Top 5 Greek islands for family vacations
The British newspaper The Telegraph published the list with the 5 Greek islands ideal for family holidays. For a family holiday, the magic of a Greek island escape is unparalleled. Each of the myriad islets and larger isles scattered in the unbelievably blue waters of the Ionian and Aegean Seas conjures idyllic scenery, varied beaches and unspoiled charm.
Smaller islands invite exploration of every cove and kooky rock form; the larger islands offer a landscape seeped in myth and adventure.
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Relaxation here comes with a glass of robola wine, a donut ride at the water sports centre and the tonic of sea air on sun-gilded skin. With its wild, mountainous charm and a lively capital in Argostoli, this Ionian jewel has exotic beaches edged by rugged cliffs, welcoming resorts at Lassi, even a touch of Hollywood glamour in its history as the setting for the film of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Beaches come white pebbled – most stunningly at Myrtos Bay – and in long sandy stretches at Lourdas and Skala in the south. The coastline has castles, monasteries and lovely tavernas serving fish and Kefalonia meat pie. If you seek activities beyond the beach, there are plenty of rewarding outings. Paliki Peninsula is popular for walkers. Fiskardo ranks as the prettiest village. Assos with its nearby Venetian fortress is well worth a visit, while the Drogarati Caves and the mysterious subterranean Melissani Cave-Lake never fail to enthral. A spot of island hopping is always desirable. From Kefalonia, you can visit nearby Ithaca – fabled as the home of Odysseus.
If you choose Zakynthos as your family base, a short boat trip takes you to the pure paradise that is Marathonisi aka Turtle Island, the magnificent Blue Caves, or to the iconic “Shipwreck” beach, a white pebble cove sheltered by high cliffs.
With its well-organised resorts and family-friendly seafront hotels, Zakynthos is a great place to take to the water. Snorkelling and scuba diving comes with special effects as light is reflected through clear turquoise waters in underwater caves. You can surf, sail and swim among sea turtles. For younger children, the beach at Cape Geraki has pristine sand and a gentle shelf into the water.
Teenagers, the most difficult age group to cater for on holiday, love Rhodes. Here daytime fun on beaches at resorts like Faliraki evolves into buzzy nightlife. The water sports centres provide excellent facilities and a party crowd, while the old walled town of Rhodes has an impressive medieval citadel, shops and cafes. The capital of the Dodecanese islands has all-round family appeal: miles of exotic beaches, perfect surf conditions on the west coast and lots of tiny coves to colonise for the day.
You can arrange a diving and boat trip to Mandraki harbour where the 40-metre statue of the Colossus of Rhodes is said to have once stood. A trip to Lindos, with its ancient acropolis towering above a picturesque whitewashed village, is another rewarding excursion. The water sports centres provide excellent facilities and a party crowd, while the old walled town of Rhodes has an impressive medieval citadel, shops and cafes.
Here, you are spoiled for excellent beach-front hotels offering family-oriented accommodation and daily activity programmes to entertain children. Corfu Old Town offers visual entertainment for all ages with remarkable architecture and labyrinthine narrow streets to explore on foot or by horse-drawn carriage. For a novel treat, book tickets for an open-air summer cinema, which screen cartoons through to arthouse movies. An evening spent in a cool garden under the stars in front of a silver screen is both an authentically Greek experience and the perfect way to relax with children after a hot day.
Families return year after year to Crete, the largest Greek island said by the writer Saki to have “produced more history than it can consume locally”. Crete’s inexhaustible charms include mountains and the Samaria Gorge to trek through, ancient Minoan ruins to visit, fabulous food and wineries, glorious beaches, and rare birds and flowers to spot. The historical artefacts are a treasure trove to inspire kids. Many of the exhibits at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum were found at the ruins of the Palace of Knossos, home of the mythical labyrinth where Theseus slew the Minotaur.
Look out for the Phaistos Disk, a clay tablet inscribed with mysterious symbols, and the black-stone Bull’s Head which was used for pouring ritual wines. Other top recommendations include a visit to the stalactite-adorned Dikteon Cave, said to be the birthplace of Zeus, and a boat trip from Agios Nikolaos to the magical uninhabited island of Spinalonga with its great Venetian fortification. Elafonisi, a pink-sand delight, is a beach that enchants on every level. Separated from an islet by a sheltered tidal lagoon of knee-deep water, it’s perfect for small children.