How To Plan A Family Trip to Greece
Last Updated: March, 2018
I love Greece. With so many beautiful islands, ancient cities and rich cultural heritage, I spent countless days exploring sun-kissed beaches, well-preserved UNESCO sites, and tranquil villages. Greece is not only beautiful, but also pretty affordable. Depending on your travel style and the number of people in your group, a trip to Greece can cost you as low as €35 p/p per day. Of course, prices tend to be higher when it comes to traveling in Greece with kids. So how to plan a family trip to Greece?
Greece is a very popular family destination. Hostels and summer camps are plentiful. Food is fresh and the Mediterranean provides a great mix of leisure time for parents and fun for kids. If you feel adventurous, island hopping adds a bit of adventure and provides a chance to visit lesser-known sand-fringed islands. Yes, there are plenty of islands surrounding Mainland Greece. And choosing which one is the best can be an overwhelming task.
Islands like Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos, and Corfu are four that have great beaches, vibrant towns, and a family-friendly environment. But when it comes to planning a family trip to Greece, nine times out of ten, it will conjure up an image of The Cyclades. All the islands are close to each other, which makes island-hopping by boat – a fun way to travel with children.
You can also island hop the magnificent Northeastern Aegean Islands near Turkey. Or visit the convenient Saronic Gulf Islands that are a stone throw from Athens.
Why Take a Family Trip to Greece
Vacationing in Greece not only bring brings a family together but also stimulate the learning process. After all, a lot of children (so do I!) really love ancient Greek myths and legends. It goes without saying that visiting places like Knossos palace in Crete where ancient Greeks believed half-man half-bull Minotaur lived, can foster our children’s imagination. Seeing the ancient historical sites in Greece personally promise great fun too.
I find Greek people very friendly. They love interacting with foreigners and always willing to help. During my trips to Greece, I have never had fear of getting lost. You can ask anyone and they will surely show the way and explain how to get back on track. Try asking locals about where to eat and you will get the full list of cozy restaurants and taverns nearby.
Since we’re talking about food, it is worth mentioning that Greek food is very kid-friendly. Greek salad, souvlaki, and pita gyro are great for kids. Greeks love enjoying delicious food and it is indeed remarkable because of its quality. Seafood, olive oil, fruits and vegetables, a huge variety of cheeses, Greek honey. Greek honey is produced mainly from the flower nectar, orange blossom, and sunflower and has a mild and pleasant flavor.
Should I Book Deals Ahead When Going to Greece?
If you’re planning a summer trip to Greek islands, it would be wise to get hotel deals in advance. Since summer months are usually the busiest period on the most popular islands, booking ahead is required when going to Mykonos, Rhodes or Santorini. Booking in advance becomes less important when headed for less popular islands like Sifnos or Serifos.
Islands like Paros and Naxos can be visited without any prior reservations in June or September. At the same time, months from late May to June and September to early October are considered the best time to go there. But it generally implies higher prices. That is why booking ahead will get you the best deal.
Being flexible with your dates is very important when planning to go island hopping. It is not only about saving money but also about convenience. While I know how complicated travel arrangements can be, it is always a good idea to book your first two nights on each island in advance and leave a few days for new plans and itineraries.
However, even if you don’t book ahead there is a chance of finding decent accommodation. When you arrive by ferry, chances are you will notice hotel owners greeting the visitors. They usually offer budget accommodation and family-friendly hotels. While these are often clean and lovely places to stay, some of these hotels may have an inconvenient location. When I was exploring the Greek islands, I had a map that I used to determine the exact hotel location by asking hotel owners to pinpoint it exactly on a map.
Getting To and Around Greece
While there are two major Greek carriers that run daily flights from Athens to Greek islands, you can also reach Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, and Santorini by air from almost all major European airports (depending on the season). Athens can be a great starting point if you travel from outside Europe. If you already in Europe, there is a chance to save on airfare by searching for flights leaving from major hub airports.
Since some of the flights to the Greek islands are seasonal and often available during late spring, summer, and early fall, flying there during the winter will almost always imply a layover in Athens. You can expect the airfare from Athens to the Greek islands to be as low as €45 round-trip depending on the flight search engine and promotions.
I just can’t imagine exploring the Greek Islands without ferry travel. If you’re planning a family trip to Greece, ferry hopping around the Cyclades islands usually promise a lot of fun.
First of all, you should put together a rough itinerary. Once it done, you will want to figure out which ferries connect the islands you need, and specify their timetable. When you travel with kids you don’t have to book far ahead. I would only recommend booking far in advance when you travel during July and August or public holidays. Since most of the popular islands are very close to each other, you can normally obtain a ticket the day before travel.
It is essential to know the distance between the islands. While there are around 220 inhabited islands, it may take from 30 min to 10 hours to reach the destination you need. For example, a voyage from Piraeus (the port near Athens) to Santorini will take around 9 hours.
Overnight ferries are always cheaper. Prices vary according to the ferry’s speed and ticket category. In general, a casual trip to Rhodes from Piraeus would set you back €20. Longer ferries cost more, so to ferry Piraeus to Kos it’s around €50. When you ride a fast ferry, you can expect prices to double. Riding slow ferries, on the contrary, tends to be the most affordable way of getting around Greece.
Best Islands To Visit in Greece with Family
Naxos is the biggest of the Cyclades islands and it has a range of activities suitable for families and kids. Filled with charming little villages, sun-kissed beaches, and ancient monuments, Naxos offers a chance to experience everything at once. St George Beach (Agios Georgios) is one of the most kid-friendly beaches in Naxos with calm water and nice restaurants nearby. Just 7 kilometers away from the capital, Agios Prokopios is another beautiful beach with easy access, sun beds, and clear sand.
No trip to Corfu is complete without strolling the streets of the Old Town. When I first took a trip to Corfu I was amazed by the beauty of the UNESCO listed capital and by this turquoise water. Corfu is home to many family-friendly resorts and tiny cozy beaches. I bet you’ll be spoilt for choice. When you plan a family trip to Corfu, I recommend taking a closer look at tranquil Kommeno Bay.
Corfu offers a wide variety of activities for the whole family including horse trekking and boat tours. Yes, Corfu can get too packed at the height of the season. But with so many charm, laid-back villages, and olive groves, it only takes a moment to find these hidden gems in Corfu.
There are countless reasons why you should put Crete on your bucket list this summer. As the largest of the Greek islands, Crete is brimming with exciting culture and history. The most vivid and vibrant expression of this culture is delicious local food. Feta cheese, greek yogurt, grilled octopus are just great when it comes to lunchtime.
Chania and Agios Nikolaos are the two best towns on the island for families. Depending on the age of your kids you can take family trips with mountain bikes to enjoy the wild beauty of Crete or rent a sailing boat and explore the coast. If you want to combine both these activities, South Crete has got you covered.
Located in the southeast of the Aegean Sea, Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands. Rhodes is also an island that I highly recommend you to visit if you’re planning a family trip to Greece. During my voyage to Rhodes, I walked a lot (hiking trails are plentiful). But don’t get me wrong – you can explore the island with kids because city bus service can get you anywhere on Rhodes including the Old and New Town areas. Or you can ride a boat for €20-30 (round trip day packages) that can take you to most sights by water.
Rhodes has long sandy beaches and warm shallow waters. With plenty of accommodation options ranging from all-inclusive hotels with kids activities to self-catering hotels, Rhodes has everything for everyone.
Strolling the Medieval streets of the Old Town and visiting the former site of the Colossus of Rhodes can be a great way to quench your children’s thirst for knowledge. Any family trip to Faliraki WaterPark, Marine Aquarium or the Petaloudes Valley offer a fun experience no matter what your age.
Well, ok, Athens isn’t an island but it still has something to offer to your kids. As a historian, I couldn’t have missed the Mythology Tour. While the Greek Mythology Tour gave me an alternative perspective to the ancient monuments of Athens, it totally worth attending because of captivating stories. If you visit Athens with the little ones, there is a Four-Hour Tour: Ancient Athens for Kids that get your children taking part in entertaining activities.
The Best Time to Visit Greece
I visited Greece twice last year — once in April, then again in July — and had two totally different experiences. This is so mainly because one trip involved island-hopping while the other one was all about history, exploring ancient sites and Acropolis. Starting from April, mainland Greece is a lovely place to visit with family. It is hot enough to enjoy sunbathing and swimming on most Greek islands from late May to early October.
Visiting popular Greek islands in the winter has both its advantages and disadvantages, like cheaper airfare but also that you most definitely would have to skip swimming. Hotels and restaurants are often much cheaper though. And while visiting Greek island in the summer is great because sunshine, fruity olive oil, local cheeses and friendly people, sightseeing in Athens is best from March to June and September to November.