hi - We are two families - 4 adults and 5 kids ages 11-13 - and are planning to spend 5 or 6 days together on a Greek island(s) the first week of July. Having never been to Greece before I am wondering how crowded we should expect it to be in early July? Also, any suggestions for a good island or islands to visit with teen/tween kids? We'd like to have some beach days, some water activities (beach, snorkeling, boat rides, kayaking, etc.) and some cultural activities. We are happy to stay on one island, or perhaps make it to two during our stay. Unfortunately, our time together is limited to 5-6 days, so I'm not sure if it's worth trying to get to two islands. Are there options to rent a house/villa somewhere that would include meals? Thanks for any suggestions!!
It is VERY busy in July. That's peak season. Good family-friendly islands are Naxos and Paros. Snorkeling in the Aegean Sea is not like what you might imagine. There is no colorful coral or schools of colorful fish. You need the tropics for that. Most likely all you'll see is sea grasses and algae-covered rocks, maybe the occasional fish. Realistically, all you have time for is one island. Renting a house/villa usually means DIY as far as food goes but you can ask your host about hiring a cook if that 's in your budget. Check villa rental websites such as www.VRBO.com.
House/villa probably, but it will likely be self catering, so you will have to buy all you own food and supplies.
Make sure that everyone in the group knows that you do not flush toilet paper in Greece. No matter where you stay, the used TP goes in the trash can. In a house or villa you will have to remove it when the can is full or you will have a stinky mess, especially with that number of people.
We rented an apartment in Athens and were able to use plastic shopping bags, but you may have to buy trash can liners if none are provided. We took all our trash and recycling out daily and put it in the dumpsters on the street. I'm sure any house or villa you rent will have a place for those things to go.
Stacy, July 1- Aug 22 or so is height of High Season, so you'll be competing with jillions of Europeans who fill Jumbo Jets & land & jampack the Isles... It can be VERY crowded, so you must strategize. And it would help if you gave other key details such as: Is Greece your ONLY European stop, or are you coming from another nearby country, or going TO another country? Are u spending time in ATHENS before or after the island time? Share more!! It affects advice!!
Working from incomplete info, my thoughts:
(1) HOW MANY ISLES? ONE. With only 5-6 days, you cannot waste 1/2 to 1 full day in transport between isles.
(2) TRANSPORT strategy is key, & u can't scrimp. With so little time to spend u have to spend $$ to compensate. If heading for isle direct from US, if possible take nonstop from US, USAir(PHL) or Delta (JFK) because only these 2 arrive in AM (about 9-9:30). Then take domestic flight to an island ASAP (allow 2 hrs for passport-control, luggage claim, ATM, then line-up 1 hr before domestic flight departure) ... u can be at even the farthest isle in 45-50 mins. Returning to mainland, with good timing u may be able to take an evening ferry or o'night ferry back, to maximize island/beach time. Do NOT try to take flight OR ferry on same day as your US-Bound departure.
(3) LODGING/MEALS -- Very very seldom would u find this, and if found, probably would be a deluxe resort cluster far inland, so you'd need cars any time u wanted beach... and you'd end up being a chauffeur, just as at home! Even villas in Greece tend not to be ON beach (because years ago, before Greece attracted any "upmarket" folks, beachfronts filled up with more modest buildings, with rooms and/or self-catering units). You'd be MUCH better off looking for 2 adjoining units. Typically these wd have a BR plus a main room w 2 daybeds, kitchenette ell, table/chairs, and balcony or patio. Most families use this for everyone-do-his own breakfast (cereal, yogurt) easy lunches (sandwiches etc), and eat out at dinner (Greece is amazing dinner bargain -- adults can eat volumes + 1/2 liter wine apiece for €12-15!) ... OR do "take-away" of yummy & cheap gyros, pizza etc.
(4) WHICH ISLES? -- NAXOS is ideal for families like your 2, not requiring daily car rental; good bus systems, and ST. George Beach, adjacent to port, is walkable to all town attractions, yet quiet at night. ST G has shallow beach, but u can easily bus to outer deep beaches. It has many units like that described. Plaka beach is also excellent. Ag Prokopios beach is a good choice IF you can book the 1 place I know that's right on beach, Liana Hotel (Not Liana Village).
SIFNOS also has wonderful family beaches & cannot overcrowd, because accommodation is self-limiting. Only drawback; no flights, only ferries. But with good timing, u could get from airport-port-Sifnos on arrival day.
(5) ACTION is VITAL!! Already, the lodgings suitable for your group are filling up. But FIRST comes LOGISTICS -- u need to book flights, both to Greece AND to/from Isle. Naxos has only small (modern) jets w 38 psgr. In past only 1x per day; in 2015 they'll have 3 flights, but in July, those will sell out FAST.... if Naxos appeals, your first stop should be http://reservations.airtickets.com/airtickets/com/search.do;jsessionid=DD23604074EEFF5FFA09F2429A8A5259.app5?sid=1&xid=1422730233402 -- this handy site lists Aegean, Olympic & Ryan air flight skeds to all Greek airports.
I hope you have considered the weather in Greece in July. We were there this last year but went in the spring to avoid the heat and the crowds of summer. I hope you have a Greece guide book already, but if you do not, you can buy two good ones, one a RS the other a Lonely Planet, elsewhere on this web site. We took both of them and found them both very useful. We certainly enjoyed our stay in Greece while taking RS Greece tour, our 12th. I hope political unrest has settled down by the time of your trip. Happy Travels
Thanks for the responses! I wasn't sure if early July was still a shoulder season, with the real crowds showing up in August when all of Europe goes on vacation. It sounds like it will still be quite crowded in July. We will be spending a few days in Europe (Paris, maybe) before heading to Athens, where we were planning to spend two nights and then fly to an island. We will need to head straight back to the States (Boston) from the island. Our friends are coming straight from the west coast (SFO) to meet us on the island, and then they will have time on the back end to get to Athens. We may decide to put this trip off until next year, when we would not be as time constrained and could go in June instead of July. I imagine crowds (and maybe weather) are better in mid-late June, rather than early July? I have the RS Greece book and the Lonely Planet. There are just so many islands to choose from, it is overwhelming! I appreciate all the help here!
I strongly encourage you to save your time in Athens for the very end of your trip instead of taking it at the beginning. In July the Meltemi winds are at their strongest and sometimes even the island flights are delayed or cancelled, although I admit it's a rare occurrence. Nothing will ruin your trip faster than missing that flght home. Get into the city a couple of days early, explore, and then you can relax and make your way out to the airport at a leisurely pace on your day of travel.
Yes, crowds are "better" in mid-late June but it will still be very busy. Tourist season begins in April on Greek Easter weekend and builds from there.
Unfortunately, we have no flexibility at the end of our trip. We have to be back in the States by July 9th. And, or friends have no flexibility on the front end, that is why we are planning to see Athens before the islands and they are doing the opposite.
The best place to travel with kids for me is Rhodes island.
There is a hotel Esperides family resort in Faliraki.
They have different attractions for kids in the hotel, also the Waterpark not far from hotel.
Boat rides, boat bbq rides. Also you can take a bus and have a walk to the Old Town or to rent a car and see the Lindos city.
Mia, I don't believe this family group wants a "resort" experience ... that is more for Europeans who go often to Mediterranean countries. Americans who want "resort" ambience usually look at Florida, Mexico, Carribean. BTW, I see that you posted THREE messages promoting Rhodes in ONE day, including long-dormant threads like this one, which is from February. Are you sure you are not doing this for commercial reasons???
Stacy, I hope you DID decide to wait until next year, and do your Greece trip in June. Lee gave good advice, but he spends most of his time on Santorini, and is THE expert on that famous island. Santorini indeed gets crowded in June, because it has such a long season, and is impacted both by cruise crowds, package-tour groups, charter flights, AND the June-Bride phenomenon. Fortunately not all islands have the celebrity of Santorini and Mykonos... nor do they (fortunately) have the accommodation for cruise ships or jumbo jets. Therefore, June (especially the first 2-3 weeks) is pleasantly busy but NOT crowded in Naxos (my FAVE for families) Paros and Antiparos, Milos, Sifnos -- all in the lovely Cyclades islands. I myself will be in Naxos the 2nd week in June this year and expect as usual, to see Scandinavian children scampering around the beaches ... the Norwegians & Swedes know good beaches AND good values. If you do decide, remember my advice about adjoining units rather than distant villa.