If want to know where to go for family holidays in Greece, start by looking at great Greek beaches. Here’s our pick of the top 10 worth planning a family holiday around this year. And if you can’t decide which beach you like best, what about some Greek island hopping? Just a thought!
Elafonisi puts Crete up top for holidays in Greece
We’re thinking locals must get tired of their beaches being compared to the Caribbean. It doesn’t matter whether you’re freezing in Barra or sunning yourself in Crete, the parallels are always drawn.
Enough is enough. Holidays in Greece don’t need any added shine and Greek beaches are beautiful beyond compare. Take Elafonisi in south west Crete where the transparent waters and delicate pink sands have few equals, anywhere. Naturally, gazing and lazing alone might not cut it with kids, so point them in the direction of little inlets which are great for snorkelling. They’ll find sand dunes fun to explore and spotting tiny geckos can easily fill several hours.
Although the biggest adventure of all is crossing the lagoon to Elafonisi Island. It takes about five minutes to wade over, and you get a lighthouse visit as part of your reward, along with some sensational views – Elafonisi is about as far south west in Greece as you can go.
Alternatively, just stay put and bask in the sun. But remember, there’s not much in the way of shade here, so bring an umbrella or pop-up beach tent for younger kids.
Tsambika Beach rules the south east of Rhodes
Only about 30 minutes west of Rhodes Town, Tsambika earns all the love that’s showered upon its golden sands. Not only is it one of the best family beaches on the island’s south east coast, it pretty much works for kids of any age.
Idle teens will love the fact that it’s broad and wide, with sunbeds for hire. More active teenagers can try anything from parasailing to jet-skiing and banana boats here. There’s even an off-shore obstacle course, if floating around in the sea isn’t exciting enough. And speaking of the sea, it’s shallow, calm and sandy underfoot, which is only ideal for younger kids and toddlers.
Tsambika tends to be quieter in the late afternoon. So if you’ve spent a few hours exploring the grandeur of Rhodes Old Town, it makes a good antidote to history for kids.
Halkidiki for Nea Moudania (and the rest)
Although it’s not technically part of Halkidiki’s famous three-pronged peninsula, Nea Moudania sits on the top of Kassandra Peninsula, and that counts.
The beach edges Nea Moudania town which still has a thriving fishing industry, so if you want good seafood restaurants, you’re in luck. However, coming for the beach alone is fine as well. No fewer than two kilometres of soft sand and spotless seas earn this one a Blue Flag: a big feature of beachy holidays in Greece. It’s also a prime territory for water sports which should please older kids. Although younger ones might be happy to play round and about the sunbeds where palm-leaf parasols counter the non-stop sun.
If you feel like exploring later in the day when it’s cooled down a bit, take a stroll west to Dionysiou Beach. Or venture a little inland and you’ll come to a massive olive grove with thousands of ancient trees and as much reel-worthy prettiness as you can capture.
Just so you know, safety is also part of the reason Nea Moudania earns a Blue Flag, so you’ll find lifeguards here during summer.
Pick Paros for small island holidays in Greece
Normally we don’t play favourites, but for Paros we’ll make an exception. It’s the most Cycladean of the Cyclades Islands. Even the little windmills here seem cuter and tubbier. The blue windows and whitewashed houses are just a little bit more vivid. And don’t get us started on the beaches.
There’s a lot of competition for seaside loveliness on Paros, but Santa Maria Beach just edges out in front. Part of the reason for that is how close it is to Naoussa: the little sugar-cube fishing village that could claim to have made the island’s name. Although we’re the first to admit, that Santa Maria has plenty of stand out, even without that prime location.
For a start it trims round sheltered Plastiras Bay, so it’s a good spot for snorkelling and swimming. Older kids might prefer SUP or kayaking and you can usually hire boards and boats here during the summer. Of course, for those who believe holidays in Greece should occasionally be about doing nothing at all, sunbeds and umbrellas are very available too. If you need more persuasion, Santa Maria’s waterfront bar is a reason in itself to hit the beach.
The best beach for sunsets is in Kefalonia
Myrtos is in Kefalonia and if you recognise it, that’s not much of a surprise. It’s a regular on most, ‘world’s most beautiful beaches’, lists and endless images of it have undoubtedly launched many holidays in Greece. Thanks to soaring cliffs which rise sheer from the shore, it’s effortlessly dramatic. And if you’re tired of people describing seas as ‘azure’ or ‘turquoise’, brace yourself. Myrtos’ share of the Ionian makes overused adjectives tough to avoid.
There isn’t a lot to do here, but that’s not really the point, although if kids are likely to be bored, go later in the day. Only one thing is more famous than the beach itself and that’s a Myrtos’ sunset. As the sun falls to the horizon directly opposite the shore, the sea changes colour from crimson to rose pink to navy and watching is a close to spiritual experience: if this was anywhere else but Greece, there would probably be finger-cymbals in play.
Moving sunsets aside, there are several restaurants on the cliffs overlooking Myrtos and to capture an iconic pic of the beach from above, everyone goes to the village of Assos.
How to visit Navagio Beach on Zakynthos
Like all good things, Navagio AKA ‘shipwreck’ Beach takes a bit of effort. And, although it’s the least family-friendly on our list, it is also one of the loveliest. If you want to simply see the beach, it’s about 45 minutes drive north of Zakynthos Town and you can’t miss signs for the official ‘viewing platform’. From there you can look at Navagio and grab your coveted take home pic.
Depending on when you visit, that souvenir could mean standing in line for at least an hour: Navagio is the biggest big ticket draw on Zakynthos. With that in mind, catching one of the regular cruises to the beach from Agios Nikolaos or Zakynthos Town doesn’t seem such a bother after all. Plus, it’s the only way you get to set foot on the sand. Just don’t expect to be there for long. The boat business is brisk, so about 20 minutes ashore is your lot. Unless of course you can sail yourself, then hire a boat, do just that and you can stay as long as you like.
The ship that put the shipwreck into Navagio
Again there isn’t much to do here, but older kids will be intrigued by the rusting hulk of MV Panagiotis which ran aground on Navagio in 1980. Legend has it that the ship was smuggling cigarettes from Turkey when it got into a skirmish with the Greek Navy and its hapless crew beached the boat in an attempt to evade capture. Now, over 40 years later, the gracefully decaying wreck is almost as much of an attraction as the silvery white sands on which it rests.
Add Skiathos to your holidays in Greece list
One of the Mamma Mia islands, Skiathos is also known for having over 60 beaches, which is a fair amount considering the tiny size of the place. You could drive end to end in about 15 minutes, but that kind of defeats the purpose. Instead, take your time, wander around the pretty villages, explore the capital (also called Skiathos) then take a boat to Lalaria Beach.
Another ‘only by sea’ addition to our list, Lalaria isn’t quite as famous as Navagio and that’s no bad thing. However, in its own way, the beach is every bit as dramatic thanks to its deep blue seas, grand sea arches and rock formations. The boat trip from Skiathos is fun for kids, not least because they get to ‘walk the plank’ ashore. Plus, as well as disembarking and spending some time exploring Lalaria, most cruises include a tour of the island’s sea grottos, so you really get your money’s worth.
The most magical beach in the Peloponnese
Voidokilia has to be one of the most unusual beaches in Greece, and this is a country that’s not short on extraordinary.
Stretches of golden sand interwoven with lagoons create a singular landscape which oddly enough seldom attracts crowds. So it’s the place where you can lay down your beach stuff, set your kids free and let the day unfold. If the dreamy atmosphere doesn’t lull you too much, there’s good snorkelling to be had here. Alternatively, you might want to explore the nearby castle or just walk for a bit: go far enough and you come to the olive tree strewn Peloponnese hills.
Speaking of olives, if you want to pinpoint Voidokilia, it’s about an hour’s drive west of Kalamata and really easy to reach despite its otherworldliness.
Choose Naxos for active holidays in Greece
Naxos is the largest Cyclades island and justifiably famous for activity holidays in Greece. It’s one of the best places to go hiking with kids and even younger ones can manage quite a few of the coastal paths. Although teenagers might be tempted to scale Zas Mountain, just because it’s there, and also the highest peak in the Cyclades. Cycling is great fun here too and again you’ll find plenty of routes easy enough for kids.
So now you know what you can do on Naxos, what about a breather? Sandy and sunny Plaka Beach sits just south of Naxos Town. At four kilometres long, it gives you a good chance of finding a quiet spot. Otherwise, pick one of the livelier areas for beach cafés and bars as well as sunbeds and parasols for hire. Plaka is popular for family hotels too, however, they’re mostly concealed by sand dunes, so the natural beauty of the beach remains untouched.
Another of Crete’s pretty pink beaches
Balos is definitely the type of beach you could plan holidays in Greece around. It’s known for a sandy causeway and strand leading to a dramatic little island, although the transparent and shallow lagoon is really what makes Balos world famous.
Happily, a 20 minute walk from the car park makes the beach just inaccessible enough to deter crowds. And if you visit at the right time of year and you can often see seals close to the shore, plus it’s also one of the rare places in Europe where sea turtles are spotted. Although you don’t have to walk to the beach. There’s a boat tour from Chania that’s great for kids, includes a few hours on Balos and lets you see more of the beautiful north west Crete coast, as well as Gramvousa Island.
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