With its countless sun-dazzled islands dotted with toddler-friendly beaches, fun activities for older children, and fascinating cities where families can enjoy a raft of thrilling activities (often for pennies or for free), glorious Greece is one of the world’s best – and safest – family-friendly destinations. You’ll feel the welcoming vibe as soon as you step off the ferry or plane.
In fact, this is a country where – from tots to teens – they absolutely adore children. Be prepared to feel like you're accompanying tiny celebrities as kid-loving yia yias (grandmas) and friendly hotel staff shower attention on your little ones.
Is Greece good for kids?
Whether you’re planning an island-hopping adventure, want to linger in magical museums, hike out to see world-class archaeological sites or splash about on a string of stunning beaches, Greece is a Pandora’s box bulging with surprising treats for kids of all ages.
In this chaotic and colorful country, however, facilities – including ramps for strollers and even lifts – can be few and far between, so you’re better off with a baby carrier when traveling or sightseeing.
Larger Greek airports are generally well equipped, with nappy changing rooms and rest areas – Athens airport even has a designated play area. Greece’s excellent flag carrier Aegean Airlines allows parents with young children to board flights first.
Public toilets are few and far between in Greece, except in touristy areas. However, most cafes in this family-friendly country will allow you to use their facilities if your kids are really dying to go.
Which areas of Greece are best for kids?
Surrounded by balmy turquoise waters and studded with soft sand beaches or pebbled strips perfect for snorkeling, Greece’s 300+ inhabited islands are a magnet for families. Meander through traffic-free Hydra with its cobbled streets, tiny alleys and donkeys (they carry the suitcases), or go big in Crete, Greece’s megalo nisi (big island) with silk sand beaches such as Elafonisi and Karavostasi.
Feeling adventurous? Take a boat out to visit Spinalonga Island or deserted Chrissi Island, or get your adrenaline pumping in one of the island’s waterparks. Greece has no limit on ways to keep the kids enthralled.
With its uneven streets, lack of sidewalks and busy traffic, Athens often gets bad press as a family-friendly destination. Away from the bustling main arteries, however, you’ll find quieter traffic-free areas such as Anafiotika, with its Cycladic-style cubic houses and winding alleys decked with bougainvillea or Lykavittos Hill (reached by a panoramic funicular) where you won’t need to keep the kids on such a tight rein.
With countless green spaces and play areas, there are plenty of places to let off steam in the city that invented democracy. Many museums, including the Acropolis Museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art, also have special children’s programs, along with games and interactive exhibits that make the visit a lot more fun.
Best things to do in Greece with babies and toddlers
Seek out beautiful beaches
Greece is famed for its myriad islands, each with its own sun-drenched string of beaches ranging from toddler-friendly talc-soft sands lapped by shallow balmy waters to teen-friendly resorts with beach games and lively cafes.
Naxos, the lesser-known Cycladic sister of Santorini and Mykonos, has some spectacularly lovely golden sand beaches, especially near Plaka and Agios Prokopios. From secret pebble-lined coves to sheltered bays and endless stretches of sand, Crete is also an excellent destination for beach babes.
Surprisingly, even Athens has an array of child-friendly beaches along its glitzy 30-km-long Riviera, just a 30-minute metro ride from Syntagma Square.
Take the Choo Choo train
Throughout Greece’s larger islands such as Zakynthos and Crete, and even on the mainland, you’ll find the trainaki, tiny tourist trains that amble along the coastline or head inland to visit traditional villages. Apart from the gentle jogging motion of the train, little ones will be thrilled to smell orange blossom, wave at passing yia yias (who will surely wave back) and watch chickens and goats wandering along the dusty roads.
Enjoy a cruise
What could be better than a half-day cruise to excite younger kids? With the added advantage that – worn out by the thrill of gliding across sparkling waves and watching birds and maybe even dolphins – the rocking motion is perfect for lulling them gently off to sleep, whilst mum and dad relax and enjoy a glass of prosecco or a tasty snack.
For the best experience, pick larger ships which are more stable than smaller boats and make sure there’s a cabin where you and the kids can escape the sun. A half-day catamaran tour – with food and drinks included – across the calm waters of Santorini’s caldera is ideal.
Best things to do in Greece with kids
Climb the hill to the Acropolis
To quote a recent tourism campaign for Athens, the city is the museum. It is packed with beautiful sites and sights, and kids will love bringing their history lessons to life as they clamber along ancient paved paths to see the Acropolis, with its iconic Parthenon and a temple dedicated to the goddess of victory, Athena Nike (now you know how those trainers got their name, kids!)
In order to get a handle on all that history it's better to visit the archaeological museum first – with its interactive exhibits and children’s programs, the new museum is far more kid-friendly than the old one. It’s also a good idea to buy an Athens City Pass that gives skip-the-line access or take a private family tour with a registered guide who can talk about all the myths and legends as you climb to the top of that dramatic limestone crag.
Follow in famous footsteps
If your family was glued to the TV watching the recent BBC series about the eccentric animal-loving Durrells or sang along with all the ABBA hits during the madcap musical Mamma Mia!, there are plenty of tours that will show you the filming locations.
In Corfu, where the Durrells lived from 1936 until the outbreak of WWII in 1939, highlights include seeking out the spots in Corfu’s Old Town where filming took place and visiting the White House – now a beautiful restaurant – where Lawrence Durrell once lived with wife, Nancy.
Skopelos – aka Kalochairi (Greek for summer) – is where most of the scenes for Mamma Mia! were filmed. You can visit the cliff where Sophie and her prospective fathers jumped into the sea, and climb to that tiny church on top of a rock where the wedding finally took place.
Seek out the legends
Most kids are fascinated by the legend of the terrible Minotaur and a trip to Knossos on Crete to see the Palace where the monster is said to have roamed is a great way to bring legends to life. Another one that’s guaranteed to thrill older children is Ancient Akrotiri, on the volcanic island of Santorini.
Known as "Greece’s Pompeii", the city was buried under tons of lava and ash following a volcanic eruption circa 1600 BCE. The museum has many wonderful exhibits, including ancient frescoes and some of the original palatial villas, that give a fascinating insight into the life and times of the sea-loving Minoans.
Another site that kids will love – and not just because of the 30-minute ferry ride over dolphin-spotted seas to get there – is Delos. Children of all ages love leaping from seat to seat in the ancient 6500 seater amphitheater or playing hide and seek in the Terrace of the Lions with its eponymous lion head fountains, on this vast uninhabited islet that was the mythical birthplace of twins Apollo and Artemis.
Best things to do in Greece with tweens and teens
Tour like an Olympian
An exciting way to explore the city that was home to the first modern Olympics is to join an Olympic training tour of Athens. You’ll need to be fit, but thankfully not to Olympian standards, in order to join this two-hour exploration. The journey starts at the Zappeion and you’ll see how the ancient Olympic athletes once did their workouts.
After the tour, it’s time to get physical as you try your hand at some of those ancient sports, including javelin-tossing and discus-throwing, before the ultimate thrill: racing around the tracks of the magnificent Panathenaic Stadium that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
Learn about local wildlife conservation
Greece is a haven for wildlife and nature-loving older kids will enjoy getting involved in local conservation efforts. Pay a visit to Archelon, a sea turtle rescue center on Zakynthos, and learn about all the work they do to monitor and protect this endangered species. You can even take a walk along a nesting beach and see how the turtles make these safe spaces their home.
Prefer equines? Head for Corfu and give a helping hand at the Donkey Rescue. The staff work incredibly hard to give a new lease of life to these mistreated animals and it's wonderful to witness them relaxing into their new peaceful home.
Delve into the traditional lifestyle
From the unique mountain-top hamlet of Olympos in Karpathos, where local women still dress in colorful traditional clothes, to the folklore museums that you’ll find in most of the larger villages such as Margarites in Crete, Greece contains a multitude of ancient cultures. The locals are rightfully proud of their traditions and love the chance to share this knowledge with a new generation.
With very few roads and little or no traffic, smaller Greek islands like Syros and Tinos are often very cycle friendly and you can rent pedal-powered and electric bicycles for children in most of the larger resorts.
For a pollution-free experience take your pedal-loving family to Astypalea, which is the first Greek island to adopt electric buses and cars as part of a huge push to embrace green energy and protect the beautiful landscape.
If you’re traveling on ferries in high season with small children, be prepared to cope with the crowds. It’s well worth being one of the first in line when you get onboard: in theory, seats are assigned but in practice, everyone generally sits wherever they like.
You should also line up near the exit door well before the boat docks because the ferries have a fast turnaround. Since the scrum to get off the boat is generally hectic, it’s well worth arranging a meeting place with younger family members on dry land (the first cafe or shop that you see) in case you get separated.
If you’re planning to go off the beaten track or head for one of the smaller lesser-known islands, make sure you bring cash – ATMs don’t always work and very few smaller shops accept credit cards. You should also bring any special baby meals or medical items that you can’t do without, as smaller shops won’t necessarily stock the goods you’re used to (although larger supermarkets almost certainly will).