A year go today we were here:
Touring Paris, eating crepes, viewing the beauty in the Louvre, and strolling through the streets with no plan or schedule to be on. It was wonderful. We also spent time in Switzerland, Greece, and Austria. Going to Europe for a month long vacation with a 1 year old was a bit crazy at times, but I would do it over again in a heart beat. I tell my mama friends all the time that going to Europe with a baby or toddler doesn’t have to be a scary or crazy expensive thing to do. If you’re seriously thinking about going, check out my post with tips for surviving with a toddler abroad!
Since I’m not taking a vacation this year and I am just dying to be in Europe, I thought I’d share some kid-friendly destinations and activities throughout the continent in a series of posts, starting with my #1 favorite place on Earth- Greece.
Everything is based on 2 adults and 2 toddlers going in mid-July.
My heart is in Greece. Maybe I’m a little biased since I grew up visiting family and spent lots of time there, but it is truly a wonderful place to be. It is safe and the people are genuinely hospitable. The best part of all is that it is incredibly affordable. There’s even a whole website dedicated to things for kids to do while in Greece! I won’t bother listing everything out individually because it’s all nicely laid out on this site, but you will definitely find things like children’s museums, parks, zoos, gardens, archaeological activities, sailing tours and beach trips!
I would highly recommend visiting the large cities like Athens or Thessaloniki to get some shopping, restaurants, and sight seeing in, and then heading to one of the islands for beach time. Everyone loves beach time!
I’ve been to three islands in Greece: Santorini, Crete, and Thassos. I am going to highlight Santorini and Crete because they are more popular with tourists and easier to get to and around once you’re there. The hotels we’ve stayed at in Greece were very accommodating for young children, for example they had high chairs and “baby cots” available for use and had food that my picky eater enjoyed as well.
In Santorini, I would highly recommend staying at the beach in a town called Kamari. Most of the hotels in Kamari have ocean views and nice pools. To give you an idea, the Blue Waves Hotel would run you $500 for 3 nights and includes all taxes, fees, and breakfast. If that’s too steep for your budget, trust me when I say there are tons of other hotels on the island that are a little more basic, clean and enjoyable to stay at, but half the price like the Argo Hotel for $100/night. If you are set on staying on the caldera side so you can wake up and go to sleep with the most amazing views in the world, then be prepared to pay a pretty penny.
The beach in Kamari has calm and crystal clear blue water and there are tons of beach chairs and umbrellas available to rent. The sand is black from the lava rock and can get hot in the afternoon sun, which is why it’s a nice option to have a hotel with a pool for the littles. You can have a leisurely lunch at one of the many sea side restaurants and there are many small shops that sell beach toys and delicious ice cream and other snacks. It’s the perfect beach town to stay at on the island. In the evening, there is a bus that transports you to the main town to watch the sunset over the caldera. See below and get your credit cards ready to book!
Some touristy things to check out while in Santorini is the ancient archaeological site of Akrotiri, a tour of the volcano and hot thermal waters, sailing/boating tours, fishing tours, the (small) Santorini Water Park, and the donkey rides to the bottom of the island. Again, you can find ideas for kid-friendly activities here and hotel, restaurant, and other sight seeing information here.
Dave and I always said that we’d go back to Kamari on Santorini Island with our girls with no hesitation. It’s calm, relaxed, and kid-friendly.
We also visited the island of Crete. It’s the largest island in Greece and it has beautiful sandy beaches. The island is full of ancient sights to tour, lively cities that are full of shops and restaurants, and resorts that cater to families. I’ve been to Crete twice and stayed in different towns both times. I would recommend them to anyone looking for a fun beach vacation with a family. In 2013, we stayed in Stalida at the Ariadne Hotel. You can stay 3 nights for $640 and that includes all taxes/fees and the biggest, most magnificent breakfast you can imagine. In 2015, we stayed in Amoudara at the Smartline Neptuno Resort. It’s all inclusive so it’s a little more expensive at $1400 for 3 nights (again for 4 people). The hotel had a Baby Disco every night that was just adorable. The staff played kid music on the pool deck and led the kids in dance and games, all while parents sat and enjoyed a drink.
Since Crete is much larger, there is a lot more to do so make sure you pick your hotel location within close proximity to what’s on your to-do list. There are several different ancient ruin sites, an aquarium, water park, village tours, beach tours, boat tours, boat rentals, water sports…you name it, Crete has it! There is a ton of information about the island, accommodations, food, sight seeing, and activities on this website.
No matter where you stay in Crete, it is very easy to set up day trips or what ever activity you have in mind for your family to do. Every hotel I’ve ever stayed at in Greece had extremely helpful and friendly English speaking staff that were very happy to give recommendations and make arrangements for everything. It might seem like a daunting task to plan an entire vacation over the internet, so rest assured that you can definitely wait until you are there and get help from a local who can point you in the right direction for picking out things to do/see and booking them for you.
Overall, Greece has so much to offer for families traveling with young children and couples without kids. It is a very laid back, fun, romantic, happy place to be and my pictures and words do it no justice. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface for travel advice and tips in this post, so please feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have any questions. If you are going to Europe this summer, drop me a line and tell me about your plans!
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