. The Lake is perfect for feeding the ducks and geese and the Cave allows you and your family to experience a magical ride in an old wooden boat to explore the unique sight of Melissani Cave.
Kefalonia is also a wonderful place to go hiking with children. Mount Ainos in Kefalonia is the tallest mountain in the Ioanian Islands. It is covered in black pin and Greek fir. Keep an eye out for the wild Sami ponies that live in the forest. You can drive most of the way up making the hike not too strenuous for little ones. The path is a little uneven and there are no facilities at the top, so come prepared.
To get around the island as a family, the best thing to do is hire a car. Due to Kefalonia’s rugged landscape, this makes exploring the island much easier. It is also important to note there is no public transport from the airport, so it is best to hire a car as you arrive.
The Saronic Islands
These are the islands located closest to the mainland and Athens. Many Greeks from the capital have holiday homes on these isles so they have quite a different feel to the islands which attract a more international crowd. If you’d like to visit Athens with kids and follow it up with an island holiday, May half term is a good time of year to go – the weather won’t yet be sweltering so sightseeing will be more bearable for little ones and the short ferry crossings will make for an easy transfer to your beach holiday afterwards.
Best for: combining with Athens, car-free holidays, history, hiking, pebbly and sandy beaches
Hydra manages to woo fashionable Greeks from the mainland whilst retaining a traditional feel. The harbour is particularly picturesque with 18th century mansions and whitewashed houses. Hydra is car-free so it’s a great destination for eco-conscious travellers and families looking for a peaceful low key destination.
Most people get about on foot or by boat on Hydra – or by mule. Trips to the beach or hikes across the island are the main pursuits here. However, in the main town there’s also a surprisingly dense concentration of museums should you fancy a quick history lesson. Otherwise, simply exploring the narrow lanes which climb up the hillside of this particularly beautiful harbour town – it’s preserved as a national monument – is an enjoyable way to pass the time.
Hydra can be reached by ferry or hydrofoil from Athens in around two hours. Boats take visitors from the port to the various beaches dotted across the island – there’s a mix of both sand and pebbles.
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Best for: combining with Athens, bike hire, sandy beaches
Agistri is a small island that can easily be reached from Athens and a great place to visit for families for several reasons. First of all, it’s very easy to get to Agistri. Just take the fast ferry at Piraeus Port in Athens and in just an hour you will arrive at Agistri Island, the tiny town of Megalochori to be exact.
There are no large cities in Agistri, Megalochori and Skala are the main towns and they are by no means large. That being said, there are plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops and a variety of accommodation options. A nice place to stay is Skala Hotel, which has a swimming pool and spacious rooms.
Another reason why Agistri is a very family friendly island is its modest size. You can easily explore the entire island with your children without having to drive for hours. In fact, if your kids are up for it, a great activity is hiring a couple of bikes and cycling to Limenaria, a tiny village at the south of the island.
Dragonera Beach is a nice place to spend an afternoon and one of the prettiest beaches on Agistri. You will find a small kiosk, a few sun loungers and a beautiful sparkling ocean here but not much else. Build some sandcastles, look for crabs and critters in the rock pools or go for a swim. If you are traveling with a toddler or a baby, don’t worry, you can even walk to Dragonera Beach with a stroller from Megalochori (30 minutes) or Skala (50 minutes).
Best for: green and mountainous landscapes, sandy beaches, motor boat hire
The three main Sporades isles – Skiathos, Alonissos and Skopelos are a great trio – plenty of sandy beaches and nightlife on Skiathos, Alonissos ticks the box for that sleepy Greek island experience while densely forested Skopelos is perfect for hiking. And the best bit – they’re really close to one another, perfect for an easy island-hopping adventure or day trip excursions. You can also combine the Sporades with the nearby Pelion Peninsula.
The North Aegean Islands
The North or North East Aegean Islands (the Aegean Sea stretches south to Crete) include Lemnos, Samos and Ikaria. They are not connected in the same way as some of the other island groups, distances between them are greater so they aren’t ideal for island hopping. However, the North Aegean Islands generally have fewer tourists so they are ideal if you’re looking for a more low-key escape.
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Family friendly highlights: water sports, cycling and hiking, quiet island, sandy beaches
The tiny island of Lemnos, is a lesser known Greek island tucked away in the North Aegean Sea. It has been fairly untouched and unspoiled by mass tourism, and thanks to its varied landscape and fantastic family-friendly hotels, it is one of the best places in Greece for families.
If you visit Lemnos for a holiday in the high season (from June to September), then you can hop on one of several direct weekly flights from the UK. But if you visit during the off season, or are coming from elsewhere, then you’ll need to fly through Athens or take a ferry. The boat to Lemnos departs from Lavrion port (instead of Piraeus), which is one hour from Athens and takes 12 hours.
Lemnos is a very quiet and unspoilt island. There is little traffic, so if you head out on a road bike or a mountain bike, you’ll enjoy roads and tracks largely to yourself. The hiking is also great. Lemnos is most known as a great destination for water sports, thanks to its excellent conditions. The waters are calm and flat in the morning, so ideal for water-skiing and wakeboarding, and by the afternoon, the winds pick up, making it perfect for sailing and windsurfing.
Its capital, Myrina, is a charming waterside town with quaint streets lined with white washed buildings, as well as old churches, shady trees and peaceful gardens. You can pick up beautiful handmade artisan goods in Myrina, or head to the water’s edge for an excellent seafood dinner.
One of the best family-friendly places to stay is the Lemnos Beach Resort. You can either book this hotel stay directly, or as a Mark Warner activity package holiday. This means it’ll include accommodation, breakfast and lunch each day, water sports, tennis, cycling, guided hikes as well as inclusive childcare in the price!
The Dodecanese Islands include the popular isles of Rhodes and Kos but also a host of quieter islands which have refused to succumb to mass tourism – Tilos being a particularly rewarding off the beaten track destination. If you’re looking for rock climbing in Greece, some friends of mine have great things to say about Kalymnos.
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Family friendly highlights: historic sites, water parks, sandy beaches
The best thing about visiting Kos with kids is that it seems to tick every child-friendly box for a family holiday.
It’s easy to get to, with its own international airport, ideal if you want a straightforward journey with younger kids. But once you arrive, it’s also easy to escape the crowds or take a ferry to some of the smaller islands in the Dodecanese and to Bodrum in Turkey.
There’s plenty to tempt you to stay on Kos itself, from ancient sites to coast, historic towns like Kefalos to the forest of Plaka, so you can discover some of the best of Greece without leaving the island – plus car hire is cheap and roads are quiet.
If you’re looking for Ancient Greek history, the birthplace of Hippocrates is still home to the remains of one of the world’s first hospitals, the Asklepion, as well as the archaeological museum in Kos Town. Or wander around the 15th century Castle of the Knights for the slightly more recent past.
There’s a taste of traditional Greece too, including local honey, biscuits made from flour ground in the windmill at Antimachia and old homes to explore.
If you’re simply after sun, sea and sand, you’ll find powder soft beaches with shallow turquoise water like the well-named Paradise Beach, others with black volcanic sand, tiny coves that you’ll have entirely to yourself, and pretty much everything in between. Throw in two water parks, including one that’s great with younger kids, and hot springs including those at Bros Therma which are good for older ones, and you could spend half your holiday in the water.
The dry and arid Cycladic Islands are some of the most popular islands in Greece – the most famous are the party island of Mykonos and the volcanic island of Santorini. Both of these isles have international airports and so they are useful places to start an exploration of the Cycladic Islands.
Santorini is less suitable for little children than Mykonos due to its black volcanic sand which can get very hot to touch. From these two islands, there are lots of ferries to the rest of the Cycladic group – Naxos is a favourite with families thanks to its excellent sandy beaches and good water sports. But if you fancy getting off the beaten track there are some beautiful peaceful islands to visit in the Lesser Cycladic sub-group – Amorgos, Koufonisi and Schoinoussa are all worth considering.
Family friendly highlights: island hopping, sandy beaches, windmills, ancient history
Don’t be fooled by the party island reputation which Mykonos has gained – there’s plenty for families to enjoy away from the bars and nightclubs. Also, if you’re visiting one of the more remote islands in the Cycladic group you might find you’ll need to spend at least one night on Mykonos if your flight arrives too late to connect with the inter-island ferries.
Mykonos is very much about the beach – and there are plenty of sandy ones to keep little children happy. The island is very picturesque – Mykonos Town has the classic whitewashed houses with blue doors which are typical of the Cyclades and overlooking the town are the famous windmills, built by the Venetians in the 15th century.
An easy day trip from Mykonos takes visitors to the sacred island of Delos – said to be the birthplace of the gods Apollo and Artemis. Here you’ll discover the remains of an ancient settlement – incredibly well preserved and dating back over two thousand years. It’s worth climbing Mount Kynthos (around 110 metres) where you’ll find the temple of Zeus and Athena and some pretty spectacular views over the ruins and across the sea to the surrounding islands.
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Family friendly highlights: sandy beaches, water sports, island hopping
Naxos is a great holiday destination because there is plenty to do, prices are reasonable, and kids are warmly welcomed.
Your top priority will be good beaches and the island certainly has plenty. If you have younger children there are sandy bays with calm water like Agios St George and Agia Anna, or if you have older children, there are more exposed beaches with a selection of water sports. Plaka is famous for its world-class windsurfing.
There are numerous villages to visit, either under your own steam or on an organized tour. Apeiranthos is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Greece but you can also visit Filoti and Damalas. All are perfect for exploring and learning about local traditions and food. In Chalki you can discover the Naxian kitron liqueur (not for the kids!). If you fancy having a special family day, there are many great ideas including a walking tour of Naxos Town which includes discovering the local dishes and a candy maker. You can join a cookery workshop which is great fun or a mosaic workshop where you can learn how to recreate a Byzantine design or make your own. It is fun to explore the famous Naxos Portara which is the ruin of a magnificent temple entrance or to take a boat trip to another island from Naxos harbour.
Eating out with kids is easy as many restaurants have special kids’ menus. Gyros and souvlakia (kebabs) are Greek dishes your kids will love and in Naxos town, there is even a waffle house!
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Family friendly highlights: off the beaten track, sandy beaches, island hopping
Greece is famous for its islands especially the Cyclades. While islands like Santorini and Mykonos are well known, others still enjoy an authentic Greek lifestyle. Iraklia is one such stunning island which makes for a perfect trip with kids.
Iraklia is cheaper than some of the other Cyclades. The Chora or main town of Iraklia is called Pangea and it can be reached by ferry from Naxos in one hour (or Athens in seven).
This beautiful small island with a population in the hundreds is part of the Lesser Cyclades series of islands. Iraklia is blessed with that Greek summer feel you can only get on these islands with their white-washed small houses, deep blue doors opening into flower laden streets with a whiff of a Mediterranean breeze in the evenings. The food in Iraklia is exquisite and the choice of drinks match the weather.
Iraklia has the deepest caves in the entire Cyclades islands and tons of beautiful beaches and smaller islets. Whether you’re a beach lounger with a book, want to explore the sea on a boat or explore the island deeper with the caves, there’s something to do for everyone here.
The beaches of Livadi and Tsigouri are the best although there are tons of unexplored, unspoiled beaches in Iraklia. To make it more interesting and fun for kids you can explore some small islets like Venetiko and Schoinousa on boat trips.
And it would be really unfair to not enjoy the famous Greek sunsets. Whether you’re sitting at the beach or on a balcony, that feeling of watching the sky change a thousand colours from yellow to orange to red and everything in between is priceless. This along with a nice Greek dinner with your family will make sure every day is just perfect and memorable.
Family holidays on the Greek Mainland
When there’s so many alluring islands to explore, it’s easy to forget that mainland Greece has some incredible sights and some excellent family friendly resorts.
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One of the best places in Greece to visit with kids is the capital, Athens. There are many reasons to visit Athens, with great history, culture, food, and lots of things to do. It is a very pleasant city to stay in and, compared to many other cities in Europe, it is much cheaper, which is very convenient if you are going there with kids.
Athens is very family-friendly. A great place to go with your kids is the city centre. There are many car-free zones, which makes it very safe for kids to run around. There are many family-friendly restaurants in the city centre.
One of the best things to do in Athens as a family is visiting the Acropolis. This is a very interesting place with a rich history and many beautiful things to see. The Acropolis is an old citadel that was created during Ancient Greece. At this place, there were many important buildings of that ancient civilization. Of these, the Parthenon is one of the most recognizable all around the world. Another fun activity to do with your kids is visiting Syntagma Square where you’ll see the changing of the guard.
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Some of the most beautiful places to visit in Greece with kids aren’t always beach resorts or secluded islands. Delphi is the perfect example of this. We visited Delphi as a guided day trip from Athens, and, although the drive is two hours each way, there are a few stops along the trip and the guide was very helpful and informative.
Tucked away high on Mount Parnassus, Delphi was once considered to be the centre of the world. According to legend, Zeus threw two eagles in opposite directions in order to discover the centre of the world. Where they met was at Delphi, so it was known to the ancient Greeks as the navel (or centre) of the world.
The archaeological site that now exists at Delphi is perfect for families that love history. The UNESCO heritage site is wonderful, with the famous Sanctuary of Apollo, Temples, Theatre, Stadium and an archaeological museum to explore. Children will love learning about the fabled myths that lead to wonderful creations, plus the view from the top of the mountain is spectacular.
Furthermore, one of the stops on the way to Delphi was at the delightful village of Arachova. Although Greece may not instantly bring to mind skiing holidays, this spot high in the mountains is actually where many of the locals travel for their snowy winter ski breaks. The perfect family-friendly Greek travel destination, the winding cobbled paths, snowy slopes (in winter of course), a skating rink, traditional restaurants and cosy boutique hotels are perfect for an escape away from the usual crowds. The town does get quite busy throughout the winter though, so make sure to book in advance.
Family friendly highlights: off the beaten track, sandy beaches, water sports, hiking
The Pelion can prove a little tricky to reach which is probably why is remains off the beaten path. Nearby Volos has a trickle of charter and low cost flights in high season and the next nearest international airport is Thessaloniki which is over three hours by car. However, as with so many of the best hidden gems, the Pelion Peninsula is definitely worth the extra effort to reach it.
The Pelion Peninsula is like a hook which juts out from Volos and curves round to point back towards the mainland creating the sheltered Pagasetic Gulf. Just east of the Pelion sit the Sporades group of islands – including family-favourite Skiathos which is another way of reaching the Pelion if you can’t find a flight on the date you need.
The beaches of the Pagasetic Gulf are pebbly but extremely calm and good for swimming, there’s a sprinkling of sleepy seaside villages in which to base yourself and some very lovely villas. Meanwhile the eastern side of the peninsula is peppered with sandy coves along the rocky coastline. The east is perfect for stand up paddle boarding and kayaking – there are sea caves to explore and it’s great for snorkelling.
It’s worth exploring the mountainous interior of the Pelion where traditional stone villages are hidden within the folds of the green hillsides. Old mule tracks link the settlements and it’s a rewarding region for hiking holidays. Children will enjoy taking the little steam train which chugs between some of these enchanting villages, crossing stone bridges and meandering through the forests.
Road Trip Through the Peloponnese
Recommended by Abi from Inside the Travel Lab
One of the best things you can do in Greece with kids is to take a road trip through the Peloponnese. This gorgeous land of scrubbed green olive groves and blue skies offers plenty of chances to get off the beaten track – and to watch the clouds glide by from the beach.
The ruins here are older than in Athens. Yes, older than ancient Greece. It was on these green slopes that the original Olympians trained and the Spartans made do without.
And while you’ll find every modern comfort you’re looking for, in many ways, not much has changed. Olive oil remains big business. Walking, hiking and sailing remain key pastimes.
Bigger resorts, like the Costa Navarino on the western edge of the Peloponnese have brought deckchairs, cocktails and kids clubs to the area. But you’ll also find eco-tourism farms, luxury boutique boltholes and family homesteads in villages from the coast to the hills.
And the best yet? It is an area famed for its love of children. Picture smiling waiters and patient passers-by. A place where children are welcomed not tolerated.
The ruins, like Messinia and Mycenae, sprawl across generally accessible outdoor space, so as long as you switch a buggy for a sling, a visit with children is fine. Restaurants delight in accommodating children, and the fresh Greek salads and lightly marinated kebabs keep most children happy.
Roads are easy to navigate, petrol stations generally easy to come by. The area is safe, friendly and absolutely gorgeous.
Recommended by Maria from It’s All Trip To Me
Family friendly highlights: off the beaten track, stunning scenery, hiking, road trips, sandy beaches
The enchanting region of Epirus in north western Greece is one of the best places in Greece for families. Famous for its diversity, stunning scenery and rich history, Epirus is the ideal destination for families travelling with little kids or teenagers.
One of the best bases from where to explore Epirus is the charming city of Ioannina. Built on the shores of a gorgeous lake, Ioannina is a picturesque city with beautiful traditional architecture and authentic vibes. There are many fantastic things to do there as a family. A short trip by ferry to the lake’s inhabited island definitely tops the list.
Once on the island, you can walk the entire perimeter of the tiny island in about an hour and visit the Museum of Ali Pasha before ending up in the quaint square, a beyond words pretty place, to have something to eat or drink while the kids play safely and happily.
Besides Ioannina, Epirus is also home to some of the prettiest villages in Greece. Zagorochoria and Tzoumerka are two clusters of villages, perfect for families who love outdoor activities.
Tucked away in the embrace of tall mountains, these villages are the best starting or ending points for some of the most scenic hiking routes in Epirus. There are trails for all difficulty levels, including many that are ideal for families with kids. Walking past waterfalls, rivers and magnificent stone bridges is the best way for kids to create unique memories to cherish for life.
The best time to visit Epirus with kids is the spring and the summer when the weather is at its best and nature at its prettiest. During the summer, ensure you make time for some relaxing moments at a couple of the region’s seaside towns, such as Parga and Perdika.
Greek villa specialists and accommodation providers
Booking.com – this familiar site has a huge range of accommodation options covering all of Greece.
Vintage Travel – features villas with private pools in Crete, the Peloponnese, Ithaka, Kefalonia, Lefkada and Corfu. I’ve used Vintage several times for my own family holidays as well as countless times for clients when I was a travel agent.
Sunvil – the original package holiday company for Greece, Sunvil offers flights and accommodation along with ferry bookings to a wide range of destinations in Greece. The emphasis is on the less touristy resorts and there’s a great selection of affordable hotels, villas and apartments to choose from.
The Villa Collection Greek Islands Club – part of Sunvil but with more upmarket villas.
Simpson Travel – another upmarket offering concentrating on villas, apartments and hotels in the Ionian Islands and Crete.
CV Villas – beautiful properties in the Ionian Islands, the Cyclades and Crete
The Thinking Traveller – this high-end villa company is slowly expanding from its Sicilian roots. It currently features a range of destinations across Greece including Cycladic and Sporades island groups.
Skyscanner – really useful for hunting through all those low cost and charter airlines.
UK Government travel advice – check here for latest travel advice for UK travellers.
Avoid Crowds – this is a handy resource if you’re visiting one of the resorts where cruise ships dock as you can check the schedules and book your trip to avoid those days when mass influxes are expected.
Ferry Hopper is a great way to check schedules and book ferries across Greece
So, where do you think are the best places in Greece for families? Let me know in the comments below.
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