Explore Greece

Greece – Family holiday guide

People are warm and friendly. Ancient history traces every step you take. There are brilliant blue skies, sparkling beaches and coves you can only reach by boat. Even the idea that Greece is the only country in Europe with Loggerhead Turtles is irresistible – especially to kids. If you haven’t visited yet, you should. Just prepare to fall in love almost instantly and remember, one Greek holiday will never be enough.


Why go on holiday in Greece?

  • There are flights from the UK to 15 Greek airports, and direct flights from London to Athens and Thessaloniki year-round.

     

  • Greece has 18 World Heritage archaeological sites, including Athens’ Acropolis and Delphi.

     

  • The country has more than 200 inhabited islands, collected into six groups and stretching from the coast of Athens to Crete in the south.

     

  • Santorini sits on the edge of one of the world’s largest calderas – normally, you have to climb mountains for such a spectacle.

     

  • Crete is on the same latitude as Cyprus, and has temperatures between 17°C and 20°C in autumn.

     

  • EasyJet flies direct from London Gatwick to Crete in just over four hours.

     

  • Greece has 12 National Parks, including Zakynthos Marine Park, where several beaches are Loggerhead Turtle nesting sites.



Where to go

Athens

One of the busiest, noisiest cities in Europe, Athens is not recommended for a relaxing family holiday. But it’s home to the Acropolis and pretty thrilling for older kids. Have the best of both worlds and do as the locals do: enjoy the bustle of Athens before escaping to the nearby Peloponnese Peninsula. This is the land of Helen of Troy and Hercules, home to ancient Olympia and the place to find big, sunny bays and blue seas to go with the classical myths.

  • For beautiful beaches, Venetian and Byzantine influences, sea fortresses, stunning mountains and Olympia itself, head to the Messenia region in the south.
  • The seaside city of Kalamata is good for four- and five-star family resort hotels and just under two hours’ drive from Athens.

Rhodes

Rhodes is an almost perfect Greek island for a family holiday. The medieval old town at the heart of the waterfront city charms everyone, but if kids are more interested in beaches than history, Rhodes has all that, too. And it’s almost as far south as Crete, so warm and sunny well into October.

  • The island’s east coast is famous for golden sands, shallow seas and a wide range of all-inclusive hotels with everything from watersports to kids’ clubs and spas.

Crete

The largest of the Greek islands, Crete has the oldest archaeological sites, the longest and sunniest summers and some of the best rock-climbing, walking and hiking in Europe. It’s also the island for waterparks, lively cities, mysterious caves to explore, ruins to ramble around and wild, wonderful countryside packed with everything from ravines to magnificent forests – plenty of beaches, too.

  • A good island for family resorts – more like small villages than hotels – pretty guesthouses in smaller mountain towns and characterful self-catering by the sea.

Corfu

The greenest of all islands, Corfu is called the Garden of Greece, and lives up to its name by producing some of the finest olives in the world – the wildflowers are fairly spectacular, too. And there’s even more colour in World Heritage Corfu old town, famous for its painted buildings and elegant mish-mash of Italian, French and Colonial architecture.

  • Choose five-star beach hotels with activity programmes for kids, or go a little more authentic and rent a traditional farmhouse in the lush countryside – you’re never far from the sea in Corfu.

Halkidiki Peninsula

For Blue Flag beaches and a strong resemblance to the Algarve, try the Halkidiki Peninsula. It lies just south of enormous Thessaloniki city, and makes up for not being an island by being so easy to reach – direct flights from the UK and no ferries.

  • Kassandra, to the west, is a popular family area, with a wide selection of all-inclusive hotels, great watersports and kids’ entertainment.

What to do

  • Allou! Fun Park & Kidon, Athens
    Break with ancient history for a day and visit the city’s biggest theme park.
  • Ancient Olympia, Peloponnese Peninsula
    The site of the original Olympic Games is a fun way to introduce kids to the classics.
  • Dikteon Cave, Crete
    Crete has over 3,000 caves, and this is one kids can explore – legend has it Zeus was born in its mysterious depths.
  • Water City, Crete
    Take a break from the beach and let kids run waterpark-wild for the afternoon.
  • Acropolis Museum, Athens
    One of Europe’s finest new museums and the place to see sections of the Parthenon Frieze still on home territory.
  • Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Athens
    Crete traces its history back 5,500 years in one of the country’s most comprehensive and interesting museums.
  • Zakynthos National Marine Park
    Famous for Loggerhead Turtles, this marine park also protects dozens of other species, and a sailing trip here is fantastic with kids.
  • Rhodes Old Town
    When you’re saturated with Ancient Greece, meet the Knights of St John and the Venetians in Rhodes Old Town.
  • Acropolis, Athens
    The most powerful symbol of civilisation and instantly recognisable the world over. If you’re in Athens, you have to visit the Acropolis.
  • Marine Aquarium, Rhodes
    One of the largest aquariums in Greece, and all underground – magical right from the start.


Educational value for kids

  • Go scuba diving on sites round Palaiokastrítsa in the north-west of Corfu. Water temperatures are a constant 25°C in summer.
  • Pick up a kids’ guide to Greek mythology before you go to engage imaginations in advance of seeing the sites.
  • If you’re in or around Zakynthos between May and October, kids can get up early and go to watch (and help with) the turtle-hatching on Gerakas Beach.
  • Horse-riding on Corfu is a tradition and pony trekking is a great way to see the island.
  • Trident-shaped Halkidiki Peninsula is really three peninsulas. Choose Kassandra for holiday atmosphere, but let kids discover less-developed Sithonia in the middle. Mystical Athos, to the east, is an enchanting experience for older children.
  • Hopping to smaller, uninhabited islands is fun and the best way to see the country’s wildlife and birds.
  • Joining a guided tour for some of the more complex sites is interesting and less exhausting than struggling to answer kids’ endless questions.

 

Getting around with kids in Greece

If you’re planning to visit one of the more remote islands, make sure you know exactly how long the ferry journey is before you book. Hiring a car for a few days is a good way to explore larger islands, but getting about by local taxis and public transport isn’t too difficult. It’s all about connections in Greece, so try to fly direct if you can, and if you have ferries in the mix, prepare to make the voyage part of the holiday adventure.



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