Updated January, 2014

The 6 Best Greek Islands for Families

Hotels

FAQ for Traveling to Greece

How Do I book hotels in Greece?

As you can see in the comments below the top question I get about Greece is how to find hotels.

CheapZebra.com/Greece is the best website for finding hotels in Greece. It finds the best rates by searching multiple sites and has been around for years. If you’re looking for last minute deals nothing beats it.

When readers ask about booking hotels, here’s what I want to reply: “Don’t worry about it. Find something while you’re there. Stay flexible and uncommitted so you can bounce around from island to island without any commitments or plans. It’s the funnest way to do it.”

Newsflash: This doesn’t work for everyone. Some people come close to having a nervous breakdown when they don’t have a hotel booked for the place they’re arriving at. Fair enough.

I’ll also add there are times and places where even I wouldn’t follow my own advice. These are times when you should definitely have a hotel booked in advance:

  • If you’re going to any of the most popular islands in July or August you need to book a hotel in advance. This includes Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu, and Chania and Rethymno on Crete.
  • If you’re arriving late at night you need to book in advance. (Unless you’re a single backpacker in which case you can probably get away with a late arrival just about anywhere except Santorini in summer.)
  • If you have a large party of 4 or more people it’s best that you book in advance – or at least research the options before you arrive.

Hotels by destination (the best web pages):

Should I book hotels in advance when visiting Greece?

  • For July and August on the most popular islands — like Santorini and Mykonos — booking early is absolutely essential. It becomes increasingly less essential as you move away from those islands and those months. So Naxos and Paros in June or September would be no problem at all to arrive at without reservations. That leaves a large gray area of course. Are reservations necessary for Santorini in June, Naxos in July, Paros in August? Probably not – but if you’ll be anxious without reservations then do it and relax.
  • Flexibility is good (and fun). It’s nice to have some hotel reservations booked in advance – especially for your first nights on a new island – but it’s also nice to have some flexibility with where you’re going and how long you’re staying. Try to find a good balance – maybe have your first 2 nights on each island booked in advance, followed with a few days that you can fill as you wish.
  • That said, flexibility might be a luxury that families don’t feel they can afford. In high season families and large groups should definitely book rooms in advance.
  • If you do show up on an island without reservations you might see hotel owners greeting the ferry (like in this picture). These will often be budget hotels (but still nice, clean places to stay). If you do decide to stay with them try to walk to the hotel from the pier. (This won’t be practical on every island, eg. Santorini’s port is a long ways from anywhere.) Most main towns are right by the ferry port, so if they’re telling you that their hotel is right “in town” you should be able to walk there no problem, right? If instead they’re trying to get you and your bags into their pickup it’s likely it’s several miles outside of town. At the very least get them to pinpoint the hotel exactly on a map. Some hotel owners will “gently” lie but if faced with a precise question they’ll accurately tell you where it is on the map.

Special Considerations for Family Travel in Greece

Greece is a fun and easy vacation destination for families.  There are no special vaccinations required. No special medicine prescribed.  The food is wonderful and generally pretty kid friendly.

Transport, whether by ferry, bus or plane, is efficient and comfortable.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect for families is finding hotel rooms suitable for 4, 5, 6 or more people. The most common hotel room is small with 2 single beds with a small balcony and usually a small fridge. Many options do exist outside of these, but it will require some planning and booking in advance.

High chairs are rarely to be found in restaurants which can make a stroller an appealing option as a place to sit a baby or small toddler during meal time.

Q. When is the best time to visit Greece?

June and September are undeniably the best months to vacation in Greece. And if you’re really looking to narrow it down then mid-September is the absolute prime. The weather is essentially the same as late June but while the water can still be chilly in early summer, by September it’s perfect. The crowds arrive in late June and stay until the islands are packed until the last week of August. By early September you can feel a discernible difference in the number of visitors and hopping on a ferry, getting a seat at a popular restaurant, or finding a hotel room gets markedly easier.

The difficulty of peak-season travel can be exaggerated however. I’ve visited in the middle of summer on several occasions and had no trouble finding a hotel on a Greek island. But if you do travel during July and August you should, at the very least, book your hotel rooms in advance and be prepared for some intense bustle on the ferries and in the tourist hot spots.

May and October can be great as well but you’re taking a little bit of chance with the weather if your aim is beach and swimming time. On the other hand if you’re more interested in hiking, biking, and historical sites then mid-April to early June and late September until early November can be fantastic options.

Q. What islands have the best beaches?

Almost all of the Greek islands have great beaches but some have more than others. Naxos, Rhodes, and Crete are among the richest islands in the sand and sea category. Milos, Ikaria, and Lesvos are 3 quieter islands that have fantastic beaches. More information and pictures in the 47 best beaches in Greece.

Q. How do I get to the Greek Islands?

These are the 4 easiest and most common ways to get to the Greek islands:

1. Fly to Athens and then ferry to the islands.

The classic Greek vacation. The pluses include breaking up your journey mid-way, having an opportunity to tour Athens and getting to enjoy a long, often relaxing, occasionally magical ferry ride from Athens to the Islands.

The minuses being that it takes up a few days on both ends of your trip. Stopping in Athens might not be the best use of time if you only have one or two weeks.

The ferry schedule can be erratic in August as high winds in the Cyclades (called the Meltemi) can play havoc with ferries schedules. (The Cyclades are particularly vulnerable to high winds.) Cancellations for more than a day or two are rare but your itinerary could be messed up with one ill timed delay.

2. Fly directly to a Greek Island from a city in Northern or Western Europe.

There are many cheap budget flight to a few Greek Islands from the main travel hubs in western Europe: London, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Milan.

Pros: It can often be ridiculously cheap to get a flight from Western Europe directly to a Greek island on one of the European budget airlines. Plus, if you’re coming from North America, Asia, or Australia, you can have a few days in London or Paris or whatever city you transit through.

Cons: Surprisingly difficult to arrange if you’re arriving from outside the continent.  The low cost carriers often leave from smaller regional airports not the large hubs where your long haul jet landed. Getting from one airport to another can take the better part of a day. (For example, your flight from New York will arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, but your flight to Greece will leave from Orly – on the opposite side of the city.)

Also, only a handful of islands have direct flights from outside of Greece. Currently, the Greek islands that have international flights are Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, Zakynthos, Crete, Lesvos, Samos, Kos, and Rhodes.

3. Fly to Athens, then fly to the islands.

Pros: More time on the islands. There are more islands you can fly to from Athens than from outside the country. For example, Milos, Naxos, Paros, and Karpathos all have flights from Athens but do not have international arrivals, so you if you want to fly to the smaller islands you’ll have to go through Athens.

Cons: You’ll miss out on island hopping by ferry. Though, of course, you can take ferries between the islands once you’re there it’s that initial trip from Athens out to the islands that’s filled with so much excitement and anticipation. Also, if you do stop in Athens it’s often easier (or just as easy) to go to the port and hop on a ferry as to make your way all the way back to the airport, go through security, and wait for your plane. When you factor in the extra time that taking a flight involves, a highspeed ferry will get you to some of the Cycladic islands nearly as fast as a flight.

4. Combine a Greek trip with a one of its neighbors to the east (Turkey) or west (Italy).

There are several options for taking ferries to or from Turkey and Italy. On the Turkish side ferries ply the waters between Lesvos and Ayvalik, Chios and Cesme, Samos and Kusadasi, Kos and Bodrum, and Rhodes and Marmaris. These boat rides vary in length but typically are about 1-3 hours long and can be booked the day prior to departure.

A fantastic itinerary might look like this: Fly into Istanbul, tour the Turkish coast, ferry to an eastern Greek island and island hop through 2 or 3 islands, ending your trip in Athens and flying home from there.

On the Italian side ferries run between the Greek island of Corfu and the Italian port towns of Ancona, Brindisi, Bari and Venice. These take between 8 and 12 hours and are often overnight ferries, so it’s best to book at least a few days in advance. Book far in advance if you want to take a vehicle or have a sleeping compartment.

Q. What budget airlines fly to Greece?

There are a number of airlines that fly to Athens or directly to a Greek Island. Here’s a list of the most popular airlines that have at least one flight to Greece from cities and airports across Europe:

Q. How do I travel by ferry in Greece?

Ferries are one of the ingredients of what makes a trip to Greece so magical and unique. Ferry hopping around the islands — especially the Cyclades where the islands are very close to each other — is a ton of fun. And if you’re just going from one island to the next it’s very easy too.

Foot passengers usually don’t need to book in advance – especially for ferries between islands – just buy a ticket at the pier and hop on board. But for ferries from Piraeus (the port near Athens) to an island during high season it’s recommend to book at least a few days prior to your departure. If you’ll be in Athens for a few days before heading out to the islands this will be enough time to reserve a ticket through a travel agent. (Pretty much any travel agent you encounter as you walk around Athens will be fine for buying tickets. You’ll see signs everywhere to buy ferry tickets so don’t worry about finding one.)

When you start doing more than a walk-on ferry ride from, say, Santorini to Mykonos, it gets more difficult. Here are some choices you may need to make for longer ferry rides:

  • Do I want to take a high speed ferry, a catamaran, or a conventional ferry? If you want to take the a high speed ferry or catamaran to or from Athens then you’ll want to book a few days or more in advance.
  • Do I want deck seating (also called 2nd class or airplane style seating) or do I want to reserve a sleeping cabin? If you want a cabin you’ll want to book a few weeks in advance.
  • Do I need to take a vehicle on board? If so, booking several weeks in advance is recommended as spots in the car garage are in short supply.

But — and here’s what makes planning a Greek vacation a little tricky — ferry schedules are almost never released more than a month or 2 in advance and buying ferry tickets from outside the country is not as easy as it could be. Figuring out the schedules and using the ticketing websites is a pain. If you’re trying to buy tickets online and feel like slamming your head into the wall don’t blame yourself – it’s confusing.

Some things to keep in mind:
  • Ticket prices on a similar ferry will always be the same between 2 ports (the prices are set by the government) but services, speeds, and amenities can vary greatly between ferries and ferry companies.
  • Most islands are connected to Athens by at least one ferry a day — even in winter.
  • A subway connects downtown Athens with the port of Piraeus making getting to your ferry cheap and easy.
  • But … the port is huge and confusing to figure out for a first timer. Plan to get to the port at least an hour before your ferry departs.
  • There are lots of places to eat and buy snacks in Piraeus before you get on your ferry.
  • A suburban train route connects the airport with the port of Piraeus where the ferries leave for the Greek islands. If you’re flying to Athens bu don’t want to visit you can almost completely bypass it.
  • Most ferries to the islands leave early in the morning so even the best executed plans will have you staying the night in Athens.
  • High speed ferriescatamarans, and Flying Dolphin hydrofoils will cost about twice the price of a conventional ferry. (Believe me, if you think keeping all the ferries straight is confusing, I know. I’m very familiar with the different types and I can just barely remember which is which.)
  • The Athens News english newspaper has a greek island ferry schedule in every edition. Grab it on arrival and start planning. Your island destination may have an early morning ferry with the next one late at night. You wouldn’t want to miss the early one.
  • You’ll almost always be able to buy a deck ticket on any ferry to any destination. The only time it might be an issue is during the last days of July, the first days of August (especially if the month-changeover falls on a weekend) and the days leading up to the August 15 holiday when all of Greece returns to their hometown.
  • Cabins are a good option for the long overnight ferries to Crete, Rhodes and other islands far from Piraeuss (Athen’s port).
  • Check the ferry schedule closely when planning your return to Athens. This is especially important if you’re planning stops on the smaller islands. They might have only 1 ferry a day and it might not be going where you are. If you’re on a inflexible schedule make your final island (before returning to Athens) a popular island so they’ll be lots of ferries going your way.
  • Don’t assume there are ferries going between every 2 islands in Greece. Far from it. Ferries tend to move within island groups – between different Cycladic islands for example – with the most popular islands within a group serving as a hub to neighboring island groups. This makes the idea of vacationing in just one island group a good plan to follow unless you have lots of time to spare.
  • During high season from June to September there are departures to all the most popular islands every day – usually multiple departures. There are far fewer ferries in the winter months, but at all times of the year there will be the following departures:
Morning Ferries
  • Piraeus to Syros, Tinos and Mykonos
  • Piraeus to Paros, Naxos, los and Santorini
  • Piraeus to Kythnos, Serifos, Sifnos and Milos
Evening overnight ferries
  • Piraeus to Hania, Crete
  • Piraeus to Heraklion, Crete
  • Piraeus to Rhodes and neighboring islands
  • Piraeus to Lesvos and Chios

What are the different ferries like?

There are 4 main types of ferry vessels: Conventional car ferries (that allow vehicles); hydrofoils or Flying Dolphins (which don’t); high speed ferries (usually accept vehicles); and catamarans (that sometimes do and sometimes don’t carry cars).

Slow Ferries/Conventional Car Ferries
  • the slowest mode of transport between the islands
  • the cheapest way to get between different islands
  • offer the best views (you can sit out on the deck, drink wine, and have the classic Greek ferry trip)
  • airplane seating is available inside with usually one restaurant onboard (with decent inexpensive food)
  • 2 to 4 person cabins available for overnight trips
  • picture of Greek slow ferry
High Speed Ferries
  • much like conventional ferries only faster and more expensive
  • newly built and have nicer amenities than slow ferries
  • most take vehicles
  • picture of Greek highspeed ferry
Catamarans (Cat’s)
  • the quickest method of sea transport
  • the most expensive
  • does not run on all routes or to all islands – only the most popular
  • only has inside airplane-style seating
  • more likely than large ferries to have weather cancellations
  • in rough seas can cause more sea sickness than larger ferries
  • some take vehicles
  • have names like highspeed 2, highspeed 5, and highspeed 6
  • picture of a catamaran in Greece
Flying Dolphins (or Hydrofoils)
  • used only on short routes, most commonly between Athens and Hydra and the rest of the Saronic islands
  • like catamarans they are small, faster, more expensive, and can have rougher rides than a large ferry
  • only have indoor airplane seating
  • don’t take vehicles
  • picture of a Flying Dolphin hydrofoil

What are the best websites for ferry schedules and tickets?

The best sites for viewing ferry schedules for Greece:
The best sites for booking ferry tickets for Greece:

Q. How do I travel between Greece and Turkey by ferry?

One of the most common routes for travelers on extended trips is to travel from the Greek Islands over to the Turkish coast to explore that incredible country (or from Turkey to Greece as the case may be). The trip is very doable but will inherently involve a bit of uncertainty as the schedules and boats that run between the 2 countries can change often.

There is no direct ferry between Athens and Istanbul so any journey between Turkey and Greece by sea will need to go through a Greek Island. The following table of ferries should give you an idea of what’s available.

Advice for ferries between Turkey and Greece:
  • Most of these trips take 90 minutes to 2.5 hours. The quickest is the 20 minute hydrofoil between Kos and Bodrum.
  • The boats used are often quite small and can offer a rough ride even in moderate seas.
  • Book the day before as you might need to supply your passport for registration the day prior to departure.
  • Many of the ferries only run in the high season between June and September. Ferries from Bodrum to Kos and Marmaris to Rhodes usually run through the winter months.
  • Of the Greek Islands that have ferries to Turkey the one with the best connections to other Greek Islands is Rhodes.
  • Of the Greek Islands that have ferries to Turkey the one with the best connections to Athens is Chios.

Q. What’s the best website for booking package trips to Greece?

Sunshine.Co.uk has amazing deals for package trips to Greece.

But … I highly recommend traveling through Greece independently. Arranging your own travels, island-hopping on the ferry, seeing the non-touristy side of Greece.

Of course, I understand that not everyone has the time, money, or desire to create their own trip so the package tour can be a good way to see Greece on the cheap.

Q. What are the Greek Island groups and why do they matter?

The Greek Islands are divided into several island groups. In part for administrative reasons, but more commonly for shared history and island geography. Ferries and catamarans run more frequently within island groups than between them, so don’t assume that 2 neighboring islands will have daily ferry connections if they lie in different island groups. The most popular island groups for tourists being:

Saronic Islands – a few hours by ferry from Athens. Most popular islands: Hydra, Aegina, Poros, Spetses.

Cycladic Islands – in the middle of the Agean Sea, about 4-8 hours from Athens by ferry. Most popular islands: Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Ios, Milos.

Dodecanese Islands – in the southeast of the Aegean Sea, off the southwest coast of Turkey. 10-18 hours by ferry from Athens. Most popular islands: Rhodes, Karpathos, Kos, Patmos.

Aegean Islands – off the central coast of Turkey. 8-15 hours from Athens by ferry. Most popular islands: Samos, Chios, Lesvos.

(Northern) Sporades: – in the northeastern section of the Aegean, closer to Thessaloniki and Istanbul then to Athens, 2-5 hours by ferry from Thessaloniki. Most popular islands: Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.

Crete: – the biggest island in Greece and thus it’s own island group, 10-15 hours by ferry from Athens. Main Cities: Iraklio, Rethymno, Hania.

Ionian Islands: – the only group on the west side of Greece, 1 or 2 hours by ferry from the western ports of Igoumenitsa and Patras, or overnight ferry from Bari or Brindisi in Italy. Most popular islands: Corfu, Kefalonia and Zante (Zakynthos).

Travel tips & advice – Odds and Ends

Best months to visit for good weather: June, July, August, and September.

Busiest months: July and August, specifically July 15 to late August.

Best Website for cheap hotels and deals: CheapZebra.com/Greece.
Destination specific searches include: Athens, Corfu, Mykonos, Naxos, Rhodes.

Cheapest destinations: Ios, Naxos, Lesvos, Chios.

Most expensive destinations: Santorini and Mykonos.

Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Outlets use round two-pin plugs.

When to buy tickets to Greece:: Either really early when you can still purchase the few discounted tickets on flights or late when prices drop if holidays makers are going elsewhere. (The last 2 years have seen large discounts and falling prices for tickets to Greece in late spring and early summer.)

Suggested Itineraries

1 week recommended itinerary:

2 or 3 islands — probably in the Cyclades as they’re relatively close to Athens and ferry rides from one island to the next are short and tickets are easy to book.  The best Islands in the Cyclades: Naxos, Santorini, Folegandros, Paros, Mykonos, Milos. Finish your trip with 1 full day in Athens.

2 week recommended itinerary:

Do 1 week in Crete and then the 1 week itinerary described above.

1 month recommended itinerary: Start in Lesvos or Samos in the Aegean islands, either by direct flight or ferry from Athens. Spend a week in those two islands before moving on to the Dodecanese spending a week in Rhodes, Ikaria and Karpathos, then continue with the 2 week itinerary above.

Destinations and Planning

  • Island hopping is what it’s all about. There are so many great islands in Greece it’s almost mandatory to visit more than one. With the exception of Crete (see below) don’t limit yourself to 1 island.
  • But … don’t visit too many islands. 2 nights (3 or 4 is best) is the minimum time needed to feel like you’ve seen an island at all, don’t spread your time too thin among the islands.
  • Crete is a big island and requires at least a week to see well. If you’re on a tight schedule and want to see a bunch of different islands Crete might not be your best destination. It’s a fair distance from any other islands (and Athens) and takes a while to get around due to its size. The island could very easily keep you busy for 2 or more weeks and it has a bit of everything: arts, culture, cities, beaches, and quaint idyllic ports. If you have at least 10 days and want to visit Santorini – its closest neighbor – that might is very doable.
  • Hotels and restaurants on most islands close during the winter months. You’ll always find something open but things can be very quiet in the off season. On the less popular islands things close down even earlier in the fall and open up later in the spring. For example, Santorini will get very quiet by mid-November. The hotels and restaurants that close will start to reopen in late March. But a less popular island like Folegandros will start slowing down significantly in late September and not be completely re-opened until mid-May.
  • Depart and arrive from different cities. Having to return to the city that you first arrived in is a waste of time and money. Open-jaw tickets cost a little more but you’ll save that money by not having to buy tickets back to a place you’ve already been. Example 1) Arrive Thessaloniki travel through the Aegean and Cycladic islands and fly home from Santorini. Example 2) Arrive in Istanbul, visit the Turkish coast, ferry to a Greek island and then more ferries and islands on your way back to Athens for your flight home. Example 3) Fly to Heraklion on Crete, tour that island before visiting Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos on your way back to Athens and home. These are just a few of a number of very good routes and options – all made easier and funner by not having to return to the city that you flew into.
  • Don’t ignore Northern Greece — Thessaloniki, the Halkidiki, and the North Aegean islands are less popular than the southern destinations but have some great sights and make a great vacation destination. If you’re looking for quieter towns and secluded beaches the north is great.
  • Consider combining a vacation in Greece with a visit to a neighboring coutnry, most likely Italy or Turkey. The Ionian islands in northwest Greece are an easy overnight ferry from Italy’s eastern coast. The Sporades and Aegean islands make a good circular route with Thessalaniki in Northern Greece, Istanbul and the very popular Turkish coast and beaches.
  • The winds can be intense in summer, especially in August and especially in the Cyclades. The wind blows from the north so beaches on the south coast of an island generally are the least blustery. Naxos in particular has a long string of protected beaches on it’s southwest coast.
  • There are different spellings for the same islands and places – usually becasue of differences between their english and greek names. The ones that cause the most problems: Zante and Zakynthos are the same island, Corfu is Kerkyra, Santorini is Thira, Chania – the city in Crete – is also Hania, and Heraklion is also Iraklion. Thessalaniki and Salonika are the same city. Piraeus is the port the ferries leave from near Athens. It is often used interchangeably with Athens when discussing ferry routes.

Q. What are the best guide books for the Greek Islands?

Further reading:

331 thoughts on “Updated January, 2014

  1. Alex said:

    Hi. We’ve taken our kids to some of the greek islands near Turkey, Samos, Chios and Lesvos, but haven’t ventured to the more popular islands. Our family is meeting again this year at a tourist resort on Samos but we’d like to get over to some of the more popular islands like Mykonos, Santorini, Crete and Milos. Any help in doing this would be appreciated.

    Our kids are a toddler and young teen. It’s nice to not have to worry about diapers and formula for a baby on this trip.

    Thanks,
    Alex

    Oh, and One more thing: we’ll probably be getting a cheap flight from London or Manchester. Not sure if that makes any difference. And we’ll have about a week or 10 days to do our little side trip.

    • David said:

      Hi Alex.

      The biggest challange getting from the North Aegean islands (or Dodecanese) are the ferry schedules. Ferries typically run within islands groups, and not so much between them. That said, Samos is one of the better served of the eastern islands so it shouldn’t be too much trouble. Getting to Naxos, Paros or Mykonos you’ll probably have one ferry a day, for Santorini or Mylos you’ll almost certainly have to change boats somewhere.

      I’m reluctant to recommend a visit to Crete. It’s a great island but a long way from where you’re coming from so I’d focus my attention on the 3 Cycladic islands you named.

      Another idea is to spend a few nights on Ikaria. It’s on the ferry route from Samos to the Cyclades and is a wonderful island. If you’re visiting in July or August I would think seriously about whether you want to visit Santorini as well. It’s incredibly busy during these two months. June and September are much better times to visit.

      As for discount flights, take a look at Ryan Air or Easy Jet. If you could try to arrange an open jaw ticket whereby you fly into one airport, probably Samos, and then out of another it would save you the expense (and time demands) of backtracking.

      Hope that helps a little. Let me know how your plans are developing.

      David

      • Wisdom Seeker said:

        David-
        We are going to Greece for 10 days at Easter from Spain. We were thinking of a day or 2 in Athens, Naxos, Rhodes and Crete. How much time would you spend in each and in which order would you take. We would prefer to fly if the ferries are long as one of us gets seasick easily. Which would be the most fun for kids for Easter weekend?
        Spain family

        • David said:

          Rhodes is the tough one to incorporate (whether by ferry or flight) If you’re really looking for easy then fly to Crete, then fly to Santorini, then a short ferry to Naxos, and fly back to Athens from there. Hydrofoils tend to be rougher than the big ferries but they’re also a lot faster (so less to endure). I hope that helps a little. Good luck.

      • marguerite van der merwe said:

        Hello David & your fund of knowledge ! My question:
        Can you advise 1/2 islands, smallish, not touristy – we are over 70s, active, love the food, wine, relaxed living, good beaches, (maybe some Greek dancing), not crowded , essentially Greek-village. Will be flying from Paris in September – don’t have any particular island area in mind. +- 10 days vacation. Look forward to your generous sharing. Thanks

        • David said:

          Some to investigate would be Syros (for Greek culture), Folegandros (for walks and good food), Ikaria (for awesome yet quiet beaches). Hope that helps.

  2. Jen P. said:

    I wish I’d seen this last summer. We spent a week on Santorini and then one night on Naxos and absolutely loved Naxos. Then flew to Athens and back to home. Santorini would be great for a honeymoon or backpackers but it’s nto the best family vacation island. We had fun. I don’t want to sound like too much of a downer. Actually we had a lot of fun. But then we took the ferry to Naxos and that little town right by the port, it’s really wonderful. And we did tow different beaches – the one a short walk and another the next morning a short drive away and both were great for kids. I’d like to go back but maybe do a September trip instead of August. Do you know if it’s as busy in September as July and August? I’m sure it slows down but how much? And the weather I’ve heard is still very nice in the fall, is this true?

    • David said:

      Hi Jen. Naxos is great isn’t it. The perfect mix of restaurants, beach and great greek vibe. Not overrun with tourists – and no cruise ships either, at least that I’ve seen. I’m assuming you didn’t make it into the interior of the island with your short stay, so you’ve got that for your next trip. It’s a wonderful island.

      September will definitely be slower than July or August. I don’t want to overstate that, it’s no secret that September is a good month to vacation on the islands (you and me aren’t the first) so for people that can take their holidays anytime this is the month. You won’t be alone. But you will see a clear and noticeable difference in the people milling about. Hotel rooms will be easier to find and you’ll probably get about a 10% or 20% discount off the high season price. The ferry schedule is reduced a lot in the winter months starting mid October, but that shouldn’t be an issue in September. Perhaps the catamarans or high speed ferries will be a little less common.

      As for the weather it’s great too. Not sure if you had windy days on your trip but if you did that’s primarily an August thing. September sees a lot less of the high winds but is almost as hot. And unlike a late spring vacation the sea water is warm – having been heated all summer.

      Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      • Jen P. said:

        Thanks David. I was hoping we’d get some good deals in September. And would like to explore the rest of the island too. We’d like to do a short tour through a couple of the other Agean islands. If you could do only one or two other islands which ones would you choose? Is October even better than September?

        • David said:

          I really like Folegandros. There are a couple of restaurants there that were amazing. Can’t remember their names but they were right in the main square of the main village. If you really want to get off the beaten path then Sikinos is a cool place. We were their in late October and didn’t see a single other tourist – even when we were getting on the ferry. Someone saw us wandering around the village after our arrival by boat and phoned someone else to tell them some tourists were here and they were looking for a room.

          Paros, Milos and Mykonos are good options. Can’t go wrong with any of them, especially in September as even Mykonos will be manageable.

          As for October. The weather can be a bit of an issue. A little bit of uncertainty does enter into it after about the first week of October. Any later than that I’d recommend going farther south – Rhodes, Karpathos, or Crete. You could get good weather in October in the Cyclades but you could also get some days where entering the water takes a little bit of resolve. Hotels mind you will certainly be a lot cheaper. Maybe even half price from summer. (Though some will be starting to close down for the winter.) You’d want to pack a sweater and at least one pair of pants.

  3. Yesp said:

    Going to Greece in 2011. Any good Greece travel deals you maybe know about. Would like to go to the islands. Do you like Athens? Thanks for the advice.

    • David said:

      Depends where you’re coming from of course. If you’re flying within Europe then look for a cheap charter flight from the big cities in northern Europe – London, Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt are probably the best for discounted tickets to holiday destinations of southern Europe. But anywhere is worth a look: Berlin, Prague, Copenhagen, even flying from Rome will make your trip a lot quicker than train, bus and ferry trips.

      As for Athens, I think it’s a great city. I’ve lived there or had extended stays there on several occasions and really enjoy seeing and exploring Greek urban culture. You don’t see it much on the islands but in Athens where there are relatively few tourists you can have great Greek food and great Greek music and dance – and all that good stuff. In many countries the big city is the most western but in Greece the big city – in some ways anyways – is the most Greek. The Parthenon and Acropolis are worth a visit but do more random sightseeing – wander down quiet streets and visit the parks and squares where Greeks hang out and sip frappe. Get lost and see where it takes you!

      Good luck.

  4. Anju said:

    Hi ,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. I am planning a 7-10 day trip to Greece with my sisters family (she has 2 kids – 4 and 9) and my parents . Would you be able to recommend an itinerary?

    Initially the plan was to do – 3 days Athens, 3 days Santorini and 3 days Mykonos but after reading your blog I’ve changed my mind and feel maybe Naxos and Paros are better bet with kids and budget. What do you suggest.

    Really appreciate the help. Thanks so much

    Anju

    • David said:

      Hi Anju. Your second itinerary sounds better – and cheaper. I’d do 3 or 4 days on Naxos and Paros, with maybe 2 days in Athens. I’d recommend doing Athens at the end of your trip. It’s always nice to arrive in Athens early so you’re not worrying about delayed ferries and missed flights. If you do your Athens sightseeing at the beginning of your trip you’ve still got to use a day or two at the end in Athens – so put it all together and have your sightseeing and “buffer” days at the end of your trip.

      The main town and port in Naxos is a great place with a lot to see and explore and a great beach just over the hill (within walking distance).

      I always feel a little guilty dissuading people from seeing Santorini. It’s a stunning island and you’ll return home and see some pictures in a magazine and think “Oh, we should have gone there.” But it is a tough island for kids. There are few kid friendly activities there – which isn’t to say they wouldn’t like it.

      A couple options would be a day trip from Naxos to Santorini (I think the boat’s route is Paros-Naxos-Santorini-Naxos-Paros) so it’s best to do it from Naxos to make the trip shorter. The other would be to go straight to Santorini, stay a night or two, use the time there as your adapting-to-the-heat and a new country time and then move on to Paros and Naxos.

      I wouldn’t worry about Mykonos too much. It’s a nice island but you get many of the same things in other Cycladic islands but without the high prices and big crowds. (The main town of Hora and its winding streets is undoubtedly beautiful.)

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      David

      • Anju said:

        Hi David,

        Can you help me with a few more questions -
        - Do you have suggestions on any website that I should use to book accomodation in these islands? Do you recommend a villa or a hotel?
        - Do you think it would be possible to do a day trip to Santorini – go in the morning and come back to Naxos in the evening?

        Thanks!
        Anju

        • David said:

          For hotel deals the best site (by far) is hotelscombined.com/Greece.

          If you don’t mind doing a lot of research I would consider going directly to each hotel’s web site and emailing them for the best deal. It can be a lot of work, mind you, when the links above make it so easy.

          As for the boat to Santorini there is one – or has been one in the past. I’m very confident there’ll be a company in Naxos that offers a day trip to Santorini for you. But contacting them and booking tickets before hand is admittedly a little tricky.

          I hope that helps.

          David

  5. Bkay said:

    Going to Greece for 4 days. I know it’s short but as an airline pilot we combine several destinations on our trips. Can you recommend an island close enough to Athens by either boat or plane to enjoy with my family( kids 9&12), also maybe even hotels? We love good beaches and scenic walking towns ..

    • David said:

      Hi Bkay.

      If you’re looking for something close and accessible by a short ferry ride then Aegina and Angistri are probably the best candidates. Neither have the great fantastic beaches that Greece is famous for, but they’re certainly good for a few days of swimming and relaxing. Both have neat little towns that are fantastic to wander through. Both islands are little more than an hour from Athens.

      A little farther away (but still just over an hour from Athens on the flying dolphin or high speed ferry) is Hydra. It has an idyllic greek village (no cars or scooters) great hikes, but only pebble beaches.

      All of these islands get very busy in summer – especially on the weekends – as Athenians escape the city for summer island fun. Be sure you have a hotel booked before committing to any of these islands.

      If you’re willing to fly there’s really no where you can’t get to. All the islands are less than an 90 minutes by air from Athens. Naxos is my favorite – great beaches, great town, nice island to explore. Crete is a great island. If you can, try to fly to Hania instead of Heraklion (where most flights go) as there is more to do in the western end of the island than the east and with just 4 days you’ll have to use your time wisely.

      Mykonos and Santorini will probably have the most flights from Athens. Neither are the best destinations with kids but they’re great islands all the same. Your kids are a little older, it might be something you want to consider. Santorini does not have the best beaches – they’re composed of black or red volcanic sand – and tend to get scorching hot, but it is beautiful.

      Hope that gives you some ideas. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      David

  6. Turkey bound said:

    On our way to Turkey? Any ideas on the best routes? We’re going in September, after spending August taking the train from Paris to Rome and around Italy. Thanks.

    Does a eurorail pass do any good in Greece?

    • David said:

      Hi. It’s hard to make the Eurail pass work with Greece. It’s for the trains and the trains don’t run to the islands, of course. You do get a 30% discount on Blue Star Ferries, 20% on Minoan Line ferries and 30% off the Brindisi-Patras ferry route on HML (including standard cabins and deck tickets). But while a nice perk it hardly makes it worthwhile for the time you’d need to extend your rail passes. Unless you’re planning to take the train around the mainland Greece and Peloponnese.

      As for routes and getting to Turkey it would depend how much time you had. A fast route would be by over night ferry from Piraeus to Lesvos, Chios or Rhodes, then over to Turkey. A slower route would take you through the Cyclades and ferry from Santorini to Crete, then Karpathos, Rhodes and over to Bodrum in Turkey.

      Good luck!

  7. Erin from Toronto said:

    We’ve been all over the world with our 3 kids and Greece is the best country for a family vacation. It’s got just enough “new-ness” and uniqueness to make it a rewarding trip. And enough that’s similar and familiar so that it’s not too demanding or disorienting. Adventurous family trips have their place – and we’ve enjoyed taking the kids to Asia, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Thailand. But for something that would appeal to a wider group of families Greece is a great choice. The biggest difficulty we had in the Greek islands was booking flights. Their online booking system for the airlines we found was terrible and inaccurate. Stick to the ferry anyways, it’s more fun and easier to plan for.

  8. Tina (Jordan) said:

    Hi
    We are planning a trip to greece in mid september with our daughter. She will be 19 months old at the time, and I was wondering if you could help me choose the most stroller friendly islands, but also islands where me and my husband can take her in the stroller out at night for dinner or a drink. Also, are the ferries between the islands easy to take a toddler on?
    Thanks

    • David said:

      Whether to take a stroller on vacation is always a tough call – but particularly hard for the greek islands. You’ll definitely encounter narrow sidewalks, stairs and cobbled streets that will all give you some troubles. A lightweight one (like the Maclaren I discuss here) would be best, as you’ll be lifting it a lot. Get your child into the habit of hopping out at the base of a set of stairs so you can carry the stroller to the top. Of course, you won’t have to use it “a lot” to make it worthwhile. You might find you take her down to a restaurant every night in the stroller and she falls asleep while you’re eating, and that this one little perk made it all worthwhile.

      The airline lost our stroller on our way to Thailand, when our youngest was 2 years old – and it turned out we were very pleased that it happened as I don’t think we would have used it much. (We got a $300 refund from the airline when we got home.) On the other hand we used our stroller a lot when we were in Bali with a 8 month old and in Ireland with a 1 year old. 19 months seems like a bit of a grey area.

      As for island destinations: Santorini will undoubtedly be the worst for a stroller – lots of stairs and hills. Naxos and Paros will be OK. I’ve never been to Antiparos but have heard raves for it’s very stroller friendly streets and beaches that are a short walk from the main village. Not sure if you’re going to Athens but the tourist areas around Syntagma and the Plaka are about as stroller friendly as areas get in Greece.

      So much of it is attitude. If you do take it make the best of it and laugh when the lack of western sidewalk standards seem totally ridiculous. If you leave it at home, forget about it and be glad you don’t have to lug it around as you get on and off ferries.

      Hope that helps. Have fun.

      David

  9. Jack's Mom said:

    My husband is planning to run the Athens marathon at the end of October so we’ll be making it a family trip with our son who will be 5 months old at that point. We’ll spend a couple of days in Athens at the end of ou trip but I’m looking for a suggestion for a nice location to stay for 5-6 days early in our trip. Just read your post above on stroller-friendly islands and this is one of my main concerns – ease of getting around. I’d like to find somewhere with some sights and a few beaches so we can combine some easy downtime days with seeing some of the sights of Greece. We’ve visited before so have seen Santorini, Mykanos and Crete. Any islands or locations you could recommend?

    • David said:

      If you’re not looking for a big beach scene then Aegina, Angistri and Hydra might be attractive options for you. They are all very close to Athens. Swimming might be a little iffy by late October anyways, so you’ll probably be doing more walking around the towns, playing a little on the beaches and spending time in restaurants and cafes. Naxos is my favorite island in Greece (but a little longer trip by ferry from Athens) – so that would be another good choice. The main town in Naxos is fairly easy to get around – though it does have some big hills. Some nice sites to see in town, lots to tour inland, and a wonderful beach if you get some nice weather.

      Good luck!

  10. Kerrie from Australia said:

    Hi David
    My partner has a conference in Athens early April, and my 11 year old daughter and I would like to meet him afterwards. We are keen to do an island or 2 as I havent been to Greece. My partner recommends Serifos and possibly Crete. Would you alternatively recommend any other islands – we are not really interested in spending time with thousands of other tourists, but ideally want to experience Greek life – simple food, taverna’s, beautiful beaches and history.
    I am a little worried though that the weather in April and even early May will be a little on the cool side and not suitable for swimming.
    Alternatively, early September may be an option. Your views would be helpful!
    Thanks Kerrie

    • David said:

      Hi Kerrie. April will be great for avoiding the tourists – even the most popular islands will be tolerably quiet at that time of year. Serifos will be very quiet and it’s only a slight exaggeration to say you’ll be the only tourist on the island in April. Connections might be a little tricky to and from Serifos as well. Getting from Crete to Serifos will probably involve a ferry change or 2 at another island in the Cyclades.

      I don’t say this to discourage you but just to be sure you’re prepared, give yourself a few extra days cushion time to deal with the off season ferry schedule – especially if you’re traveling away from the more popular islands.

      As for the weather in April, it can be a little uncertain in April for sure. It would be great for wandering around villages, eating at outdoor cafes, doing some hikes, but I wouldn’t promise your 11 year old long days at the beach swimming – she might end up disappointed. Early May will be better but still be prepared for the possibility of 2 or 3 days of clouds and cool weather.

      If you do go in April or early May the weather in Crete tends to be a little warmer than the weather in the Cyclades.

      September is a great month to travel around the islands and my favorite time to be in Greece. You will encounter many more tourists – the main islands will still be very busy – but not as busy as July and August. The weather will be great – even the possibility of it being “too hot” – it can still climb into the 40s during the first half of September.

      So … April and May are good if you’re going for the culture and sightseeing. September is great if you’re going primarily for the beach and swimming.

      As for other islands: if you’ve always wanted to visit Santorini or Mykonos but heard they are too touristy and expensive then April and May are a good time to see them. They’ll be at their quietest and friendliest and not overrun with cruise ships and package tourists.

      Cheers.

  11. Paris to Athens said:

    We have 3 weeks in Europe at the end of August (2010 obviously) but haven’t purchased a ticket to Greece. We’d like to do a week in western Europe – Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, maybe Rome. Any suggestions for getting a cheap air ticket down to Greece. Are there ferries from France to Greece? If so how expensive?

    Thanks.

    • David said:

      You’ve got a lot of choices for getting to the islands. But ferry from France is not one of them. I’m sure there are cruises that do those routes but no scheduled ferries from France to Greece. There are ferries from Brindisi and Bari in eastern Italy to Corfu and the Ionian islands.

      As for flights Aegean Air and Easy Jet have some good options for the routes you might be using with flights from Paris, Nice, Barcelona and Rome. A complete list of budget airlines flying to Greece can be found here: Which Budget – Greece.

      There are more flights to Athens than to any particular island. If you really want to book a last minute flight to an island from the big cities in Europe you’ll have to be very flexible as to which island or even what island groups you’re going to visit. If you need a flight from Paris to any Greek island you’ll probably be fine. If you need a flight from Paris to Santorini say, you might be disappointed with your options.

      Good luck.

  12. Ray from Merseyside said:

    Hi David,
    I’m trying to plan (well ahead)for a visit for my wife and I to one of the more southerly/easterly islands for next spring – May or June. We are a fairly active but ‘mature’ married couple, (she 60yrs and me 70yrs),and have only been to Greece once before.(Kefalonia, about eight years ago). I quite like the idea of going to Rhodes for a week or so, but am not sure which of the other islands, if possible, we can go to from there. Maybe you could give us some ideas on how easy it will be to get ferries to some of the more easily reachable islands from there. Would welcome some advice,
    Many thanks.

    • David said:

      Hi Ray. Rhodes is a great island and you could easily spend a week there. May and June are great times to visit too, before the big groups of tourists arrive.

      From Rhodes you could either move north through some of the Dodecanese’s less touristy islands like Symi and Nisyros. You’ll just want to be sure of your return trip to Athens – check ferry schedules as soon as you arrive to be sure there’s a ferry on the days you need them. Kos is the next island north and it has very good ferry connections with Athens – as well as some ferries to Paros and Santorini if you wanted to make a quick stop at either of those islands.

      The other option is going south – with a stop at the very unique Karpathos, before moving on to Crete. Crete has an array of great things to see. It’s a bit of a toss up. Crete has so much to do you could easily spend a few weeks there and be happy – without the hassle of getting on and off ferries. On the other hand you don’t get that great feeling of bouncing around the islands that makes a Greek vacation so great.

      Crete has very good connections to Athens from a number of different towns along the north coast of the island. So you could arrive in Iraklion, for example, and move west through Rethymno and grab a ferry back to the mainland from Hania. Also many ferries go from Crete to Santorini – which itself is well connected with Athens.

      Hope that helps.

  13. Brian from Brooklyn said:

    David,

    My family is traveling to Greece in August and, in addition to a visit to my wife’s family’s home town in Monemvasia, we have five days/four nights to go to an island or two. We have three kids (6, 5, 3). Which island? Or two? What would you recommend?

    Thanks!

    • David said:

      Hi Brian. Monemvasia is a great place. I’m sure your kids will love walking out to find the town “hidden behind the rock”. There used to be a Flying Dolphin from Monemvasia back to Piraeus – sometimes making stops at Hydra and Spetses, but that service has not been running for a few years. You might want to check with your family there to see if it has started again. If so, it would be a great way to check out some of the Saronic islands. You’d get a bit of everything while island hopping between Hydra, Spetses, Poros and Angistri. As it is you’ll have to make your way to Nafplio – a few hours by bus – and then on to Porto Heli – taxi or bus. From Porto Heli you can take a Flying Dolphin to the Saronic islands.

      Another option is Kythira. You can get there from Neapoli – just south of Monemvasia. And then take a ferry directly back to Athens. Kythira is well know to Athenians for its unspoiled beaches and thus its limited tourist infrastructure can be easily over booked – be sure to have hotel reservations if you choose to visit Kythira.

      Good luck.

  14. suzanne, Portland Oregon said:

    your website is SO helpful! In the midst of planning a trip to Greece, late June 2011 for a family of five. After reading all this I am curious as to the cost of flying say from Athens to Crete? Can one fly one way and then ferry the other? would this save money or cost more in the long run? I am not finding a lot of accommodations for our odd number of 5, as I would like to rent a place that has a kitchen so we can cut some costs there. Basically I am trying to figure out a budget here as to how much realistically a two week vacation will cost once we are there?
    Can you speak to this?

    Many thanks,

    Suzanne

    • David said:

      I’d say fly one way – especially if you’re going to Crete which is a long ferry ride from Piraeaus (Athens) – and then make your way back to Athens by ferry – perhaps stopping at Santorini or Naxos during your return trip. But costs won’t be much different. The ferries aren’t as cheap as they used to be and if you get the most discounted rate on the budget airline Aegean, it isn’t much more money than the ferry. Traveling on the ferry involves a lot extra costs too. You might want a cabin – that’s extra, food for the trip, etc.

      As for accommodations in Greece nothing beats http://hotelscombined.com. Not sure if you’ve tried contacting different hotels directly but I think you’d have good luck with that (eventually), though it does take a lot work. If your youngest is a toddler or younger I might try looking for rooms for 4 and then pretend you thought they’d be able to share a bed or get a cot. I’m sure it would all work out.

      Let me know if you have any more questions.

  15. DZ, Houston said:

    Hi David, your website is great! We planning a Greek family vacation with 17 months old toddler who by the way dislikes profoundly the stroller, long car rides and having to sit:)) We really love the beach, food, music, arts, learning about the locals and meeting people. So it will be mainly focused in playing at the beach. We having changing our minds on the islands, but think might fly from Athens to Mykonos ( 4 days), then fly to Naxos(6 days) and back to Athens to fly out to the US. we have a total of 14 days in beginning of september. Still debating Mykonos. ( baby has to nap right in middle of day in his bed, so not sure long ferry ride will cut it for our sanity). debating using an agency for hotels. any suggestions for hotels? Call directly or use agency? the rates I received for hotels to meet our needs and baby needs seem quite high. Appreciate your insight or any other suggestions on other island instead of mykonos. we already booked our plane tickets arriving Athens on sept2nd. Thanks:))

    • David said:

      I wouldn’t rule the ferry out. Mykonos has good connections with Athens by both regular ferry and superfast or flying dolphins so you’ll have lots of choice. Flying is quick – but not always easy: it involves another trip to the airport, more lines, security.

      Mykonos has a great walkable town with many great restaurants. It’s a bit of a party town, but I doubt that will affect you much. It’s easy to avoid that scene if you want to. The one thing to consider is that the best beaches on Mykonos are a little outside the main town and require a bus, taxi or rental car to get to. You might consider staying out by one of the beaches – but then of course you lose that sense of being on a Greek Island, eating late and strolling around the streets (if your child can stay up late, mine often do when we’re away because we usually nap in the afternoon after a day of swimming).

      Naxos and Paros are great because the beaches near the main town are quite nice and easy to walk to. I love Naxos so I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

      As for hotels, I recommend either contacting them directly (admittedly, it does require sending a lot of email) or using hotelscombined.com – which just about always finds the best rate on any hotel.

      Good luck.

  16. Donni from Kitchener said:

    Hi David – I’m finding your site really helpful! We (my family of 5) are planning on a 5-6 month trip starting in July 2011. We are tentatively thinking of going to Eygpt 1st then onto either Greece or Italy (and then continuing onto Australia). We are planning to have a month in Greece. Do you have a suggestion for 1.order of the countries 2. whether it’s better to stay onland or on the islands 3. any suggestions of itinerary? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks!

    • David said:

      Hi Donni. You’ve got a lot of choices for itinerary. The first things to decide is how you’ll get between Egypt, Greece and Italy. There are no consistent ferry routes between Egypt and Greece or Italy, so you can rule this out. (Occasionally there are passenger routes that run through Israel and Cyprus, but they usually are suspended shortly after – or even before – service actually begins.)

      Meridiana Fly has some great connections which may be of interest to you. They fly from Milan to Santorini, Mykonos and Cairo. Rome has flights to Crete and Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. Aegean Air has flights between Athens and Cairo, as well as between Rome, Venice and Milan and several islands and cities in Greece. Ethihad Airways has the cheapest connections that I know of between Europe and Australia. They fly from Rome, Athens and Cairo to Sydney, Australia — albeit with a long stopover in Abu Dhabi.

      WhichBudget is a good site for seeing where the budget airlines in Europe and elsewhere fly — time, routes, prices etc — check it out.

      I’d base the order of your countries on what flights you find that suite your destinations and dates. As for the mainland or islands in Greece, that’s tough. Greece is such a great country even a month isn’t enough time to see all of it. Staying in one region — say the Peloponnese — can give your trip a nice focus so your month doesn’t become a blur of ferries, hotels and flights. Of course, most people consider the Greek Islands as the highlight of their trip to Greece, but the mainland sees fewer tourists, is generally cheaper, and has some great beaches too. Not sure if that helps at all. Get back to me if you have any more questions or specific concerns about destinations.

      Take care.

  17. Donni from Kitchener said:

    Just to add – my kids are 17, 15 & 11.

  18. Donni from Kitchener said:

    Hi David,
    We took your advice and narrowed it down to one area! We are thinking of flying into Athens and staying a week – then off to the Peloponnese area to stay for 3-4 weeks. Is there an area of Peloponnese that you would recommend? We are planning on renting for that time.
    Thanks!
    Donni

    • David said:

      The Peloponnese has a bunch of great areas. The village mountain towns of the central Peloponnese and the area around Monemvasia in the southeast come to mind first. But if I were spending that long in one area I’d go with Nafplion. It’s a great town with lots of character, great restaurants and good bus connections to other parts of the Peloponnese. And be sure to take the train from Diakofto to Kalavrita. It’s a beautiful and wonderful trip.

      Good luck.

  19. Gilly said:

    Hi. We are going to Greece this September for 9 days, with our 3 daughters (age 9, 12 &15). We arrive to Athens in the morning and spend most of the day there. We thought it might be a good idea to travel to Naxos using the evening ferry (17:30) so we can earn a full day on the island the next day. Do you think it’s a crazy idea to travel by night with the kids? What do you do on the ferry for 5-6 hours (we never sailed for such a long time)? Do you have any recommendation about special tickets on the ferry? We plan to spend 3 full days on Naxos, perhaps combinung it with a day trip to Santorini. Do you have a “must to do” list for Naxos? Thank you very much!

    • David said:

      Hi Gilly. The 17:30 ferry will stop at Paros first and probably will take more like 7 hours. (Note as well: all ferries can change their times and routes with little notice, and anything before about 2 weeks in advance is a best guess on the schedule – regardless of who you talk to.) If you got a hotel in Athens and had a short nap through the day then this might work perfectly. I find staying up late on the first day you arrive and making sure you’re exhausted by the time you go to bed really helps me adjust for the jet lag.

      That said, if you’re arriving before September 9, then there is a highspeed ferry to Naxos that leaves at 16:30. It will cost more but only takes 3 hours and 45 minutes to Naxos. After September 9 the schedule changes and it only leaves in the morning at 7:30, getting to Naxos at 11:00.

      As for highlights in Naxos all the beaches down the west coast, south of Hora (the main town) are great. The interior of the island is fun to explore and hike around. Don’t miss the enchanting towns of Filoti and Apiranthos. Both are on the same bus line that runs through the Tragaea valley. I really like taking the bus too. You get to see local life and local people that you would miss if you’re in a rental car.

      Hope that helps, have fun.

      • Gilly said:

        Hi David, thank you for the fast answer, we relly need it. I can see you are not so thrilled about taking the evening ferry. One option is really to stay in Athens for the night(Sept. 20th.) and tacking the morning ferry. but then we will have only half a day to be at Naxos, and totaly we can stay only until 25th. morning time (becouse Meteora and Zagoria are waiting for us…). So I thought that it’s worth making the effort on the first day (we will not have any jet leg, we are coming from Israel…) and earn a full day in Naxos the following day (so we will have 3 full days on the islands instead of 2 and a half).
        Do you have any comments about what I asked about staying at the ferry? I.e., which accommodation class to preffer?
        Thank you for your tips about naxos, we chose this island beacouse of your recommendation – it sounds like a great place to visit and i’m afraid we will be there for too short a time.

      • David said:

        Since you’re only coming from Israel and shouldn’t be too tired I think you’ll do fine. You could get a cabin but they are difficult to book from outside the country and since it won’t be night time you probably wouldn’t get a whole lot of use out of it anyways.

        Taking deck class, and sitting around with the other travelers is usually a lot of fun. As the sun sets everyone finds a corner of the lounge (or outside on the deck benches) to lie down and get comfortable. I imagine you’re kids will love it. Everyone is very friendly — take some snacks, some fresh fruit, a bottle of wine even and share with the people around you. You might happen to meet another family and be able to pass the time together.

        The cabins can be a life saver on the overnight ferries, but on a day/evening ferry it’s more a case of too much comfort depriving you of the opportunity to travel and meet people.

        Take care.

  20. Afaf said:

    Hi David,
    Me & my husband are planning a trip to Greece with our daughter who would have just turned 9 months at the time of our trip.
    This will be our first trip with her.
    We are planning to fly out of Muscat on 11th Sept and spend two weeks in Greece.
    Due to our busy schedules back home and our first trip with Zoya (our daughter) we would like something relaxing and with flexible schedules, however at the same time, we would like to make the most of our trip.
    Any recommendations on where we should go and things to do..?

    Would really appreciate your help.
    PS: We love the beach and would like to fit Santorini as well.

    Thanx,
    Afaf.
    Muscat, Oman
    [In case you haven’t herd of it, its in the Middle East next to the UAE :p

    • David said:

      Hi Afaf,

      How exciting!

      I assume you’re flying to Athens. I’d probably look for flights to either Santorini or Crete, that leave close to your arrival time. You could hop on the flight and save your time in Athens until your return. (The Greek ferries can change their schedules and cancel sailings due to high winds, so it’s best to arrive back in Athens at least a day before your departure home.)

      From Santorini or Crete do the typical island hopping as you make your way back towards Athens, spending 3 or 4 days on these islands plus Naxos, Paros, Milos or Mykonos. You won’t need to worry about booking in advance for the ferries, they’ll be plenty of room on board.

      Not sure if you saw my article on what to pack when traveling with kids but this being your first trip you might like to browse through it — especially the part on baby carriers, as strollers can be a mixed blessing in Greece.

      Take care and let me know if you have any more questions.

  21. Island bound said:

    Heading to Greece in mid October. Any advice for where to go, what islands, etc.?

    • David said:

      Typically you want to head a little farther south the later you visit in fall (or earlier you visit in spring). So Crete or Rhodes – you could even jump over to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast – get warm weather well into mid October. Santorini is a good choice too as it’s started to quiet down by October and the cooler weather make it a pleasant time to do some sightseeing. But, if weather and beaches are your main concern then the south coast of Crete is your best bet.

      Good luck.

  22. Alex from San Francisco said:

    Dear David
    Myself, my wife and 8yr old son will be in Athens from Oct 31 to Nov 5. Other than visiting the historical sites in Athens for 2-3 days, I was wondering if you have any suggestion on what island to visit for the rest of our short stay in Greece.

    Thanks
    Alex

    • David said:

      Hi Alex, it will be getting a little cooler by then, so don’t be surprised if you’re not able to swim in the sea. I would probably fly to Crete. The weather tends to be warmer there, further into the fall. As well, there’s lots to do there – hikes, very nice towns and cities, and some historical sites – that you can visit if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

  23. Gretchen from P. Psychiko said:

    Hi David, We live in Athens and want to take advantage of great October air fare for a long weekend in early October with our three children 6, 9, 11 yrs old. They will want things to do and swim in the sea. What’s are the best Islands to consider for a three day weekend?

    Also, from Athens we’ve only really searched Aegean and Olympic Air, are we missing better choices?

    • David said:

      Hi Gretchen, If you’re flying you can really go almost anywhere, so Naxos, Rhodes, and Crete would probably be at the top of my list. Crete offers a bit more to do than the others, Naxos is more compact – an island where you could stay in the port town for 3 days and be very happy, Rhodes is somewhere in the middle. Athens Air has cheap flights to Crete and Rhodes. Naxos is close enough to take a high speed ferry from Piraeus if that’s what you choose.

      One more thought, if Santorini is an island you’d really like to see but have always been turned off my the crowds and high prices then October is a good time to visit – and save some money.

  24. Ben on a RTW trip said:

    Hi David,

    We are a family of 4 (2 kids 14 and 12) and are flying into Istanbul tomorrow. Our original plan was to go from Istanbul to Ephesus and then on to Greece ending up in Athens for a flight on October 6th. That would give us roughly 7 days in each country. However, we have run in to a couple of major snags. The first is the time it takes to get to Ephesus which makes the question “is it worth it?” come in to play. The second is the difficulty of getting good connections out of Samos. Originally we had thought of going to Santorini and Mykonos from somewhere on the coast of Turkey. However, after looking in to the travel times to other Turkish ports I think we should go out of Samos because of the proximity to Kusadasi.

    Several people have told us that Mykonos is a 20 something zoo, so my wife has nixed that one and suggested we go to Crete instead. Trouble is, there are no good connections from Samos to Crete. Thus we are at something of a loss. Do we skip Ephesus and go more directly to Athens and thence to Crete? Do we go to Ephesus, skip Crete and go to Naxos (as your blog would seem to suggest)?

    Thanks for your help.

    Ben Sands

    • David said:

      HI Ben.

      You could go south (through Ephesus) to the Mediterranean Turkish coast (Antalya or Oludeniz area). Get a ferry from Marmaris to Rhodes (there should be daily ferry service) and then another ferry to Crete (once again, there should be a daily ferry between Rhodes and Crete). Then maybe get a cheap flight from Chania or Iraklion to Athens if you’re running short on time.

      If you wanted to do Naxos there should be a daily ferry from Samos to Naxos – or at least a ferry to one of the Cyclade islands that’s a short trip from Naxos.

      The Greek ferries can change their schedule at any time so be sure to have at least one cushion day for getting back to Athens.

      Islands can really change their feel in just a couple of days or weeks – or depending on where you’re staying. If you’re staying at an hotel full of college partiers it can really color your take on an island or town. Visit the same hotel a few days later when a couple of families are there and it might totally change your perspective on the entire island. I say this, so that you won’t completely dismiss the idea of visiting Mykonos. I wouldn’t dread the idea if you did happen to spend a night or two there on your way back to Athens.

      I hope it all works out for you. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  25. Ashley said:

    My husband, our two year old daughter and myself will be taking an around the world ticket on our way to Australia (we’re moving there from New York) in May. We are stopping in Athens and would love to spend a week in the Greek Islands. Any recommendations? We’re interested in a hotel that’s in a walkable area and has rooms where we can put our daughter to bed relatively early (8ish) and not have to go to bed ourselves (as a double room often requires). We are not picky about which islands we visit.

    • David said:

      Hi Ashley, Naxos is my favorite Greek Island so that’s usually the one I recommend but they’re all great in some way, so you really can’t go wrong. The main town in Naxos is very walkable, has some great restaurants and some of the best beaches in Greece just a short distance away. Finding a hotel with an extra room might be a bit of a challenge (not impossible, just take some research) as most rooms are on the smaller side — often just with 2 double beds. There are lots of options so I think you’ll be fine, just don’t assume that every hotel will have the large family rooms that are available in most countries.

      Good luck.

  26. Steve {Clethorpes} said:

    Hi David,thinking of going to one of the greek islands in june,with a 3 year old,can you recommend any resorts which a child friendly i.e. Play areas in restaurants and bars for the toddlers to be happy while we have a couple of drinks,nice meal.Any advice appreciated.Cheers Steve

    • David said:

      Check out http://hotelscombined.com, browse through their list of Resorts and Hotels. You can also take a look at the specific websites of the hotels you’re interested in. Alternatively, there are tons of very nice family run hotels in Naxos town – and around the island – that are really nice to stay at, though you won’t always get a swimming pool. Hope that helps.

  27. Carters said:

    Hi there, we plan to travel to Europe to visit all the great biblical & Christian places of interest. Where do you recommend visiting with a child? Thanks

    • David said:

      Obviously all of Europe is a great stage to talk about and visit many sites related to religion. From England and France to Italy and Spain there’s a lot of history if you’re inclined to it. As for the East, following Apostle Paul’s mission around Greece is probably the biggest draw for tourists. He started in Syria and Turkey before entering Greece near Thessaloniki and on to Athens, Corinth and islands such as Samos, Chios, Kos and Rhodes, before returning to Jerusalem. Cyprus — though not part of Greece — was also one of his stops.

      Additionally Tinos is Greece’s holiest island and the site of large pilgrimages — especially at Easter.

  28. Janet-HOUSTON TX said:

    Hi David..your advice is excellent! We are planning a family trip to Greece in early June 2011. There are 5 of us including an 18year old and 17year old(both girls) and a 13year old boy who is a History Buff! We plan on a few days in Athens first then on to the islands..Do you have any suggestions for Budget Friendly spots. Which islands to avoid..I am thinking 2 or 3 islands for a few days each..Maybe a little longer in one place then possible day trip. From what I read, I like the sound of Naxos and Paros…but am worried that the teens will be bored. Thoughts?

    • David said:

      HI Janet. Naxos and Paros are great. Avoid Santorini and Mykonos if you’re trying to save some money. (You can visit Santorini as a daytrip from either Naxos or Paros.) To save money on your accommodations try contacting individual hotels directly. They can be a little slow responding to email but you’ve got lots of time to plan and arrange, so it should work out. June is a great time to visit – good weather, the ferries are running on a full schedule and the islands haven’t gotten super busy yet. The beaches always have lots of activity going on, so I’d be surprised if your teens couldn’t manage to keep themselves busy throughout the day. And at night the atmosphere on the islands is so warm and fun — as you wander the streets looking for which open-air restaurant to eat at — that it’s hard to imagine anyone with a pulse not having fun.

      One recommendation I would have would be to spend your days in Athens at the end of your trip as it’s usually a good idea to arrive there a few days before your flight home. Ferries can cancel sailings due to high winds and this can make for missed flights.

      Good luck.

  29. Tina from St. Paul said:

    I’m looking to take a short 10 day trip to Greece in February/March with my daughter who will be just short of her two year birthday. What would be your best advice to someone taking such a long journey with a very active toddler? Additionally, she has never been a good sleeper at night and I am worried it will really screw up her sleep schedule, leaving us both utterly sleep deprived. I want this to be a fun journey and a prelude to bigger trips to come, so want to come back having had a good experience.
    Thanks.

    • David said:

      Hi Tina. I think I might recommend Crete. It’s the warmest of the islands — being the farthest south — so you’ll get the best weather there. It has 3 great cities/towns across its northern coast — Heraklion, Rethymno and Chania — that have lots to do and are very walkable. They are well linked by bus service too.

      Crete also has the largest population of the islands and doesn’t shut down in the off-season like many of the other islands so you should be able to find playgrounds and playrooms to visit as well as other kid-friendly events.

      Finally Crete will have the most flights at this time of year, if flying to the islands was something you were thinking of.

      As for specific advice for a toddler I would have very active days with lots of walking and playing so she gets tired — very tired — by the end of the day. I find this to be the best way to get over jet-lag. Lots of activity and as few naps as possibles.

      Good luck.

      • Tina from St. Paul said:

        Thanks so much for your advice David. Crete sounds like a great place to stop in. We have distant family in Chios so will likely end up there as well – do you have any hints/tips for going to Chios? I’m also wondering if it would make sense to fly into Turkey and hop over to Chios and Crete from there?
        Thanks.
        Tina

        • The only trouble with the Turkey-Chios-Crete route is time. You’d more than likely need to go through Rhodes to get to Crete. And all those ferries will require a few days — especially in the off-season as ferries don’t run nearly as often. But maybe with some luck you could do it. I think I’d recommend a simpler itinerary that involved flying from Athens to Chios, ferry down to Crete and then a flight back to Athens or even directly to Western Europe.

          • Tina from St. Paul said:

            Great advice. thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us wanderers out here.

  30. Tammy said:

    I am so glad I found this site. My husband is in a wedding at the end of August 2011 on Santorini Island (Oia)…yes I know, crazy busy and expensive:) Anyhow we have a baby who will be a year and a half by then and I am concerned about a billion things, including costs, heat, keeping him occupied, child equipment like carseat or strollers etc. From reading your website and some of my own research it seems like we should ‘get in and get out’ if possible, so I guess we’ll plan for that. Any advice for that part of our trip? Also since we’ll be coming from Canada, I am going to try and make the most of traveling all that way, so what island should we hop to for a few days (total trip will only be about a week)? We plan on taking a main airline into London or some other European country, then a smaller airline to get to Santorini and from whatever other island we go to, so a recommendation that involves as little backtracking or traveling between places would be great.
    Cheers,

    • Hi Tammy. I hope this doesn’t sound like a half-answer but I’d let your choice of flights determine where you go. See which islands you can get a cheap flight to and from and then go from there. You might have trouble getting flights directly to the island you want so look at as many different airlines as you can. The islands I’d focus on would be Crete (which has lots of ferry connections to Santorini), Mykonos, Naxos, Ios, Paros, and Santorini of course. Crete, Mykonos and Santorini will have the most international flights. Naxos, Ios and Paros will mainly have flights to Athens from where you can fly back to Western Europe. The superfast ferries or dolphins will get you back to Athens very quickly too so I wouldn’t stress about finding the perfect flight. For a quick trip like this where it sounds like you’ll be on the go a lot I think I’d skip the stroller and go with a good baby carrier. Only take the car seat if you’re going to buy an airplane seat for your baby – otherwise you might never use it.

      Let me know if you have any more questions.

  31. Kathy from Enumclaw (near Seattle) said:

    Hi there! I just found your site and have learned so much already! Planning on a vacation with my daughter July/August 2011.
    We have a Mediterranean Cruise planned July 24th from Barcelona for 12 days but want to explore some of the (or one) Greek Islands for a couple of weeks beforehand. Any suggestions on Islands, travel from the US to Barcelona or Athens and roundtrips? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Kathy. I know this is a long list of airlines but you may want to browse through this collection of budget airlines in Europe to see if any of them work with your plans.

      I would keep searching throughout the winter on cheap flights to one of the Western European hubs and then buy tickets on some of the budget airlines listed above for getting around Europe. Buying your tickets for travel within Europe at a later date gives you a lot more freedom too.

      I might suggest 2 routes.

      Flying to Crete, spending some time touring that great island, then work your way north through the Cyclades (maybe Santorini, Naxos, Milos) and on to Athens, where you can catch a flight to Spain or Southern France.

      Or, fly to Corfu, Zakynthos (Zante), or Kefalonia spend some time on the Ionian Islands then a ferry from Corfu to Brindisi and go to Rome. From Rome take an overnight train to Barcelona.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  32. Marie from London said:

    Hi, My husband and I are going to take our son on our 1st holiday abroad next year and we have decided Greece is a pretty good option. The part we need help with is choosing the best Island or group of islands to go to. Our son will be almost six when we go and he is very active so we would need to have plenty to entertain him with. We love history so would like to go to a place with lots of history and things to see but where our son would not get too bored too quickly and there is stuff for him to do and look at that will hold his attention as well as ours. I am also not one very much for big crowds or fast paces so somewhere quieter and a little more laid back with lots of child friendly restaurants to visit.

    Can you help!!! Thank you.

    • Hi Marie. My first suggestion would be to think carefully about when you time your visit to Greece. There are few places that offer history and sightseeing along with no crowds — during the summer months. If you want a quiet island where you can swim and relax then these can be found. But if you’re looking for attractions and things to do, and want to visit during the best weather of June to September then there aren’t many places to go that don’t attract a lot of other tourists.

      On the other hand, if you visit in April, May, October or November you can take in even the most popular sites with very few other tourists. The weather though can be unpredictable to some extent. And if your son is really looking forward to some beach time then it can be a problem.

      If I had to pick one month to get good weather and the thinnest crowds it would probably be May — though the sea hasn’t warmed up too much yet.

      As for destinations, I really like Crete and there’s lots to do there. It’s the biggest Greek island and so has lots to offer. Its size will require you to spend some time getting around – whether by car or bus – so you should be prepared for that.

      Santorini can be a good stop, but I’d keep a visit there short — maybe just 1 or 2 nights — as it’s not the most kid-friendly of the islands.

      Naxos is another favorite of mine and also presents some great sightseeing opportunities, both in the main town and around the island.

      As I usually advise people traveling with kids, I’d rather err on the side of doing too much and being a little hurried than doing too little and getting bored. I’m sure your son will love island hopping around the country. There’s lots to see and do on the ferries and the whole process of deciding where and when to go is always fun. At least I never get tired of it.

      Have fun.

    • Artemis said:

      We have been planning our trip to Greece with grandkids for two years and aren’t going for another two, but I started teaching them about Greek mythology when they were 4 and 6. The boys especially love children’s versions of the Iliad and Odyssey. I’ve made pages for them to color, very easy crossword puzzles, and word search puzzles to reenforce what they’ve learned. A good library will have wonderful children’s books and the internet is loaded with great children’s info on Greek mythology. I started off by telling them not reading to them the story of Medussa. Tha hooked them in

  33. Edward from San Diego said:

    Hi David:

    I really like your blog.

    We are planning a family trip to Greece in early June. We are able to spend about 10-12 days in Greece. We will be travelling with our boys who are 8 and 11 years old.

    I was thinking of visiting Rhodes and/or Crete–is this a recommended family-friendly itinerary? Can you recommend a two island family vacation?

    I have been to Corfu and Mykonos on prior trips and have always wanted to visit Santorini. Your reviews of Naxos makes it sound enticing as well.

    I think we will fly in and out of Berlin using Air Berlin or perhaps in with AB and out with RyanAir since we are going to end up in London.

    Thanks, Ed

    • Hi Edward. Rhodes and Crete sound great. There are typically lots of flights to both islands in the summer so you should get a decent deal and some choices — especially in June. There’s a ferry that connects Rhodes and Crete (via Karpathos) so that’s a plus as well. Also many ferries from Crete — especially Iraklion — to Santorini so you might be able to take in all 3 islands, if you really wanted to. Maybe 3 nights on Rhodes, a week on Crete and then your final night or 2 on Santorini. Santorini doesn’t require a lot of time to see the main sights. Crete is larger and you may benefit from renting a car to get around the island.

      Naxos is great, but if you start in Rhodes I think it’s one island too far. If you decide on Naxos, then fly to Crete, ferry to Santorini and then on to Naxos. Naxos doesn’t have the choice of flights that Rhodes, Crete or even Santorini do so you’d probably have to take a ferry to Athens to fly home.

      Good luck.

  34. Hey David

    Great blog, thanks a million and a Happy New Year to you!

    I’ve been with my wife for 7 years in April and we have been married exactly one year today!

    I’d always wanted to go to Greece and never ever went until I met my better half and our love affair with Greece and all things Greek began in earnest! Sadly though, we’ve only been twice so far, once before our daughter (who is now 3) was born and once with her when she was 7 months old, both times we visited Zakynthos, both times to the same town – well almost, first time was Alykanas second tiem was its neighbour Alykes – and we absolutely loved it. While there we visited Athens the first holiday and Olympia the second holiday and experienced everything from the great food and culture to a heatwave and a fairly strong earthquake!

    We’ve decided that 2011 will be the year that we go back to Greece (we wanted to go earlier this year but our holiday dates were for Feb and so we opted for tenerife instead and the year previous to that we went for Disneyland Paris with my nephew and daughter). We’re not really sure of where to pick. We do have a limited budget and our dates will be the first 2 weeks of June, my wife would ideally like a 10 night holiday instead of 2 weeks but may be persuaded to stay the extra couple of days if I try hard enough lol!

    As I said, we have a 3 year old, love culture and the whole historic aspect of Greece, love excursions to acheogoligcal sites and cities and so on, but also lounging about on the beach or by the pool, love to go for dinner in the evening and then browse the local shops before heading back to the hotel and we also love things like markets etc as well as days out to water parks and animal parks, museums etc… And we don’t like parties, loud nightlife and drunken fooligans!

    So where do you recommend? Which islands offer the best of everything we look for in a great holiday, which offer the best value for money, which are good for special deals (we are budgeted as I said)…

    Thanks million!

    Louis

    • HI Louis. Congrats and happy anniversary. I would recommend Naxos, Rhodes or Crete. Naxos is my favorite but you’ll find many more direct flights to Rhodes and Crete if that’s important to your plans. Also, Crete is a big island and will probably require a rental car or at least a few bus rides. Rhodes and Naxos are smaller and easy to get around. Naxos is probably the cheapest of the three but not by much.

      • Louis said:

        Thanks for the advice David!

        We’ve pretty much settled for Crete, but we’re going to wait until closer to the time to see if we can get a good deal in the travel agent windows…

        Do you have any ideas of where to avoid and where to visit in Crete? For example, in Zakynthos, when we discovered the first trip would be allocation on arrival, we requested to NOT be placed in Laganas! We ended up in the beautiful little village of Alykanas…

        Thanks!

        Louis

        • For the best beach on Crete go to Elafonisi on the southern coast, for the best small town try Paleochora also on the southern coast, for a place that has a lot of Greek culture and authentic food do Heraklion, and for the nicest tourist attraction visit Chania.

          But there’s lots on the island besides those places.

          • Louis said:

            Great thanks! Any ideas on anything like animal parks or water parks etc or island excursions? Like to be prepared!

          • For animal parks there’s AquaWorld Aquarium in Hersonnisos. For water parks in Crete there is one by Chania, one by Heraklion, and 2 nearby Hersonnisos.

            Hope that helps.

  35. Laura said:

    Hi David
    This is an excellent website…..wow! We are planning on going to Greece in February, are we crazy? Where would you recommend? We know we won’t be swimming, but hiking and site0seeing are what we like to do. We might fly into Istanbul, we’ve heard Thrace is great, as well as Crete (I know, on opposite ends of the country!).Please let us know what your thoughts are on winter travel to Greece. Thanks! Laura

    • Hi Laura. Thrace will be cold and either rainy or snowy depending on the elevation. I’d fly into Istanbul — which will probably be better in winter, with very few tourists. A trip to Istanbul is not dependent on nice weather so you should have fun even if it is cold. Then take the bus down south hitting any spots in Turkey you like to visit. From Bodrum on the Turkish coast you can get a ferry across to Rhodes. (Though make sure you have some days to spare as they probably will only go 2 or 3 times a week in February.) Rhodes is great and far enough south to be one of Greece’s warmer islands. There is also a direct ferry from Rhodes to Crete (making a quick stop in Karpathos along the way — also a great island). Crete offers just about everything you could want. Culture, hikes, small non-touristy villages. It’s great. At this time of year you’ll be the only tourist around and really be able to meet the locals and feel like you’re seeing the true Greece.

      From there you could either fly back to the mainland or ferry through the Cyclades back to Athens. Most islands will have some tourist infrastructure up and running, but if you visit a smaller island, say Milos, Serifos or Folegandros there may be not be any hotels open, so be sure to arrive early in the day so you can hunt for some lodgings. We arrived in Sikinos in early November one year and the locals had to phone around for someone to rent a room to us. But we really got the feeling that everyone was like “heh, we’ll find you something, don’t worry.”

      Thessaloniki is great city and highly recommended too. If you wanted, maybe do the same itinerary as above but fly into Thessaloniki first then bus or train to Istanbul and continue as above.

      I hope that gives you some ideas to play with. Greece in the off-season is great.

  36. Lynn from Valley Forge said:

    Dear David–I love your website. We are going to Greece and maybe Turkey in the middle of June. Our two teenagers (20 and 17) will be coming with us, but are finding us boring at this time in their lives!!! What islands would you recommend and would Turkey be more fun for them? Thank you

    • I think Greece would probably have a better mix of attractions, sites and general vibe that would appeal to different generations. Not sure if you’re looking for a place that has some nightlife for them or just more young people at the beach. Ios and Paros are quite popular with young people and still perfectly fine for parents as well. That’s the nice thing about being on one of the small Cycladic islands — nothing is very far away so if the kids want to head to a different beach or town for the day it’s easily done. Perhaps on Crete, for example, you might find yourself wanting to be in 2 places that aren’t easy to get between.

      Not sure if that helps at all, but bottom line is don’t worry about, all the popular islands have lots for all ages. The quiet islands (e.g. Folegandros, Karpathos or Lesvos) could be a little too quiet, but even there, if the kids like the beach they’ll have fun.

      Good luck.

  37. Monika, UK said:

    Hi David,

    Your website is really good with some good practical unbiased advice.Me and my husband are planning to visit Greece in Feb this year to celebrate our wedding anniversay so I was wondering could you advice us on some good itineries. We are looking for a 7-9 days trip focussing on archelogical sites, small trip to island will be an added bonus. I had some research and found spending 2-3 days at Athens would be good but what next, any suggestion. Checked Feb weather in Greece and it will suit us (with a light jacket).

    Looking forward to hear back from you.
    Many thanks,
    Monika

    • Hi Monika. Athens has a lot to see so definitely reserve at least 2 to 3 days there. From Athens you’ve got a choice of either Delphi (maybe continuing onto the incredible site of the Meteora) or Ancient Olympia down in the Peloponnese. It should be noted both these places can get quite cold in winter so I’d have more than a light jacket. On the islands Knossos (on Crete) and Delos top the list of top archeological attractions. Ferries don’t run nearly as often in February so you’d need a few days to get to Mykonos (the closest populated island to Delos) and onto Crete. If you were pressed for time you could fly from Crete back to Athens, or even directly to Northern Europe if that’s where you’re heading.

  38. Tamika said:

    Hi David!! I just found your wonderful website. I’m planning a trip to Greece sometime during the summer of 2012. I haven’t started saving yet but I’ll be traveling with my two teens, ages 14 and 15 (@ the time of travel). I’ll be flying out of NYC (JFK) and plan on staying for about a week. As a single mom, I’m pretty budget conscious so your advice on a budget friendly vacation for a family of three is greatly appreciated. With all the cost of flights, hotel, food, tours, ferries and transfers, I’m not sure what is practical to set aside for this trip. I’d also like to know what island in addition to Athens you would recommend.
    Thanks so much!!

    • Hi Tamika. I think a reasonable budget would be $80 a night for hotel, $80 a day for food and miscellaneous, $40 a day for ferries (averaged over your trip, not that you would be taking a ferry every day). That’s a budget of $200 a day and $1400 for a week. Camping is an option as well and the campsites in Greece are often great. I know it’s hard with school-aged kids but if you could visit in June or early September you’d be able to save some money as the hotels aren’t as full. 7 days on the island could be a little rushed, I’d recommend trying to push that up to 10 days, as Greece is such a distance that you might feel your turning around right after you’ve arrived.

      The most expensive islands will be Mykonos and Santorini. Corfu, Naxos, Folegandros, Ios, Ikaria, and Lesvos are a bit more on the moderate side. But every island has expensive resorts and cheaper hotels.

      Good luck and I hope I’ve helped a bit. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      • Tamika said:

        Thanks David for the quick response. I was budgeting so much more per person. Based on my initial research on flights and hotel, I was budgeting about $1,630 per person. This of course doesn’t include food, tips, ferries or tours; just hotel and air. I was beginning to think that this trip just wasn’t going to happen. What hotels would you recommend for the three of us? I was looking at a hotel called Classical Athens Imperial (located in Karaiskaki Square), which seems pretty affordable and it’s right across the street from the train station. Not sure if you’ve ever heard of it but the reviews for the most part were positive. Additionally, what island (s) would you recommend we visit during our stay that is easily accessible to Athens for day trips?
        Thanks

        • I haven’t heard of it but know the area well (I used to work at an internet cafe on Patision just a short walk from there). It’s outside of the main tourist area around the Plaka and Acropolis, so you’ll see a little more ordinary Greek life which is nice. Athen’s best museum is not far away, subway stops, and a couple of cool neighborhoods. Plus the big weekend market I think is pretty close by.

  39. Kathryn fr. Calgary said:

    Great website.

    Because of you, we’ve now changed plans and will visit Naxos. Where do you recommend staying on the island (must have an excellent patio)? And, is 7 days too long? We also intend to do 3 nights on Santorini and a possibly 3 more nights on another island, maybe Crete. Our children are 5+4 and we will be going mid August.

    What are your reccomendations. Thanks for your help. I’ve been having a tough time going through all the available information.

    • Hi Kathryn. I tend not to recommend individual places to stay just because there are so many and they tend to change quickly. Even a simple Google search should pull up lots of options. The main town in Naxos has many places that are just a short walk from both the St Georgios beach and the town center. Lonely Planet has a good section on hotels.

      If it’s all about saving money then the best website is http://hotelscombined.com. It’s hard to beat the rates you’ll find there (short of contacting dozens of different hotels directly, if you’re so inclined).

      I think you could easily fill a week on Naxos, but Crete deserves more than 3 nights. I’d drop a night each from Naxos and Santorini and stay for 5 nights on Crete.

      I hope that helps.

  40. Dana from PA said:

    Hi. My husband and I would like to take our 14 yr old son on his first overseas trip. He loves Greek mythology and enjoys visiting museums, historical sites and beaches as do we. We would only have 10-12 days in late June 2011. We do not need to be busy 24/7 as we enjoy relaxing too! Any suggestions on how to capitalize on his interests i.e. best sites to visit, experience Greek culture and still have a bit of relaxtion?
    Thanks!

    • I think Crete probably has the best mix of beach and historical attractions with Rhodes being a close second. I might consider flying into Crete, spend a week there, and then make your way back to Athens by ferry — maybe with quick stops at Santorini, Naxos, or Mykonos (to be able to visit Delos) along the way.

  41. Julia, Hampshire said:

    Hi. Lots of great Information here. We are planning a 2 week island hopping trip in August. Would it be too busy and too hot in August for our children…8yrs,6yrs and 3yrs? Thinking of starting in Samos.

    • HI Julia. August will certainly be hot but I don’t think too hot. The islands usually have a nice breeze and the beach and the water are never far away. August will also be the busiest and most expensive time to travel. If you had the freedom I’d suggest September as the best month to visit but then it obviously interferes with school for the kids.

  42. Sharon said:

    Hi David, Your website has been incredibly helpful.

    We are planning a trip to Greece in late May/early June 2011 for 6-8 days. We have 2 girls (5 & 12 yrs. old) and we are currently living near Amsterdam. We will be joined on the trip by my SIL (who is coming in from the States and will be flying with us in and out of Schiphol). We had originally planned to do a day in Athens and then spend the rest of our time on Santorini. Based on your recommendations, I am now thinking we should should spend most of our time in Naxos and do our Athens day at the end of our trip. If possible, we would still like to do a day trip to Santorini. We would prefer to stay in a villa on the islands so we can do some meals on our own. We want to avoid crowds, spend plenty of time swimming at the beaches, ride donkeys, hike, do some child-friendly sightseeing, etc. Can you make any recommendations for travel (flights vs. ferries) and areas to visit/stay? Thanks so much for your assistance.

    • Hi Sharon. I would recommend taking a direct flight from Amsterdam to Santorini, stay one night and then ferry to Naxos, Paros, or Antiparos. Spend your time there and then fast ferry to Athens and fly back to Amsterdam. This will save you from retracing your steps — which tends to burn both time and money. Naxos doesn’t have any (or very few) direct flights from Northern Europe but Santorini has many. Take a look at http://www.arkefly.nl/, http://www.transavia.com/ and http://www.thomascookairlines.com for cheap flights from Amsterdam to Santorini. I hope that helps.

  43. Lee from Canada said:

    Hi David. I’m so glad we found your amazing website. My husband, 8 year old and I will be in Thessaloniki the last week of June, and would love to combine this stay with a cruise (something we’ve never done before – probably the 7 day cruise that includes Istanbul), some quiet time on one island (probably Naxos), and a couple days in Athens. We have about 3 weeks in total. Any recommendations on the best sequence for this trip would be appreciated. Are there flights in July from Thessaloniki to Naxos, or are we best going to Athens and taking a ferry or plane from Athens? I have heard there is horseback riding on Naxos, which is also an interest for us. Do you know when the best time is to book air flights from North America? Thanks so much.

    • Hi Lee. I don’t believe you’ll find any direct flights from Thessaloniki to Naxos but you could fly Thessaloniki to Athens to Naxos quite easily. I’d suggest looking for a cruise that began and ended in different ports. Not sure if that’s possible but if you could find one that began in Thessaloniki and concluded in Athens or Istanbul that would be perfect.

      Naxos is a good choice and very kid friendly. It also has great ferry connections to Athens and other islands too. Be sure to arrive back in Athens a day before your flight leaves as ferries can often be canceled due to windy weather. The Cyclade islands are all so close together you might want to visit 1 or 2 others instead of just sticking to one. Paros, Milos, Ios are great islands. Sikinos, Syros, or Serifos if you’re looking for something a little quieter.

      I know Paros has horseback riding for sure, but Naxos I’m not 100% certain.

      As for the best months to buy flights to Greece. It can really change from year to year. Sometimes the prices will be high and drop late in the spring and sometimes they can be low and climb as summer approaches. I’ve been looking lately and they seem decent. Airfare.com has some good deals on Air Canada flights from Toronto to Athens (more expensive if you go through the Air Canada booking website.) Sorry I don’t have a better answer on this one, but all you can do is make a good guess. If it works for you be sure to look for flexible dates as Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will usually have the cheapest flights.

      I hope that helps.

      Cheers.

  44. Samar from Washington, DC said:

    Hi David,
    I just came across your website and it is amazing.
    I’m wondering if you can help me as I am having a lot of trouble with trip planning. My family lives all over the place internationally and we don’t get to see each other much. Two years ago we planned a family get-together in Portugal and it worked out great. This summer we are trying to get together in Greece for two weeks in late June. We are a large group, 3 families + my mother (7 adults + 7 kids ranging from 3 years to 12 years). To make matters more complicated, we are on somewhat of a budget. We can spend a reasonable amount but cannot go too crazy with expenses. Ideally we like to rent big houses where we can all stay together. We like that because the kids can hang out together and when they go to bed, the adults can stay up late and have time to re-connect and catch up without all the children constantly distracting us. Also, a full kitchen makes meal times easier as we don’t always have to eat out.
    We would love to spend a few days in Athens and I assume we have to stay in a hotel there. We have been looking at Crete and Naxos but I am having a lot of trouble finding large houses to rent. We have found one in Crete near Chania. Do you think that is a good location for a week or 10 days? I’m wondering if we can use it as a base to explore Crete? Does Naxos have large houses to rent? It seems like the ideal island for us (better than Crete) but I don’t know where to stay. Santorini has big houses but they are incredibly expensive, way beyond our budget. Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Samar. Chania is a great location to explore Crete, however I’m guessing that this rental is a good distance outside of town and rather isolated. I’d double check the location and be sure that you’ll be happy wherever it is. You’ll also need to rent a few cars or a van if it’s not close to things to do and this is money that is probably better spent on nicer, centrally located accommodations.

      I would take another look at Naxos — search for “Naxos hotels” and you’ll find lots — it’s a great spot and very walkable. You wouldn’t need rental cars and could use the bus to get around the island. It shouldn’t be overly busy in June so you’ll have a bit of choice. Some of the hotels over by Agios Georgios beach are quite nice and have swimming pools and larger rooms with kitchens.

      You’re right though, typical rental houses are more commonly found on Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete. This is something new for the smaller islands.

      Some other islands to consider would be Paros, Antiparos, Sifnos, and Folegandros.

      I hope that helps.

      • Samar from Washington, DC said:

        David, Thank you so much for your reply.
        I will definitely give Naxos another look. You have a good point about saving money on rental cars, I did not realize you can get around Naxos without a car. Also, thanks for suggesting a few other islands to look at. There are so many islands, it is hard to sift through them all without having ever been there.

  45. Ashley said:

    I recently found a beautiful apartment at a great price on Antiparos for September. My husband and I will be traveling with our 2 year old daughter. We are definitely looking for beaches and peace and quiet, but with a little town to walk around. I’ve read a lot of your advice and you seem to recommend Naxos a lot, but I’m worried it might be too ‘busy’ for our tastes. At the same time, I worry if we’ll be too isolated on Antiparos for two weeks? We have three weeks and were thinking of staying somewhere else as well. Thoughts?

    Ashley

    • Hi Ashley. It’s a common debate people have when making their plans — break up their vacation and see more, or go to just one place and relax and settle in, and feel at home. It’s a tough call but I would suggest moving on after 2 weeks and visit Naxos and maybe one other island. By September all the islands — even Santorini — are slowing down at least a little bit. You’ll probably enjoy having a few more places to eat and bit more to see on a larger island after spending 2 weeks on the much smaller Antiparos. As long as you know what you’re getting into — a small walkable island without a lot of water sports or touristy attractions — I’m sure you’ll love Antiparos for your 2 weeks there.

  46. Amy in CA said:

    Hi David, First off what a wonderful website you have! Thank you!! My 3 year old and I will be meeting my husband in Sept after many many months of being seperated (he’s deployed) somewhere. We were thinking of Greece. We have a full two weeks together to do nothing, except quality time. We love the beach and I see you rec’d Naxos or Paros. I am coming from the West Coast of CA. Can you give me an idea of where to fly into (prob to spend a day or two in case his flight is delayed)or itnerary on what you would do if you only had two weeks together (he then has to leave us and finish his tour)? Also, how good is medical there should anything happen to our son (he has been having some medical issues)?

    • I think I would recommend meeting in Athens — unless you’re both flying directly to the island that you plan to meet on. The ferries can be canceled due to high winds in the summer months and you’d hate to lose any days together while one of you is waiting on an island and the other waiting for a ferry. Better if you meet in Athens and wait together (if it should come to that.)

      It’s also very difficult to plan ferry travel (schedules aren’t released until a week or 2 prior) so once again it can be tricky to plan. Most islands will have 1 or 2 ferries a day in the high season which works fine for most people but I’d hate to see you guys waste anytime apart.

      If you did plan on flying directly to an island you might be able to get a flight from Paris or London or some other large Northern European hub, but that will require some legwork to make the connections work. (Check the list of budget flights above.) It’s usually easier to fly to Athens and then take a ferry to the islands.

      Naxos is very relaxing, as is Paros. Crete typically requires a bit more getting around to see the sights — but then again there is more to see.

      September is an awesome time to go to Greece as the weather is usually great and the crowds have thinned a bit from the peaks of July and August.

      Not to worry about access to quality medical care. All of the larger islands have good quality hospitals and Athens is a 45 minute flight away if it were a real emergency. It’s a good idea to have medical coverage that covers emergency evacuation.

      Let me know if you have any more questions.

  47. Gabby LA said:

    Dear David,
    I am trying to organise a holiday in the Greek Islands, we are a family of four ( 2yr old and 9 yr old) with varying needs! We have been to Crete before which was lovely but feel the need for different!

    We are in Uk for a week end of July, then planning on a week (August)
    on the Islands before heading back home. Not sure how to navigate through the maze of Info and choose the perfect location for us! My son (9) is into snorkeling; Husband wants swimming, sailing and evening out fine dinning, babysitter! I only require small intimate hotels (boutique) with pool and sailing with walks and options to travel and explore. The youngest has many demands but is happy to just fit into everyone elses plans!! Also not wanting to get home completely broke!

    Wondering if you could help me figure it all out?!!
    Many thanks
    Gabby

    • Honestly, I think I would let your choice of flights dictate where you go. Search through the airlines listed above and see what you can find from London direct to one of the Greek Islands. You should have many choices but — at the same time — they don’t fly everywhere.

      Once you discover what your options are then compare your choices. One option to look for would be flights to Santorini and then a flight returning from Mykonos. This would allow you to stop off somewhere in between — like Naxos or Paros — that doesn’t have direct flights from Northern Europe.

      Let me know if you need any more help once you get some idea of what’s available.

  48. jackie said:

    Hi David,
    I’m traveling with my three kids (ages 10, 12 & 4) arriving Athens July 13, 2011 & going back to NY on August 9. We have a family apartment just outside of Athens.
    I am at the very beginning of making plans but I welcome any suggestions. I was thinking about maybe 4 nights in Mykonos just to check out the architecture, and then on to Naxos &/or possibly Sifnos to stay with the kids on the beach. And then there’s Hydra… Could you get me started with some advice? Thank you. Jackie.

    • Hi Jackie. That sounds like a great plan. There are so many islands it’s incredibly hard to narrow it down, but those are good ones. One thing I will say is that Hydra doesn’t have any direct ferries from the Cyclades so you would need to return to Athens (Piraeus) to catch a hydrofoil there. And Hydra doesn’t have any sandy beaches either so if that’s a must for your kids they might be disappointed. Great island though. No cars so it’s perfect for kids in that regard.

      Where’s your apartment in Athens? I used to live there.

  49. Jill said:

    We will be in Bodrum, Turkey in late June. I’m thinking of going to Greece for a week. I would like unspoiled and beautiful over lots to do. We live in NYC and need to commune with nature for a bit. What do you recommend?

    • HI Jill. I would take the Bodrum to Kos ferry and then a flying dolphin from Kos to Ikaria. Ikaria has great beaches and not the huge crowds you’ll find on some other islands.

  50. Samar from Washington, DC said:

    Hi David,
    We have our lodging in Crete worked out for 10 days.
    We also plan to spend 3-4 days in Athens at the end of our trip (early July). This is our first trip to Greece and we wanted to catch some of the Athens sights and also perhaps take a day trip to Hydra. Do you have any family friendly hotels to recommend in Athens that are in a reasonable location and not super-expensive? We are also considering renting an apartment for our few days in Athens. Just wondered if you had any thoughts? We have 3 kids so I’m not sure if we will need 2 rooms for our family or not. We are also going with other family so will probably need either a bunch of hotel rooms or 2-3 apartments. Thanks!

  51. Ruth said:

    Hi David,
    I will be traveling alone to Greece at the end of September and first two weeks of October and really want to snorkel and hike. I was thinking about going to the Sporades but am wondering about the weather that time of year. Since I won’t have time to visit too many places, I’m wondering what your choice would be. Sporades or further south?
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Ruth. For snorkeling in Greece the best islands are generally the Ionian islands of Corfu, Zante (or Zakynthos)), Paxi, Lefkada, Ithaka, Kefalonia & Kythira. Though Crete, Rhodes, and some of the Cyclades are well regarded too.

      As for good weather in September and October you should be fine regardless of where you travel. The islands to the east and south (e.g. Rhodes, Karpathos, Crete) tend to have a little warmer temperatures farther into the fall months but the differences are small so you’re better off not selecting islands based on climate predictions.

      Good luck,
      David

  52. Erika from minneapolis said:

    Hi David ,
    Myself, husband and two boys will be in Istanbul and Greece this summer. Jeff and I were married on Santorini 17 years ago. As far as traveling around the islands I am trying to figure out if we will need advance reservations for hotels on islands like Naxos and Paros. We will be traveling in early July 2011 and will make a reservation on Santorini, but from there would love the freedom, like we had so many years ago, of just winging it. Our boys are 11 and 14 and good travelers. I don’t want to end up on an island with no where to sleep with a family, but we really love to just travel at our own pace and not feel scheduled!
    Any advise about this? Your blog has great info, thank you! The idea of saving Athens to the end is brilliant, as 17 years ago we were stuck on Santorini for 3 days because of the wind.

    • Hi Erika. I suspect you’ll be fine. Even when all the hotels on an island are “fully booked” there’s usually someone, somewhere that can find you a place to stay. If you do get in trouble head to the island’s GNTO (tourist) office and they’ll almost certainly find something for you.

      You can usually get a feel for how busy the islands — and Greece in general — are after a few days there. People will be talking about, waiters and hotel owners will bring it up in conversation — “this year is really busy” or “this year is really slow”. If you’re hearing that the islands are very busy then you can always try to book something from your current island before heading off to your new destination.

      In any case, when it is busy, the earlier in the day you can get to an island the better. Catch the earliest ferry and starting looking for hotels the moment your ferry arrives.

  53. Karen said:

    Hi David,
    I am going on a Mediterranean Cruise this summer. I was wondering which beach you would recommend in Mykonos that would be appropriate for our family – we have a 6 year old and I want to stay away from the “party beaches”. I also wanted to get your thoughts on whether we should get a transfer from our cruise ship company or just try to find a shuttle once we land in Mykonos.

    • The beaches at Gialos or Ornos are probably your best bet if you want to stay close to the main town (or Chora as most main towns are usually referred to). The Chora gets very busy (with a party vibe) late at night but through the day it’s a great town to wander through for all ages. If you wanted to go farther afield there are another half-dozen beaches that could work but they’ll have different levels of facilities and will take more time to get to. They will be less busy of course too.

      A transfer from your cruise ship will cost a lot more but will probably be easier. Without it you’ll have to leave the ship with your bags and bargain with the crowd of taxis and hoteliers that will greet you as you disembark. Whether than’s a fun experience or a hassle will depend on your outlook. Good luck.

  54. Sophie from Annapolis said:

    Hi,
    First of all, this site is wonderful! I have been planning a trip to Greece (in Sept 2011) for a couple of months now, and have found nothing else online that is as informational. We are going to be in Athens from Sept 2-10 for a conference, and then have a week during which we would like to have a relaxing Greek beach vacation. My family (kids ages 9,7,2) will be joined by my parents and sister’s family (kids ages 3 and 1) for the second week. I had previously planned on going to Naxos (based largely on your recommendation!) and had booked us in the Hotel Galaxy on Agios Giorgios because of its proximity to the beach and walking distance to the town, however, my sister is concerned about having to walk into town to find a place to eat every night and would prefer to be at an all-inclusive or at least larger resort where they could eat on site if the babies needed to go to bed early. I have had little luck finding such a resort in Naxos or even on the larger islands in the Cyclades. Seems like most of the larger resorts are in Crete and I would ideally like to avoid having to fly once we’re in Greece (seems like a waste of time and money for our large group). Any thoughts or advice?

    • I would definitely recommend staying at Hotel Galaxy. It’s a great location. There are restaurants right on the beach so you don’t need to go into town. That said, the main square is about 5 minutes away and the town center about another 5, so it’s very doable, though I certainly understand where your sister is coming from. When you go to a resort you won’t have any sense that you’re in Greece — you might as well be at a resort in Spain, Florida, or Mexico. Staying on Agios Giorgios is a good compromise between seeing the real Greece and having a relaxing — and fun — beach holiday. I hope that helps.

      Let us know how it goes!

  55. Jeff from Beersheba said:

    Dear David,
    Thanks very much for this wonderfully helpful website! We will be going on a family get-together cruise in August 2011 to Greece which will include 1-day excursions to: Athens, Lesbos, Mykonos & Samos. Our group will include 2 seniors (active & fit), 4 adults and 4 kids (aged 12 – 17). I am wondering if you have any particular recommendations for how best to see these four cities in this context? (When we were in Florence & Rome a couple years ago, our kids did not get a lot out of the museums and only subsequently did we hear about audio walking tours that can be found online which are appropriate for different ages. If you have any recommendations in this vein, that would be great also.)
    Thanks again,
    Jeff Green

    • Hi Jeff. For Athens I’d focus on the Acropolis and neighboring Plaka district. There’s lots to see and explore there so don’t feel forced to venture off and take in every attraction. If you tried to fit in one of the city’s museum then visit the National Archeological Museum.

      The islands are great for kids because they have such a safe, low key and pedestrian friendly feel. Lesvos’s main town of Skala Eressos has a car free area as does the main town of Mykonos. Both are ideal for walking and you could easily give your kids free reign for an afternoon of exploration. Renting bikes might be another good option to see a bit more of each of the islands.

      Good luck.

      • Jeff from Beersheba said:

        Thanks again, David, for the great advice and the great website!

  56. Cathy from Georgia said:

    Hi David
    Planning on taking my sons (8 and 12) to Greece in Mid-July or early Aug 2011. We’ll only have about a week there. Would like to show them the Acropolis in Athens and spend the majority of our time at an island or two. Flying in from either Edinbourgh or Manchester. Thought about Rhodes, Crete Patmos. Not crazy about crowds though…Any ideas?
    Thank you
    Cathy

    • I would let flight schedules play a large role in your itinerary. Look for direct flights to either Crete, Santorini, or Mykonos. Spend a few days there, visit one more island (maybe Naxos, Milos, Folegandros, or Sifnos) on your way back to Athens, then finish your trip seeing the sights in Athens. There are so many great islands that often finding one or two that work well with your flights and ferry is as good a way to decide as any.

  57. Matthew said:

    Hi David,
    This website is great! We are planning a trip to the greek islands this summer with our two teenage girls, 13 and 16. A friend recommended Amorgos, and Folegandros looks nice. But I am concerned the kids will be a bit bored, maybe somewhere with water sports would be good for them. We are thinking of going to 2 or 3 islands over the last 2 weeks of August. Any thoughts?

    • Those are 2 great islands but yes, they are a little on the slower side and might not have quite as much to do as Ios, Mykonos, Naxos or Paros. But that’s the great thing about the Greek islands — you can do a bit of everything. Taking the ferry to a new island, hopping off and exploring another new port town keeps things new and exciting. in 2 weeks I’d probably visit 4 islands. Stay flexible and let the ferry schedule guide you to your next island. Be sure to leave a few extra days at the end to get back to Athens as ferries can be canceled for a day or 2 (especially in August) due to high winds. I hope that helps.

  58. Lani said:

    Hi David! My family is planning a trip to Greece mid July for 3 weeks. We are coming all the way from Vietnam. We have not been to Greece before so I am hoping you can help me out a bit, eventhough I have read most of the comments above, it just made me confused even more- LOL.
    Anyway, we have 3 young kids (ages 10, 7 and 2). We wanted to visit Santorini but after reading many websites and blogs, we are now convinced that it is not the place to stay for 2 weeks straight. What my husband and I would like to do is to rent an apartment/ villa/ hotel (all based on budget of course) where we can use it as our base whilst we travel the island (s). With three young kids tagging along, this has worked for us before, do you think it is a good idea in Greece?
    We are convinced now that Crete is the go for us, but not sure where exactly to position ourselves, can you help? we want an accommodation by the beach and close enough to everyday needs. Kid -friendly beach/ place.
    Would it be best to go from Athens to Santorini then to Crete and back to Athens (would that be the most ideal route)- is it cheaper to go by ferry than air.
    HELP!!!!
    Lani

    OH another thing David….In Crete there are 2 airports, in Chania and Heraklion? where to go? what are the differences? as in location wise?

    • The Chania area would be a great place to hang out and spend a good chunk of time. But there are always trade-offs. If you move around and see 5 or 6 islands you’ll get back home and be so glad you didn’t spend your time in one spot and miss all those other great islands. If you stay put for 2 weeks you’ll get to know some locals, find some favorite restaurants and hidden beaches, slow down, relax and really get a feel for your location — and be happy that you didn’t run yourself into the ground. There’s no right answer. My own opinion would be to stay the 2 weeks in Crete but break it up between Heraklion, Rethymno, Chania, and one of the towns along the south coast. Then ferry to Santorini, spending maybe 2 or 3 nights there, then if time permits visit a smaller island for a night or 2 (e.g. Milos, Folegandros, or Andros). Then continue on to Athens for a few nights. Flying one way from Athens to Crete (and then ferry back) is a perfect plan. There are more flights to Heraklion but either one would work fine as long as your plans are flexible. Good luck.

  59. Rochelle said:

    Hi David,
    I am visiting the Greek islands in July and have 2 teenage boys (17 and 18yrs) with my husband and I. We are traveling around Ireland for a week then heading to Greece….I was thinking of Paros and Santorini but want to make sure the boys have got plenty to keep them busy as they are very active and after stop/starting for 9 days in Ireland want them to really enjoy the Greek Islands. I also want my husband and I to relax!! Am I on the right track?? Do you have any ideas for this age group??
    looking forward to hearing your thoughts
    Rochelle

    • David said:

      I would lean towards Paros than Santorini as there are more water sports there and the fun more teenager and family friendly. Better beaches too.

  60. Shelley said:

    Hi David, what a fund of information! we’re considerng a 10-14 day trip late September – early October 2012 with our son, he’ll be 7 years old then. Thought of focusing on the Peloponesse, a little Athens, maybe Naxos. we like self catering and sleeping in the same place when possible. Would appreciate any advice and recommendations regarding weather, destinations, itinerary etc. Thank you!

  61. Shelley said:

    Meanwhile i’ve read all your other posts and it has really helped me focus. we’ve booked! 12 days: 4 nights by nafplion, 4 nights by valtessiniki and 3 in athens. in that orders. i can honestly say that your footprints are all over this. Any tips are still welcome. you see what a great job you’re doing even before you get to answer? congratulate yourself. you are accomplishing your mission with flying colors

    • David said:

      Hi Shelley. That sounds great. The Peloponnese is a lot of fun. Try to take the train from Kalavryta to Diakopto (on your way back to Athens). It’s a great ride. Nafplion is a fun city to explore too. Have a great trip.

      • Shelley said:

        thank you! i would appreciate info on Athens with a 7 year old. we’ll have 3 days there and I’d like a balance – not only archeology and museums. what do you recommend? clues on great play grounds are always welcome…

  62. Laura said:

    I am planning my first trip to Greece with my 13 yr old daughter. I understand that there is a economy crisis at this moment and hope things settle down before we arrive in early June. My questions is what reccomendations do you have that might interest a 13 year old adventurist? We have 14 days to play as hard as we can.

    • David said:

      All the islands have lots of water sports and fun. Crete probably has the most to do as far as hiking and inland adventures. It’s also bigger, of course, so takes a bit of time to get around. Naxos and Rhodes also have some good hikes and inland villages to explore. Kos (because it is so flat) is considered the best Greek island for bike riding. Many of the smaller islands are great for walking – usually from one village to the next (e.g. Lesvos, Syros, Folegandros, Sikinos, Skiathos, Skopelos).

  63. Diane said:

    David, my husband and i along with our 2teens (15 and 16) are thinking about a trip to Greece in july. We have been looking at Greek island cruises as a good way to see the islands. After reading your blog, it seems most just travel around on their own. I am wondering if you have any feedback on pros and cons of this? Also, with all of the issues ingreece, is there arise of a ferry strike? We ran into a train strike last year in Italy.

    • David said:

      Hi Diane. Yes, island hopping without a cruise is the way to go. With a cruise you get dropped off in the middle of day with all the other hordes of tourists and have a few hours (or half a day at most) to walk around before getting back on the ship. The small towns have a feeling of returning to normal when the big ships leave – and you don’t get to see that “normal” when you’ve already departed. Eating late night meals and walking around the town are all integral parts of a Greek trip so you should stay at least a few nights in a hotel and get that “feel” of an island. Plus, the ferries are fun to get on and off, it’s sort of chaotic when they pull in and you only have a few minutes to jump on – your kids will love it.

      And for whatever reason, ferry strikes are rare – or at least I’ve never heard of one.

      I hope that helps.

  64. Peter said:

    David, my wife and I are traveling to Greece this summer with our two daughters (11&9). Although we’ve both been to Greece several times, this will be our first trip together and, obviously, with our girls. Our trip will begin with the obligatory visiting of relatives at our respective horios outside of Sparta (fortunately we both hail from the same region) and I’ve allocated three days in Athens on the back end, one of which will be a day trip to Aegina. Just prior to finishing up in Athens, we are spending three days in Santorini, during the Panagia feast day, with friends who have a summer home there. That leaves me four open days leading up to Santorini, which is the basis of my question.

    I’m debating spending those four days in either Rhodos, Crete or Naxos. Rhodos is my absolute favorite place in Greece and I’d love to go back there with my family. Problem is, from what I’ve seen, it is a hassle getting from there to Santorini. I do not want to fly back to Athens and then back out to Santorini, nor do I want to spend 10 hours on a ferry. If there is a quicker way from Rhodos to Santorini please let me know.

    My next option is a five star resort hotel on a beach in Aghios Nikolaos, Crete. I’ve been to Crete before, having stayed in that area and also in Heraklion, where I visited the many historical and archeological sites. Truth is, I’m not overly interested in devoting any of those four days to seeing them again and I think my kids are still too young to appreciate them, anyway. Also, I’m not looking to rent a car and drive to Chania and back, so we’re basically looking at staying around Aghios Nikolaos, hitting some beaches during the day and heading into town at night. I’ve heard nearby Elounda beach is beautiful. Are there any other beaches, activities or places to see in that area that you’d recommend?

    Finally, there is Naxos, a place I’ve never been, but which I’ve read great things about. You seem to be very high on the island so I’d like to hear your take about spending the four days there. Ultimately, we’d like to stay at a nice resort, spend our days near the water (water sports and activities would be great too) and spend our evenings in nice Greek towns, dining, shopping and soaking in the experience of being in Greece. Also, are there direct flights to Naxos from Athens (didn’t see any on Expedia)? If not, how long is the ferry ride (the itinerary I saw from Pireas was 7 hours)?

    I’d like to hear your opinion as well as any other recommendations. Thank you.

    (BTW … is there daily ferry service back and forth from Santorini to Folegandros. I hear it’s a beautiful island and wouldn’t mind taking a day trip there).

    • David said:

      Hi Peter. I love Naxos, so would recommend that. I’m not so big on resorts though, so not sure what Naxos has. The hotels in the hora and out towards ag. georgios beach are great – and pretty reasonably priced. It’s a short walk from the beach into town. Lots of restaurants and nightlife. It’s a very fun atmosphere.

      Skyexpress offers flights around the islands (http://www.skyexpress.gr/). Their schedule changes fairly often but at the moment they’re offering a Santorini to Rhodes flight and a Crete to Rhodes flight. Olympic is still flying most of their routes though not the Naxos to Athens flight. Maybe some of these could help you get around and avoid a longer ferry ride. Ferry schedules come out one month prior so it can be hard to plan but there is alway a Rhodes to Crete and Rhodes to Santorini ferry a couple of times a week.

      A flying dolphin will take 4 hours from Piraeus to Naxos.

      Good luck.

      • Peter said:

        Thanks for the response, David. After doing some more research, I’m leaning towards a different approach. Rather than spending four days on one end of Crete, I’m now thinking about knocking out the day trip to Aegina on the back end and eliminating one of the days in Sparta on the front end and spending 3 days a piece at Mykonos and Naxos. The Rafina-Mykonos-Naxos-Santorini-Piraeus route seems pretty time efficient (although I’ll probably fly back to Athens from Santorini). I’ll save Rhodos and Crete for the next trip, when the girls are a bit older and hopefully we’ll have more time.

        What are your thoughts on Mykonos for a family? Also, in the event I only have 5 days to play with, should I knock a day off of Mykonos or Naxos? I’m pretty sure you’ll say Mykonos, so, if that were the case, can you give me some must see spots on the island (beaches, sunsets, restaurants, shopping etc..).

        As for the ferry schedules. I’ve seen some on line for all of these ports but they seem kind of limited. Two ferries a day from Rafina to Mykonos, one a day between the other islands. Is that the normal schedule in August or do they add more boats. Also, how far in advance do I need to book these ferries for mid-August? Flexibility wise, it would be better if I didn’t have to prebook at all, however, I don’t want to risk not being able to move on when I want to.

        Finally, is Folegandros worth a day trip from Santorini? Do they have round trip daily ferry service back and forth? Only thing I saw was a PM ferry out of Santorini with a next day AM return. That doesn’t work for me.

        Again, thanks for your input.

        • David said:

          Actually I think Mykonos would be great for just a night or two for a family. Your girls would probably love the shopping and the main Hora is a lot of fun to walk around through the day or at night. Its winding cobblestoned streets are the stuff of dreams. Very cool. I love Folegandros, but probably not for a day trip. It’s more of a place where you settle in and relax for a few days. But for only a few hours you’d probably get bored and think, “what’s the point?”

  65. Ross said:

    Hi there, we have flights booked into Athens on July 17 and leave from Athens on August 9 this year. The plan was to spend between 4-6 days/nights on the following islands, Rhodes, Crete and from what I have read here, Paros (centrally located to Naxos, Santorini, Mykonos). We will spend likely 1 or 2 days at each end of the trip in Athens to site see and make sure we are on the ground for the flight home. The plan being to spend most time wandering around Rhodes and Crete, probabably rent a car but from Paros, take different day trips to the nearby island.

    A couple of thoughts/questions, better to fly to Rhodes and then ferry back to Athens via Crete and then Paros? Or ferry Paros-Crete-Rhodes and then fly back to Athens? Or is there a better way to move around between these points. We had entertained Corfu but there does not appear to be an easy way to include this is in the plan.

    Thanks

    • David said:

      I doubt it makes much difference but I’d probably fly out to Rhodes as you have more ferry options to work your way back to Athens than you have flight options. So get the flight out of the way and then allow yourself some flexibility with your route back to Athens and you should be fine. Have fun!

      • Ross said:

        Thanks for all the information, we are now in the final stages or trip planning, have decided to ferry overnight to Rhodes, fly from there to Heraklion, ferry up to Santorini, ferry on to Mykonos and then ferry back to Athens. We will spend our last night in Athens and then fly home the next day, does it really matter what port we come back to Rafina/Piraeus? Are both served well to get back to the city, or would you recommend one over the other. It appears that the ferry times and cost are very similar, the Rafina travel time from Mykonos is roughly an hour shorter. Thoughts.

        • David said:

          It’s easier to get into central Athens from Piraeus than from Rafina. But if you don’t want to go through Athens you can get directly from Rafina to Athens airport without going into the city. It’s about 40 minutes by bus from Rafina to the airport. There are many hotels and restaurants in Rafina so you needn’t stay out at the airport. (And Rafina is a nice little port – much nicer than Piraeus.)

          For hotels look here: Hotels in Rafina.

          Good luck.

  66. Naomi said:

    Hi there,

    I am planning a trip to Europe in Dec 2012/Jan 2013 coming home to Australia via Greece. My challenge however, is that we have 4 children (ages when travelling will be 10,8,7,5) and are trying to stick to a budget!

    I know it’s not the warmest time of year and by the look of things Crete looks like the best option for hopefully some warm weather. We would hopefully get a ferry back to Athens via other Islands, maybe 1 or 2 night stopover? Though at this time of year I am not sure of the limitations in ferry and accommodation availability to do this.

    Also I’m just a little concerned about travelling with this many children, (this will be our first ever overseas trip) and whether it is difficult getting about and finding large enough hotel rooms/accommodation.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    • David said:

      You’re right. The weather will be coolish – maybe some rain, although bright sunny days in around 15 degrees is certainly possible. You won’t be swimming and beaching though. The good news is that hotels (the ones that are still open) will be quite cheap and you should be able to snag any hotel’s biggest room – or perhaps take 2 rooms at a very good price. There is lots to see on Crete that isn’t beach related: hiking, sightseeing, historical sites, and some very cool cities and towns. In the winter months the local culture and people really come alive. It’s a great time to visit if you want to expose the kids to local life.

      The ferries don’t run as often during the off season but there will always be at least one ferry a day between Heraklion and Athens, and probably one a day from Rethymno and Hania to the Athens as well.

      Good luck.

  67. Andrea said:

    Hello,
    First thank you for all the information. I have four weeks to spend in Greece, traveling with two 7 year olds, a 1 1/2 and a two month old. My husband and I were thinking Athens, Creta and Naxos ( After reading many posts Santorini may not be a wise idea) . My questions are: : how many days would you recommend in each place? or are we better staying put in only one Island and which ? ( to avoid long ferry from Crete to Naxos).
    Thank you in advance.

    • David said:

      With that much time I would definitely island hop a bit. I think I would do something like 2 .5 weeks in Crete, 1 week in Naxos, and 3 or 4 nights in Athens at the end of your trip. But you could easily add another island too. Make it one near Naxos like Antiparos or Paros – or Serifos or Sifnos which are about half way back to Athens.

  68. Laura said:

    I have heard that it is a bad time to bring my daughter to Greece…do you find this to be true? are there areas you suggest we avoid? This will be my first time traveling to Greece and my daughters first time abroad…what do you think about a guided trip? My main concern is transportatin and thought a guided trip will be educational and alleviate my transportation concern.

    • David said:

      Greece is very safe and besides a few spots in Athens (that you’d probably never end up in) there are very few no-go areas. Guided tours are an option. GAdventures is highly recommended. Take a look here: Greece Tours.
      Figuring out the ferries can be a small challenge – but that’s half the fun. I hope that helps.

  69. Artemis said:

    How about visiting the Sporades with an 8 and 10 year old? We plan to stay on Skopelos 3 nights and visit close by islands by boat. The boys are Greek myth buffs. Any info would be helpful. Thanks

    • David said:

      Hi Artemis. Skopelos and Skiathos are great destinations but perhaps a little light on Greek Myth attractions. For history and myth, I’d recommend Crete, Rhodes, and Delos (near Mykonos) and some other islands in the Cyclades. Athens, as well, obviously has lots of history. Good luck.

  70. Sonya said:

    Hi there
    I have always wanted to explore the Greek islands. We have a lovely baby girl who is now 5 months old. Would like to explore the Greek islands for history,culture,sight seeing and the food. We are thinking may/June,she will be 8/9 months. Any suggestion where we should go for 7-10day holiday. Would like to see a few islands but also need to make sure we are not rushing from one place to the next. Also help on how to find accommodation that will suit a baby would be great. Thanks.

    • David said:

      Hi Sonya. First off, I would take a travel crib like this one. They really help out, give you a safe place to put your baby/toddler while you’re in the hotel room and need a few minutes to do some things. Also a great place for them to sleep of course. If you have a baby crib you also don’t need to worry so much about finding the perfect hotel with the right amenities. Any will pretty much do the job.

      http://hotelscombined.com is simply awesome at finding good hotel deals. It should be your first stop for researching where to stay. Good luck.

      • Sonya said:

        Hi David
        thanks so much for the tip about the travel cot and the website for hotel deals. We are thinking of going from 26th May -11/12th June. Our baby daughter will be 8/9 months, we are travelling from the UK. Would like to explore the Greek islands for history, culture, sight seeing and the food. Any suggestion where we should go for 7-10day holiday. Would like to see a few islands but also need to make sure we are not rushing from one place to the next. if there two or three places you would recommend that would be great. would you suggest to stick to the greek islands or is it worth going to Athens for a day?
        thanks
        Sonya

        • David said:

          Athens is great but is it worth the 5 or 6 hour ferry ride just for one day – probably not. All the Greek islands are great in their own way so I’d look for air tickets that went directly to one island and then flew home from a different nearby island. That way you’ll avoid a long ferry ride and not have to back track. So for example, look for a cheap budget ticket to Mykonos, spend a few days there, then Naxos or Paros, and then fly home from Santorini. Those are all short ferry rides from one island to the next. There are lots of variations on this same idea. Fly into Rhodes, fly home from Samos or Lesvos. Fly into Corfu, fly home from Kefalonia or Zante. Good luck.

  71. Artemis said:

    Taking kids and grandkids to Greece in 2014. We are Greek Orthodox and I would love to be there for Easter weekend and then do the remainder of our 2 week visit after that, but we would be arriving on Good Friday. I fear museums etc will be closed on Good Fri and Holy Saturday. Otherwise we will go in Sept or early Oct. What do you suggest?

    • David said:

      Hi Artemis. I believe most museums (like the National Archeological Museum and the Acropolis Museum) will be closed on Easter Sunday but open on Friday and Saturday.

  72. Renee said:

    Dear David,
    We are a family of 5. We have 3 boys: 9, 6, 3. We are going to Greece in early April. Can you advise on the best island to stay at. We will be in Greece from April 3-9

    • David said:

      Hi Renee. The thing about visiting in April is that the weather could still be cooish and you probably won’t be swimming. With that in mind I’d suggest Crete as it’s the farthest south and tends to get the warmest weather. There is also lots to do that isn’t beach-related: hikes, historical sites, very cool and fun cities to wander around. The great thing about that time of year is that there are few other tourists about. Hotel prices are cheaper, everything is less hurried. Even the locals tend to be friendlier. You could even stop in at Santorini on the way back to Athens as the same applies there. Cheaper prices and fewer tourists while much of what makes Santorini special isn’t the beaches and swimming but the views, cliffs, walks, and sunsets. If you decided against these islands (or other popular ones) and chose a smaller one (e.g. Folegandros or Milos) be aware that their tourist infrastructure might not be opened up yet for the summer. You’ll still be able to find somewhere to stay but be sure to arrive earlier in the day so the villagers can start phoning around town for you looking for a room. As well, ferries don’t run as often in the off-season so be sure to check the schedule once you arrive at an island for when the best departure is for you so you’re not surprised on your final day to find out that there isn’t a ferry back to Athens for another 2 days.

      Good luck.

  73. Nisha said:

    Hi David,
    We are 2 couples travelling from Italy to Greece. Which option do you suggest: ferry or flight as we will be going to Amsterdam from Greece. And is march a good month to travel to greece? Will we be able to swim on the beautiful greek islands? And if we take ferries from which city (Italy) to which city (Greece)? … PLS SUGGEST

    • David said:

      Ferries to Greece from Italy go from Bari, Brindisi, and Venice to Corfu. There is also an Ancona to Igoumenitsa route as well. Ferries from Bari, Venice, and Brindisi to Corfu run almost daily in July and August but will likely only be about once per week in March. It’s an overnight ferry and should probably be booked in advance. You could then fly from Corfu to Amsterdam or London. Unfortunately you will not be swimming in March in Greece. Late April is the absolute earliest to get into the water and it’s still quite chilly until late May. I hope that helps. Good luck.

      • Nisha said:

        thks a lot david… U made it much easier

  74. Rebecca said:

    Hi there,

    I’m planning a 2 week trip to Greece this summer. Could you suggest a jumping off point? I’d like to stay on 2 islands perhaps and soft sandy beaches with clean sea are essential for our 2 little girls. I am going round in circles reading so much that I am confused and don’t know where to start! I really would love to hire a little motor boat for exploring in and snorkling off…

    • David said:

      Hi Rebecca. First off, don’t worry or stress. All the islands are great. You can almost just throw a dart at the map and choose the closest island and you’ll have a great trip. Not sure if you’re looking for an island you can fly directly to from Europe. These will typical be the bigger islands like Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, or Corfu. Crete is very big and takes some time to get around. Santorini is very busy and expensive and doesn’t have great beaches. So maybe not those to, but pretty much any other that you can fly directly to will be great. My top pick would probably be Naxos. Two other great islands: Paros and Antiparos. Both are close to Naxos and perfect for kids too. So between those 3 you can have a little island hopping and exploring. If you’re coming from Athens, Naxos and Paros are relatively short ferry rides from Piraeus. I hope that helps. Good luck.

  75. Kara said:

    Hi David, we are looking to travel to Greece with our 1 year old in early september. We are most excited by relaxing and playing with him by a beach/pool, but don’t really need organized activities since he is so young. We were thinking about corfu since we have heard it is beautiful. My questions are (and sorry I have a lot of them) is it fairly easy to fly from the US to Corfu through Athens? Is the weather nice enough for swimming this time of year? Can you recommend a clean, family friendly hotel that is well situated to the beach or town? Is the beach and town far away? I’m a little worried about getting back and forth with the baby and car seat – maybe renting a car is the way to go? To make this more complex, we are not married to corfu or september and are open to suggestions! I know that is a lot, but i’m hoping you can shed some light and help us plan an amazing first trip away with our little one. Thanks!

    • David said:

      Hi Kara. Corfu is great and I’m sure you’ll love it. Getting there is easy from Athens and there are many flights. There are also flights from Western Europe too. (Direct flights that don’t go through Athens, but they can be a little tricky to book from the U.S. and coordinate with your U.S. to Europe ticket as they’re with smaller budget airlines.) Finally, there are ferries from eastern Italy (Brindisi, Bari, and Venice) that do the overnight trip to Corfu. You could fly to Venice and then get a sleeper room and arrive at Corfu in the morning.

      In Corfu, my favorite place is Pelekas. It’s set up on a cliff above a great beach. Many of the hotels there have beautiful views of the coast. There’s a free shuttle bus from the town down to the beach which might sound like a bit of a hassle but is actually quite nice as you leave the beach behind at the end of the day and return to your hotel. Shower and clean up and then walk around the town looking for a nice place to eat. There’s lots of good Italian food around as Corfu gets lots of tourists from Italy. This would also save you the hassle of renting a car. The public buses are quite reliable in Corfu and cover a lot of very helpful routes.

      For hotels in Corfu you’ll find a good list here.

      Unfortunately, most of the hotels in Pelekas are quite small and are hard to book in advance. Probably best to book your first night or 2 in Corfu Town and then head out to Pelekas and book your hotel in person.

      September is the single best month to travel anywhere in Greece.

  76. Harry said:

    Hi David,

    Any suggestions about car rentals. Would it be cheaper to prebook from Canada or book locally? Planning on visiting Greece mid July. If you have any suggestions regarding car rental companies and their websites, it would be greatly appreciated.

    • David said:

      I’ve heard good things about this car rental company but have never used them myself: http://www.economycarrentals.com/go/car-rental/greece/. Booking a rental in advance should definitely save you some money. Note: rental companies frown upon taking your rental car on the ferries (and insurance and drop-off fees are expensive for doing so). I’d get a rental car for each island or city you plan to visit and not plan on taking it from one island to another. Getting a car on a ferry is a pain too. Also, having a car in Athens is more of a headache than a help so I’d discourage you from that as well.

  77. Peter said:

    Hi David. A month or so ago, you helped me settle on an itinerary for my family’s impending trip to Greece in August. I’m also happy to see you posted a link for Hotel reservations as I am certainly not one for winging accomodations. My question now is this (and I’m not sure you’ll be able to answer):

    What the hell is really going on in Greece these days?

    I am so looking forward to taking my wife and kids to this beautiful country that I spent most of my childhood summers in, however, we are spending alot of money on this trip and I don’t want it tainted by uprising. Is the turmoil we see and read about generally in Athens or is it widespread throughout the country? We plan on visiting Sparta, Mykonos, Naxos and Santorini, with two days in Athens on the back end to see the important historical sights and shop in Monastiraki. Truth is, I’ve held off on booking my airline tickets because of this. Any thoughts?

    • David said:

      Hi Peter. I understand your uncertainty. Things are very unstable and chaotic there now. The good news (for travelers) is that the chaos rarely affects tourists. The islands rarely are the scene of protests and riots so it’s really just Athens you need to worry about – and even that should be fine. Just don’t go “check out” a protest if one were to occur while you’re there. Also get back to Athens with at least a day or 2 to spare (advised in any case) should there be a ferry strike and you’re stranded on an island. The Greek government (and Greek people) know how important tourism is to their country and almost never focus their frustations on visitors.

      A recent story in the NY Tiimes give a good overview on life in Greece now: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/the-way-greeks-live-now.html

  78. Laura said:

    OK…final after two previous questions this should be my last for you, thanks for your quick imput. I am traveling with my 14 yr old daughter. we land in athens June 4th at 5:30 pm and leave June 17th at 6:00am. that gives us 12 days to trek around the Peloponnese and Soronc Gulf. We will spend our first 3 nights in Poros at the Saga Hotel recovering from jet lag, enjoying the farm, food, drink and dance. We may take a day trip to Hydra for some hiking. We will travel via bus to Diakotto to experience the wonderful Cog train through the gorge to Kalavryta…would you stay the night or move on? Next we plan to visit the Diros caves then down to Kardamyli to check out Yiannis Herb and Kalamata olive oil. We will wrap up our trek by visiting Nafplio and climb 999 step to the fortress. we have 12 full days…think its realistic? we will be traveling by bus. thanks again. Laura Asbell

    • David said:

      This sounds busy but fine. For Kalavryta I’d check the bus schedule when you arrive in town to see when the next bus is heading south. They don’t depart every day (or didn’t when I was there) so you may need to let that dictate when you leave. The town itself is great and definitely worth a day to explore. Nafplio is great too as are the other places you mentioned. If you’re really stuck you can always grab a taxi to jump you along to the next town. Not cheap, but not as expensive as you might think. Good luck.

  79. Karen Wanders - Vancouver, BC said:

    Hi David,
    Sorry, I just sent a message regarding Naxos and Corfu and forgot to mention that we are just looking at either one of the Islands for a week but would like a suggestion as to whether or not it is worth renting a car; 2. where would be more central town to stay at on either Island, really close to great beaches, and has good options for accommodations. As I mentioned i have a 11 year old daughter and a 7 year year old son and will require separate beds. We will be there from June 29 to July 6. We will be flying in from Hamburg, Germany. With all the suggestions you provided I was able to at least narrow it down to those two Islands. Thanks David.

    • David said:

      For Naxos I would stay in the main town (the Hora or port town). Very central, lots of buses going every where in the island, a great beach you can walk to, lots of great places to eat and stay. In Corfu I really like Pelekas and it’s central too and easy to get into the Corfu Town by bus. For Naxos I wouldn’t rent a car. For Corfu I would be 50/50 on renting a car but personally would probably still go with the buses (they’re more fun and feel more like traveling).

      For hotels try these links: Naxos and Corfu.

      I hope that helps.

  80. Lelia said:

    Hi David, What is the most reliable and current resource for determining if Greece is safe for travel? Also, we want to do a trip that combines some site seeing and islands with the kids and are concerned ferries and historical sites could be closed with no notice.
    Regards,
    Lelia

  81. Peter said:

    Speaking of ferries, I’ve been checking http://www.ferries.gr for ferry service between the islands I plan to visit in August and the schedule seems pretty light. For example, there seems to be only one ferry each day (14:40) from Mykonos to Naxos and only two choices (12:00 & 15:00) from Naxos to Santorini. Is that typically it? I tend to want to travel in the AM hours so as not to waste days waiting to go / getting settled in. Do they typically add ferries, closer to the dates? Also, is it necessary to book in advance or is there always room for more if you don’t have a car?

    • David said:

      That schedule sounds about right but yes, ferry routes and times can be added a few weeks in advance. You won’t need to book tickets in advance.

      If getting to Naxos earlier is very important to you there is sometimes a SeaJet from Mykonos to Paros early in the morning. Hop off in Paros and get on the BlueStar ferry for the very short ride to Naxos.

  82. Jonathan said:

    Hi David,

    I am traveling to Greece in late June with my wife and two kids (3 and 1), and my in-laws. We’ll be arriving the morning of June 25th and then plan to take an early ferry to Paros the morning on June 26th. Where do you suggest we stay for that one night? Do you recommend Athens, or right in Piraeus so we are close to the port the next morning? Or perhaps there is a nice area in between on the coast?

    I suspect finding our ferry, especially with kids and our in-laws, will take a bit of time. I think our ferry if on time will have a 7:30am departure.

    Please let me know your thoughts!

    Best,

    Jonathan

    • David said:

      Hi Jonathan. Oh, I’d definitely stay in Athens – it sounds like you’ll have the afternoon and evening to walk around, maybe have a nice dinner in the Plaka. You’ll need to be up early, of course, but a taxi should get you to the port quickly at that time of the morning.

      Here are a few ideas for hotels: http://mylittlenomads.com/family-friendly-hotels-in-athens

      Good luck.

      • Jonathan Wiseman said:

        Sounds great! Thanks so much for the quick reply.

        We’ll be in Greece for 2 weeks. 1 week in Paros for a friend’s wedding and then off to Santorini for 5 nights. I know we’ll be ignoring your suggestions on Santorini with kids, but we’ll be renting a house on the east coast, so hopefully it’ll work out. Then we plan to fly back to Athens for 2 more nights before heading back to Canada.

        Does that sound like a good itinerary for first timers to Greece? Also, what time should we leave for the Athens port in the AM? Should we have our ferry tickets booked in advance?

        Awesome blog btw.

        Best,

        Jonathan

        • David said:

          Hi Jonathan. That sounds great. Paros and Santorini complement each other well – a very different feel on each. You don’t have to book tickets in advance. You can get them right at the port (but not “at” the ship). Finding the right ferry can take a little while (the Piraeus port is huge) so I’d get to the port at least an hour before sailing time.

          • Jonathan said:

            Hi David,

            Was looking for this info on your blog, but when we book/buy our various ferry tickets, what Class should we be looking at? I’ve found all the various types of ticket classes to be a bit confusing, but am I right in assuming that Business Class just means that you will have a reserved seat and economy means you may not have an actual seat? I assume this is the safest option if traveling with kids during the summer months? Our ferries will be Athens to Paros and Paros to Santorini most likely on Hellenic Seaways. Please let me know your thoughts.

          • David said:

            Hi Jonathan. Yes, you have it right. Business will give you a reserved airplane-type seat inside a cabin. Economy or deck class will just get you on the ship and then it’s up to you to find a place to sit. This is fine for most trips. For overnight trips it’s best to reserve a cabin which will give you a place to lie down and sleep. (Though it doesn’t sound like you’ll be doing an overnight route.)

            Good luck.

  83. OMILO, Greece said:

    Are you looking for a fun vacation in Greece, together with your children? For your info, OMILO organizes on the island of Andros a family-oriented program designed to give the members of a family the opportunity to spend some quality time together and to have fun. You can choose between cooking lessons (and tasting a variety of Greek food), Greek dancing lessons (learning how to dance the most popular traditional Greek dances), Greek private lessons or painting lessons. Besides, the family has the time to explore the beauties of Andros, the wonderful beaches and amazing nature. You are very welcome, as well as your children from 8 years old. Have a look at: http://www.omilo.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=29&Itemid=38&lang=en.

  84. malina said:

    Hi David
    Best blog on Greece!
    We are planning to come to Greece August 2012 (2 parents -2kids 16&18yrs old) We are hoping to stay 3 – 4 weeks. Ideally we were hoping to rent a villa or house and have more family /friends join us for 1 week at a time. Lots of kids in that mix (all different ages). We are interested in great views, walk to beaches and a market where raw fresh organic food is available. Anything like that in Naxos? Or any island group close to Turkey perhaps? Maybe Crete is the better choice for that? Am looking forward to hearing back from you.

    • David said:

      Naxos and Crete are both great for that. Crete has some great markets that are fun to shop at. It also has the most house-rentals of any island. Rhodes and Lesvos are the best islands neighboring Turkey.

  85. Ruthanne said:

    Hi,
    Brilliant blog and Q&A!
    I impulse bought some ridiculously cheap flights into and out of Patras in a couple of weeks. We arrive 2pm into Araxos on April 3rd and leave 5am on April 7th which really only gives us 3 days of sightseeing. We’ll pre-book a hire car to get around.
    I know we’ll definitely want to see the Acropolis and the Corinth Canal but beyond that I am overwhelmed with the choice!

    The simple thing would be a trip to Olympia on the first day, which the website says is open until 7.45pm, then driving the North of the Peloponnese to Athens and back again.
    Some questions:
    1) My 8 year old daughter loves swimming and we live in a cold British seaside town so we’re used to freezing water conditions! Is there a beach along that route that we could stop off for at least to play in the sand (our home beach is pebbles) and paddle?
    2) She also adores the movie Mamma Mia and is desperately excited at travelling to ‘Sophie’s country’. Would it be crazy to take the bridge North and Patra to Rio and drive to Lamia and take a ferry to Skopelos? Is there a ferry? Is it a long ferry ride? And would it be worth the additional petrol/time for the experience? I’m tempted to fob her off with some beach near Corinth and claim it’s a Mamma Mia location but that seems a little sneaky to say the least!
    3) Which do you think would be the better experience: taking a boat trip through the Corinth Canal or taking the Kalavryta-Diakofto railway? Are both available this time of year? Would we have time to do both?
    4) We’re thinking of just finding lodgings as we arrive at each place. Is that do-able? And how late should we make bookings? We’d like to drive in the early morning and late evening each day to have the middle of the day for touristy activity but don’t want to end up without a hotel. Is 10pm to late to book into somewhere?
    Sorry for all the questions! :o)

    • David said:

      Some thoughts for you:

      1. Here are a list of beaches near Patra: http://www.greeka.com/peloponnese/patra/patra-beaches.htm. The water will be very chilly in early April.
      2. Skopelos is a long way out of the way and I’m tempted to say not worth the time spent in a car.
      3. The Kalavryta-Diakofto train is great and the town is a wonderful little place to spend a day or two. I’d do that over the canal for sure.
      4. You’ll be fine finding places on the day-of and don’t need to pre-book. Though 10pm is getting a bit late. In the off-season not everything is open and you often have to find someone that will phone around for you or direct you in the right direction to find whoever is letting rooms at the time. So getting there that late might pose a bit of a problem. I’d try to get into town before dinner time.

      I hope that helps. Good luck.

  86. Mary Howard said:

    Hi David,
    First time to Greece and the Greek Islands.
    Family of 4 – 2 adults and 2 kids, daughter 12 and son 10. Travelling from Melbourne, Australia for a four week trip from September 13th – October 11th to celebrate our 40th birthdays.
    Start and finish in Athens and in between, visits some islands. Which islands to choose, which order is best and how long to stay without feeling too rushed and soak in the magic of each one? Leaning towards flying between islands due to the boys motion sickness, time and distance – but would like the option of a ferry- if the distance is short? Maybe a day visit?
    Looking for a mixture of relaxation and exploring the cultures, history and food. We love to sit on beaches, snorkel, walk and mingle with the locals.
    Would welcome your insight and suggestions, as I am feeling quite overwhelmed with all the amazing choices.
    Kind regards,
    Mary

    • David said:

      Hi Mary. That’s a great time to travel as the weather should be perfect and the crowds starting to thin a bit from the summer peak season. If you wanted to keep travel distances down I’d focus on the Cyclades. They’re not too far from Athens by ferry and all very close to each other (for the most part). Naxos, Paros, Milos, Folegandros, Mykonos, Ios, Santorini – they’re all great in their own way. 5 to 7 days on 4 different islands leaving a few extra days to see Athens would be great.

  87. Jasmine said:

    Hi David,
    Your blog is fantastic and very helpful! I spent a number of summers island hopping in Greece with friends during my twenties and fortunately packed in Santorini and Mykonos.
    I am now planning a different girlie trip consisting of my daughter who will be just turning two before our departure, my mother and myself. Each of us have our own needs, mothers being tranquil harbours and marinas my own being walks and diving.
    We will be starting our trip in Fetihye in Turkey as we are attending a wedding and will depart for Rhodes shortly after. I am thinking a few days exploring in Rhodes before heading to Symi for the tranquil and picturesque habours. After a couple of days was thinking Karpathos for diving and beaches for a few days before heading back to the mainland via a night in Rhodes or even if possible fly back via Crete?
    I am basically planning about three days in each destination. Is this adequate time? Are these islands toddler friendly? I have tried to keep ferry transfers short in making choices but would you have any recommendations?
    Thanks!
    I should add that we are planning the trip at the end of June! :)

    • David said:

      3 days on each island should be fine, but of course, you’d always like more. If you could stretch it to 4 or 5 then your trip will be even more relaxed. Not sure if you mean Athens when you say the mainland or Turkey. Getting from Rhodes to Athens is a long ferry ride. If you’re doing that I highly recommend booking a sleeper cabin. A flight from either Rhodes or Crete to Athens is easy to get and there are quite a few flights – but don’t wait too long to book. One note on the boats between Turkey and Rhodes is that they tend to be small (or a hydrofoil) and can be a little rough if the seas are choppy at all. Also, you’ll need to submit your passports to the port authorities the night before any trip between Turkey and Greece so don’t appear the morning of your departure expecting to jump on a boat. Here’s a good overview of ferry connections between Greece and Turkey: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/trans/Ship/GreekIslandFerries.html. Good luck.

  88. Peter said:

    Will be in Greece this August. We’re renting a car to visit family in Sparta for a week upon arrival and will be moving on to Mykonos for two days, then Naxos and Santorini for three days each thereafter, before spending our final two days in Athens. Your input has been quite helpful in helping us plan this trip. We were hoping you could help us with the last few open issues we’re contemplating:

    1) How easy is it to transfer from the airport in Athens (where we will have to return the car) to Rafina? The ferry for Mykonos leaves at 15:00. What time do we need to be at the port if we have our ferry tickets in advance? What time should we drop the car off?

    2) We’re opting for two days in Mykonos rather than an extra day a piece in Naxos and Santorini. Our rationalle for this is that it is only a 2 hour high speed ferry ride from Rafina to Mykonos, and then 45 minutes onto Naxos, rather than a 6 hour ferry directly from Pireaus to Naxos, which gets in just shy of midnight. We figure we can get a day and a half in at the beaches at Platis Yialos & Psarou and two nights to walk/eat/shop around Mykonos town. Are these good family beaches (our daughters are 11 & 8)? Is Mykonos worth the stop? Also, how bumpy are the high speed ferries compared to regular ferries? Don’t want to get seasick.

    3) In Naxos, we’re staying at a hotel between St. George & Hora. Our plan here is a beach day at Plaka or Agia Anna, another at Agio Prokopios, and the final at St. George, before we move onto Santorini that night. Might also like to see the temple of Apollo. Three days good for that? Which of those beaches is best for water sports (wave runners, banana boats, things like that)?

    4) In Santorini, we plan on staying in Perivolos so that we can be by the beach during the day (or at least in the afternoons if we do other things in the morning) and then take a bus or cab into Fira and back at night. How difficult will that be? Is it better to stay in Fira and take cab or bus to beach? Three things we may want to do there are (i) the half day volvano/hot springs excursion (ii) donkey rides down the cliffs for the girls (iii) catch a sunset/dinner in Oia. Three days good for that?

    5) Other than the akropolis/parthenon, the museum, Greek Parliament, Monastiraki and a ride on the metro, are there any other must sees in Athens? When I used to visit Greece frequently, I always ate my final dinner at the restaurant up at Likavitos. Is that still a nice spot? How far in advance would I need to make a reservation?

    We would so appreciate your advise on these questions and, again, thank you so much for this very informative web page. We’re looking forward to getting back to Greece after all these years.

    • David said:

      The bus from the Athens airport to Rafina ferry port takes between 30 and 40 minutes. It costs €3. You catch it besides the Sofitel Hotel on the arrivals level. Buses depart about every hour. Here’s the official schedule but this could change: 05 45, 07 05, 08 50, 10 30, 12 15, 14 10, 15 20, 16 45, 18 00, 19 20, 20 45, 22 15. You can also take a taxi if you’re really pressed for time as they only take about 20 minutes. The bus drops you right by the port and ticket offices and unlike Piraeus, the port is small and ferries are easy to find.

      The high speed ferries can be rougher than the big car ferries. If the seas are rough they can be very bumpy. On the good side they’re shorter so you don’t have to endure it as long. Mykonos is great and the kids will love it. Best to ask your hotel and people around town for the current state of different beaches, as the crowds can change from year to year.

      3 days is good for Naxos St Georgios beach has the most activity. As you move away from the Hora the beaches get quieter and quieter but still plenty going on at all of them in August.

      Personally, I’d rather stay in Fira and commute to the beach than the opposite but it depends on what you’re looking for. One’s a beach town, one’s an upscale tourist town with nice restaurants. You just have to decide.

      Lykavitos Hill is great and definitely recommend that. There’s a funicular tram that goes up there now so you might like that. I’d make time for walking around, maybe take in the central market too. (http://cheeseweb.eu/2012/03/exploring-central-market-athens-greece). Sounds like you have a lot planned. I’d be prepared to slow down a bit and maybe miss some of the stuff you would like to visit but might make things too hectic. Don’t overplan. Keep some days to just hanging out and exploring.

      Have fun.

  89. Tim said:

    Hi David,

    We’re thinking about a holiday in Greece with our 2 boys, 2yrs and 10yrs, for the end of July this year. We went to Lambi, Kos 4 years ago and loved it. We’d like the same combination that Kos gave to us again if possible, as we all adored that holiday. Quiet beaches, a little history to look at and plenty of nice food were fantastic. So far we have a shortlist of; Pefkos in Rhodes, Chania in Crete and maybe Lambi again in Kos. Do you have any other recommendations? – You seem to be the most informed person I can find online!

    • David said:

      I’d recommend taking a look at Lesvos, Ikaria, and Karpathos. Many great (and quiet) little places on those 3 islands.

  90. Anastasia said:

    Hello David! Thanks a lot for your source and this very article, but i still can’t choose destination or route in Greece for my family to take, hope you could give a clue

    * my son is 4 months old
    * we have two months in Greece to go
    * want to live at inexpensive traditional separate accommodations, not hotel, long term
    * with no tourist crowds
    * with good shops to buy infant stuff
    * with at least some medical service available
    * we would love island to be forested and hilly))))

    just wondered if there is a point where all these meet
    thank you!

    thank you very much!

    • David said:

      I’d recommend taking a look at either Lesvos or Chios. There are tourists on every island but both of these islands give ample opportunity to escape the crowds and they meet most of your other requirements too. Good luck.

  91. John Kormalos said:

    David, I am actually thinking of renting a place near Elafonisi jsut a short drive away for the children to enjoy, they love the beach – ages 10 and 8. We go to Chios every summer but are looking at something different this year just for a change – will Elafonisi village offer a choice of restaurants and grocery or will we feel hostage once down there – it is a drive from everything else.

    • David said:

      Hi John. There is very little right by the beach. There were 2 hotels, a restaurant, and some snack shops along the beach – though a few comments I’ve read this year make me believe they (the hotels) might not be there any longer. In any case, there is very little near to the beach. It fills up through the day with day trippers from Chania and then completely empties out.

  92. Neha said:

    I am a mother of a seven month old baby and I am planning to travel to Greece as a tourist. Since I will be travelling alone with the baby I am concerned about the place and facilities.
    Please can you suggest the best time, place etc to visit with a baby? I am interested in visiting touristy places of Greece as well, since I want to see the historical places.
    Thanks and regards

    • David said:

      Hi Neha. With a baby that young it doesn’t matter a whole lot which islands you pick. It won’t make much difference to your child so might as well go to the ones that intrigue you the most. On most islands a stroller doesn’t work very well – the streets and sidewalks are either cobblestoned, uneven, or both – so have some other means of carrying them. Hotel rooms probably won’t be “kid-friendly” like we expect in the U.K. or the U.S. so keep that in mind. A travel crib works well if you’re not planning to have them sleep with you. Most beds in the cheaper/mid-range hotels are twins and not very big so you’ll want to plan that out. The main towns of all the most popular islands are very walkable (except for the stroller issue) so that’s nice. If you’d like to stay in the main town and still have easy access to a nice beach then Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, and Rehtymno (on Crete) are good choices. Good luck.

  93. ren said:

    Hi David,
    We are planning to go on family holiday at the end of October for around 10-14 days and we are not sure wherever to go for Greece or Turkey, which one would you recommend, we like beaches, no to much crowd, and the kids are 6 and 9 y. Thanks in advance.

    • David said:

      I’m partial to Greece myself and love the element of island hopping on the ferry. I think the islands retain more of a Greek feel than the Turkish resort areas – though this would definitely depend on which places you’re comparing.

      Istanbul however is one of my favorite cities in the world and is much more interesting than Athens. I often recommend people fly into Istanbul, work their way down the coast of Turkey, take a ferry across to a Greek island, and then island hop back to Athens and fly home from there – but this would be just doable in 10 days and still a tight schedule for 14.

      This is a great website for planning a trip to Turkey:
      http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com

      And here are some good hotel links for Turkey:
      Hotels in Istanbul
      Hotels in Antalya
      Hotels in Marmaris
      Hotels in Bodrum

      Good luck.

  94. ren said:

    Hi David,
    We are planning to go to Greece at the end of October for around 10 days as a family hols with two daughters 6 and 9, not sure where in Greece as we never been in Greece before where would you recommend to start. And also is it a good time to go at this time? Of course we would love togo to the beach, swimming etc. many thanks

    • David said:

      Naxos, Paros, and Crete are probably my 3 favorite Greek Islands though you can’t go wrong with most of them. At the end of October the weather could be good or it could be too cool for the beach and you might have some rainy days. It could go either way. If weather and beach time are important to you (and it sounds like they are) then Crete tends to have the warmest weather at the end of October. The south coast of the island especially.

      Good luck.

  95. Michele said:

    Hi David

    What a great website and discussion board you have going!

    We are a family of five (2x adults and 3x children aged 9, 6 annd 5) and are planning a trip to Greece in August this year.

    What would you recommend as the best Islands to stay and how long in each one? We love sandy beaches and would prefer a bit to do for the children.
    How long in Athens (before or after the Islands)?
    Ferry or flying?
    Hotels or villas?
    We have 3-4 weeks in total.

    Your help would be great appreciated.

    Many thanks

    • David said:

      Hi Michelle. With 3 or 4 weeks you’ll have a great trip and lots of time to explore. I would probably start by flying to Crete (either directly or through Athens). Spend a week there, if you need a base make it Chania, if not then spend some time in Rethymno, and some of the small towns along the south coast like Matala and Paleochora. From Crete you could ferry to Santorini (if you think you can handle the crowds) if not go straight to Naxos. A week or so in Naxos to explore it’s small inland villages and some really great kid-friendly beaches. Antiparos is close by if you’d like a quieter island with equally great beaches. Then pick a couple less popular islands to visit before heading back to Athens. Milos, Folegandros, Sifnos, and Serifos are all good choices. Spend your time in Athens at the end of your trip so you have some built-in flexibility if your ferry back to Athens gets canceled – which can happen due to the high winds that hit the Cyclades in August.

      I hope that helps. Good luck.

  96. laura said:

    Hi David,

    I have never been to the Greek islands and we are planning a trip this July with our 3 year old. I want to go to a hotel that has faculties for kids like a playground and kiddie pool, and that is located on a beach with white sand! I have been googling and in fact it is so difficult as I know nothing of the islands or hotels. Do you have any advice for me? I was always a backpacker before but now I would like the safety and comfort of a good hotel!

    Laura

    • Laura said:

      David,

      Thank you! I will have a look. One last question, do you know of a similar type of hotel on Kos? Where would you rate Kos on your own personal list of favourite islands? Ooops, that was two last questions!

      Laura

      • David said:

        Kos is both very busy with package tourists and very beautiful with many great beaches. You can still find some quieter beaches if you get away from the very touristy sections. For accommodations look here: Hotels in Kos.

        Avoid Tigaki and Kardamena if you’re looking for something quieter.

        Good luck.

  97. venes said:

    Hi David

    love ur blog,so informative and well explained!

    We are planning for a greek holiday in July for 7 days with our 3 yr old.We were initially planning on spending the days in kephalonia on the ionian but not sure if there much there for my toddler.would it be possible to go to kephalonia for a couple of days and then go to ,say ,more child friendly places and if so,which would you suggest would be easier to get from kephalonia.

    Many Thanks
    venes

    • David said:

      You’re somewhat limited in Kephalonia with short trips and nearby islands. Zakynthos is probably the most likely destination and easiest to get to.

  98. Lisa said:

    We are planning a large group trip to Greece and some parents are bringing their teen or pre-teen children. The question of how children should address adults in Greece was asked, but I can’t seem to find the answer anywhere. Do they use the title (Mr. Mrs, etc) and the last name, just the first name, title and first name, or something completely different? We just want to be respectful.

    • David said:

      It’s not so much in the title it’s more in the suffix of certain words that implies respect. So when you say hi to someone your own age you say “Yeia Sou” and to someone older than you you’d say “Yeia Sas”. A good greek introductory language book should describe it sufficiently. Good luck.

  99. Edwina said:

    Hi David
    This blog is fantastic! Thanks for all the info I have gathered from it;)
    I am travelling with 3 kids; 6,2 and <1 next month through Italy and Greece.
    2 questions;
    Athens; does it need 2 full days to explore? I have 3 days there but 2 of them are travelling days so we really only get half that time. I can add an extra day.
    Paros; where is best parikia or naoussa? Did u stay in Paros?
    Thanks and would love ur opinion.

    • David said:

      You could spend several days in Athens and keep busy but given the ages of your kids I’d stick with your schedule and get to an island. I much prefer Parikia to Naoussa. Lots of winding little streets and alleys that are fun to explore. Your 6 year old will love it.

  100. Helena said:

    Hi There,

    My sister and I are planning a trip to the greek islands with my 3 year and 5 year old boys next July. We would prefer a self-sufficient set up, perhaps a “home away” rental perhaps as my Greek aunt might join us. We know the language so that is not a barrier and enjoy the culture. Unfortunately, many of the places I have seen don’t seem particularly kid-friendly and safe for rambunctious little boys. Do you have any suggestions? We would prefer something with great, safe beaches and not terribly touristy. Although we do want places that we could go if the kids needes some further entertainment beyond the beach. Any suggestions?

    • David said:

      If you’re looking for an apartment rental on a Greek island you’re limited by what’s available. So start by using vrbo.com, airbnb.com, and athens.craigslist.gr. Then communicate with the owner to see if they think the area is kid friendly (most will be fairly honest – especially on vrbo and airbnb as they don’t want bad reviews). Good luck.

  101. Andri S said:

    Hi David! U seem to know so much about all the islands in Greece! Planning to go with family: 2 adults & 3 children ages 6, 6 (twin boys) and 4 yr old girl! Was thinking of Crete which is a bigger island if we wanted to explore a bit as well or maybe a smaller one like Kos or Samos? Rulled out Santorini and Mykonos and also Kefalonia. Any suggestions?? Thank u so much, Andri

    • David said:

      Kos has a lot of packaged tourism so it wouldn’t be at the top of my list. Crete has so much to do and see it’s great if you have more time (say 10 days or more). Samos is cool, though Lesvos is probably the best option near the Turkish coast. A smaller island (like Samos or Lesvos) might be the better option considering the age of your kids.

  102. Peter said:

    I will be in Santorini next month and was wondering approximately how much a cab would cost me from the port to my hotel in Fira. Is it easy to get a cab from the port? Hotel would charge me 25 euro for transfer fee. Thanks.

    • David said:

      That’s a pretty good rate so I’d go for it. There are lots of taxis waiting at the port when a ferry arrives but it’s nice to have someone waiting for you with a sign. Without pre-booking a taxi you’re probably looking at 20 to 25 euros. There’s always a bus that will meet every ferry and costs about 2 euros to Fira.

  103. Brett said:

    Hi David, my wife, daughter (8 yrs old) & l are going back to Greece in May/June 2013 for 5-6 weeks & we are looking for some more traditional Greek islands. We’ve done Athens, Paros, Mykonos, Santorini, Ios & travelled over to Cyprus over a couple of trips but want something different. We’re wanting to experience the traditional food, relaxed lifestyle, beaches and history Any suggestions?

    • David said:

      Karpathos stands out for me as a place that still has a lot of traditions, culture, and food that have survived the tourism pressure. Crete, as well, is such a large island that there are areas that see few tourists and have a very Greek feel. There are countless villages away from the coasts that have changed little over the past 30 or 40 years. Syros is another choice to get away from the tourists. It’s the commercial hub of the Cyclades and so doesn’t depend much upon tourism for its livelihood. You’ll notice a very different atmosphere once you hop off the ferry that this isn’t the typical tourist town. Sikinos is yet another island with an untouristy feel.

      A final tip is to visit as far away from the summer as possible. In the off-season even the most touristy island can seem very different when not trying to survive the crowds of visitors.

      Hope that helps.

  104. jeffee said:

    hi david,
    we’d like to go to Greece on the first weeks of September. we have two kids,3 and 8 and living in Germany. can u give us some advice, where is the best place to go for children because i am worried about security especially now that Greece’s economy is unstable. Thanks a lot in advance -jef

    • David said:

      Hi Jef. The Greek Islands are very safe and far removed from any of the turmoil and protests that you might see in Athens. The most likely setback you might encounter on a trip to Greece is a ferry strike that upsets your plans. If you can choose an island with direct flights from Germany then you won’t need to worry about the ferries (though strikes are rare and of short duration in any case). Islands with direct flights from Northern Europe include Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, and Zakynthos so they’d be a good place to start your research. Hope that helps. Good luck.

  105. Jamila said:

    Hi,I have read some of your replies.They are very helpful and honest. We are family of 4 planning to travel with 2 daughters 15 and 11 next May end June beginning to Greece and Italy. Both my daughters are history buffs and want to see both countries.
    We plan to visit Athens and some island close by and Rome,Florence and Venice. Its been real confusing on how to travel between the countries and within the cities in Italy whilst not spending too much time in travelling. Also which places must we visit in which order? We shall have Athens as arrival and departure city.
    As per your suggestion we intend to tour Athens in the last leg of our journey.
    Please suggest how many days would be ideal for each destination as we may take off around 12 days for our vacation.
    Thanks

    • David said:

      Athens, a Greek island, Rome, Florence, and Venice is a lot to pack into 12 days. You will definitely need to fly between Italy and Greece to save some time so don’t even consider the ferry from Venice to Corfu. Mykonos (for the beaches) and Delos (for the history) might be a good choice as there are several high speed ferries and catamarans between Athens and Mykonos. If you could find return flights to Crete that would also be a good option as there is lots of history and culture there.

  106. Anita said:

    Hi David, We are planning to visit Athens in November and we have 31/2 day, so do you think i will a good idea to visit an Island like Santorini with 5 year old. Does the ferries service is still active in November and how will be the weather. Thanks a lot for helping the travelers

    • David said:

      Santorini will be cool by November. You could get some nice sunny days but nights you’ll need pants and a sweater – maybe even a jacket. It will be quiet on the island by then so you should get some good rates on hotels and there won’t be many tourists around. If you want to do sightseeing it’s a great time to visit. If you were hoping for hitting the beach then you’ll be disappointed. Most swimming pools in Greece are not heated so even if your hotel has a pool you likely won’t be swimming there either. There will be at least two ferries a day in low season between Athens and Santorini.

  107. Joe said:

    Hi David,

    My partner and I are planning to take our son to Greece next year, by which time he’ll be around 17-18months. We don’t want to hire a car so am unsure how best to get around. We’re looking at Paxos and are wondering how easy it would be to explore the Island with an infant? Are the buses safe? Are there any other Islands you would recommend and the resorts that would best suit our needs? Apologies for all the questions!

    Many thanks,

    Joe

    • David said:

      Paxi is such a small island that it’s not far to anywhere. On the other hand the bus service isn’t stellar – there’s one main route that connect the 3 largest towns and it goes 4 times per day. Hiring a car is easy and so is hiring a boat. There are many small coves and hidden beaches in Paxi so a boat is a popular way to see the island. It’s definitely not as kid-friendly as Corfu but at that age it’s not like you’re going to be visiting a lot of kid-oriented attraction anyways.

      I consider the buses safe though it’s all relative I suppose.

  108. Melissa said:

    Hi David,

    Great info. We are planning about a 12-14 day trip in June with our then 2-year old. We plan to fly to Istanbul and spend a few days there and head to the Greek Islands, Intrigued by Naxos based on your reviews. What nearby islands do you recommend visiting, and do you think this particular island area will be doable coming from Istanbul or do you recommend other islands for us?

    Thanks,
    Melissa

    • David said:

      Istanbul is an awesome city and is a great choice. In Greece my favorite group of islands for families is Naxos, Paros, and Antiparos. They’re very close to each other, have great kid-friendly beaches, lots of restaurants, and are easy to get around.

      The difficulty for you will be getting from Istanbul to the Cyclades. Some summers Atlas Jet has flights from Istanbul to Santorini and Mykonos (though currently they don’t seem to be offering them). Some summers Borajet has flights from Istanbul to Mykonos (though currently they don’t seem to be offering them). This could change, so if you’re not booking until spring you may want to revisit their websites to see if they’re running that route. Both Mykonos and Santorini are well connected by ferry with Naxos and Paros.

      Without those flights, it means you’ll probably need to fly from Istanbul to Athens (Aegean Air or Pegasus) and then Athens to Naxos or Paros (Olympic Air).

      You could fly to southern Turkey and then ferry across to a Greek island close to Turkey (Rhodes, Samos, Lesvos) and then ferry to Naxos or Paros – but this, of course, will up to 2 or 3 days of traveling. Not constant travel, but 2 or 3 days where it feels like you’re doing nothing but carrying bags and suitcases.

      The final option would be to skip the Cyclades and do one of the islands that are closer to Turkey (both Rhodes and Lesvos are great). That could work but you’ll still need to get south from Istanbul and then fly from Lesvos to Athens to get your flight home so not sure if you’re saving yourself much.

      I hope that helps. Good luck.

  109. Angi said:

    Hi David,

    Our family lives in Istanbul and are considering a 7-10 day road trip into Greece at the end of October (driving from Turkey into Eastern Greece and maybe ending in Athens). Could you recommend a road trip itinerary (Thassos? Delphi? Athens?)? I realize we may not make it to many (or any) of the islands further south…but if it were your trip to make, how would you map it out? Thanks!

    Angi

    • David said:

      That’s a great section of Greece. Very beautiful. If I had 3 places to stop they’d be Thessaloniki, the Meteora, and Delphi. They should break up the trip nicely so no one day will have too much driving.

  110. Nelson said:

    Hi

    Any thoughts on Skiathos? Ever been? I understand it has great beaches but would you be bored with a week there? I also think you can do day trips to the neighbouring Sporades?

    • David said:

      Skiathos has some of the best beaches in Greece. It does however get a lot of package tourists and is very busy during July and August. Nearby Skopelos has a slower pace and more character (though its beaches aren’t quite as nice) so a trip that combined both islands might be a good compromise.

  111. Lisa said:

    Hi,
    I’ve read through blog and realize that most of your focus is on families with younger children, but I thought I would see what insight you could provide for a family of teenagers. I have been planning (for weeks) a vacation to Italy for my family of six (2 adults, 4 teenagers (three are 16 and one is 14). Our dates of travel are June 17-July 10th, 2013. I had planned on a slower, more cultural immersion trip to Italy, but the kids really want to visit Greece also. In doing some preliminary research it looks like there are reasonably priced options for getting from Italy to Greece and the flights from the US are the same flying home from Rome or Athens.

    My questions – coming from Rome or Naples would 8 nights be enough to see the sights of Athens and enjoy the culture of one or two islands?

    Best islands for teenagers? Naxos sounds very appealing. My kids have also mentioned Santorini and Crete – probably because they have heard of them before. Is there somewhere else you would recommend that would be easy to get to from Italy?

    My family likes to see the key sights, but mostly likes to get to know the culture through activities, unique lodgings, great food. We do want some beach/water options and would love an area that the kids could have some freedom to explore.

    Finally – I am not sure if you are familiar with the Amalfi Coast, but we had planned to spend 5 nights there. However, if we now add Greece to our itinerary are they too similar? I’m having a hard time deciding if I should do both.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.
    Lisa

    • David said:

      Hi Lisa. There are ferries from the east coast of Italy (Brindisi, Bari, Venice) to Corfu which is a great island. From there you could take a bus through central Greece and visit the Meteora and Delphi on your way to Athens for a few days. That itinerary would be very doable for 8 days and would be what I would recommend. Amalfi Coast and Greece are definitely different so don’t worry about that.

      Good luck.

  112. Julie said:

    Hi David -

    We’d love to visit Greece during our kids’ spring break vacation, but the holiday falls pretty early this year: first week of April. Will it be warm enough for us to swim, is it rainy season?
    My kids are 8 and love greek mythology so any place that resonates in this regard where we can also swim would be idea.
    Thanks!

    • David said:

      Hi Julie. Unfortunately you will not be swimming in early April anywhere in Greece. The southern coast of Crete has the warmest weather in Greece but even there it would take a really unseasonable heat wave to allow for swimming so I would not plan on it. Crete has lots of history though and it should be warmish in April with not too much rain. April is a good time to travel if you’re looking to do walking, hiking, and exploring – just not swimming. Hope that helps.

  113. CalvinLCV said:

    With two boys age 10 and 12, travelling to Greek island-hop August 2013, with a good 20 days to play with, what are your recommendations? Our boys love to explore, climb, fish,, sea activities and football, and we love food, adventure and a bit of relaxation…!

    As a first island hopping experience, which route would you recommend? Would you rec a package (less hassle) or DIY?

    Appreciate your experience and thoughts.

    • David said:

      I always recommend DIY as that’s the type of traveler I am. Crete sounds like a great option considering your interests. It’s a big island, mountainous in parts, great history, awesome beaches – a bit of everything. You could easily spend 10 days on Crete. Then either head off to Karpathos and Rhodes or head north through 2 or 3 Cycladic islands (maybe Naxos, Milos, and Folegandros – though really all are great). If it suits your budget hopping on a yacht for 3 or 4 days would be a great experience and a way to see some of the stuff many travelers miss.

      Good luck.

  114. Paula said:

    Hi David,
    I’m wondering if you can give me a little guidance on our upcoming trip to Greece. We are a family of five, with children ages 16, 11, and 8. We travel quite a bit with our children, and love to sight-see, but like to combine it with some fun-in-the-sun. We are definitely not the type of family who chooses a resort hotel on a beautiful island, then sits and bakes in the sun without seeing a single sight in the area. We have a tendency to choose a sort of “base camp,” then explore all of the surrounding areas. Our plan is to fly into Athens and spend a day or two there, then head to one (or two) of the islands. I have always wanted to see Santorini and Mykonos… the picture perfect postcards I have always seen are so enticing! If you had to choose between the two, which would you choose? Is it easy to get between the two islands? Or, would not recommend either island? Any thoughts or recommendations you could make would be greatly, greatly appreciated. We will be there mid-late June and intend to stay for about 10 days. Cost is definitely a factor. As I said, we travel a lot… I don’t want this one vacation to blow our entire travel budget for the year. We almost always rent apartments… do most apartments require a full week stay? Ugh… feeling very overwhelmed! Thank you so much for your time.

    Sincerely,
    Paula

    • David said:

      Hi Paula. Both Santorini and Mykonos are great but they do have some caveats. Santorini does not have great beaches, so if beach time is a priority (and it sounds like it might not be) then other islands have far nicer beaches. Mykonos has a bit of a party vibe. Not intense and as long as you avoid a couple spots it’s easy to miss but still, be aware it’s popular with the party crowd. And also, Mykonos and Santorini are probably the two most expensive islands in Greece. All of which would lead me to recommend some other nearby islands. Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, or Milos are all great choices. Naxos and Paros also have day trips to Santorini available. Santorini also has many flights to cities in Northern Europe so you could fly into Athens, ferry to Naxos or Paros, spend the week there, ferry to Santorini, spend one night there, and then fly home. Just an idea. Good luck.

  115. Jane said:

    Hi David,

    Well you and my husband have finally convinced me to go travelling with the kids! We have two children a 2 year old and a 6 month old. I have decided to extend my maternity leave so we can go travelling for a month in April/May 2013. We initially thought of going to Greece and doing a bit of island hopping (Crete, Naxos,- as you speak so highly of it, not sure where else yet) but have just realised that it isn’t particularly cheap. I therefore have a couple of questions, firstly, do you think £2500 – £3000 be a big enough budget for us all in Greece? We are not extravagant spenders, but with the cost of accommodation, meals, laundry and nappies to name a few, it’ll all mount up fast! Secondly as you have travelled to various countries, would you recommend somewhere else? We have travelled extensively ourselves, however never with children. We wouldn’t want to go anywhere where the children need vaccines as I feel they are still too young. But open to suggestions, also if you recommend anywhere that’ll be a long flight journey (we live in the UK) then could you give us some tips on how to entertain the kids on the flight. We are looking for history, culture, scenery and of course lots of fun for the kids.

    Looking forward to hearing you answers/suggestions
    Many thanks

    Jane

    • David said:

      Hi Jane. You’re right, Greece is not cheap anymore. At the same time it does have cheap flights from England (cheaper than flights to other destinations that might be less expensive once you got their, e.g. Thailand). Factoring in that you’re going during the shoulder season when hotels prices should be reduced and I think you might be able to swing it on £3000. Look for hotels that have kitchens (or even a fridge) which will allow you to have breakfast in and save some money. Gyros and souvlakis are cheap and most towns will have at least one little souvlaki restaurant so as long as you like those you can get by with one sit-down meal a day. Book your hotels in advance for the best deals. Hope that helps.

  116. Alison Keating said:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful way to figure out travel with children! So many different books are a wonderful start, but hardly (if at all) include any information for traveling families. It is almost as if they think it is never worth experiencing culture with children.
    We are an American family who currently lives in Belgium. We plan to travel to Greece in May with another American family who lives in Germany. Between our two families we have eight children (ages 10, 9, 7, 7, 5, 3, and two 2s) – and needless to say we would love advice on what might make this the most manageable and enjoyable. We are thinking we’ll be there for around a week, and plan to only travel to one island this trip due to the fact that ‘bouncing’ with young ones can make things a little trying at times. Beach time/pool time is a must – as is some ruins and culture. Now after reading some of your posts and comments, I am wondering if weather might be more beach appropriate in Sept vs May? Would love your thoughts. And again, thank you so much for this wealth of info!

    • David said:

      Hi Alison. The weather will almost certainly be better in September than in May. Hotter, sunnier (you can still get a couple days of rain in May), and the sea is warmer. As for destinations it sounds like you’ll be flying directly from northern Europe to an island. This obviously limits you to islands that have direct flights – which is still a good selection but some, like Antiparos, won’t be a possibility for you. Santorini (which has many flights from the rest of Europe) is not a good choice as the beaches aren’t great. That leaves Corfu, Rhodes, and Crete at the top of the list. All are great. Crete has the most in hiking and outdoors adventure. All have nice beaches. Not sure if that helps, but good luck.

  117. Elene said:

    Thank you David for your informative website. My husband and I are considering vacationing in Greece this summer. I have distant relatives in Athens that have a vacation home in Drosia. They want us to rent something close by but I can’t find that much information on this area. We have three children (7,5, and 2) that would be traveling with us. Would this area be a good place to rent a home and make it our home base? We were thinking of spending ~3weeks in Greece. Because of the age of our kids we were thinking we would not like to be living out of suitcases island to island. However that being said we want this trip to be worthwhile, seeing that airfare and car rental alone are so costly. Suggestions and recommendations? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • David said:

      I can’t speak to the specific area, but yes, in general I think you will find lots to do. You will definitely need a car rental to get around but there’s lots to see and some nice beaches within 2 or 3 hours drive in several directions. As for finding a rental, I’d start with VRBO. Good luck.

  118. Antje McKee-Courcy said:

    Hello,
    I am so glad I found this site. I have been trying to plan a family vacation to Greece. I have solicited advice from friends. It looked like we were going to stay in Athens and Santorini. After reading this page it looks as though there are other more kid-friendly islands. We will be traveling the last two weeks of April into beginning May which looks as though it is only the very beginning of tourist season. We are traveling with a 5 year old and a 7/8 year old (her birthday is the end of April).

    After high school I Eurailed through Europe with a friend and really enjoyed the freedom of just hopping on the train to the next destination. Now I feel more hesitant of doing a similar thing with two little ones. I am tempted only because it doesn’t seem like the end of April is that busy. I am not really a beach person, but my daughter’s are. I am not really sure if the end of April is warm enough anyway. I love exploring old cobblestone streets, learning about the culture, the food, the landscape, and the people. I would love to share that kind of curiosity and sense of adventure with my girls. So I guess my question is would you recommend just going and searching for hotels when we get there or planning everything out and making reservations in advance (this really isn’t my nature but I can do it if needed) given the time of year?

    • David said:

      Hi. April is a great time to visit Greece if you’re not interested in the beaches. It can still be cool and a little rainy but generally great weather to hike, explore, and see the “Real Greece”. As for pre-booking hotels you could go either way. It’s easy to find accommodations during April so you needn’t worry about hotels being fully booked – you’ll have your pick. The one negative (and perhaps I don’t mention this enough) is that you do “waste” time looking for hotels when you could be seeing the sites. So there are some trade-offs. Having the freedom to go anywhere is nice and I think ultimately worth the effort.

      Good luck.

  119. Sandra said:

    Hi David!!
    Well done for your blog and helping people with indecisions (I’m one of them).
    I have been reading a few of your recommendations, but I’m still confused and don’t know where to go, what to choose as accommodation yet:
    We have chosen Greece ( for the 1st time) as our summer holidays this August 2013, I believe it’s a high season, in lot of places in Greece, but I want to avoid a very crowded touristic place or island.
    Basically I’m looking for a resort/ island for 2 adults and a 3 year old, for 7-10 days, where we could have hot calm beaches,( not too crowded), mostly to relax, swimming pool, within a walking distance from the hotel, where I could find kids activities/ entertainment and with a opportunity to visit other islands.
    Now, here that’s what I don’t know what is the best deal, whether choose a hotel with half board or self catering apartment, and where to find these deals.? Is it best to buy a holiday package or buy the flights and accommodation separately???
    Sorry, for the long statement, you seemed to be very helpful around here, I hope you can give me some ideas/ advice.
    Many thanks from London!

    • David said:

      Hi Sandra. Sounds like Antiparos would be a great choice for you. Great beaches, small town feel, close to Naxos and Paros if you want to see some other islands. One of the quieter islands but it will still be busy in August, so don’t be expecting to have the island to yourself.

      I like traveling around Greece without being part of a package tour. That said, there are some great deals for package trips to Greece so if you’re planning on just visiting one island they can be a good value.

      Sunshine.co.uk has some of the best package deals for Greece, so check them out if you’re going that route.

      Good luck.

  120. Suzzanne said:

    Hi David,

    I am so glad that I came across your website! You seem like the best source to plan holidays to Greece.

    We are planning to visit Greece during Easter holidays for the first time with our son who is 4 years old. Originally we were planning to go either Kos or Rhodes and then do island hopping.

    However from the information on your website, I gather that end of March or early April might not be any good for swimming in either Kos or Rhodes… and the best option will be Crete.

    However, will 7 days be too long for holidays in Crete? Also, we are not planning to hire a car – do you know if the local transport system is good and if we can explore other regions by local transport? Also, does Create have any family friendly attractions?

    Many thanks,

    • David said:

      Hi. Yes, then end of March or early April will not be swimming time in Kos or Rhodes – but it won’t be a whole lot warmer in Crete either. Perhaps on the southern coast of Crete you could be swimming in mid-April but even that’s not a sure thing. Crete has many things to see and do (some of which are kid-friendly though it varies – not sure how your 4 year old will take to Knossos, for example). Water parks and the like will not be open in March or April. Local transport is great in Crete and you can get most anywhere. Weather will be fine for walking and hiking (just have a rain coat and a warm sweater). Hope that helps.

  121. mansi said:

    hi alex

    i want to travel to greece in mid- may. could you pls advs a schedule as to where we should go n which islands to see? i plan to stay for a week . i have 2 children aged 2 and 7. how is the island of corfu for a family vacation? how expensive is travelling around greece? what is the best mode of travelling around the islands?

    • David said:

      Greece is not cheap – on par with western Europe. Corfu is a great family vacation destination. Lots to see and do. Ferry is the best and funnest way to get between the islands – though there aren’t many nearby islands to Corfu so it’s pretty much just Corfu. If you went to the Cyclades, for example, then you’d be able to island hop from one to the next. On the other hand, the more you move about the more you tend to spend.

  122. Leelah said:

    Hi David, me and my children (me and 14&16 year olds) are hoping to go away with some family friends of ours (2 adults 2 kids 11&16) we would love to go island hopping and camping in august but are not sure which islands are best we are hoping to go snorkelling and sightseeing maybe even see a volcano but we would also like to laze around on the beach we have 2 weeks and would like to go somewhere not very packed please help!!!
    many thanks.

    • David said:

      There are many great campsites in Greece. (e.g. Here’s a great one on Paros.) The trouble is that no where is quiet during August – just different degrees of busy. You’ll need to book well in advance to reserve campsites. The Peloponnese will probably have the best ratio of campsites to tourists and thus your best chance to find a spot. Check out this site: http://www.campingreece.gr to get an idea of what’s available. Good luck.

  123. michelle said:

    Hi David,
    We’re thinking of touring some of the islands with our 9 yr old twins this summer. Ideally, we’d stay for 3-4 weeks and end the trip in Turkey. Do you know if there is one island that’s fairly centrally located so we could make that our home base while taking day trips to the surrounding islands? My husband would prefer to keep our packing up and unpacking to a minimum. We wouldn’t have to stay at the home base the entire time, but it’d be nice to stay put there for awhile. If that island exists, would you know a good website I could use to find a villa there?
    Thanks so much!

    • David said:

      Having a homebase is a good idea. But not many islands (or pair of islands) have enough predictable ferries to make this workable. The best you’ll get are the 3 islands of Naxos, Paros, and Antiparos. But outside of those you’d be hard pressed without a lot of work, planning, and hoping to get a ferry in the morning and then a return ferry in the afternoon. If you were willing to pay the added expense of hiring a private boat that might open up a few more options. But still, those 3 island I mention are great so would recommend those. Booking.com is the best for finding villas in Greece. Hope that helps.

  124. michelle said:

    Hi David. Thanks so much for the response. Just following up on my home base question. If there really isn’t one home base that works, bc the ferries are so tricky, could you give me a reco on maybe 2 or 3 that would work? Maybe we can stay a week in each place while touring around. From my research so far, it seems like we are going to check out Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Naxos, Paros, Folegandros, Corfu and Rhodes. Which would be the best bases to do day trips to these islands?
    Thanks so much!

    • David said:

      There’s a boat from Naxos and Paros that does a day trip to Santorini. So those islands would work ok together, but none of the other islands are suitable for day trips. Even Santorini to Folegandros (while not a great distance) is difficult to pull off as there aren’t that many ferries and even when there are you can’t be 100% sure when or if they’ll run.

  125. Michael said:

    Hi David,

    We are three couples and three children (all around 2 years old) and are planning on a week in a villa in mid-June. The range of islands is a little overwhelming and I was hoping for a little advice. We will be flying from London and (seeing as it is only for a week) are not that keen on long transfers considering the small children.

    We would like to be near a nice beach, whilst being relatively secluded and away from the hordes.

    Is there anywhere that springs to mind?

    Thanks so much!

    Michael

    • David said:

      This might not be much help, but I would focus on finding a flight that works for you (price and schedule wise) and then find a place to stay after you choose your island. Pretty much every island (besides Santorini) has great beaches so you almost can’t go wrong. Sunshine Holidays is good for package flight and hotel from London if you wanted to go that route. Good luck.

  126. Agisi from Baltimore said:

    Hi David, Love your website! My family and I will be in Greece this summer and we are looking to spend four nights in Naxos (Friday through Tuesday). We are trying to decide whether to fly or take the ferry to the island. Do you know how many flights/ferry’s there are to Naxos each day? When do airlines and ferry companies release there summer schedule.

    Thank you

    • David said:

      There will be several ferries each day from Athens to Naxos. I think there’s a high speed one that leaves at 7:15, a Blue Star that leaves shortly after, and a couple more in the afternoon (though they get you into Naxos late). Ferry schedules are released a few weeks or a month at most, in advance. But you shouldn’t have any trouble arriving in Athens and buying a ticket for a day or two later. Actually it’s easiest buying them at the airport (from Amphitrion Holidays in the Arrivials Hall) immediately after your arrival. Then you have your tickets in hand (and don’t need to worry about ticket pickup/purchase at the port). Good luck.

  127. Amanda - Tennessee said:

    We can use a timeshare week on the Greek island of Skiathos, but it doesn’t seem to be one of the popular islands to see. Is it worth going for a week or should we just pay the extra to go to another island?

    • David said:

      Skiathos has amazing beaches and some interesting sites. It’s very popular with package tourists in July and August which can make it feel overrun if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing. In May, early June, and September it’s much more peaceful and definitely worth a visit.

  128. Hassan said:

    Hi David,

    Love your website! We’re traveling to Greece in August and want to take a cruise from Athens to pass by severl islands (preferably Naxos, Folegandros, Paros, and others) them spend several days in Santorini then a couple of days in Mykonos. Do you know of any crises that fits this description?

    Thanks a million.

    Hassan

    • David said:

      You’ll find a few suggestions on this page for chartering a yacht or boat around the islands.

  129. Aqilah said:

    Hi David,

    We are arriving into Athens on June 8 and flying back from Athens. We have 10 days to travel around. We want to go to the Cycladic Islands, but my husband also wants to go to Crete. Do you think we will have time for Crete too? I’m traveling with my husband, my 17-month old daughter, and my brother-in-law. Also I want to tour around Athens at the end of our trip. Do you think we can find ferry tickets on the day we arrive? We will arrive early in the morning in Athens. Can you suggest an itinerary? How many days is best for the islands?

    Your information about hotels are great! :)

    • David said:

      Yes, you should be able to get onward ferry tickets the day of arriving. Best to buy at the airport and go directly to the port. (More info here: SantoriniDave.com/athens#ferry-tickets).

      You’d be pressed to do the Cyclades, Crete, and Athens in 10 days but it’s doable. Maybe go first to Naxos, Paros, or Mykonos (all have good short connections to Athens). Stay there 2 nights. Then Santorini for 2 nights. Then Crete for 3 or 4 nights. Ferries will be easy to get. Just book them on the first day you arrive on an island. Fast ferries and catamarans are much faster than slow ferries (about half the time) but are also rougher – especially on the more open seas between Santorini and Crete. If you can fly back from Crete to Athens as this is a long ferry trip.

      Good luck.

  130. Yuliya said:

    Hi,

    your website is soo helful! We are planning a trip to Greece for about 10 days June 16 to June 26. Since we are coming from Bulgaria, we are thinking of staying around the Thessaloniki area. We are traveling with family, but there will be two toddlers ( 3 and 4 y.o) with us, so we are looking for a good mixture for active sighseeing for the grown ups and things for the toddlers to do as well ( mind you, they probably would be happier to spend the days on the beach). So, we were thinking of taking day trips around the area, including Thasos. Would you recommend area to visit and things to do. Or would it be better to stay on Thasos and just take the inland trips from there? We probably will rent a car anyway. It’s our first time there, so we are soo looking forward the trip!!!

    Thank you so much in advance!

    • David said:

      Thasos is a great island for families with lots to see and explore – and some very kid-friendly beaches. Thessaloniki is a great city too. So I’d do a mix. Maybe 4 days in Thessaloniki and 6 on Thasos. But once I was on Thasos I wouldn’t be taking the ferry back to the mainland. Ferries can be canceled for any reason (usually weather) and can run hours late. Worrying about the back and forth from the mainland would be a headache. Stay put and explore the inland villages of Thasos.

  131. allyson said:

    hi David, We are a family with 2 teenagers with about a week to spend in Greece in January. We think maybe 3-4 days in and around Athens and then 3 days on an island. We would like to do some hikes or bike riding, one teen loves the look of Santorini and one wants small villages. If we can travel on to Turkey that would be great. We have read very mixed info about the islands in winter and ferry timetables are non existent at the moment. Any advice would be great.

    • David said:

      Traveling to the Greek islands in January can be interesting and fun. But one thing you do need is time and patience. There are fewer ferries running and they can be canceled due to rough seas. Getting from, say, Santorini to Turkey would be a multi-day effort that could involve waiting for the appropriate ferry for 2 or 3 days at any given island along the way. The bigger, more popular islands like Santorini or Crete will still have hotels and restaurants open. Smaller islands like Folegandros or Milos could be totally shut down for touristy stuff. You’ll always be able to find a place to stay but it could involve someone phoning around for you to find who has rooms to rent. Hope that helps.

  132. Bernard said:

    We are travelling to Greece for a conference and we will be staying on the island of Evia. We have an 8 and 5 year old and would like to know what are the things kids can do on this or other islands while there. Also, the conference is in late April/early May, is swimming in the pools or ocean even a possibility at this time? Thanks for your help!

    • David said:

      Eating, hiking, renting bikes, exploring villages, swimming at the beach and pool are the main focus of most families’ trips to Greece. Will it be beach and pool time in April and early May? Maybe, but probably not. Most pools are heated by the sun so they’ll likely be quite chilly. Beach weather can arrive by the last week of April then it’s about 50/50 until into the 2nd half of May. It’s a great time to walk, hike, and explore though as the weather is pretty dry (some showers no doubt) and the heat hasn’t arrived yet which can make active outings very taxing in the summer.

  133. Narmina said:

    Dear David,

    it goes without saying that your web site has helped me to find out more about travelling to Greece than a lot of acclaimed travel advice web sites, I find your advises very practical – so thank you very much for time and effort in maintaining this blog!

    We are originally from Azerbaijan but are currently living in London and are very keen to use this opportunity to travel around Europe as a family. We have never been to Greece before and our family of 4 (two adults and two kids (5 & 7) were hoping to undertake a trip the very last week of August just before the School starts.

    We are not looking for a very dynamic trip so perhaps traveling between islands would be difficult with packing and unpacking for two kids we’d rather settle down on one island for a week and enjoy. At the same time, I’m not sure if it is a good idea or we might get bored no matter which island we end up going to but with small kids like ours and intensive work schedule we really are looking for a piece on the beach, beautiful scenery and good food. For us, any sightseeing in the vicinity would be a bonus. However, if you believe we could split 7 days between two islands I’m very open to your suggestions.

    We need your help to decide on an island(s) worth visiting and staying on for 7 days that would give us the luxury of clean sandy beach, blue see, good gastronomic experience and Greek character.

    We understood from your previous posts that Santorini should not be a primary choice for a family trip (although I have to say it was the first on our mind!) to avoid disappointment of the first impression. We will probably come back to Greece but it is our only family vacation this week and we so look forward to enjoy the bliss….

    Very much looking forward to your advice.

    Kind Regards,
    Narmina

    • David said:

      Naxos is my favorite island for families. If you’re looking for something quieter and less touristy then Ikaria, Antiparos, and Lesvos all have great beaches and fewer tourists. If you’re more concerned with having lots to do then Crete is a good choice. It has great hikes, cultural and historical sites, and even a few waterparks. But for a bit of everything Naxos is small, easy to get around, great beaches, and has a wonderful main town. Good luck.

  134. Denise said:

    PS. We will be in Istanbul prior to going to Paros or Naxos. Is it best to fly to Athens to get to either of the islands, or should we go from mainland Turkey via ferry? Our trip will be at the end of June, I presume most ferries will be in operation.

    Thanks.

    • David said:

      Going via the Turkish coast (there are no ferries from Istanbul to the Greek islands) would be much more interesting but would take a lot longer and involve a fair bit of hassle/planning/patience. It could easily take you 4 days to get from Istanbul, down the coast, across to a Greek island (say Lesvos or Rhodes) and then catch a ferry from there to Naxos (and that could be a long ferry ride too).

      • Denise said:

        Yes, of course, what looks to be a small distance on the map. We’ll fly from Istanbul to Athens and get a ferry in that case! Thanks for your help!

  135. Vikki Douel said:

    Hi, just loving your website and all the work you have put into it. Just wondering if you can help me.

    I’m looking to go to a Greek island mid September, 2 adults and a 2 year old. I have been looking into Naxos as you have recommended it for families. Are there any other islands I should also look into? I think Crete would be too big for us and so it puts me off slightly.

    We are looking for somewhere perhaps for bed and breakfast only so we can eat out for lunch/dinner so ideally want to be close to restaurants. We would like to find somewhere with plenty of places to go and visit, close to the beach, somewhere with a pool and ideally a childrens pool. I’m sure most of these things are standard! Finding it hard to get my head around all the islands and what might be best for us. Any help or advice would be great, Thanks, Vikki

    • David said:

      Pools are not standard by any means – you’ll need to seek them out and when you’re in the main town of an island they’re not common at all. Much more so at a beach outside of town. Antiparos is another great island that is small and very walkable. Like most small islands it slows down pretty quickly after the start of September so if you’re looking for somewhere with a bit of “buzz” it might not work. Both Naxos and Paros should still be lively and active throughout September without feeling over-run. All 3 have fantastic beaches. Good luck.

  136. Alyssa said:

    Dear David,

    We are planning a trip with both sides of grandparents, our brother-wife and sister-husband (no kids) and us (one 5 1/2 and one 11mth old) in June 2014. We wish to go for three weeks and would be willing to do 10 days-10 days with day trips. We would like to rent a large villa (or two since we will be 9 adults and two kids!). We want to cook for ourselves and be near a nice village to buy produce and food, near the beach and as far away from tourist trampled places (to stay at least!) while having access to action and island hopping when needed!
    Do you have any recommendations of destinations and accommodations sources?

    Many thanks!
    Alyssa

    • David said:

      Some places that come to mind are being near Naxos Town (the Hora); Rethymno, Chania, Heraklion, or Paleochora on Crete; or the main towns of Lesvos. All will have plenty of tourists, no doubt, but away from the touristy areas you might be surprised by how Greek a touristy town can feel – especially if it’s a little bigger. Try VRBO.com/Greece. Good luck.

  137. Michael Lewis said:

    Hi David …
    My wife and I are visiting Turkey and Greece next March with our 2 1/2-year-old daughter, and had a mind to check out some of the Greek Islands. However, I wonder if the weather (and availability of amenities?) is typically too cold yet to make the venture as worthwhile/enjoyable as going somewhere else on the mainland instead. Thoughts? Seems as if, even if we do visit some of the islands, it wouldn’t be worth worrying about whether we’re staying on a beach or not. Thank you!

    • David said:

      Hi Michael. You’re right, you definitely won’t be on the beach in March. The weather can still be decent for hikes, walks, and touring some towns and villages. But it can also be cold and damp. The ferries do not run as often so you’ll need lots of flexibility for getting between islands. And the ferries back and forth from Turkey might not be running at all (depending on the island). That said, it’s very doable and a great time to visit if you’re not interested in the beaches. They’ll be very few other tourists around. Hotel rooms are cheaper but arrive early so you can seek out which places are open – many hotels close during the winter but there’s always something available on all but the smallest islands. Good luck.

  138. Sharon said:

    Hello,
    We (my husband and sister) are planning a month in Greece (Greek Isles specifically), in October. We are not into night life, but relaxing and getting into the culture, eating and drinking. We have travelled throughout Europe and lived in Spain 3 years. We are thinking a week in each place, but need advice which among all the islands would be easiest to access and enjoyable. We could go to eastern coast of Italy if this is too much time in the islands. I realize I am vague about plans, but we are very flexible. Thanks for your advice!

    • David said:

      It’s easy to fill a month in the islands alone. October is a great time to visit – hotels are cheaper, the crowds have disappeared, and the weather is still nice (though it’s not always warm enough to hit the beach). It’s not much of an exaggeration to say there are no bad choices when it comes to islands – especially if you can visit several like yourself. Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, Milos, Ikaria, Lesvos, Naxos, Paros, Antiparos – they’re all wonderful. And with the type of flexibility you have getting between them should be close to effortless (it’s when you’re on a tight schedule that dealing with and planning ferry routes becomes stressful). There are ferries from Corfu to Brindisi, Bari, Ancona, and Venice on the eastern side of Italy – so that might be something to consider. Getting to Corfu from Athens (and the islands in the Aegean) involves going through central Greece which is really wonderful and beautiful. Good luck.

  139. Grace Fowles said:

    Hi there David
    Great info given from your blog!
    Hope you can help me please with a few island suggestions for my honeymoon July 2014. We have a wee one who will be two when we go. Looking for honeymoon luxury, quiet, historical, beaches, child friendly. Would like two weeks with perhaps 3-4 islands

    Many thanks

    • David said:

      The Cyclades are great as all the islands are quite close and the seas are more protected making for gentler ferry rides. (Ferry rides to and from the outer islands e.g. Rhodes or Crete can get very rough.) Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, Folegandros, and Santorini would be at the top of my list.

  140. Rick said:

    I’d be most grateful for a recommendation, please: I’m planning a Greece tour for my family for August 2014. We afre hardy travellers from NY City. We’ve lived in the Himalayas and travel often with kids. In Greece, we’ll have my wife, four kids (ages 12, 10, 5 and 4) and me. We’ll have about two weeks on the ground. It will be the last two weeks of August. We’ll do three days in Athens (we have a good friend there), then maybe eight or nine days on islands. We’ll do either all ferries or one flight and the rest ferries. We’ll definitely visit Santorini and Mykonos. I’d like to find one more island for us to visit for one or two nights, and this other island should be an easy ferry in our general area. What would you recommend? Thanks so much, Rick

    • David said:

      I’d recommend Naxos or Paros. Both great islands an easy ferry ride from Santorini and Mykonos. Both have multiple ferries everyday to Athens. And both have great beaches and interesting smaller villages.

      • Rick said:

        Thanks! One last question, please: What order would you do for our trip. We’ll start/end in Athens. So between the three islands — Santorini, Mykonos and Naxos (we’ll do this over Paros) — how would you order them. We start in Athens, and then what order should we do the islands? We’d like to take ferries all the way, but we could mix in one flight if that will make things much easier. With four kids, we want to be realistic! Thanks so much, David. Awesome website.

        • David said:

          I would go Athens to Mykonos to Naxos to Santorini and then fly Santorini back to Athens. For one, Santorini has the most flights to and from Athens. Two, it’s the furthest island from Athens so a good candidate to take a flight. And three, ferries can be canceled at anytime (especially in August when the winds can be quite intense) so having a flight booked for that last leg is good so you won’t have to fret about missing your flight home due to no ferries.

          • Rick said:

            Thanks! Flying Santorini-Athens sound great. Does it matter, in your opinion, if we start by flying from Athens to Santorini and then taking ferries Santorini to Naxos to Mykonos to Athens, or should we under any circumstance ferry starting in Athens and then fly back from Santorini?

          • David said:

            Hi Rick, I would fly back to Athens. Ferries can be canceled for many reasons (but usually rough seas) – so if you have a flight to catch and you’re stuck on an island you’ll miss it. Flights are almost never canceled so a flight will get you into Athens with little worry.

  141. Rick said:

    David,
    Last question (I hope): We almost have our itinerary set. We want to add one more day to the itinerary below, probably in Athens or Crete, but I’d like to get your suggestion as to which of the four destinations you would add the extra one day. Remember, my wife and I will have our four kids -12, 10, 5 and 4. Thanks a lot, Rick

    Aug. 29: Fly London/Athens to NYC
    Aug. 28: Fly Crete to London or Athens, sleep over
    Aug. 27: Crete
    Aug. 26: Crete
    Aug. 25: Crete
    Aug. 24: Ferry Santorini to Crete
    Aug. 23: Santorini
    Aug. 22: Santorini
    Aug. 21: Ferry Naxos to Santorini
    Aug. 20: Naxos
    Aug. 19: Naxos
    Aug. 18: Fly Athens to Naxos
    Aug. 17: Athens
    Aug. 16: Athens
    Aug. 15: Athens
    Aug. 14: Fly overnight NY to Athens

    • David said:

      I would add the extra day to Crete – big island, lots to see. Next choice would be Naxos. Happy travels.

      • rick lipsey said:

        Thanks, David. For our Naxos hotel, which would be your order of preference for a hotel (for a family with four kids under 12) among these four choices:
        1. Hotel Spiros
        2. Agios Prokopis
        3. Princess of Naxos
        4. Porto Naxos

        • David said:

          Hi Rick. Hotel Spiros has a nice pool and the best location – an easy walk to Naxos town and the port. Other than that, they’re all good hotels.

  142. rick lipsey said:

    How can we give you some business for your advice? Maybe book a hotel, car, flight, through your website?

    • David said:

      Don’t worry about it. Have a great trip and I’ll be happy. (You should come back after your return and leave a trip report for other travelers.)

      All the best.

  143. Cherie said:

    You have recommended Naxos as a good family island. We are travelling in June / July 2014 and will have 4 year old. Could you recommend a second and third island which would suit us.

    • David said:

      Paros and Antiparos are very close to Naxos and both wonderful kid-friendly islands. Antiparos if you want something very quiet and Paros for something a bit more lively.

  144. Kate said:

    Hi David,
    My husband and I are planning a family vacation on the Greek islands for June 2014. Our group, which includes 6 adults and 2 grandsons (ages 6 and 7), likes to be active (kayaking, fishing, biking, horseback riding), visit historical sights, experience the culture, but we do NOT want to be near loud and busy nightlife. We plan to rent a villa and car and are willing to take day trips but do not want to spend more than 1 hour in the car at any one time. What islands (and cities) would you recommend? Thanks David.

    • David said:

      If you’re willing and able to rent a car then Crete is great. It’s large and lots to see. It has historical sites, great beaches, cool little towns and villages. It gets lots of tourists but it’s easy to get away from the crowds – especially if you have a car.

  145. Tom said:

    Great website with lots of information.
    I’m a fan of the mainland, the special region of Epirus and the town of Parga.
    Here you will find beautiful beaches and many sights.
    We always stay on the beach of Lichnos in a very nice apartment complex about 3 km from Parga.
    If anyone is interested he will find information on the following pages.
    http://www.lichnosparga.gr
    http://www.spiros-studios.com

  146. Nicola said:

    Dear David
    Hello. Amazing information here thank you. We will head straight to Naxos but undecided as to whether to go to Santorini or visit other islands near Naxos…..Anyway my question is about booking ferries in advance – it seems possible on the internet but then everything I read says that schedules change etc so I don’t really get it. We are travelling first 2 weeks of August 2014, peak time, so I thought best to book. Is it safe to book in advance or OK just to turn up? We will be foot passengers. Thanks very much – Nicola

    • David said:

      You should be fine buying the day of travel. If possible buy a day or two before to remove any doubt. August 15th is a big holiday – for travel near then I would try to buy ferry tickets a few days in advance – though, once again, you’d still likely get a ticket the day-of.

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