Just for you, kids!
If you have already visited Greece for your summer holidays, then you are fully aware of how your children can really have the time of their lives here. But if this is your fist visit, read a list we’ve made for you and choose your favourite family destination. Either way, mums and dads, be prepared to relax and have a good time in a country where everyone, young and old is a kid, and “family” is still a special strong bond that holds us Greeks together.
“Paidiá, kalosírthate!” (Children, welcome!) is what you and your children will hear when you come to Greece. Your family holidays begin with a hearty, warm welcome in a country where children can enjoy memorable adventures in the past and present. Here they will find themselves in places where their favourite heroes lived, like Xena, Hercules, Alexander the Great, and the 300. They can learn about Troy and run around the track at the birthplace of the Olympics.
But, let’s see what else your children –and you, of course– will love in Greece:
• sunny sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters and azure seas filling rocky coves and caves
• classic ruins in romantic settings
• olive, orange and lemon groves and important nature reserves
• delicious kid-friendly food cooked with the most nutritional ingredients of the Mediterranean diet: virgin olive oil, fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, etc.
• water parks, beaches and spectacular swimming pools open all day long, and
• above all, safety and warm hospitality.
Ok, it’s time to present you with our selection of Greece’s summer destinations which we think will live up to your family’s expectations.
Here are just six Greek islands to help you get an idea of how you and your family could spend your summer vacations in Greece.
• Rhodes (Rhódos)
Where: In the Aegean Sea, part of the Dodecanese island group.
Why: One of the most visited Greek islands teeming with history and adorned with numerous sandy beaches, most of which have been awarded Blue Flags thanks to their excellent water quality, environmental management, and safety.
Must visit: The beautiful medieval city of Rhodes, the ancient town of Líndos, the castles near Monólithos and Kritinía, the other Dorian city-states of Kameiros and Ialyssos, and Prassoníssi, one of the best windsurfing spots in Europe.
Where to stay: At family-oriented resorts with numerous swimming pools, open-air theatres where children’s plays and music and dance extravaganzas are organised daily, or smaller guest houses scattered around the island, in the villages, near secluded beaches.
Join in with: Music, cinema, art and dance festivals, and the medieval festival held in September.
An extra tip for kids: Visit the Aquarium and Butterfly Valley.
• Corfu (Kérkyra)
Where: In the Ionian Sea, part of the Ionian group.
Why: Often called the “Garden Isle”, Corfu is full of olive groves, cypresses, bushes, colourful anemones, orchids and a number of endemic flowers. Even the long sandy beaches provide a good example of marine flora. During the summer, electric blue thistles, sea squill (of the lily family) and flowering shrubs bloom.
Must visit: The beautifully preserved Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO world heritage site, filled with Venetian, French and British monuments and remarkable works of architecture. The sites that used to be the old aristocracy’s favourites: Mon Repos and Achilleion Palaces, Paleópolis, etc.
Where to stay: Five and four-star hotels offer accommodation specially designed for families and daily activity programmes to entertain children (such as competitions, animation programmes, etc.). Family-run, beachfront guesthouses also offer all the comforts you and your family need.
Join in with: The International Corfu Festival dedicated to promoting the rich musical heritage of the island. Concerts are held in Duomo, Achilleion Palace, the Fortress, several museums and art cafés.
An extra tip for kids: Enjoy your favourite cartoon movies at the open-air summer cinemas in the city.
Okay, we’re cheating here! Halkidiki isn’t actually an island. It’s a peninsula on the mainland jutting out into the sea. But with so many superb beaches, it feels like an island!!!
Where: a peninsula in northern Greece, part of Central Macedonia
Why: Halkidikí is home to countless superb beaches, almost all of them blue flag winners, lush green forests and a rich gastronomic and cultural heritage.
Must visit: Mount Athos (unfortunately, no women allowed), the cave of Petrálona, one of the most important caves in Europe, Stágeira, the home land of Aristotle.
Where to stay: Rent a room in a traditional seafront guesthouse, or choose from a wide selection of major hotel complexes. There also hotels that offer specially organised activities for youngsters of all ages (from 4 months to16 years old), so that parents can enjoy spa treatments while their kids are being looked after by specialist child minders. Special prices depending on your child’s age are also on offer.
Join in with: Open-air festivals that feature world-class jazz, classical, ethnic and folk music.
An extra tip for kids: Enjoy pool games and water polo in pools specially designed for you!
Where: In the southern part of the Aegean Sea, separating the Aegean from the Mediterranean Sea
Why: Crete is home to Europe’s earliest civilisation. Glorious beaches, remote hinterlands and hospitable people. By far the longest summer in Greece.
Must visit: The Archaeological Museum in Iráklion, the Minoan sites (Knossos, Mália, Phaestos, Zakros), Lassíthi Plateau, the Diktean Cave,Chania and Rethymno old towns, Samaria Gorge, the islet of Spinalonga.
Where to stay: At family-oriented resorts which operate as self-contained communities and offer everything from sportswear to boat trips and cultural tours. The sand and the beaches in these places are ideal for children who want to play and paddle all day long. There are also countless guesthouses and 3-star hotels all over the island; either on or within a short walk of the seafront or in the mountain villages.
Join in with: Countryside festivals (paniyíria), wine festivals, religious celebrations held in the cities and in rural churches, traditional Cretan weddings and Renaissance festivals.
An extra tip for kids: Definitely visit Cretaquarium in Heraklion (Iráklion) and the water park in Chania with Disneyland games and giant waterslides!
• Zante (Zákynthos)
Where: In the Ionian Sea, the southernmost of the six main Ionian islands
Why: Lush vegetation, white-pebble Blue Flag winning beaches with azure waters, impressive Venetian works of architecture surrounded by olive and fruit groves, numerous family tavérnas with panoramic views over the sea.
Must visit: San Marco Square, the Kástro (Venetian fort), the Church of Áyios Dionýsios, the Solomos Museum, the Blue Caves at Cape Skinári, To Naváyio (Shipwreck Bay), the Cape Kerí caves and the Anafonítria monastery.
Where to stay: At well-organised resorts, in rooms, seafront hotels, rentable windmills (sorry, there are only two).
Join in with: Day-trips to tiny cliff-top hamlets to catch the sunset; religious festivals, countryside festivals (paniyíria).
An extra tip for kids: Learn how to protect the loggerhead sea turtle and explore the island’s fascinating underwater world at the Marine Park!
Where: In the Aegean Sea, the third member of the Northern Sporades
Why: Peaceful and serene, more rugged than its neighbours, with a strong British and Italian presence and second-home owners from all over the world, spring waters, pine forest, olive groves, orchards, arbutus (a native flowering plant), heather, kermes oak, and lentisc (type of mastic tree). Resident herbalists and a homeopathic academy. Some of Greece’s cleanest seas.
Must visit: Hóra (Paleá Alónnissos), Stení Vála, Roussoúm Yialós, Marpoúnda Bay.
Where to stay: There are a few all-inclusive hotels, many rooms and family guesthouses, plus some 3-star hotels that are favoured by people of particular nationalities.
Join in with: Art exhibits, religious festivals, countryside festivals (paniyíria).
An extra tip for kids: Find out how to adopt a newly-born monk seal at the Marine Park (and please eat some of the local apricots –they are really tasty here)!