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greece with a 20 month and 4 month old - which is the best location?

We are currently planning a trip to Greece this coming May, have two young children under 20 months and are trying to determine the best place to travel in Greece. Our assumption is Athens is not a good option as it is a busy city with lots of tourist things to do. Constant loading/unloading, limited space, public transport with car seats, museums and sites aren't ideal for our little guys. Is there an island that is best suited for families? I personally want a mix of historical sights and relaxation as I can't sit still for an extended number of days.

We will be traveling from the Netherlands and have a total of 10 days. As much as I'm open to island hopping my husband would like to stick to one location for the sake of having to pack and unpack our entourage multiple times. Any suggestions on the best place to visit, agendas, sights to see etc?

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions!

Posted by
1446 posts

Why not just base yourself on Crete?

It offers lots of family-friendly accommodation choices. Look around maybe Hernossinos or Ag Nik, or basing yourself in more low-key western Crete. I've found car rentals to be very easy to arrange locally. As for sights, I've found more than enough to keep me happy for almost a month's worth!

Posted by
3260 posts

I have the perfect island for a family like yours; I know because I've sat on the beach there, many a May, watching happy toddlers staggering around with sand pails, while relaxed Scandinavian parents watch. NAXOS. and the beach is Ag. Giorgios....Sandy & shallow, with many budget hotels/apts right on the sands. A web of small lanes, no thru traffic. Beach is Directly adjacent to the Port Town of Naxos, so u can walk to port side cafes, shops etc in 10 minutes along level waterside, pushing tots in strollers, have your dinner there while kiddies have snacks, bottles, fall asleep in chairs while u enjoy sunset serenely. Also tavernas right at Beach. No need for car except if you want to rent 1 for a day to zoom around the island. Here's a wonderful photo album of Naxos hi-lights: This map shows port, town, and location of beach, plus some of the interesting sights

Other Plusses: Many moderate-price lodgings have family-friendly "studio units/apts" (1 or 2BR, balcony, main room w. 2 daybeds, kitchenette & table/chairs); this enables u to feed kiddies when THEY are hungry, not in a restaurant. Plenty of small groceries for food, diapers, etc. AND if u can book a place with Sand-level patio units, saves on all those up/down steps... and while a tot naps, u can sun right outside. For right on sands, check STudios Thomais, Studios Kalergis, Sun Beach, Hotel Akrogiali. FOr places 20-70 meters off sands -- Hotel Elizabeth, Sigma Studios, Villa Naxia, Hotel Panormos. But don't delay!! Families book these early!

As photos show, Naxos Town itself is FASCINATING; history, ruins, best museum in Cyclades, I never tire of exploring it. AND a final plus for your island-hopping wish -- Naxos (unlike most islands) offers day-trip options. 2 companies have dedicated vessels going 2x a week to Santorini & 2x to Delos/Mykonos (I like the MV Alexandros best; larger boat, smoother ride). I could see taking the kids to Santorini, the Delos/Mykonos could be too much.

Naxos is not plagued by cruise ship crowds or jumbo-jet throngs. But it does take planning to get a family there quickly. Only one flight (45 minutes) from ATH daily around mid-day, or a 5-hour ferry ride. Flights fill up VERY EARLY because plane (modern; new) only holds 35-40 passengers. I advise flying TO island, ferry back (get "reserved economy" seats on large modern Blue Star Ferry, & kiddies can walk the decks then snooze in your lap). IF you choose Naxos, (1) FIRST book Aegean/Olympic ATH-Naxos flight! (2) Then get flight Neth-ATH early enough for connection. (3) book lodgings ... there are a lot more rooms than plane seats.

Believe me when I say, Naxos is the ideal answer for your family ... I've sent MANY young families there and they all loved it. I remember what it was like to plan a vacation with pre-schoolers; the right location is everything. Oh, and did i mention that the prices are half that of the "famous" islands ... you can dine for €10-12 each, many family units are €60-70 or less in May. GO!

Posted by
3080 posts

Choose an island with an airport so you don't waste time getting there on a ferry from Athens/Piraeus. Family friendly islands with excellent calm beaches include Naxos and Paros. I like Paros because you can hop over to Antiparos for a look around on the local shuttle ferry from 2 different ports in under an hour, depending on where you're staying. The one from Pounta takes 15 minutes. St. George Beach on Naxos is close enough to Naxos Town that you can easily walk in for a meal or some shopping.

The beach resort villages of Kamari and Perissa on Santorini are inexpensive and flat with calm water. The black sand can get hot but in May that shouldn't be an issue. There is lots to see and do on Santorini including a couple of archaeological sites and museums.

Posted by
1370 posts

Does it have to be an island? We, and many other people here, are big fans of Nafplio on the Peloponnese.

The advantages are that it only about 3 hours from Athens by bus, is a very nice old town in it's own right, but is close to several major sites: Mycenae, Epidavrus and Tiryns all being fairly close. There's a town beach but a better sandy beach about 20 minutes by bus.

Quite a bit of the old town is quite flat, which would be an advantage with buggies etc and the main restaurant street is pedestrianised in the evening, making it a bit more relaxing with children!

We've written up some of our favourite parts of the area if you fancy a look.

Have a great trip.