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3 weeks with kids

My husband and I are traveling with our 10 and 5 year old boys to Greece for the full month of July. Aside from traveling days we'll have a full 3 weeks in Greece. We want to spend our first week visiting Greek historic sites in Athens and then we want to rent two beach houses each for a week on two different islands. We'll spend one full week on each island.
Can you please recommend islands that are kid friendly, scenic and quaint. We mainly want a nice place to relax and enjoy the local food and simple life. "Live like locals" =)
We rented a villa in Tuscany a couple of years ago and are looking for a similar experience but on the ocean.
We prefer to rent a place vs a hotel because we enjoy having two bedrooms, one for the kids and one for us.
Thanks!!

Posted by
2864 posts

In July your wish-list is a real challenge; Some reasons why:
HIGH SEASON! MOB SCENE! In July Jumbo Jets full of Europeans land all day on Islands with big-enough airports .... in Mykonos, Kos, Rhodes, Santorini, many many others, these isles will be jammed, a real ant-hill. Think about it: if one wants a place on the beach, that's kid-friendly scenic, quaint good food etc ... if it's that wonderful, in the height of high season, It will be wall-to-wall tourists. No space "relaxing" "the simple life," "live like the locals" -- the locals are busy rushing around housing/feeding all of you. You'll need to strategize in order to get the best experience. The best idea is to pick 2 islands with key features (1) either NO airport, or one that only takes smaller planes, 1-2 flights per day, and (2) limited housing stock. You have to book far in advance, but when the island is "full up," no more throngs can pour in to overfill the beaches. Cycladic islands in those categories include SIfnos and Milos .... Folegandros, Amorgos, Serifos are also like this, but not as much to offer for a full week, for the boys. NAXOS, my favorite island, is free from Jumbo Jets & Cruise ships, but DOES have a lot of housing ... however, you could strategize by where u go on the island, if you're willing to rent a car for your stay.

VILLA Vs. APARTMENTS -- Also, in the Cyclades islands (the white-house-blue-shutters look that is famous from posters) it's hard to rent houses (villas) right ON the beach.. at least in well-known islands like Naxos, Paros, Mykonos. There's an historic reason: 50-60 years ago when Greek isles began attracting more tourism, it was at the budget level. Thus, the beachfronts filled up with modest family-run places, 2-3 stories, 12-30 rooms/apts. When Greece finally went upscale. the villa-builders found the beachfronts all full ... so they had to go inland a way, sometimes quite a way, so it's a real hike to reach the sands. You'd probably need a car a lot. However, you MAY be able to get what you want, because there are a number of places right on beach or with beach view that have 2 BR apartments.

NO TIME To WASTE - YOu're already late. I recommend you target Milos & Sifnos. contact Aegean-Thesaurus Agency -- it was founded on Sifnos, now serves all of Greece but has especially good coverage for West Cyclades. Give them yr exact dates & needs. Platy Gialos Beach on Sifnos has diverse lodgings.. on Milos, look at Pollonia, an expanded fishing village, which has a sandy beach many lodgings, several restaurants, a bakery etc. I've stayed in both of these.. These are the best beach areas to stay, however each island has MANY lovely beaches to visit. Sifnos has a good bus system, you can just rent a car for exploring a few days; on Milos you'll need a car for your week.

Posted by
9 posts

Janet thanks for your reply. After reading it I am starting to think that Greece in July will be a bad idea.
You clearly know a lot about traveling in Greece and I would really appreciate if you could suggest another beach destination that could work for a relaxing, beach, quaint vacation with kids. Hopefully in a rental house or villa. And yes we are willing to rent a car, that would be no problem!
I know July is crowded everywhere but maybe some places are better than others... In comparison to Greece, can you give me an opinion on South of Italy, Portugal and maybe Croatia...?
Or any other place that you think could be nice??
Also if we rent a car, what location in Hydra would you recommend staying?
Thanks!

Posted by
2864 posts

Sorry aawa, cannot help with other countries. I fell in love with Greece as a Teen, couldn't go until my 60s. Once there, I knew I had to return -- & June will be Trip #12! But since I'm not affluent (blame a long career in nonprofits!) I only manage to go by taking along 3-4 "newbie"Travel Pals... and by foregoing trips elsewhere (Hard for a Sagittarian!! travel is in our stars!!) Thus, aside from 2 London-Paris trips, no Euroknowledge in many decades.

But I do think you are too easily discouraged re Milos-Sifnos. If you can find lodgings, these 2 offer SO much! STUNNING Scenery. I hate the word "quaint" BTW (It conjures up picture of a tourist examining "locals" in "native costume") ... but both have deep cultural traditions and no "resort" affluent-vulgarity. Here are some reasons I love them:

SIFNOS -- until 1960s, NO roads between villages; people walked or rode donkeys on flagstoned paths, or sailed a boat. Now there are (small) roads, but paths are still there. In late May I plan to walk one from hilltown of Appollonia down to Chora overhanging the sea; a white vision almost unchanged in 400 years. In 19th C, Sifnos was THE pottery Center of Greece (made 90% of all kitchenware); it's now revived, & on Platy GIalos beach u can visit 2 potter studios. Sifnos was home of Greece's most famous chefs; it still has its special dishes. Below my hillside patio, every morning locals tend terraced gardens before going to work.

MILOS -- MORE stunning beaches than any other Isle!!. Volcano eruptions just outside, not in the middle like Santorini, so island rim has geological wonders! A day sail all-round or half-round the island rim (I recommend the latter, since it gives more time for going ashore) is a treat your boys would LOVE. Boats line up portside in Adamas town at dinnertime, u inspect & choose. I recommend the large Catamaran (14 people capacity) rather than tiny boats or big party boats. They go out about 10 AM, have lunch & swim on a cove beach... you can go on rubber rafts into natural volcanic arches/caves ... a great treat! Back by 6 pm.

As to yr alternatives: Italy has so many fewer Beach areas than Greece-- and they can be reached by car & busloads -- they're always desperately overcrowded in High season; Croatia is less besieged but from reports by friends, I think many beaches are on islands without so much to offer. And you know something, aawa ... don't make the mistake of having a Vision of the Perfect blockade you from the Really Very Good.

PS: Hydra is a no-cars Isle, not much to offer aside from a very attractive harbor,no beaches to speak of. Gets a lot of business mainly because of Rick Steves book & do-ability as day-trip.

PPS: If you want a wonderful beach stay that FEELS like an island, on a GReek beach far removed from the Madding Crowd, here is my secret Gem. Far southwest coast of Peloponnese (you would fly into Athens, domestic flight to Kalamata, rent a car there for a 45 minute drive). It is ZOE RESORT ( thank God, NOT really a resort, just a wonderful family-run place, Some marketer 2 years ago told them to change the name, blessedly nothing else changed). Website: http://www.zoeresort.com Directly on a stunning beach, in Gialova, a teeeeny village (3 blocks long) just north of Pylos (gorgeous town, laid out by FRench). Amazing loooong sandy beach goes right to a wildlife refuge, and famous bay of Navarone (Castle ruins for boys to climb!) Zoe fronts on its' own shady grove of palms, beneath which you can sit in deep wicker chairs, and read all afternoon. Behind the hotel is a large pool, and another building with their apts. In High season, many youngtsters for yours to play with. After 16 days of showing a great time to 4 SUPER-energetic travel-pals, I escape here, to relax & recuperate. At night, I dine among the palms, lit by Japanese lanterns. Aaah.

If this does not please, I truly cannot help you.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you sooo much!! You are amazing!!
I think I have decided. We'll do:
Athens for 4 days
Santorini for 3 days
Naxos for 7 days (Plaka beach or Agio Prokopios)
and I have not decided between Sifnos or Milos for 7 days.

Now I have to find accomodations and figure out how to get from one island to the other.
You helped me a lot!!!!!!
Thanks!!

Posted by
2864 posts

NAXOS

PLAKA Beach I like Aronis Taverna & Apartments -- http://aronisnaxos.com/index%20en.html last stop on busline ... not fawncy but REAL ... Family has farm, serves organic produce/meats from it in their taverna ... I llike it because it's by itself not surrounded ... deep shady terrace (see photos). There are a couple of superluxe Plaka places beyond end of bus lline, like Medusa, but no kids around. All the Villas you seem to want will be way back from beach, no kids around. Warning: Kids ain't happy, aint nobody happy.

PROKOPIOS -- Gorgeous swimming, deep (drops off about 8 feet out ... only problem most places are rather back from beach, u hve to walk down busy road perpendicular to shore road, to reach beach. Place I like best is one of the few almost on the sands ... separated only by narrow dirt road/lane ... Liana Studios http://www.lianastudios.gr/introduction.html -- has apts. NB: this fills up FAST it would be surprising if any left. NB #2 - NOT Liana Village that is in "Stelida" area which claims to be on Prokopios beach but isnt, it overlooks a marshy shore not for swimmng, u must get in car to do anything, avoid Stelida places, quite luxe, pools etc but as I said, can be isolated for kids.

SANTORINI -- u can always get something if $$ not an issue ... Santorini is about the view as u know, but no beach on West (view)side of Island, and pool hotels may all be booked up by July. ... it's HOT... and beach on E. side of island is black grit, which in sun can be like stepping on a griddle. You might consider just 2 nights there

ATHENS -- again, can always get something if $$ not an issue -- the point in a HOT month is to have hotel close to landmarks for sightseeing, so if you crumple, the rooms are near. My strategy is to use this Booking.com link -- it sorts out hotels by Landmark Location (and I specify Acropolis as the landmark) -- and all hotels listed are close to Acropolis ... as close as 500 yards, no farther than say 1/2 mile. http://www.booking.com/landmark/gr/acropolis.html?sid=71fb054d34e3520d4a87a9657074d694;dcid=1 put in your dates, then see how many there are. Advise to limit choices to most convenient neighborhoods such as Plaka, Monastiraki, Makrigianni (my fave -- just S. of Acrop, along the pedestrian promenade), Koukaki, Kolonaki, Thissio. AVOID Omnia ... and if a hotel says only"CEntral Athens," It's probably Omnia. This online map http://www.orangesmile.com/destinations/img/athens-map-big.jpg can help u locate most, also website have google maps.

SEQUENCE -- Most people don't want to spend precious time going into Central athens TWICE, and you have to be there at the end ... so a usual strategy is on Arrival if plossible, get immediate domestic flight to farthest Island. Santorini has the Most flights (being the most touristic) ... from there you can get daily Blue Star ferry (wonderful 2 hrs to Naxos). OR get ferry to Milos, then to Sifnos, then to Naxos. You'll need to work the ferry lines.

MY ADVICE TO YOU -- since you are starting so late, don't try to do it yourself. Go to Aegean THesaurus & have them work it out for you... once you spend a certain amount, there is no fee of course. They can work the ferry and fllight logistic, I do not have time to do it for you. Kalo Taxidi ! (thats greek for "Good trip" or "Bon Voyage"). -- TJ

Posted by
9 posts

Janet,
Thanks to you I have done great progress on my trip! Thanks!!
In Athens we'll stay for three days and have booked the Athens Gate Hotel.
In Santorini we'll stay for 3 days and have booked the Evgenia Villas & Suites
In Naxos we'll stay for 9 days and we'll stay at Villa Paradise
We have 7 days left in between santorini and Naxos and I don't know where to go...
I really wanted Milos but have not been succesful finding nice accomodations there or in Sifnos!
I am considering Paros instead, they seem to have more houses on the beach for rent.
Could you please give me your opinion on my accomodation so far (all of them are cancellable).
Also could you please give me your opinion on Paros and what area of Paros would be more calm and "less touristy".
Now my mom is joining us as well so we are now 5 people. 3 adults and 2 kids.
Thanks!!!!

Posted by
2864 posts

as a budget traveler I'm probably not experienced in your level of "nice accommodations" ... I am surprised to hear that you cannot find nice accommodations on SIfnos; did you look at Elies Resort, directly on Vathy beach?http://www.thesaurus.gr/hotels/sifnos/vathi/elies_resorts/elies_resorts.php
-- certainly equal of Villa Paradise, which now I see is the level of accommodations you are comfortable with...

In july on Paros, it may be hard to find something " more calm and less touristy" ... In Paros, Petres is an upscale place outside Naoussa that I've sent people to. Not on a beach ... for the best beaches (tho windy) on East side of Paros, most places right "On" a beach are just seasonal beach-villages, not something at the level of Villa Paradise, as far as I know. I may be wrong -- Again, I advised to work with agency that knows the full range of housing; I am not a travel agent and cannot do any more for you...

Posted by
5543 posts

July is peak season and will be hot as has already been commented on and much of the better accommodation will have been booked by now.

I would recommend The Pelion for one week which is a peninsula on the mainland around the Pagasetic Gulf - fly into Volos. There are lots of small villages to explore with tavernas run by generations of the same family. I would then go to Alonnisos by ferry which is quaint. If you cannot find accommodation here, Skopelos would suit but is busier - avoid accommodation in Skopelos town in July as there are too many tourists! Worth heading to the hills to see the monasteries.