If you ask any European about the summer, the first thing they usually think about is Greece. At least it is one of few countries that comes to mind if you think about summer holidays in Europe. Choosing the best time to visit Greece is very simple. If it’s sunny you can go there, because there is always something to do and see. Here’s our kid-friendly itinerary for a perfect Greek summer.
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Best Time to Visit Greece
Early or late summer is the best time to visit Greece, because of so many tourists being there in July and August. Of course, you can go during the high season in July, but expect a lot of people everywhere. Some islands like Mykonos get a lot of wind during the winter months, so the island season usually starts in April or May. In case you are visiting Greece between November and April, continental Greece is the best place for you.
Summer in Greece is the ideal time to visit. The best months in summer are May, June, and September, because of the mild weather and fewer tourists. Some smaller islands don’t get many tourists even in peak season, so it all comes down to where you are planning to go.
Winter is reserved for continental Greece, as many islands are hard to reach or very windy. Some ferries don’t even run during winter months, but you can go to bigger islands like Corfu, Crete, or Rhodes. This is not time for swimming, and visiting ancient ruins, museums, and indoor spaces is the best you can do in winter.
Snow in Greece is an attraction you maybe didn’t expect to get, so a visit to Meteora in the snow is a great experience or skiing in Arachova. You can use this time to taste wonderful food that is much different in winter than it is in summer.
Spring is a great time to explore Greece with kids, especially if you are visiting mountains, landmarks, and the capital city. Islands are beginning to open up, and even though it gets warm very fast in the spring, it is usually not yet time to swim, so long walks by the sea are the main activity.
Look for stunning foliage in the city, or visit nature areas in continental Greece. If it’s early fall, like September, then islands are still welcoming tourists. But if it’s late fall like early November, it is best to explore continental Greece including ancient archeological sites.
Where to Stay in Greece with Kids
Like in any other country in Europe, the center of the city is the best location for tourists because of transportation, proximity to landmarks, shopping, restaurants, and cafes. But when it comes to the island, it is more important how close the beach is than the city center.
Corfu is the island where all kinds of travelers come, including younger and older couples, families with kids, or people looking for nightlife. When traveling with kids you want to stay out of the nightclub zone and have a quiet and relaxing holiday.
For this reason, the best place to stay in Corfu is near Agios Georgios beach. Many hotels are located along the beach, and the water is shallow, which is great for little ones. Water sports are available on the beach, and many nice restaurants are within walking distance from here.
Rhodes is a big and beautiful island, but still, not all beaches are kid-friendly. It is best to stick to the east coast, from Rhodes Town to Lindos. Elli beach, located north of Mandraki Harbor, is the greatest of the neighboring beaches in Rhodes Town.
Rhodes is the ideal place for a family vacation, because of its size, rich history, and abundance of beautiful beaches, great restaurants, and kid-friendly attractions. If you want to relax and be in a more private environment, you can do that by driving to a less crowded beach, even in July or August.
The best places to stay with family in Crete are Chania and Agios Nikolaos. These two towns are charming, relaxing, and not so expensive. Rethymnon is a more rustic, tourist-free variant of Chania.
Chania is located on the west side of the island and has the best beaches, with shallow water and without many rocks. These are better for kids, while the adults can relax in cafes with wonderful views. Also, most of the family-friendly hotels are located on this strip of the island.
Whether your children are interested in sandy beaches, entertaining activities, unspoiled island life, or history and culture, Lefkada is one of the greatest Greek islands for families. If you enjoy strolling and sightseeing by vehicle, bike, or boat, Lefkada is a terrific spot to visit.
It is far less “touristy” than Santorini or Crete, and has a distinct “Greek feel” about it; in fact, a big percentage of visitors to Lefkada is Greek. Try finding accommodation near the city of Lefkada on the west side of the island, where you can be close to amazing beaches, but also city attractions.
Paros is known for its gorgeous and family-friendly beaches, as well as its traditional food. The two main villages, Parikia and Naoussa, are the best areas on Paros for most visitors. Great beaches, good and informal eating, lively nightlife, and boutique shopping are all within walking distance in these places.
Parikia and Naoussa feature excellent hotels in a variety of designs and price ranges. Paros boasts a wide variety of beaches to suit all tastes: peaceful, sandy beaches with the sapphire sea; breezy beaches with ideal windsurfing; gorgeous beaches with dramatic views; and even a therapeutic mud beach for a natural spa day.
For families with children of all ages, Athens may be a terrific vacation destination. Many of the attractions and museums will keep both children and adults entertained, and the nice parks and beaches are ideal places for families to unwind after a day of touring.
Plaka, Koukaki, Kolonaki, Monastiraki, and the neighborhoods surrounding the Acropolis (Thission, Filopappou, Petralona,) are the safest places to stay in Athens. Athens is a walking city with an easy-to-navigate historic core, and public transportation is inexpensive.
How to get around Greece with Kids
On the island, you can use local taxis or rent a car, and between islands, ferries are a great option. You can also fly, especially to bigger islands from Athens. But for going to the beach it is best if you book a resort close to the beach so you can walk.
Islands can also be seen if you use local transportation like in Crete, or rent scooters or cars. It depends on how mobile you are with your kiddos, and if your little ones don’t mind being in a car on a hot day, then you can spend every day on a different beach, it doesn’t matter the island you choose.
How Much Time to Stay in Greece with Kids
Staying in Greece for less than a week should be a crime. This country is so gorgeous that at least a week is what you should be planning for. Especially if you want a summer vacation.
It also depends on what you are planning to do. A week in Athens or on one of the islands is enough time to get some sun and also see the attractions, but if you will do island hopping then try two weeks at least, so you get enough time to see sights and enjoy the holiday.
Parents who are homeschooling their kids, or have enough holiday in a year can spend even a month or two here. Greece is very affordable compared to the US, and if you don’t stay in expensive resorts but rather rent accommodation you can stay much longer.
Things To Do in Greece With Kids
Greek vacation is so much more than resting on the beach and swimming, although those are very nice activities. But don’t let the beauty of the pristine beaches keep you only in one spot for the entire holiday.
Ancient Ruins in Athens
Athens is best known for its history and ancient ruins you can still visit. Some of the most important ones are the Acropolis, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Theater of Herodes Atticus, Ancient Agora, Filopappos Hill, Stoa of Attalos, Temple of Hephaestus, and several more.
The first stop for most tourists is the Acropolis, from where you can not only see temples but also the entire city on the horizon. If you have time for only one stop in Athens then it should be the Acropolis, but be careful when you walk because of all the rocks lying around.
National Archeological Museum in Athens
For history buffs, this is the second most important location to visit in Athens. The museum collection consists of numerous important artifacts from prehistory and late antique times. It is considered the most prominent archeological museum in the world.
Meteora for hiking
Tall rocky hills with monasteries on top look like they are from the other world. Still, some of these monasteries are working to this day, and you can visit several of them if you decide to hike in Meteora.
The length of this hike is about 16km, but keep in mind that you are climbing up the steep steps. The walking takes around 4 hours, but if you want to stop at all monasteries it can take the whole day. Prepare well and bring everything you need like water and snacks.
Water park on Rhodes island
If you are visiting Rhodes with kids, this waterpark is a must-see. The park consists of different slides and attractions, and there are some age limitations set in place. Although kids cannot go to every slide, there are plenty of things to do for all age groups that they will have fun for sure.
The attraction for kids includes Pirate Ship, Toddler Pool, Kiddies Slides, and so much more. Extreme slides like Space Bowl and Turbo Slide might be safer for adults and teens, while little ones are not allowed here.
Island hopping doesn’t have to be done with a guided tour, you can actually organize it yourself with a little bit of planning in advance. First choose which islands or groups of islands you would like to visit, and then check the ferry schedule for the time of the year you are visiting.
Several ferry companies are operating in Greece and sticking to one company might be easier planning-wise. Also, knowing where you would like to start helps when you are booking a flight from Athens to the islands. Some of the most popular island-hopping locations are the Cyclades, Saronic Gulf islands, and the Dodecanese.
The medieval city of Rhodes
Rhodes has been known as the home of the Colossus of Rhodes, a huge statue of god Helios that was one of the Seven Wonders of the world in Ancient times. Although this statue is long gone, the citadel of Rhodes is one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities.
Elafonisi Beach in Crete
The “pink beach” of west Crete was voted as the most beautiful beach in the world many times, and for a good reason. It is a picturesque place where pink sand and turquoise water meet. Not only is it the most beautiful beach on the island, but also the water is shallow and safe for kids to play.
The beach is surrounded by rocks and located inside the bay, so no sudden depth will surprise you when swimming. Also, rarely ever you will see huge waves here, and just snorkeling in the shallow water and observing small marine animals is a unique experience.
Snorkeling and diving tours
Crete is the finest Greek island for snorkeling and diving with the top locations like Elounda and Skinaria beaches. Even if you and your kids are beginners in this activity you can sign up for classes at diving schools and have unforgettable experiences.
Other popular locations for these activities are Elephant’s Cave and Schinaria in Crete, Paleokastritsa in Corfu, and the island of Chios.
Every island in Greece is unique and beautiful, but the most famous sunsets are in Santorini. There are many sunset-watching spots on the island, including Oia, Skaros Rock, Fira, and the Akrotiri Lighthouse.
But if you can, try booking a sunset cruise that will take you to the best location to watch the sunset from, and from where you can also see the island.
Things to Eat in Greece
The Mediterranean climate is amazing for growing food because it is at the same time dry and hot most of the year. This is the country where you can eat oranges freshly picked from the tree, fresh tomatoes, olives, figs, and so much more. You should not leave Greece without tasting its feta cheese, olive oil, and other delicacies.
Moussaka is one of the best-known Greek dishes. It is made out of layers of minced meat and eggplant with a bechamel sauce on top. The layers are cooked separately before being layered up and baked together until golden brown.
Taramasalata is a smooth and thick mix made out of fish roe, olive oil, lemon juice, onions, and bread. It can be served on a meze platter or alone on pita bread. It goes well with tzatziki, hummus, melitzanosalata, tirokafteri, fava beans, and so much more.
The Greek term dolmadakia (or dolmades) refers to grape or cabbage leaves filled with all kinds of ingredients, including minced meat, onion, rice, spices, etc. They are usually served hot with a side dish or a dip, but some kinds can be served cold as well, with olive oil, and cheese.
Another quick recipe and great breakfast food, kolokythokeftedes are zucchini and feta balls. They are mixed with spices and fried until golden. Usually, they are served with tzatziki or marinara sauce, but you can also have them with greek yogurt on the side.
Choriatiki, or better yet Greek salad, is the best of Greek foods combined. The main ingredients are tomatoes, onion, cucumber, feta cheese, olives, and olive oil. For a traditional taste, it is sprinkled with salt, pepper, and oregano. You will find this salad in every restaurant in Greece without a doubt.
Gyros is the most well-known Greek meal outside of Greece, with fast foods selling these pita bread and wraps filled bites all over the world. Simplest put it is grilled meat shaved from a vertical rotisserie. Usually, it is pork or chicken, but sometimes it can also be lamb. On the side, you will get fries, veggies, tzatziki sauce, and lemon.
Baklava is a Greek best-known dessert that you can buy in pastry shops, in grocery stores, or you can make it yourself with phyllo pastry and a good YouTube video. This tasty dessert is filled with walnuts, pistachio, and other nuts, depending on the type of baklava. It is soaked in syrup or honey and very sweet.
Once you choose the best time to visit Greece that works for your family, you can start packing, booking travel insurance, and looking for accommodation. Greece is a place for unique adventure and there is something for every type of traveler within its borders.