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10 days in Greece with young kids

Hi travelers, So excited that we can travel again. :)

My husband and I are taking our two children (2 and 4 years old) to Greece in July for 10 days. We are flying round trip to Athens. We plan to spend a few nights in Athens but want to spend the majority of our time in the Peloponnese and are wondering what the best cities to stay over night would be? We definitely want to stay a few nights in Nafpilo and maybe one or two other cities. If anyone has any advice or thoughts, let me know.

Thank you so much!

Posted by
2620 posts

With that time frame, I'd choose no more than two other stops (preferably one, but you may need a one-nighter at some point to break up a drive). Nafplio absolutely. For the other stop(s), let us know how you are traveling about and how long you would like to spend in a car. For a nice beach area, perhaps something in the environs of Pylos? There is a fantastic beach there at Gialova, plus a fortress/castle. You could visit ancient Messene in that area--it is one of the highlights of the peninsula. If you don't want to go that far, maybe Gytheio? For that, you could stop off at Mystras en route--it was one of my favorite sites.
None of these would really be considered cities. I'd also consider staying in Nafplio longer and maybe pick one small coastal village for 2-3 nights. It seemed like it would be great with children--there is a large square and gelato shops, etc.

Posted by
21050 posts

Although I loved Mystras, it is built on the side of quite a hill. I don't have children, so I could be wrong, but I'm not sure it's the best sightseeing choice with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.

Posted by
1725 posts

We spent four nights in Naplio with our young adult children. It would be an easy place with kids and lots of things nearby. It was 90 plus degrees each day we were there so we went sightseeing in the morning and went to a beach in the afternoon. It is likely to be the same for you (we were there first week of June). The town beach is pebbly but very nice (pack water shoes). One day we walked to Karathona Beach which was a gorgeous walk but I am sure too far for kids that young. My husband and brother drove there so that works too. It was our favorite beach in the area and much more sandy and with amenities. Rick Steves says Tolo Beach is best beach of all but we didn't like it at all. No restrooms or changing rooms and it was littered with trash. Only place we in Greece we didn't like.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for your responses. We will be renting a car while we are there (Peloponese). Currently we this is our itinerary with some gaps. Let me know if you have any other advice. Thank you 🙏 😊

July 26-28- Athens
July 29-31- ?? Maybe a small island like hydra (not too sure) or Athenian Rivera
August 1- 5 Nafpilo (we will have a car for day trips.

Posted by
2864 posts

Kelly, I hope you can learn from experience of others, and avoid the pitfalls we can warn about ... factors having to do with crowds, heat, children, etc. The basics:

• DON'T Do ATHENS FIrst - I know it's tempting, u think that's the place to recover. NO. You'll be exhausted from long journey, and Athens will be big, noisy, confusing; the sights will pass in a blur. Recover on an Island, then come back refreshed. ALSO, in summer the Greeks leave for the weekend, so Athens will be quieter then. IF your arrival flight is in AM, you can proceed immediately to next step (see below). IF you have changes, & arrive at 4 pm or so, totally exhausted, I can recommend a nearby hotel ON a beach with a free shuttle... you can go there, have a dip, early meal & hit the sack, then go to an island early next day.

• ISLAND VISIT - (do this the 1st 2 days) You've timed this for Weekend: BAD idea. Athenians totally flood nearby islands on weekends.. less on weekdays. Hydra is constantly plugged by R Steves because it's convenient add-on to his totallly-mainland trips. However, be aware... NO taxis or vehicles available, almost no beaches... luxe accommodations have pvt. beaches or pools. I'd like you to consider AEGINA instead. It's a 1-hour ferry ride, 1/2 the time Hydra takes... and a conventional ferry w. open decks to sit on, a seascape adventure -- huge liners, schooners, tiny sailboats, gulls, shore views etc. (Do NOT take Hydrofoils - inside seats only no views). Find a hotel on a beach, taxi there on arrival, & just vedge for a day or so. Here's a great photo album showing a day-trip, and 2-night stay would be a great recovery time http://www.flickr.com/photos/36264706@N03/sets/72157621604646139/detail/ Here's a place I have recommended - it's a cafe on the beach that just behind has a bldg with apts for families -- http://www.aeginagreece.com/aegina/pages/beaches/la_palma_marathonas_cafe_bar_restaurant.html
----- FERRY NOTE: the Conventional Ferry goes about 8:30 am then again @ noon. Last return conventional ferry is 6:15 pm. If these don't suit outbound you could take hydrofoil outbound, deck ferry back. Buy tix at any ticket agency... even at airport.

• ATHENS TIME -- Again as I said, busy Athen is somewhat better on weekend ... I hope hope hope you've been on internet to find lodgings! It is totally essential with 2 little ones to be CLOSE to landmarks... you need to be walking distance when 1 or both have meltdowns. This "tiny URL" of booking.com - http://tinyurl.com/heq6edp -- shows available places nearest to Acropoilis (click on MAP VIEW). Fortunately this agency now shows pvt apts, which are great for your bunch and often better price than hotels!.

• NAFPLIO - Your timing is better here... weekdays VERY busy in July but at least less than weekends. Old Town is a problem for family like y ours because almost no swim pools, and town beach & swim club has no accomm for kiddies. Nearby TOLO beach is not my Fave... a tacky package-holiday hive. A tiny beach nearby (Kastraki - also called Asine) is much better -- but v. hard to find accoms. Here's a great one if you get lucky -- https://www.booking.com/hotel/gr/porto-assini.html

Posted by
8612 posts

Janet is able to go into much greater detail than I, but my comment was going to be to do Athens last, if for no other reason than to make departure logistics simpler.

Getting to ATH from and island or a 2-3 hr drive on 'fly out' day is an invitation for disaster ( or at least a lot of stress)

Posted by
8 posts

Wow! Thank you for your responses! After rethinking it…. We made some changes. Since we land in Athens at 10:00am. I think we will do the following.

July 26 arrive to Athens and go to Aegina
July 26- 29 Aegina
July 29-31 -Athens
August 1- 5 Nafplio (rent a car for day trips)

When we are in Athens, should we do a day trip to the Athenian Rivera? Or is it better to stay there?
Also, Let me know if you would add or change anything. Thanks again!

Posted by
2864 posts

skip Athens Riviera .. traffic jams, angry Athenian drivers, 2 angry US toddlers in back seat. Whew. no. Since I'm already knee-deep in Big Muddy here, fine-tuning your adventure, here's my advice (based on 13 trips of my own, 9 of them with newcomers along, and trip planning for at least 100 US Greece-goers including at least 20 families like yours) ....

PRIORITY #1 - (AEGINA LODGING) Book place I advised; if full, searchbooking.com for place on same beach (Marathona?)
PRIORITY #2 - (NAFPLIO) Book placeI advised; if full, search booking.com for a place near Asine/Kastraki beach
PRIORITY #3 - (ATHENS) use "tiny URL" to book apt within .5 mile of Acropolis ... on EAST or SOUTH side of it if possible; here's a street map to get big picture of the "no-cars lanes" in the Plaka/Makrigianni district: http://www.orangesmile.com/destinations/img/athens-map-big.jpg (click it gets huuge; use side-slides to navigate)
PRIORITY #4 - (CAR) - Use agency recommended by 100s of Greece-goers for reliability/price - https://www.athens-carrental.com to rent car with TWO child-seats (we HOPE u can drive stick-shift because MUCH easier to get car on short notice) for pick-up 10 AM at Airport August 1 ... and return 5 pm before homebound flight (Aug 4 if homebound flight is Aug 5). IMPORTANT - 1 of u needs an Internatl Driving Permit. No test, just stop by any AAA office, show yr license, pay $25, takes 20 minutes. No rentals without it!

ITINERARY SEQUENCE:
• ATH Arrival & to AEGINA -- Arrange to be met by Car Service WELCOME PICK-UPS https://www.welcomepickups.com/ -- no more expensive than taxi, u know cost in advance. Go Directly to Pireaus Gate for Aegina Ferry, buy ticket to first available (if u r lucky it will be one of the conventional ferries; if not, take a hydrofoil & pick an open-deck ferry for return)
• ATHENS 7/26-29 - Ferry back to Pireaus, W-P car service to Plaka-area lodging (with yr 4-some do NOT attempt Metro or bus)
• NAFPLIO ( &AREA) - 8/1 - 8/4 evening? - AM of 8/1 - W-P to Airport (do NOT attempt to drive in Athens!!!) to pick up rental 10 AM? Drive modern intercity highway (NO Stops until after Corinth Canal). This excellent map (click & it gets huuuge, navigate w side-slides) - http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/peloponnes/podrobnaya-turisticheskaya-karta-peloponnesa.jpg - shows ENTIRE ROUTE from Airport to Nafplio & surroundings. En Route u can stop @ Ancient NEMEA, going back, stop @ corinth canal.
• PRE-DEPARTURE ... if u r flying out AM of Aug 5 (& I bet u r), you need to be nearby the night before. Hotel AVRA is 25 mins away from airport on FREE Shuttle (if u book it at sametime as room), it's on a beach, has a cafe & local town square a stroll away.

FAMILY STRATEGY -- Aegina is easy but for other 2 ... Plan any & all sight-seeing between 8 am - 1 pm. Stay in A/C during hot afternoons ... Almost all Greek hotels/apts have fridges & patio tables, for easy feeding of kids on their skeds & packing picnics. A big-group tour hard with kiddies - download (FREE!) R Steves step-by-step DIY tour of Acropolis and Nat Arch Museum. To guide u in Nafplio area, there is a STUNNING website - http://www.visitnafplio.com/ -- read EVERY section; tells ALL u need to know.

NEXT STEPS -- when u have done Priorities 1-4, come back with further questions... but only when u have done those. For a short trip with little kids, on short notice, it's all about Logistics - Logistics - Logistics. No fancy descripts matter if you can't get around.

Posted by
1198 posts

I would do a different order:
Nafplio
Island
Athens

The reason is that the port of Piraeus is not Athens, and you will have to travel from the airport to Piraeus and catch a ferry. The ferry terminal is very congested, the ferry boarding can be stressful (finding the right port, boarding, etc). In short, the travel to the island will be more of a pain than simply picking up a car at the airport upon arrival and heading for Nafplio. It's a great place to rest and get your bearings, with plenty to do for adults and kids (I was there with my 3). Then I would drive to the port and drop off the car and go to the island. Then I would end in Athens.

This order greatly simplifies travel between places, IMO

Posted by
2864 posts

I agree with Jessica that the sequence is simpler doing Nafplio area - except for 2 (important) things:.

•EXHAUSTION - Flying with 2 tiny ones, NO sleep at all on plane. Staggering off a 12-17 hr flight & jumping into a rental car to drive where you've never been, 2-3 hours on busy highways... dangerous. certainly not Fun.
• TIMING - Nafplio first would be OK, its during week, fewer Athenians, but would put the family in Aegina Friday-Sat, when thousands of Athenians jampack the place.

Posted by
1198 posts

Fwiw, we went to Nafplio first after a very long multi-leg flight and didn't find the driving challenging at all. Of course, everyone is different
(on a more random note, Greece has many beaches that are rock - very painful to walk on. We brought cheap river shoes and they were a life saver)

Posted by
2864 posts

Agree with Jessica about the "river shoes" only they're called different things, often "water shoes" Y ou can get them for $6-8 at Walmarts, CVS, Rite-Aid, look around, don't buy the expensive professional variety; ... they are harder to find once you are in Greecve. u can then use water shoes as "shower shoes" & also around your rooms etc and skip packing flip-flops