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Traveling with Children in Greece

Baby in GreeceAndrea and I feel like we are experts at bringing children to Greece because by the time our daughter Amarandi was 5 years old she had been to Greece seven times (including once in the womb). She is now 28 and we still go every year though traveling with an adult means fewer anxieties than when you travel with a baby, a toddler or maybe the most difficult of all, a teenager, all covered in this article. 

People can be apprehensive about taking children on long journeys, far from their support system that makes raising a child seem almost routine at times. In that sense Greece was an awakening for us because we realized many of our needs as parents were not essential. In fact there were only three essentials for us during that first summer in Greece with Amarandi: Pampers (which became unnecessary after the first couple trips), our McLaren stroller, (of which my exploits are chronicled in Strollering Through Athens) , and a baby backpack for going to those places where having wheels are a hindrance. With these three tools and a sense of adventure it does not matter how young your child is. You can have a great trip to Greece.  

From the Flight to the Hotel

Amarandi in GreeceAfter flying Air France from NY to Paris I was converted. Not that the seats were any more comfortable, the food was any better or the staff were any nicer, but for the simple reason that every seat in economy had a TV. Its true. Mounted on the seat in front of you is a television with half a dozen movie channels and various other programs including a continuous cartoon channel which kept our daughter occupied every waking hour of the flight. It was the best flight I have ever been on with her, in fact there were times I wished we could have taken that seat with us to use in Greece. If you are not so lucky as to have a TV in the seat in front of you then bring plenty of stuff for your child to do. Coloring books are essential. Now, many other airlines have these TV's so ask. If your flight is a Boeing 777 or an Airbus there is a good chance you will have your own TV in economy. Now with mini DVDs and iPods that have video, keeping kids occupied is not as hard as it used to be and you are not at the mercy of whoever chooses the movies they show on the flight. If you are traveling with a newborn and have a bulkhead seat ask the staff if they have a bassinet. Some flights have one that attaches right into the wall. I asked for one once on Olympic and they were not sure what it was and I tried to explain it to the steward and he came back with a cardboard box.

George the Famous Taxi Driver of GreeceAfter a grueling 10 hour flight from America, the wait at passport control and the chaos of the baggage carousel, the last thing in the world we want to do is deal with standing on line to get a taxi. I am a firm believer in transfers rather then trying your luck with the masses outside the terminal. For a few euros more than a street taxi, George Kokkotos, Athens most famous taxi driver is there waiting for us as we walk out the door into the arrivals terminal. He greets us and insists that he carry my heaviest bags to his car waiting right outside the door and we are on our way. Before we know it we are at our hotel rather then sitting in another taxi still trying to explain how to get there. George carries our bags into the lobby and is gone as quickly as he appeared, having made this first transition completely painless.

With the time change you may completely beat after your long flight but that does not mean your child will be. In fact you may take your first walking tour of the Plaka completely against your will only because your child will not let you do otherwise. Don't worry about it. There will be time for relaxation and if you and your mate can work in shifts during these first few brutal hours things will come together smoothly. Otherwise make sure you get a hotel in Athens with a TV or a baby-sitting service. The great thing about children is that they can sit for hours watching cartoons even if they are in Greek and they can't understand a word.

Traveling with A Baby in Greece

Greek pampers We brought our pampers with us but realized that a 3 month supply leaves no room in our bags for anything else. They are available in what the Greeks call Supermarkets, which are on every island and might be compared to a convenience store packed with everything you would find in a supermarket only fewer and smaller items (though the pampers are normal sized and take up a lot of shelf space). The American made pampers were more expensive than the Greek pampers so to save money we made a switch, only to discover that the Greek version of the miracle adhering strip was not up to the rigors of being attached to an active American child and the pampers would fall off frequently. This was easily remedied by duct tape which may be a little harder to find in Greece but can be brought from America without sacrificing too much luggage space.

Baby on Greek beachThe more time you spend on the beach the fewer pampers you will need. That is if you are far from the crowds and are able to let things fall as they may, as they say. If you let your child run free and naked by the sea you won't spend as much money on pampers and nobody really cares if kids (and in some places adults) are running around naked. If you are the type who believes that a child should be in pampers either to shield them from unscrupulous eyes or to keep the stuff which the pampers are meant to contain, contained, you should be aware that when pampers get wet they expand and get heavy and the baby falls down a lot. You can bring cloth diapers if you don't believe in pampers for ecological reasons or if you are a masochist. Keep in mind that you will have to wash them in your hotel sink. Some of the luxury hotels have laundry service but it is expensive. It would be cheaper to mail your dirty diapers home and deal with them later. But that would be pretty disgusting. Anyway the pampers phase is thankfully a short one and before you know it they are asking you to buy them bathing suits and then bikinis.

Car Seats for Babies and Small Children

Another important issue is a baby seat for cars. If you are renting a car in Greece ask your car rental agency if they have a baby or child seat. If they do that will save you a lot of trouble bringing one from home and carrying it around with you. What about taxis though? If you get a pre-arranged taxi transfer from the airport with George the Famous Taxi Driver or as part of a package through your travel agency make sure you request one. If you are taking street taxis don't expect them to have one. You will need to bring your own. Try to find one that is light and portable or else one that is part of a stroller and detachable. Mifold makes a booster seat that is portable but for very young children you may want something more substantial.

What Children think is Cool in Greece and what you think is cool in Greece may not be the same thing

Acropolis As children get older be prepared for the possibility that they may not find the beauty of Greece as stimulating as you do. They may think it's boring and never be happy until they are in the hotel room, jumping on the bed. The key is staying in one place. This sounds strange to us because we keep things interesting by moving on, visiting the next island, the next beach and changing our surroundings. Have you ever noticed how dogs only notice other dogs. When I am driving in my car with Byron in the front seat he stares out the windshield at the highway. I don't know if he has any idea what he is looking at or what is happening or that we are moving. But if he catches a glimpse of another dog he gets very excited and jumps up, looking through each window for the best view until the dog is out of sight and even then I can tell he is still thinking about it. Kids are the same way. You can take them to the rim of the volcano in Santorini and point to the ships below, the sunset, the other islands of lava bubbling from the depths and be totally impressed yourself at the magnificence of the scene, but if there is another child playing nearby or listening to the same boring lecture from his or her parent, that is all your child is interested in. You can go to the most beautiful beach in the world with sparkling azure seas and fish leaping from the sea to greet you, but if there are no other kids on the beach don't expect the fascination to last. For all your surroundings you may as well be taking a 10 hour car trip on I-95 with your child asking “are we there yet?” every two minutes. A remote secluded beach is great for couples with a new born baby but not for a child who knows what it is like to play with other kids. The irony is that if you want peace of mind then go with your kids to the crowded family beach because without other kids to bounce off of they will probably torture you. Quiet secluded paradises are boring to some little people. Same goes for the Parthenon. In the words of my 6 year old brother when we came upon the temple of Apollo in Aegina: "Oh no. Not another one of these things."

Kids on the Beach in Greece

Vathi, Sifnos If you are traveling with your family then a family beach is where you want to be. Forget about staying in the village and taking a bus to the beach. Find a place where the beach and the village are the same thing. Kamares, Vathi, Faros and Platiyialos in Sifnos are all great. Kamares is a long sandy beach in a large bay and the sea is generally calm even on windy days. What you want are cafes on the beach, restaurants on the beach and even rooms or hotels on the beach. What this means is that even if you don't feel like being on the beach all day your child can. You can still be a few feet away from them, doing your own thing. Most beaches have beach chairs and umbrellas for rent which seems to make kids more comfortable, like having a home. But the most important thing is that both beaches have other kids. Other good kid beaches are Agios Giorgios and Agios Prokopios on Naxos, Agios Ioannis Porto on Tinos, Otzias, Galiskari and several others on Kea, and just about any beach in the Cyclades Islands that does not face north and is in a cove. Mykonos has some beaches that fit that description but they are usually crowded. Most of the Santorini beaches face open sea. For that reason many people who go there want a hotel with a pool. All the beaches in Poros are sheltered and tree shaded though they don't compare to the Cyclades islands beaches. Hydra has some small pebble beaches but you have to walk a long way or take boats to them.

Skala Eressos, LesvosWhen we stay in Lesvos we have a choice of a few beaches. Skala Eressos (photo), is a mile long beach, a third of it lined with cafes where young parents watch their kids play in the sand and sea a few feet away. We find a spot in the vicinity of the largest group of kids. Within minutes our daughter is playing like she has known them for years, in fact when they leave for lunch she follows them and we follow her. Getting her into the car to leave is the only problem. Vatera Beach is a great place for kids and we stay at the Canadian owned Aphrodite Hotel not just because it is a beautiful hotel with a swimming pool, right on the beach, but because there always seems to be a lot of kids playing there. They also have a trampoline which was in use every minute of the day by the children staying at the hotel. Parents were able to relax on the beach or in the cafe-taverna while the kids endlessly jumped. Another decent place to stay in Lesvos if you have kids is Molyvos just because so many people who have kids stay there. The beach nearest the town is a little rocky but gets more sandy as you walk further away. But in terms of having a very nice sheltered bay with a sandy beach that is shallow and safe for very young children I think the town beach in Sigri is the best choice. And if you have a car there are half a dozen nice beaches within a 5 minute drive of Sigri, as well as a petrified forest.

Here's a great beach tip from a reader: Freeze 3/4 bottle of water overnight and take it to the beach, you get a slow melting cool sip for quite some time. Without the need for freezer bag etc.... great for when the kids were small and needed a quick refresh.

The Greeks and Kids

Baby Amarandi and Uncle Mitzo in Lesvos Greece is the land of a million baby-sitters. It's not like in America where if someone talks to your child in the park or the super-market your first thought may be that he is a pervert or a kidnapper. The Greeks love children and even the most grumpy old guy will light up if a child takes an interest in him. When we put Amarandi in the backpack she would love it because when we stopped to wait for the light to change so we could cross the street there would always be someone next to us or behind us talking to her, making faces, smiling at her and making her laugh. Kids generally attract attention from older people in Greece and when they are at eye level even more. Women will pinch her cheeks affectionately and call her a ‘koukla’ a word meaning doll and one of the few Greek words she knows. In the tavernas someone from the next table would adopt her and she would sit in their lap and they would entertain each other while we watched with enjoyment. When she would cry people would come over and play with her so she would stop. “Don't cry my little koukla” they would smile and pay such attention that whatever was bothering her would be forgotten. Sometimes Greek women would pick her up and dance with her around the room, swaying with exaggerated movement until they were both laughing. This is stuff that if it happened in the states you might feel nervous about. But in Greece it is totally innocent and unthreatening and it makes me wonder what is wrong with us?

Amarandi in Lesvos, GreeceHow come we don't enjoy kids the way the Greeks do? Sure we enjoy our own but can you imagine going up to a child at the next table who is crying, and trying to cheer him up? In my country most people's reaction would be “If you cannot keep your kid quiet can you get him out of here so I can enjoy my meal?”

Maybe it's the partitioning of ages in our culture. Old people don't have that much contact with the young in America, but in Greece its all one big happy family. You don't have to worry about your child bothering the old people at the next table because it is no bother at all. They take pleasure in your child in a kind and loving way. Even if they don't speak your language they will find a way to entertain with pictures drawn on napkins, folded figures, or cutting, peeling and feeding them the same fruit that the child refuses to eat when you give it to her.

Kids and Restaurants in Greece

Amarandi, Greek restaurant If you are traveling with one child or with two that are not getting along, your method of choosing a restaurants should be the same as choosing a beach. If there are two restaurants and one is a traditional Greek taverna filled with locals and a scattering of seasoned, and the other is a Greek fast food souvlaki joint but full of families and kids running wild, guess which one you will find the most peace. The second of course because no matter how much running around your child does with the Scandinavian kids from the next table, and no matter how many times you have to grab her as she races by chasing someone and tell her to behave, nothing is as bad as having the only unhappy child in the quaint traditional Greek Taverna. Anyway even in the crappiest fast food joint you can find something you will enjoy eating. Have a snack and wait until she runs out of steam and passes out in the stroller and you can go to the quiet traditional taverna and eat in peace. A good thing about Greece is the restaurants are open late. You just have to outlast your kids.

For older kids, a beach village like Kamares, Sifnos or Eressos, Lesvos is great because while you eat a leisurely meal and then relax and converse with your neighbors or friends you have made, the kids can run wild with the children of other travelers or with the locals. There are really very few dangers. The same goes for the Plaka in Athens since it is closed to automobile traffic.

Food for Kids who hate Greek food

Greece, travel with kids When all else fails you can always get eggs. Fried or scrambled. Omelets with cheese, ham or bacon, or my favorite, with feta, tomatoes, potatoes and onions. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. In restaurants, fast food joints or cafeneons, eggs can save the day. You can get spaghetti in just about any restaurant, with meat sauce, tomato sauce or just cheese. Pizza is available in many places too. The key is to get them interested in souvlaki because then life becomes a breeze. You can sit down to a quiet dinner and send them next door on their own to buy a souvlaki like it's a big cultural adventure. When we were kids that's all we ate. Cheese pies (tiropita) and spinach pies (spanakopita) are also easy to find and make great snacks. Most bakeries have a pizza of some kind. Sometimes it is long and skinny, like a cheese boat, called perneli, and even though it won't look like a pizza it does taste like one. Sort of. But you may luck out and they will have actual pizza too. There are also people on the street selling corn on the cob, chestnuts, roast nuts and a few other things including fruit.

Athens, GreeceHamburgers are generally awful, not that there is anything wrong with the meat but they have not mastered the ketchup thing yet. Of course you can break down and go to McDonalds but if you do then the battle is already lost Instead order beefteki in whatever restaurant you go to. It is like a big bun-less hamburger and almost every restaurant has them. Keftedes are little fried meatballs and they are usually a big hit. Chicken tastes like chicken anywhere only better and it's the least expensive meat on the menu. It comes with roast or fried potatoes. Get them to try the roasted ones first and if they don't like them switch to fries. Greek fried potatoes are amazing. Kids love them and in many places they are cooked in olive oil so you can enjoy them too. In places like Lesvos where fish are cheap you can get marides and gavros which are tiny deep fried fish that can be eaten whole. My daughter loves them and yours may too. Kids generally like fried kalamarakia (squid) if you can get them to try them.

Reward Systems for Good Behavior in Greece

travel with children In the town squares and in various locations around Athens are rides where you put a few euro-cents in the slot and your child can go around in circles on a train, ride a lightly bucking bronco or whirl in a stationary helicopter. Combined with ice-cream this makes a fulfilling evening activity for a child. Ice-cream is a key ingredient for a successful vacation. There are several Greek ice-cream companies and every café, restaurant or peripeto is the representative of one. You will see a brightly colored freezer box with doors on the top and large colored posters of each variety, expertly made to capture the attention of kids from any country. Names like Status, Boss, Overdose, and Choco-magnum will become familiar to you as you use them as a reward or a threat to keep your child behaving or eating what is on his or her plate. My daughter's favorite variety is a cup with a hollow bottom that contains a small toy. Some of the toys she really enjoyed and spent time playing with them which was really a bonus for us but sometimes they backfired and we were forced to spend hours trying to figure out what they were supposed to do or how to put them together. Another potential disaster was getting the same toy she had gotten before and it got to the point where we were holding our breath while she opened the secret flap underneath the plastic container.

National Gardens in AthensAn excellent good behavior reward or bad behavior remedy in Athens is the National Gardens across the street from Syntagma Square on Amalias Avenue. It's a square mile or so of semi tropical plants, trees and flowers and a variety of wildlife which could be described as predominantly winged, feathered and quacking. There is a nice pond full of these creatures and you can bring leftover bread from lunch, or buy some from a woman stationed nearby for your children to feed them. In fact you may be worried that they will eat your children for at times they will disappear from sight as the ducks surround them like they have not eaten in days, but generally they are harmless. Watch out for the geese though. They are bigger, braver and meaner, though thankfully fewer. There is a small zoo, pitiful by any but Greek standards, with a few goats, more ducks, some parakeets and a few other animals. In fact it is hard to tell which animals were brought here and which just showed up on their own. If you want to go to a real zoo then I recommend the Attika Zoological Park. It is mostly birds and some reptiles but there are a few surprises and it is a nice way to spend an afternoon or kill time waiting for a flight since it is near the airport.

The Stroller: An Essential Tool in Greece

Stroller on the ferryWhen Amarandi outgrew her stroller it was bad news for us. The stroller was an all purpose vehicle used for carrying luggage through the airport, from the ferry boats to the hotel and of course the purpose for which it was intended, carrying her. But where it was really missed was in the restaurants at night when it became a mobile bed that we could put her in when she fell asleep, or walk her in until she was asleep and we could continue the evening indefinitely. Our nights out got much shorter when she outgrew our faithful McLaren and we had to take her back to the hotel to put her to bed because she was getting to heavy to carry. In fact if they come up with a stroller for wives and teenagers I will definitely buy one. The entire downtown of Athens is pretty stroller friendly as are pretty much all of the islands. Get a lightweight collapsible type, the lighter the better.

The Backpack

Child backpackAfter the stroller, the backpack is the best thing ever invented for traveling with children (though some might argue the ipad is but that came much later). We walked all over Athens with Amarandi in her backpack and because her head was practically perched on my shoulder it was almost like having two heads that could talk to each other. Sometimes when she would get really quiet I had to see whether she was asleep or just totally interested in her surroundings. On the island of Kea, which is known for its ancient footpaths that go all over, we took her on a 3 hour hike to the ancient city of Karthea where few normal adults even go. Sometimes we would put her in the backpack and put our luggage in her stroller if we had to walk a long distance from the ferry to the hotel. Plus some places are just not suitable for a stroller, island villages with lots of steps for example. So if your child is still light enough for you to carry her on your back I highly recommend bringing a backpack.

The Best reason to bring a child to Greece

Vathi, Sifnos, GreeceA holiday with a baby in Greece gave us ample opportunity to watch our daughter grow and we were able to play with her much more then we would have in the states where work, TV, computers and the day to day maintenance of our lifestyle leaves a lot less time for child interaction. In Greece all we had was time, beautiful weather and a spectacular background where we were able watch our new child. To her there is no difference between Greece and a Seven-Eleven, it's all colors and newness, but to us watching her gave us a stronger awareness of ourselves as a family. Twenty something years later and we are still going back to Greece together every summer even though our little girl is now a college graduate. Every year was a little different and we watched her go from ice-cream and ducks in the park, to boyfriends, trips to the islands on her own (and God knows what kinds of adventures), to being a young woman who enjoys Greece the way we do and will probably bring her own child one day. Even if you don't manage to come to Greece every year I believe the time or times you do come will be among the best times of your lives. And maybe the lives of your children as well.

Kid Friendliest Places in Greece!

Kamares, SifnosKamares, Sifnos is one of the best beaches for families if not the best. A long sandy beach in a sheltered bay makes the beach wave free 99% of the time. The sea is shallow and there are restaurants and cafes so you can sit in the shade and watch your children play. The Stavros Hotel overlooks the beach and there are others just a short walk away. If you have teens there are a few bars and clubs but they are pretty tame. If you are looking for a beautiful resort hotel with a swimming pool and a large shallow pool for your children check out the Elies Resort in Vathi, Sifnos. The rooms are actually set up like small individual village houses so you have plenty of privacy and the beach village of Vathi has no cars! There is a parking lot at the entrance of the village and that's as far as you can drive. What could be more safe? Aegean Thesaurus Travel the local agency in Sifnos has the best rates for this and other hotels and can take a lot of the anxiety out of travel by coordinating your ferries and hotels in Athens and other islands. You can have the best of both worlds since there is a ferry connection between Sifnos and the popular island of Santorini if you have someone in the family that is determined to go there too. For more information about Sifnos see my Sifnos website.

Vatera Beach, LesvosVatera Beach on the island of Lesvos is 7km long, much of it undeveloped but the main area has sunbeds, umbrellas, cafes, fish tavernas and lots of children in the summer. The Hotel Aphrodite Beach is a great hotel for families. It is right on the beach, has its own taverna and there are lots of kids including the children of the Canadian owners. It also has a trampoline which will keep kids occupied for hours while you sit in the restaurant, eating dinner, drinking wine and watching them bounce. To make it even more enticing for families they put in a beautiful fresh water pool where for some reason most of the children want to be. The whole area is flat and the hotel has bicycles for their guests and there is a river full of turtles that you can feed your leftover bread to and watch them go crazy for it. There are some great restaurants nearby and hot springs too.

Sigri, LesvosThe village of Sigri in Lesvos is way off the beaten path but has a beautiful sheltered beach with shallow water that is perfect for children right behind the town. There is a restaurant right on the beach and two or three restaurants and cafes that overlook the beach. Very safe area since it is literally at the end of the road in Lesvos. There are also several other very nice beaches, some within easy walking distance and others a five minute drive. But most families stick to the town beach. Hotels and rooms are cheap and it rarely gets too hot since Sigri gets the northern exposure. Sigrion Villas is owned by a very friendly Greek-American family from Natches Mississippi, has a pool, and is inexpensive. Other child friendly options on Lesvos are Skala Eressos, Molyvos and Petra which are all towns right on the sea with nice beaches, good restaurants and plenty of children. But if you want a cheap holiday Sigri is your best bet. Some people are nervous about the refugee situation on Lesvos but the beach towns that don't face the coast of Turkey rarely see a refugee.

Tinos, GreeceOn the island of Naxos the southwest side of the island which faces Paros is a line of beaches that are sheltered from the north wind and are lined with hotels, cafes, restaurants and shops. The beaches are among the best in Greece with soft white sand and the sea the color of Indian turquoise jewelry. Stay in Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Plaka or Agios Giorgios if you want to be close enough to visit the town of Naxos. Paros also has some sheltered kid friendly beaches and both islands are fun to explore if you have a rental car. Most beaches that face the north will have waves on windy days which is why the most popular Greek island beaches face south. In Tinos (photo) stay in Agios Ioannis at the Porto Rafael Hotel which has a large garden and overlooks a sheltered bay. In Syros I suggest Kini which is a small beach village on the west side of the island. But I spent my first summer in Greece at the Hotel Hermes in the city of Hermoupolis. There is a stone beach behind the hotel. Milos and Serifos have dozens of beautiful child friendly beaches between them and if you go to these islands you will meet parents who like you are looking for a more traditional Greece than what you will find on Mykonos and Santorini.

Perissa Beach, SantoriniSantorini is the most popular island these days and everyone wants to stay in a white hotel on the cliffs. This may be impractical if you have small children. But there are plenty of places by the beach and some in town that are not perched precariously on the 1000 foot cliffs. Any Travel agent will know which hotels are kid friendly. The Hotel Aquavatos has gotten very high ratings as a beautiful kid-friendly hotel in tripadvisor. It is located in the beach town of Kamari, has a big pool and is a friendly family-run place and should not cost you an arm and a leg as many of the hotels in Thira and the caldera-view locations. But in general if you stay in Perissa (photo) or Kamari you can walk to the beach and there will be a lot of other kids around. But keep in mind that black sand is hot. In Mykonos the beach at Platiyialos is considered the most kid friendly. Not that other beaches are not kid friendly but you may not want your children watching college age students doing the things that your child will want to do when he or she gets to be that age. But despite Mykonos having the reputation of being a decadent party island it is still fun for families too. Chances are you will be in bed before the partying begins anyway. You should probably make sure your hotel is not anywhere near a bar or disco for that reason. If your child is of stroller age stay in Mykonos town and you can walk to the closest beaches. My suggestion is to book your hotel with a Greek Travel Agent who knows the island or use my Create-an-Itinerary-form and check the box that says 'happy family'.

Ioulida, KeaThe island of Kea which is a half hour drive and a one hour ferry trip from Venizelos International Airport in Athens has a number of features that make it a great place for families with children. There are perhaps a dozen beautiful beaches in sheltered coves. Otzia is the only one that faces north but is so sheltered that even when the sea is rough the eastern end of the beach is still calm. There are a number of hotels/rooms and two very good tavernas, one right on the beach. Two other beaches are in the port, and the rest you will want to rent a car to reach. The hilltop village of Ioulida has no automobile traffic and the main square and small streets are full of children in the summer. The island of Poros has several sheltered beaches though not of the quality of the beaches in the Cyclades. Hydra and Spetses, which also have no cars each have a few small pebble beaches that can be reached on foot or with small boats that run every twenty minutes or so.

Nafplion Ice Cream GelatoThere are plenty of other child friendly beach towns on other islands like Crete, Rhodes, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Corfu and other larger Greek islands but you need to do some research so you don't find yourself in a city environment far from the nearest nice beach. You can click on any of the island links and get a pretty good idea of where you should stay and if there are hotels on the beach chances are there will be families with children staying in them. In the Peloponessos the old town of Nafplion is a great place to stay in a very safe fairytale like environment, mostly closed to automobile traffic, with lots of small shops, cafes and restaurants and probably has more ice-cream-gelato shops than anywhere in Greece(photo). There is a town beach that is a twenty minute walk to get to and there are several nice sandy beaches within twenty minutes drive. If you want to stay right on the beach the resort town of Tolon has hotels and restaurants right on the sea. And it is located in the most historically and archaeologically rich area of Greece.

Mykonos HotelThere are many hotels in Greece that are geared towards families. They have children's pools, activities and even baby-sitters. Keep in mind that at certain ages the hotel will be your child's favorite place. Our daughter did not have much use for ancient Greek ruins and long car rides to see them and even some beaches she was not enthused about unless there were a lot of other kids there. But once we got to the hotel she was happy, jumping on the bed, plating with the TV, and if there was a pool, that was paradise. So even if you are on a budget my advice to you is find the hotel that your child will be most happy in because that is the one you will be most happy in too. You can find them on's Greece Page by using the search options. But the best way is by working directly with a Greek travel agency that knows the hotels and has experience booking families and can find you exactly what you need on the island you want to visit. Contact Fantasy Travel or Dolphin Hellas Travel.

Staying with Kids in Athens

The PlakaThere are small hotels in The Plaka and now that many other streets in downtown Athens have been converted to pedestrian walkways it is a lot easier to be in a safe environment. Finding a hotel with rooms that have 4 beds though is not that easy. Most hotels have doubles and triples (which means 2 and 3 beds). The Hotel Attalos only has a couple rooms for four so if you need one book early. They also have free wireless, a computer room with free computers, and you can walk to all the archaeological sites, restaurants, shops, cafes, museums and it is on the metro line, all of which are important factors when you are traveling with kids of any age. Some hotels have suites which are really 2 separate rooms with a common door. Most any hotel in downtown Athens will have you within a block or two of a park or pedestrian street. The Grande Bretagne, King George and the Plaza Hotel are right on Syntagma Square and thus connected though you have to cross a busy street to get to it. The Hotel Electra is on traffic free Ermou Street and the Athens Cypria is within half a block on a smaller pedestrian street. Nearby are the Hotel Athens Diamond Plus and the Athens Status Suites.

Koukaki, Athens In Makrianni the Hotel Hera, the Athens Was Hotel, Parthenon Hotel, Athens Studios and the Herodion Hotel are all on or within half a block of a pedestrian street that will connect you to the network. In The Plaka you can stay at the Electra Palace, Hotel Adonis, Hotel Adams, Hotel Adrian, Hotel Phaedra and Hotel Nefeli and never see a car traveling at more than 5mph. In Monastiraki the 360 Hotel Apartments and the A is for Athens are right on the square. For backpackers the Athens Style Hotel is on Ag Theklas street in the automobile free neighborhood of Psiri. The Hotel Attalos is also in Psiri and a block from Aeolou Street and the Hotel Tempi and the Emporikon Athens Hotel are both on Platia Irini Square. In Thission the Phidias Hotel is right on Apostolos Pavlou Street 250 metres from the Acropolis and the Hotel Acropolis View is just across from Filopapou Hill on a small pedestrian steet. See my Athens Hotel Guide which will tell you the best areas to stay in.

Epilogue: Teens

Amarandi in GreeceHow happy your pre-teens and teens are in Greece will depend somewhat on your relationship with them. If they are at that phase where they act like they hate you and get mad at you for anything you say then the best thing is for you to do what you want to do and if they don't like it, well too bad. But as harsh as that sounds, chances are that the only thing that will make them happy is being around other kids their age and any of the above information about where to go should apply to families with kids of all ages. However the older they are the less happy they will be in quiet beach towns so if you want them to enjoy themselves as much as you, or maybe more, then go to Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, and stay within walking distance to the main towns. That means stay in Mykonos town, Oia, Fira or Imerovigli in Santorini, Agios Giorgos in Naxos, Parikia or Naoussa in Paros, Chania, Crete, the City of Rhodes or Hermoupolis in Syros. They will probably love Nafplion and Kamares, Sifnos too. Be careful though. My daughter disappeared for an hour and came back with a nose ring on Syros and a few days later got her lip pierced on Mykonos. Or maybe it was the other way around. Anyway she did NOT get a tattoo in Greece which is good because the tattoo art there is not as good as you will find elsewhere. Also drinking laws are not really enforced. That means your teen can order drinks in cafes, bars and clubs. But at least you don't have to worry about them driving drunk (unless you allow them to rent a motorbike). As for them drinking wine with you at dinner, nobody will ever ask you how old your child is if they see them drinking with you. We had a couple hellish years when our daughter was between 13 and 15 but she became more reasonable by 16 and actually enjoyed hanging out with us and letting is pay for her meals before going out with her friends and staying out all night. In Greece it is very common in the summer on the islands for teens to go to the clubs and stay out all night, watch the sunrise and then get fresh hot bread or cheese-pies from the bakery before coming home and sleeping most of the day. If you can accept that your child is probably having a lot more fun than you are and that if you have instilled in them some common sense, there are not that many bad things that can happen to them. It is a lot safer than the USA at least.

Sifnos, GreeceWant a kids perspective to traveling in Greece? Take a look at Amarandi's website:Greece 4 Kids. She is the adorable small child shown in all the photos on this page. She is also the beautiful young woman shown with a glass of wine in the section on teens just above.

See also Traveling in Greece While Pregnant.

Athens for Kids!

ATHENS FOR KIDS is a group of Athenians that love their city and especially children. Some of us are also parents, play-therapists, actors, archaeologists, tour guides and artists. What better way to discover the magical city of Athens than playing with your children in the historical neighborhoods and gardens. Their tours are designed for children ages 4-10 by the best experienced team. Let your children play and make memories that will stay FOREVER.

ATHENS FOR KIDS  is the the best way for a child to learn about the culture of a city and its history in a play-FULL way! See their website

Helpful Books

What if there was a guide to the Acropolis of Athens, specifically written for children of the upper elementary grades? There is. Now you can prepare your children for their trip to the Acropolis of Athens, before you get there. Give them a copy of Let’s go to the Acropolis, the only workbook guide available in the English language. Let’s go to the Acropolis is a quick guide that answers many questions, and gives meaning to the site. Here the kids can read all they need to know about the myths and history of the Acropolis.

“This short guide for children, written by Aliki Ammerman, is a must for families or teachers who want to visit the Acropolis. It’s packed with historical information and includes more than 18 activities to hold any child’s interest during his visit. A time line, Who’s Who, and bibliography complete the book. We used this guide as a textbook for our fieldtrip to the Acropolis for many years. Our students learned the basic facts, and enjoyed the activities. We became scholars and not just “tourists.” This revised edition continues to be child-friendly, comfortable and accessible.” Cheryl Makris, former fifth grade teacher, American Community Schools of Athens, Greece.

For ordering as an E-book go to

Fotinoula and the Christmas Goblin by R.G. Fraser-Green

Step into a dark and deliciously disturbing Christmas tale...

"Never forget how devious a Kallikantzaros can be. It will try to snatch Mirtoula. It will keep trying until it has her. And if it succeeds you’ll never see your sister again."

11-year old Fotinoula doesn’t believe her grandfather when he warns her about the Christmas goblins. After all, the Kallikantzaroi were just an old Greek myth. Creatures with blood-red eyes didn’t really climb up from the underworld during the Twelve Days of Christmas to steal little children, and certainly not in a busy city like Athens. But Fotinoula soon discovers that some folktales have more truth to them than others. With her father away at sea and only an old book for guidance, she must summon up all her courage and problem-solving skills to save her little sister from one of these hideous creatures. In the process she comes to realise just how much her sister means to her. A thrilling battle of wits between girl and goblin in snow covered Athens, this touching story will delight fans of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and Tracey Baptiste’s The Jumbies. Greek customs, music, food and history are woven together to bring alive a fascinating culture and a rather creepy festive folktale. A great Christmas gift for 9-12 year olds or any lover of a scary story with heart. Buy on Amazon

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