Holidays with children in Greece
Family holidays in Greece
Greece is an extremely family-friendly holiday destination. I have travelled with my children in Greece from when they were only a few weeks old, and it has always been a great experience. Greek people absolutely adore children of all ages, and while not always finding a totally organised infrastructure for families with children wherever we went, we have always felt very welcome with our boys. There were moments they were cranky, noisy, crying or embarrassingly messy with their food, but there have never been annoyed looks our way, or complaints of any sorts. Try reprimanding your kids in public, and what you will get is “Δεν πειράζει, παιδάκια είναι” – freely translated as “don’t worry, they’re just little children”. People are relaxed and tolerant when it comes to your little ones, so you can be too during your vacations in Greece.
Family-friendly hotels in Greece
I think one of the very few family trips that did not quite live up to our expectations was when we went for a long weekend to a resort with all sorts of facilities for children. We thought the boys would have a great time in the “kids’ club” – they thought it was dreadful. Never again. Truth of the matter is that most small hotels in Greece are totally child-friendly, even if they don’t have kids’ clubs, entertainers and playrooms. (There are some hotels that prefer to not host families with young children for security reasons or because they have chosen to offer a particular quiet environment for their guests.)
Many hotels have family rooms or suites, interconnecting rooms, small apartments or family cottages. Accommodation often comes with kitchenettes where you can easily warm up some baby food or prepare something yourself, and when it doesn’t, the hotels will usually find a way to help you out. Cots/cribs for babies and toddlers up to two years old are generally available, but you should ask for what you need when you make your booking.
If you travel with young children, keep in mind that swimming pools are usually not fenced off or otherwise protected, and that there are no lifeguards, so you will have to keep an attentive eye on your little ones.
Taking your children to restaurants in Greece
Eating out with children in Greece is the easiest thing. Forget about highchairs, special kids’ menus, or waiters who bring colouring books and pencils together with the menu. Instead, what you will get is a compliment how adorable your children are, a few pillows to put on a chair if needed, total flexibility as to what you want to order, fast service, and no frowning if your kids get up and run around a bit.
If your kids are too young to appreciate the choriatiki (the famous Greek salad), ask for the salad they will like. Cucumber salad, tomato salad, beetroots, grated carrots… Ask for fasolakia – green beans cooked in tomato sauce. Let them dip some bread in tzatziki (yogurt cucumber dip). Spoil them with fries. Get gigantes – large white beans in tomato sauce. Keftedes (small meatballs) are always a hit. Fried octopus. Pastitsio (a Greek version of lasagna). And of course, there is always the fallback option: the macaronada – a large plate of well-cooked spaghetti, served with a basic pasta sauce.
Travelling with children in Greece – a few FAQs
Should we bring diapers with us?
No, just bring what you need for the first few days, so you don’t need to go diaper shopping as soon as you arrive in Greece. You should stock up only if you go to remote villages or very small islands, but otherwise, diapers (including of the brands you know!) are available in any mini- or supermarket.
We are renting a car. Should we bring our own car-seat(s) for our children?
Most rental companies have car seats available, but ask when you make your booking and make sure you get a written confirmation they will reserve one for you.
Anything else we should bring?
You will find pretty much everything you may need in Greece, but a few things are good to have at hand, especially if you are coming for summer holidays with your children. Bring (or buy locally before doing anything else) sun-protection and a well-fitting cap or hat for during the day (but I recommend you avoid being in the sun between 11 am and 3 pm – use that time for a leisurely lunch and a siesta), and child-safe mosquito repellent and after-bite for the evenings.
Is it easy to go around with a stroller/pushchair?
It depends. We were living in the centre of Athens when the kids were very young, and going around with a stroller was not easy. It is nice there are trees providing shade in the capital – but it’s less nice that many are in the middle of the sidewalks, and, if you add to that illegally parked cars, manoeuvring with a stroller sometimes is a bit of a challenge. Keep in mind also that places like Monemvasia, the Zagorohoria, the villages of Pelion etc., while being wonderfully car-free and safe, have cobbled lanes and steps, and not easy to negotiate with anything on wheels.
Is there a lot of entertainment for children?
Well, that depends on where you go and what you expect. When our kids were young and we travelled with them, we would always bring some small toys and a couple of favourite books to keep them happy during ferry crossings or siesta time. A few locally purchased (or borrowed) sand toys and later on snorkelling equipment were all we needed to have fun on the beach. Villages often feel like one big playground, our boys would always find playmates at central squares and car-free alleys. We have always been having a great time without any organised activities, but if you want some for your kids (or yourselves), the relatively touristy islands have plenty to offer: water sports, boat hire, pony rides, water parks, you name it.
Will we have access to medical care wherever we go?
Yes, there are medical centres everywhere in Greece, and even if some may look pretty basic, the doctors are extremely capable, and, especially in small islands and remote places, totally risk averse. We have had plenty of small emergencies, and I have nothing but praise for the (free!) care our children have had.