Alonissos is the longest inhabited of the Sporades Islands. It’s also one of the least touristy, least developed, least crowded and most appreciated by active families, young nature lovers, mini-marine biologists and wannabe archaeologists. It’s set in the largest marine park in Greece, so the waters are utterly pristine – great for snorkelling and spotting everything from seals to dolphins. Islet-hopping is another local speciality and if kids like boats it’s paradise for day-cruising. From just 50 to 90 minutes by catamaran from Skiathos, the island’s easy enough to reach for a day out, but if you want to stay longer, you’ll find a fair selection of apartments, villas and family hotels, mainly in the south and south-east.
Alonissos family holiday highlights
- Peaceful, naturally beautiful and surrounded by little islets, Alonissos is also immensely historic. Kids will love tales of ancient shipwrecks which scatter the island’s seabed and a ramble around the medieval castle at the heart of Patitiri is just one of many reasons to put Alonissos’ delightful capital on the holiday to-do list. The first of four underwater museums in Greece is set to open near Alonissos in summer 2020. Designed around the wreck of 5th-century merchant ship, Peristera - one of the world’s largest and most important ancient shipwreck discoveries, earning it the nickname ‘Parthenon of Shipwrecks’ – the museum reveals astonishing early shipbuilding expertise and lets visitors see the haul of well-preserved artefacts painstakingly excavated since the ship’s discovery in 1985.
- Find a peaceful, sunny day (that’s pretty much any day in summer) and take a day cruise around the Marine Park. Pick one which gives you access to the remarkable uninhabited islets around Alonissos where it’s possible to see everything from wild goats and mysterious caves on Yioura to Megisti Lavra Monastery on Mount Athos or the Aegean’s tallest lighthouse on Psathoura.
- If you’re up for a walk – short or long – the island has 14 well-marked hiking routes, graded in order of difficulty, all with areas of interest to nature lovers and almost every one is easily doable with kids.
- Hire kayaks or boats for the day and sail for Peristera, it’s one of the choice adventures with older kids because there’s a high chance of spotting dolphins and rare monk seals en route.
- Rugged Alonissos isn’t well known for sandy beaches, the exception is Chryssi Milia just north of Patitiri, which isn’t just golden, it has safe shallow waters and cute local taverna on the side.
- Snorkelling crazy kids will love Tsoukalia Beach, named after the wine-pots once produced on the island its seabed is littered with ancient ceramics, the waters are wonderfully clear and all kids need is a mask to transform them into expert marine archaeologists.