In today’s post, I’m sharing my family travel tips for visiting Greece with kids.
Do you travel with your kids? My husband I do. We took our kids on their first trip outside of the US when they were toddlers—two and four, respectively—and we’ve made traveling with them a big part of our family life. Last year, we visited Greece with them and had a fabulous trip.
My family’s two-week trip to Greece included three stops: Athens and environs, as well as the islands of Santorini and Paros. Greece exceeded my expectations, and we left discussing where we’ll return–the highest of compliments!
I’ve talked with so many people who either visited Greece as a backpacking college student, or went there on their honeymoon, or, like me, visited recently. For every type of traveler, there’s a Greece to be found: a place of delicious food, rich history, beautiful sunsets, and warm people. Being able to plan a trip that’s right for you is what makes Greece an exciting travel destination.
We began our visit in Athens where we stayed for three days. This was the right amount of time for us, especially since (a) it was summer and super hot and (b) we had four kids between the ages of nine and twelve who really wanted to go to the beach (their parents did, too!).
We stayed in an apartment we booked via airbnb, selecting a place that was within walking distance to major sites.
To see the city, we followed the advice of a Greek-American friend and booked tours and transfers with George’s Taxi. I typically like to explore a city on my own, but with nine people in our group and the heat consistently in the high 90s, it made sense for us to have a guide with an air conditioned tour bus to maneuver through the city. (Also Athens taxis won’t take more than four people at a time, so we would have needed three taxis to go anywhere which would have been tricky to arrange.)
Alex, our George’s Taxi guide, was a great match for our family. A former schoolteacher, he was very experienced with kids and knew how to make ancient Greece come alive for all of us. For our first day, we booked a full-day Athens tour, which hit all of the major sites, including the Acropolis, the Olympic Stadium, the Agora, and the Acropolis Museum. (Two Acropolis tips: (1) go first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon to stay ahead of the crowds and the heat, and (2) when your trek up and down is over, go to the kiosk across from the ticket booth to get a lemonade. It’s a perfect refresher!)
For our second day in Greece, we again booked a full-day tour with George’s Taxi, this time to Delphi. What a stunning place! Delphi, a three-hour drive from Athens, is located in the mountains, and it’s home to several notable temples, including the Temple of Apollo, home to the Oracle of Delphi, and the Temple of Athena, an unusual circular ruin. Delphi is a must-see for history buffs. We had the best meal of our entire trip at To Patriko Mas in Delphi.
We spent our third full day in Athens enjoying the city on our own. My sister-in-law and I even did a little shopping (sans kids!). A highlight was getting custom-made Grecian sandals; it takes about an hour for the shoes to be fit, but while we waited we talked to people from Germany, Australia, Lebanon, USA, Japan, and Spain. Quite memorable and the shoes are terrific!
While in Athens, we ate at some truly great restaurants—all of which were welcoming to families—including God’s Restaurant, across from the Acropolis Museum, and Ergon Foods, which had our favorite Greek salad of the whole trip. We also grabbed a drink one night at the Electra Hotel. The bar there has a beautiful view of the Acropolis. I’d recommend Googling restaurants/bars with an Acropolis view and having dinner there or sitting down for a drink. It’s just lovely.
After Athens, we went to Santorini, the famous island with the unforgettable sunsets. We traveled there via high-speed ferry, which I recommend; it was reliable, easy to manage, and a fun experience for the whole family.
We stayed in a house in Perissa, which is a five-minute walk to a black sand beach where we spent a few relaxing afternoons. To get around, we rented a car on Santorini, and we observed many people on scooters. There’s also a bus that traverses the island.
For sunset viewing, the best spots are in the stretch of the island that runs from Oia to Imerovigli. You can walk along and watch the sunset from the path or eat at a spot with a view. It’s really memorable and absolutely worth seeing.
If I was off to Santorini without kids, I’d stay in Oia or Imerovigli, in one of those cave hotels that face the sunset with a hot tub and room service. That being said, having the beach just around the corner in Perissa was perfect for our family.
We had also delicious food in Santorini (though I’d stay away from any of the restaurants lining the port). We really enjoyed Fratezokos Tavern in Perissa, Anogi in Imerovigli (very, very good), Metaxi Mas (so delicious; it’s worth getting reservations so you can sit outside), and Lolita in Oia (for gelato).
We had a special lunch at Dimitris Tavern in Ammoudi, a picturesque village on the northern tip of the island, where we sat right on the water. The rest of my family (including my husband and kids) jumped off the rocks into the ocean just outside this village (which is a thing people do there) but I sat in the tavern with my mother-in-law and drank rosé—which, in my opinion, was the better choice!
If you’re a history buff, it’s worth visiting Akrotiri, an archeological dig on the southern part of the island. Akrotiri was covered in a heap of volcanic ash in the late 17th century B.C., preserving it for present-day archaeologists and interested tourists. The site is so well preserved that it is often referred to as the Pompeii of the Aegean. It’s also close to the popular Red Beach, so the two spots can be combined into one trip.
My neighbors went to Santorini in April and hiked the island instead of hitting the beach. They said it was their favorite part of their trip to Greece.
After Santorini, we again traveled by ferry, this time to Paros. What can I say about Paros? It was divine, a true vacation. We swam, slept well, ate well, and did some exploring. There was wind surfing, scuba diving, and reading on the porch overlooking the ocean. We relaxed. The kids learned to windsurf at Molos Beach (I highly recommend this spot), and a few people in our group went scuba diving one day.
If downtime is what you’re looking for, Paros is a good bet, though we went out one evening without kids and definitely saw that there’s a party scene, too.
We stayed in a beautiful house in Drygos that we secured via airbnb. Our place was the other side of the island from Parikia, the town where the ferry docks. Nothing is really far on Paros, though; it’s probably 30 minutes from one side to the other. We had a car so we could explore; car rental places are located in Parikia and Nauossa.
A highlight for me was wandering around the winding alleyways in the villages, getting lost down unexpected corners, and stumbling across small boutiques of art, handicrafts, and other items from the islands. Nauossa is one of the larger villages, with a beach, picture-perfect corners to explore, and blue and white buildings. We had a great lunch at Mana Mana one day (the kids called it the Mamma Mia restaurant since it reminded them of the movie), and the adults had drinks at Fotis, a spot along the water that was recommended to us by a Greek woman we met in a shop. Lefkes, the original capital of Paros, located in the mountains, was another village we enjoyed visiting. We ate a delicious breakfast at Cafe Ramnos there. My kids also want me to tell you that the best gelato on the island can be found at Vanilla in Parikia.
With hundreds of islands in Greece, we left wondering what it would be like to come back and visit other spots—larger islands like Rhodes, for example—and smaller, less traveled spots. It’s definitely on my return travel list.
Another reason to visit Greece is that, since the economic crisis, the country has become even more dependent on tourism to create jobs and help build back financial stability in the country. One in five Greeks works in the tourism industry. In 2018, more than 32 million tourists were expected to visit Greece—and the population is only about 10 million. Tourism is a tremendous part of the country now, and it’s no wonder why—Greece is absolutely worth visiting. Learn more about traveling to Greece here.