10 best Greek islands for family holidays in 2021
If all goes to plan and Greece welcomes back UK visitors from 14 May 2021, Greek islands without crowds could be just what families want this year. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Greek islands which score well on family holiday fun, but haven’t really been discovered yet.
This is a gentle, laid back island. People come here to enjoy the tranquillity and unspoilt beauty so don’t expect theme parks and 24/7 entertainment. Instead, canoeing, kayaking, walking and exploring keeps everyone busy. There are beaches too, try Eristos for perfect peace, shallow waters and soft sand. Tilos is small, but packed with rewarding trails through its wooded hilly interior and down to secluded coves. In fact, the whole of Tilos is like a nature reserve it’s so green and wildlife-rich, plus it’s also powered by solar and wind energy, so it isn’t just one of the quieter Greek islands it’s also one of the most eco-conscious.
Where is it? One of the Dodecanese, Tilos is in the Aegean, between the Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes.
How to get there? Direct UK flights to Kos or Rhodes and connecting ferry to Tilos.
Skiathos counts as one of the better known ‘secret’ Greek islands, so it’s off the beaten track but still pretty lively. There’s an open air cinema here, plus boat cruises, and mountain bike hire. Snorkelling and hiking are also popular. Don’t miss Koukounaries beach on the south coast. The sand here is powder soft, the forest background is lovely and plenty sunbeds and restaurants make it just about perfect for families.
Where is it? Skiathos is part of the Sporades group of Greek islands
How to get there? Direct UK flights to Skiathos airport
Greek islands don’t come much more photogenic than Antiparos. It’s all classic whitewashed houses with cobalt blue doors and splashes of crimson bougainvillea. Less well known than its near neighbour Paros, the secret island vibe here is loved by publicity-shy celebrities, but there’s plenty to do apart from star gazing. Wander up to the Venetian fortress of Kastro in the centre of town. Explore the unique cave system from inside Agios Ioannis hill. Take a day trip to Despotiko Island, an uninhabited island strewn with ancient artefacts. And head for the main town in the evening when its quiet cobbled streets and cheerful tavernas really come to life.
Where is it? Antiparos is one of the Cyclades Islands in the southern Aegean.
How to get there? Take a flight to Athens or the Greek islands of Santorini or Mykonos, sail to Paros and take the ferry to Antiparos.
Lefkada is the best 0f the Greek islands for a balance of buzz and peace. It’s got enough going on, but is relatively untouched by tourism and ideal for families wanting a little more than just beaches. It’s the perfect getaway for water sports: try Vasiliki Bay for windsurfing and kayaking or Milos for kite-surfing. Lefkada Town is a charming harbour, good for exploring and home to 14th century Agia Mavra. Active families can hike around the olive grove-filled hilly centre of the island. And when you want beaches, Lekada’s Porto Katsiki beach ranks as one of the loveliest in Europe.
Where is it? Lefkada sits in the Ionian sea west of Athens.
How to get there? Direct UK flights to Athens and a drive to Lefkada – one of the few Greek islands linked to the mainland by a bridge.
Symi is one of the tiny Greek islands with hidden, pristine beaches tucked around rocky inlets reachable only by water taxi – kids love this. Snorkelling’s fun here thanks to year-round warm seas and clear waters. The island’s colourful neo-classical harbour town is the best place to stay, has good restaurants and lovely old streets to wander around. If you can tear yourself away from the beaches a hike round what remains of Symi’s ancient fortifications is well worth the effort.
Where is it? Symi a Dodecanese island and lies just north of Rhodes
How to get there? There’s a ferry to Symi from the Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes. which both have direct UK flights.
Koufonisia is actually made up of three Greek islands, one of which is off limits to visitors because of its archaeological importance. Tiny Pano Koufonisia is best for families, loved by cool-hunters but still amazingly quiet and peaceful. Visitors tend to hike to local beaches or take water taxis to secret bays. Pori beach is a family favourite, though all the beaches here are absurdly beautiful. There’s only one main town and it’s lively in a laid-back way during summer, especially in the evening. And the nearby island of Kato Koufonisia is fun for a day trip.
Where is it? Koufonisia is a Cyclades Island and sits between Naxos and Amorgos.
How to get there? Fly to Mykonos or Athens, then take a four-hour ferry to Koufonisia.
Andros is the second largest northernmost Cyclades island known for its waterfalls and natural springs, ancient medieval Venetian castles, gentle green hills, and secret coves. It’s a good choice for outdoorsy families with older kids who like walking and swimming as there are over 300km of paved and well-marked inland trails to hike mixed with lovely beaches and safe, swimmable seas.
Where is it? Andros is one of the Cyclades Islands to the east of mainland Greece.
How to get there? Direct UK flights to Athens, ferry to Andros.
Greek islands are almost as famous for sailing as beaches and Paxos is no exception. There are always expensive yachts sitting in its harbour and the local restaurants, perched on high limestone cliffs, tend to be very good. Families like Paxos because there’s plenty to do but it’s not too touristy. Galazio beach is one of the loveliest on the island but can get busy, so opt for quieter shores in summer, like Monodendri on the east coast. Gaios, Lakka and Loggos are the three main towns here and all connected by walkable trails which are fun to hike with kids. And if you want total escapism, the tiny island of Antipaxos is just a short water taxi ride south.
Where is it? Paxos is one of the Ionian Islands just south of Corfu.
How to get there? Direct UK flights to Corfu, then take a ferry to Paxos.
Clear blue seas are almost a given on Greek islands, but Naxos could easily claim to have the clearest and bluest of all. It’s the largeset of the Cyclades and beaches like Agios Georgios or Plaka are reason enough to put it on your family holiday list. The green and mountainous interior’s a favourite for hiking or cycling. And several dramatic ancient sites – and accompanying legends – make for fun history lessons. Don’t miss Naxos castle and the ancient ruins of the Temple of Apollo – a family holiday pic framed by the enormous Portara is almost compulsory.
Where is it? Naxos is one of the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean, east of mainland Greece.
How to get there? Direct UK flights to Athens and a ferry to Naxos.
Remote Alonissos isn’t one of the Greek islands scattered with little, whitewashed towns and villages. But it does have a wonderfully unspoiled landscape and also sits in one of the largest marine parks in Greece so it’s not unusual to see dolphin or rare Mediterranean monk seals offshore here. Perfect for families looking for complete escapism and pretty pebble beaches which mix up clear seas, cooling shade and calm waters; if you want sandy shores, head to Chryssi Milia beach.
Where is it? Alonissos is one of the Sporades Islands north of Athens.
How to get there? Direct UK flights to Skiathos then a ferry to Alonissos.