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Milos, Greece

Best family vacations in Greece

Milos, Greece

By Greece specialist Shannon

Many children, mine included, were interested in Greek mythology even before Percy Jackson made it popular. Add in the long-running success of the books, and a television show, and Greece is a prime destination for the sorts of ‘tweens and school-aged kids who can rattle off divine genealogies.

As a mother, I love it because my money goes further in Greece than in many other European destinations — a vital consideration when you’re a family of five. That said, I waited until my youngest was over the age of six before our first family trip to Greece, and I suggest you do, too.

To really make the most of family travel to Greece, you’ll need to move around a lot and older children make that easier. Additionally, many of the best hotels won’t take younger children, especially on the islands.

Athens for families

Loukoumades, Athens
Loukoumades, Athens

Standing in the Parthenon is, in many ways, like standing in the heart of Greek mythology. The sight never loses its appeal, even for me, and I’ve been to Athens many times. Watching my children light up with wonder was a special treat.

Having a really engaging guide is helpful here, to draw out your kids’ interests and engage them in conversation. I found it restful to let someone else chatter with them about myths and monsters both at the Acropolis itself and then at the nearby museum, where all the antiquities are on display.

If that’s not enough mythology for you — or if your child had a particular fondness for Percy’s father, Poseidon — consider a visit to that god’s main temple on Cape Sounion. A short drive from the capital, this still-majestic ruin looks out over the sparkling Aegean.

I think the best way to experience it is from the sea, which is clear as window glass and deepens from pale turquoise to dark cerulean. Your guide will help you get into the kayaks and lead you as you paddle along the coastline to a small pool. There, in the shadow of the temple, your family can gaze up at the soaring pillars and hear about the myths and history associated with Poseidon and his most-sacred place. From there, you’ll adjourn to a little taverna on the beach for lunch.

Of course, Athens’ history didn’t stop 2,000 years ago. If you have any aspiring artists or activists, I suggest a street-art tour. Your guide will be an artist who’s familiar with the latest creations in this ever-fluid landscape — the art here became pointedly political during the financial crisis more than a decade ago. Many of the places you’ll visit are in small residential areas, well away from the major sights, which you might never see otherwise.

You can do the tour privately, but this is one of the only times I’ll suggest opting for a small group instead. The larger group adds energy to the wide-ranging discussions that are sparked by the professional-quality murals across the city.

The city is also home to some excellent food, and a walking tour gives you an excellent introduction to its markets, bakers, and cafes, as well as Greek culinary traditions. You’ll sample briny olives, plump sausages, perfectly fresh fruits, and tender pastries dripping with honey, loukoumades (akin to fried doughnuts), and baklava. Because Greek food is usually prepared very simply, even picky eaters can usually find something they’ll enjoy.

Best family-friendly stay in Athens

Right in the heart of the city, the Electra Metropolis has a rooftop terrace with a pool and a jaw-dropping view of the Parthenon that you can enjoy while having breakfast.

Delphi & Galaxidi for families


The Oracle of Delphi on Mount Parnassus plays a key role in ancient Greek stories, including the Percy books, so anyone interested in mythology will want to include a visit. Again, a great guide can help bring the myths to life as you visit both the Oracle’s ruins and the nearby Apollo’s Temple and a sanctuary devoted to Athena. A highlight is the omphalos — the rounded stone thought to mark the naval of the world.

If your family enjoys the outdoors, I can also arrange for you to take a guided hike along the ancient pilgrimage route. You’ll start in the morning at the top of the mountain and walk down the Sacred Way, following in the footsteps of many supplicants who came before. Along the way, you’ll have far-reaching views of sun-baked olive groves and the sea in the distance — and your guide will regale you with myths about the site.

You can stay in Delphi, but I prefer nearby Galaxidi, a tiny fishing town right on the Gulf of Corinth. It has the same laid-back feel as one of the Greek Islands while close to the capital and Delphi. A stay here is also a chance to meet a local beekeeper, putting on the white suit and netted hood and getting up close with a hive. The honey tasting afterwards is a sweet end to the visit.

Best family-friendly stay in Delphi & Galaxidi

Set in a converted sea captain’s house in Galaxidi, Hotel Ganimede feels less like a boutique inn and more like you’re staying with family friends. Hosts Chrisoula and Costas are warm, welcoming, and enthusiastic about children. I recommend staying in the suites, which can handle four-person families. Larger parties can opt for the Sea View Apartment.

Meteora for families


The pillar-like mountains of Meteora are a surreal landscape, made even more boggling by the fact medieval monks somehow managed to build monasteries on the high pinnacles. The views and remarkable history here make it one of my best-loved places in Greece, but you wouldn’t necessarily associate it with the best places in Greece for families. However, Meteora is also home to one of the most impressive experiences I’ve ever had, in Greece or elsewhere — a sunset e-bike tour.

The sky-scraping mountains seem entirely inaccessible, but the thoughtful engineering of the roads and the help of the bike’s electric motor make it easy to explore. You’ll visit each of the six monasteries still in use — your guide will explain the history of the monasteries, and the geology of their setting, as you go. But for me, the highlight was at the end when we stopped to watch the sunset fill the valley with golden sunlight. This isn’t a tour I suggest with very young children, but it’s simply jaw-dropping for those over the age of 12 or so.

Best family-friendly stay in Meteora

I love the panoramic views from Doupiani House — every room has a balcony. It’s also one of the few options in the area with triple or quadruple rooms.

Nafplio for families


On the Argolic Gulf, the port city of Nafplio was unexpectedly popular among my children. They loved the beach clubs here, as well as the narrow streets, chic shops, and cafes that were overgrown with bougainvillea. It was also a chance to stretch their muscles with several very active experiences.

The city has two fortresses — Palamidi Fortress on a hill overlooking the city, and Bourtzi Castle, which seems to float out in the gulf. You can explore the latter with a kayaking tour along the waterfront and around the battlements.

On land, I suggest a guided bike ride along the coast. You start at Palamidi Fortress and follow your guide down the gentle switchbacks until you reach a smaller path that follows the waterfront. It’s a good way to get a feel for the town — we returned to explore several of the beaches we saw on our ride.

Nafplio is also a great base for exploring Epidavros, home of the Sanctuary of Asclepius. The Greek god of healing doesn’t make any appearances in the Percy story, but he is in two later series — Heroes of Olympus and The Trials of Apollo. It’s not just fans who’ll enjoy the visit — this is one of the best-preserved ancient sites in the country. It doesn’t require much imagination to bring alive, but a guide can help your family appreciate the remarkable engineering that went into creating the amphitheatre.

On the outskirts of the city, several buildings actually sank beneath the sea, possibly due to an earthquake in classical times. You can explore them on a kayaking tour, a highlight for my kids and for me. The water is crystal-clear and, even though you’re paddling several yards above the submerged buildings, it’s easy to make out the outlines of the rooms and even a handful of amphorae. It feels like a look back in time.

Best family-friendly stays in Nafplio

When I’m in Nafplio, I like either Grand Sarai Hotel or Hotel Ippoliti, small boutique hotels right in the historic heart of the city. I’m suggesting two for flexibility, because they each have just a few rooms that can accommodate a family of four.

Santorini for families


The Greek Islands’ is a woefully misleading phrase, implying that they’re all similar somehow. There are so many different islands, it’s even impossible to get an accurate count — estimates range from 1,200 to 6,000 — and each has its own character, style, and experiences. I’ve included what for me are the best islands in Greece for families, but we’ll find out what appeals to your family, specifically.

With its sugar-cube houses, blue domes, and photogenic crater, Santorini is probably the island that lends itself best to social-media posts, something that was very important to my teens. They loved sharing sunset images, especially from Oia or Fira. I can arrange a guided hike along the caldera’s edge between the two towns, giving you less-crowded vantage points for photography.

Even the most dedicated social-media users can only take so many photos, so I suggest including some experiences as well. We all really enjoyed a local cooking class in the village of Megalochori. Cycladic cooking, like all Greek cuisine, depends heavily on high-quality ingredients simply prepared, so there’s very little technique to master.

The kitchen is tucked into a glass enclosure in the garden, offering a bucolic atmosphere while you cook. It’s a good option if you’re visiting with younger children, the chefs handing out special blunted plastic knives. When your meal is ready, you’ll sit on the deck and enjoy the dishes you’ve created (adults can pair the meal with Santorini’s assyrtiko white wine).

Santorini is also home to Akrotiri, an ancient Minoan city buried under layers of ash. Thought to be the source of the legend of Atlantis, it’s a fun destination for children — and adults — who enjoy the romance of the sunken city. Your guide will take you through the archaeology that uncovered the well-preserved buildings with their intact pottery and intricate frescoes.

Best family-friendly stays on Santorini

The most photogenic hotels on the island are on the caldera’s rim and involve a lot of stairs — many won’t accept younger children for that reason. If that works for your family, I suggest the Belvedere Suites. You’ll enjoy blue domes, white-washed rooms, and there’s a stand-alone family villa. The highlight is the cliffside pool that overlooks the caldera and the deep-blue Aegean.

Milos for families


With its volcanic rock formations and many hidden coves, Milos is one of the best islands in Greece for active families. It’s a classic Cycladic island but fewer visitors come here, giving you a chance to enjoy the unusual landscape in relative solitude.

My enduring suggestion here is a visit to the site of a sunken ship — it has a piratical appeal to many young visitors. Your guide will lead you along the coastline — hiking over volcanic ash, past sandy beaches, and alongside hidden bays — until you reach the final resting place of the Dubai Star, a tanker that ran ashore in 2003. Most of the wreck lies under the blue water, and you can snorkel over the algae-furred remains, watching the small silver fishes darting in and out of the empty spaces.

After you’ve explored, you can visit nearby Sarakiniko Beach. A striking moonscape beach made of white stone formations, it’s a worthwhile destination even if you aren’t visiting the Dubai Star. The pumice has been carved by the wind and waves, and smoothed by time, creating fanciful shapes that are fun to explore.

Milos’s volcanic geology means it’s home to many appealing or unusual beaches, though most of the interesting ones can be hard to reach. That’s why I also suggest taking a sailboat cruise around the island. You’ll have the whole boat to yourselves, and your captain can recommend the best coves for you to explore. We dropped anchor off Kleftiko Beach, where we swam in the sun-warmed water and through wind-carved sea arches.

Best family-friendly stays on Milos

A short walk from Papikinos Beach, Santa Maria Village and Luxury Suites is a comfortable base for exploring Milos. There’s a pool for cooling off and the Deluxe Suite, which sleeps four, has two bathrooms — just the thing to help keep family harmony.

Crete for families

Palace of Knossos, Crete
Palace of Knossos, Crete

Crete’s Palace of Knossos (probably) inspired the legend of the Minotaur and the labyrinth, important in Greek mythology and the Percy Jackson series. That, for me, makes Crete a must-see stop on any fan’s visit to the Aegean.

You can explore on your own, but the palace is likened to a maze for a reason and a guide can really help you navigate the sprawling complex. They’ll also illuminate the sometimes-hazy connections between the palace’s many rooms and the classical ideal of the labyrinth. A highlight is the Throne Room of King Minos with its bright carmine walls, well-preserved frescoes, and the imposing throne.

If your children are deeply dedicated to Greek mythology, you can also visit Dikteon Cave, the birthplace of Zeus himself. As legend has it, this is where Rhea hid the young Zeus to protect him from his father, the titan Cronus.

To be entirely honest, several caves across the region have made the same claim over the past 2,000 years, but Dikteon has been a place of pilgrimage since antiquity. It’s a pretty drive through the Lassithi Plateau, whose greenery is rimmed by mountains and dotted with sheep, and a short hike to the cave itself.

Best family-friendly stays on Crete

Overlooking a private cove with a sandy beach, Daios Cove Luxury Resorts & Villas has kid’s clubs, a well-stocked games room, and a selection of pools, including ones reserved for adults. The villas are spacious and cut right into the cliff, with sweeping views of the sea.

Getting around with children in Greece


Intended for family travel to Greece with older children, our Greece family adventure focuses on active exploration in Athens, Delphi, Meteora, and Milos. However, your specialist can include as many classical sights as your Percy Jackson readers want to see.

There’s so much to explore in Greece for families that I always suggest a minimum of ten days, more if you want to include time to relax by the water. Getting between the cities and islands means drives and ferries. You can opt to drive yourself and we’ll include detailed driving directions, or we can arrange a driver to take you. The cities are usually easy to navigate, either on foot or by taxi.

You can easily visit Delphi and Galaxidi right after Athens or while staying there. But, I prefer to end my trip there and it’s an easy drive to the airport.

Best school vacations to travel to Greece

Many hotels in Greece only have a small number of family suites and adjoining rooms, so plan in advance if you’d like to visit during the school vacations.

I suggest planning your summer trip for the first week after school lets out for the year, whether that’s May or June. It’s one of the best times for family travel to Greece. You’ll beat the worst of the heat and crowds. That said, if you’re planning to visit in July or August, I suggest opting for hotels with pools and asking your specialist to include lots of downtime in the afternoons.

Read more family trip ideas to Greece

Start thinking about your experience. These itineraries are simply suggestions for how you could enjoy some of the same experiences as our specialists. They're just for inspiration, because your trip will be created around your particular tastes.

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