Once you’ve been on a family holiday to Greece, it’s easy to be tempted back time and time again by the relaxed island experience
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.