The legendary Greek Islands—brimming with boundless blue skies, cerulean seas, showstopping sunsets, and warm hospitality—are far from a hard sell, even for families with the hardest-to-please kids in tow. On the very best Greek Islands for families, your kids can enjoy sun-kissed days spent frolicking on postcard-perfect shores, or time-traveling adventures through ancient myths and civilizations while beholding extraordinary old ruins.
If it’s active adventure you’re after, there’s plenty of that, too, whether wild water sports or volcano hikes are more your family’s speed. Or, there’s the simple fun of exploring the mazes of traditional island villages on foot, where untold discoveries await—you might turn up a vantage point for epic scenery, tucked-away works of art, or perhaps some friendly alley cats on any one outing.
Refueling in Greece is a reward all its own—most island eateries will welcome your brood with open arms (in some cases, literally!), where you can fill up bellies with kid-friendly and healthy Mediterranean fare, topped off with towering ice cream treats.
In the end, it might not be a single destination or activity that wins your child over, but rather, the simplicity of Greek island life and the break from the routine that it affords. Indeed, the slow-paced, no-muss, no-fuss rhythm here means that the whole family gets to chill out, kick back, and reconnect, without the stresses of a jam-packed schedule.
So with over 200 inhabited islands to choose from, how do you know which are the best Greek Islands for kids? We’ve narrowed down the list here to six of the best Greek Islands for families, each promising a vacation destination that both you and your young ones will love.
Kids will have a blast telling their friends back home that they vacationed in the mythical “Lost City of Atlantis” as Santorini (also known as Thíra) is believed to be in some circles. Situated in the Cyclades, this gem of the Aegean is among the most storied of all the Greek Isles, world-famous for its idyllic whitewashed villages, spectacular sunsets, turquoise waters, and vertiginous clifftop perch atop the rim of a still-active volcano—whose massive caldera (crater) is submerged under the sea.
Rightfully lauded as a top destination for romance, happily, this volcanic playground actually makes a great family vacation spot, too. You can ponder the exceptional setting while on a family-friendly catamaran tour that will take you out to sail the caldera, where you’ll make stops to explore the so-called “Volcano Island,” dip into sulfuric hot springs, and swim in the private bay of Saint Nikolas.
For more beach time, your kids will adore splashing about on Santorini’s distinctive volcanic beaches, touting almost extraterrestrial landscapes with features like red volcanic rocks or fine black sands (for the latter, try Perivolos Beach).
Or, inspire young history buffs at the island’s archeological wonder at Akrotíri, a “Greek Pompeii” where a prehistoric Minoan civilization was preserved under a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in the 17th century B.C. The well-preserved and excavated site will surely activate your kids’ imaginations as they ponder ancient life here, as revealed through glimpses of the settlement’s ancient homes, shops, and artworks—squint a little, and you might even imagine it as the Lost City of Atlantis indeed.
And don’t miss whiling away a few hours wandering the labyrinthine alleyways of Santorini’s main picture-perfect villages at Oia or Fira, with their whitewashed and blue-domed Cycladic architecture and clifftop settings that overlook the sea. (Tip: In Oia, kids will love the scenic cable car ride down to the port).
Sure, world-renowned Mykonos is chic and cosmopolitan—and probably best known for its pumping nightlife scene that only really starts up way past most parents’ bedtimes. But if you’re willing to skip out on the jet-setting party scene here, you’ll find a paradise that’s positively primed for family adventuring, too.
Set in the Cyclades, Mykonos’s beaches certainly don’t disappoint. Pack up the clan and make way for Kalafatis Beach, where powdery white sands lined by sun loungers, water sports outfitters, and calm and clear waters are a favorite with European families (and not so much with the party-hearty crowds of other bustling Mykonos shores like Paradise or Super Paradise beaches).
A stroll through Mykonos Town with the brood will feed all of your kids’ selfie fantasies, with photogenic landmarks like an iconic row of white windmills, as well as the historic, waterfront Little Venice district. Young explorers will love navigating the narrow maze of lively pedestrianized streets here, lined by whitewashed, cubist Cycladic architecture, and met by the sea, bougainvillea, and a host of inviting cafés and boutiques.
Don’t miss the short boat ride over to neighboring, UNESCO-protected Delos, a seemingly frozen-in-time and now uninhabited island—apart from the ghosts of the ancients, that is. Legend holds that this once sacred island was the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis—a mythology evidenced by the partially standing Great Temple of Apollo (dating to 477 B.C.). Your kids will relish in soaking up the history and letting their imaginations soar as they pass by ancient theaters, Hellenistic mansions, and evocative statues.
With so much diversion, it’s little wonder that Mykonos is one of the best Greek Islands for families.
Hopping over to the Ionian Sea, off the west coast of Greece, multicultural Corfu (also known as Kerkyra) has long been situated at a coveted crossroads in the Mediterranean—with the imprint of the Venetians, French, and British who came before still evidenced in old fortresses, soaring churches, fairy-tale palaces, and weathered estates. It’s no wonder so many were drawn here, what with near-perfect year-round weather, a gorgeous mountains-meet-the-sea landscape, and verdant valleys filled in with olive, fruit, and cypress trees.
Kids will love uncovering some of the island’s many charms during an adventurous stroll through the cobblestoned streets, narrow passageways, hidden-away squares, and vaulted gateways of Corfu’s well-preserved, UNESCO-designated Old Town, with its hodgepodge of Venetian, French, British, and Greek architectural influences. Getting lost is half the fun, especially with your little navigators to lead the way!
Kids into mythology, meanwhile, might appreciate exploring the grounds and ogling the over-the-top opulence of the 19th-century Achilleion Palace—it was built by royals to honor the Greek hero Achilles (you’ll find statues depicting him in the vast gardens out back).
Of course, it wouldn’t be one of the best Greek Islands for kids without the beach. Corfu certainly doesn’t want for them: Lively Glyfada Beach is a great choice for youngsters and adults alike. Situated on the west side of the island, at the foot of a verdant hill, its golden, sandy shores and crystal-clear waters welcome families for long days of lapping up the sun and surf. Plus, water sports rentals and tavernas are within easy reach.
Another great choice for a family beach escape is the beautiful Bay of Paleokastritsa, where plunging cliffs meet sheltered, pebbled coves and cobalt seas to stunning effect.
The largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands—and one of the Mediterranean’s most famous island retreats—sunny Rhodes combines natural beauty, including large swaths of golden beaches, with a lengthy legacy; it’s been a pretty popular place for visitors East and West, since ancient times.
A stroll through the fortified Old Town—one of the largest and best-preserved medieval towns in Europe—doesn’t disappoint young travelers, with its network of cobblestoned streets, bustling squares, bubbling fountains, and fortress-like features like turreted gates and towering walls. Your kids can channel their inner knights while envisioning the days when the Knights of St. John once roamed the city (in fact, Rhodes is still dubbed “the island of the knights”).
Rhodes history goes further back still. The commanding Acropolis of Lindos is one of the island’s most impressive sites, where budding history buffs can explore the remains of an ancient city that includes the 4th-century B.C. Temple of Athena Lindia, as well as relics of an old theater and stadium.
Or maybe your kids simply love bugs? That’s one other surprise factor that makes Rhodes one of the best Greek Islands for families. Skip over to the so-called “Valley of the Butterflies,” where a lush ecosystem of forests and lakes put forth ideal conditions for the panaxia quadripunctaria butterflies, which show up here in droves to breed. (Tip: The summer months are the best time to witness this spectacular display of winged visitors.)
The wee ones might also get a kick out of visiting the local bee museum, filled in with curiosities like transparent beehives. You’ll get to sample local honey, too.
There are plenty of golden beaches worthy of lazing away on, but for a different take on water play, consider rejuvenating with the clan in Rhodes’s seaside Kallithea Springs, where the thermal waters are said to have healing properties.
The largest island in Greece, Crete weaves together some real kid-pleasers, including an ancient and myth-steeped history (dating back to Neolithic times), and an invite for adventure into the great outdoors, thanks to imposing mountains, vast valleys, and gorges galore. And, of course, as requisite for any of the best Greek Islands for families, plenty of perfect beaches, too—made even more accessible by the island’s seemingly endless summer.
For superlative sun, surf, and sand, head to the waterfront village at Agioi Apostoloi, where a series of adjacent coves invite beach time with the brood on Aegean shores. For a dip in another scenic body of water, stop by pretty Lake Kournas, with its fringe of lush vegetation.
Bring yet another history lesson to life for the kids at the outstanding archaeological site of Knossos. The ancient Minoan city was the site of the palace for King Minos (the structure’s roots date back to 2000 B.C.)—and it was also, according to legend, home of the bull-headed Minotaur.
The rest of the isle is likewise rich in tales of ancient Greek mythology—it was the reputed birthplace of Zeus, after all. That legacy was further enriched still by the long parade of visitors who passed through and left their marks here: Romans, Arabs, pirates, Byzantines, Venetians, and Turks among them. A family stroll through the Old Town invites further investigation, with its old mansions, fountains, monuments, and alleyways pointing to the island’s distinctive cultural heritage.
Greek Islands don’t skimp on sensational beaches, but idyllic Zakynthos (also known as Zante) might just beat them all. With its translucent blue seas, rugged cliffs, verdant valleys, and white-sand beaches, this Ionian Sea jewel offers up the kinds of beaches that are sure to make family vacation memories of a lifetime.
You might recognize iconic Shipwreck Beach (or Navagio Beach) from the glossy pages of your favorite travel magazine—accessible by boat, kids of all ages will be blown away by these secluded shores and turquoise waters, which come framed by towering cliffs. And, as you may have guessed, it has its very own shipwreck, too, which sits atop the white sands here, begging for the attention of little explorers.
Another remote treasure is Zakynthos’s Marathonisi Island National Marine Park—set on an uninhabited island, future marine scientists can learn more about the island’s conservation efforts and its underwater world. If you’re very lucky, you might even spot one of the endangered loggerhead turtles that come ashore here to breed.
For more nature encounters, visit Askos Stone Park, a wildlife sanctuary and nature preserve where your kids can learn more about the island’s unique fauna and flora and even feed some of the animals.
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