While families flock to the Greek islands this summer, I’ll let you into a little secret – mainland Greece.
With picture-worthy shores shallow and clear enough for toddlers, crisp white sands ready for little ones taking their first steps, and a loving attitude to children from the natives, there’s no real excuse to head to the corners of this beautiful country.
Nestled in the small village of Ouranoupolis, Halkadiki (a peninsular in the east of Northern Greece) lies the tranquil, family-run Eagles Palace Resort & Spa.
Here, 40% of its visitors are returning for a second time at least, many of these have been regular visitors for years – a testament to its friendly nature and beautiful resort (if you can call it ‘resort’).
The hotel has been lovingly refurbished by the family, giving its clean, crisp entrance a feeling of luxury while its many lush outside spaces giving you a feeling of seclusion and space. There are so many outside nooks and crannies in fact, that you rarely feel the hotel is full.
For teenagers (and active adults!) there are a myriad of water activities to take part in. Our recommendation is kayaking, which we spent half a day with Explore the Outside, discovering remote little islands and sandy coves.
We stopped for coffee and snacks to boost our energy after we had waded out into the never-ending ocean, and then explored many more coves and beauties that the sea has formed.
This won’t be for the faint hearted though – expect to kayak well into the ocean to find your island retreats followed by a muscle-flexing trip back to shore.
Boat trip to Mount Athos
Women are not permitted on Mount Athos, men have to apply for special permission and meet certain criteria, and visiting is restricted (our very knowledgeable guide shared stories of Mount Athos, including the women who had tricked their way onto the sacred land and friends who had converted suddenly to the practice.)
As well a truly remarkable history lesson, you and the kids will be bowled over by the pod of Dolphins swimming alongside boat and playing with the waves underneath you.
You’ll stop off in a beautiful little cove where you can jump into the water from the boat, explore the shore and relax under the Greek sunshine.
Just careful of children overboard on this trip, as with a lack of a secure side on the edge of the boat, they’ll need to be carefully watched.
A day by the pool
The poolside is well sheltered, with sun loungers overlooking the picturesque harbour, a big enough pool to swim lengths (if you can get far enough out of relaxation mode, that is) and enjoy cooling down peacefully from the midday sun.
As well as a kids pool, which avoids the sun trap of the main pool – it’s perfect for splashing youngsters still in arm bands.
When to go
We visited Eagles Palace in May when temperatures were a comfortable 25 degrees and we barely needed a cover up for our al fresco dining. (And if the temperature drops, there are blankets on hand for little ones feeling the cold.)
Families should be aware of temperatures up to 30 degrees during the school summer holidays (July and August), but with plenty of shelter and poolside umbrellas, you’ll be well looked after.
How to get there
Flights to Thessaloniki go from Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham with Aegean Airlines.
It’s a 90 minute drive from Thessaloniki airport, but the hotel will arrange a complimentary shuttle bus from the airport.
If you arrive in Greece in daylight hours, the scenery is breath taking – and your driver will stop off at Halkadiki’s most stunning view point too, where you can take in the surroundings before you’ve had a chance to view the hotels beautiful setting.
Price: Seven nights at Eagles Palace Hotel in a family suite (for four) with garden view cost from £902 for a family of four, including half board
Find out more: www.eaglespalace.gr