The Greek islands are so classically lovely that they should be packed with tourists all year. And yet, because of the journey to get there, many stay marvelously untouched and utterly true, accomplishing the near-impossible of offering paradise and calm in the same breath. Even in high season, the Greek islands provide holiday bliss, from the quieter side of the Cyclades to the famous sands of the Ionians.
Greek cities and towns are diverse, whether visiting the mainland or the islands. The seven best sites and cities to visit in Greece with your family may introduce you to local charm, historical grandeur, and the alluring hum of traditional culture, regardless of your children’s age.
Best Places to Visit in Greece With Family
There are Minoan-era temples and gloriously pristine beaches that appear immune to 21st-century expansion, as well as unplugged harbor villages, an abundance of watersports, and top-notch tavernas everywhere you turn. Here are our recommendations for the best Greek islands for families.
The island of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is so exquisite, from storybook fishing villages to idyllic beaches, that it nearly feels fictitious. Cephalonia is not your usual Greek island for families; it’s wilder and more rugged than others, but it also has little coves with steps down to sapphire-blue seas and beach bars where you’ll have the place to yourself outside of summer.
Visitors typically gravitate toward the southern resorts at Argostoli and Lassi, but the north around Fiskardo is an insider’s secret—a quiet spit of land where postcard villages give way to stunningly pristine bays. To see the island properly, you must rent a car.
If the Cyclades islands are the most popular Greek holiday destination, then Naxos is the party-free pin-up, with family-friendly hotels and PG-friendly activities galore.
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The beaches here are inevitability standouts—the island has more than 60 miles of them—but many are worth highlighting since they’re shallow, accessible, and feature a lifeguard. St. George Beach, Agios Prokopios, and Plaka have curve appeal, while those near Chora provide horse rides, and Laguna Beach is famous for windsurfing in super-safe seas.
If you enjoy a family kitchen disco, this Sporades island is for you and your supertroopers. It’s where Mamma Mia! was filmed, and its ultramarine coves, lonely churches, and fudgy dunes have plenty of room to roam now that the film’s buzz has faded.
Aside from the movie enchantment beaches, boat tours, and water sports, island hopping is a thrill here: gimme, gimme, gimme day trips to Skiathos and Alonissos, with Europe’s largest marine park.
Corfu, a perennial favorite, has seen a rebirth in recent years, and the island that for so long bore the brunt of the package holiday burden is now more concerned with boutique hotels, tasting meals, and health trends.
The Venetian-influenced heritage, family-friendly beaches, and fantastic towns, particularly on the north coast, haven’t altered. The island is ideal for day trips. Play king of the castle in the Old Fortress; relax on the beaches of Paleokastritsa, Canal d’Amour, or Avlaki; sail to nearby Paxos to see the resident monk seals; or delve into the secrets of Vlacherna Monastery.
While Zakynthos and Corfu continue to attract tourists, this southwestern portion of the Ionian Sea is nevertheless teeming with smaller satellites with pebbly beaches and tangled olive orchards.
Meganisi, off the shore of Lefkada, is one such site. Apart from the two harbor towns of Vathi and Spilia, this is Greece as it was in the 1960s, with students still ferrying across to Lefkada for education. The way of life is laid-back, and there is little else to do besides beachcombing, swimming, and pony trekking.
Most families travel to the Dodecanese to visit Rhodes, but while the island has lots of golden beaches, they can be crowded; not so in neighboring Halki.
It’s the archipelago’s smallest populated island, with only one hotel proper, yet it captures the imagination with a crusader-built castle, Popeye-style captain’s homes, and boat-accessible beaches. There are no waterparks or thrill-a-minute activities here, but there is plenty of calm peace, and a slow pace.
Everyone is familiar with the Cyclades Islands’ heavyweights. However, for a more relaxed and low-cost family vacation than Mykonos or Santorini, this small speck features an abundance of comet-trail beaches.
There are sandy beaches, a cliff-edge monastery, an archaeological museum, and excellent kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Your children will be unconcerned, but French director Luc Besson filmed The Big Blue here, and the seascape is as cinematic as ever.
Despite the Cyclades’ popularity among tourists, it’s important to remember that many of the islands lack child-friendly beaches and activities.
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Sifnos is unique, with sand for every day of the summer, 125 miles of hiking paths for older kids, and a long-in-the-tooth ceramics heritage, with pottery courses included as part of the family holiday experience. Boat rides cost ten cents, and for those interested in ancient history, there’s a massive hilltop acropolis in the shape of Agios Andreas.
It’s the smallest of the seven main Ionian islands to visit, but size doesn’t matter in Greece. You may take a boat tour around the island and view a variety of pebbly beaches, church-studded towns, and harbors anchored with fancy yachts without worrying about getting too far away from the pier.
And what a spot to discover inland: trek between the three settlements of Lakka, Longos, and Gaios to earn your ice cream. One more piece of advice will take you to the neighboring island of Antipaxos, which has the kind of Ionian enchantment that will make you giddy.
This Dodecanese island north of Rhodes is ideal for family vacations. Given its lesser-known reputation, most of the charm stems from its uncomplicated beaches, which require a water taxi to reach.
The only thing more common than an empty stretch of sand is the sight of a bewitchingly blue cove beckoning for a swim. Aside from the coast, the amphitheater-tiered town of Symi is a crayon-colored jumble of huge Lego blocks, with ancient ruins and trekking trails into the interior to explore. If the kids want something a little more action-packed, a brief excursion to myth-making Rhodes might be the answer.
Exploring the seven finest sites and cities to visit in Greece with family is about education, exploration, and adventure, and you can build lifelong memories with your family.
Your stay in Greece can capture your goals and your children’s favorite activities, from historic ruins capping a hilltop to isolated beaches with crystal-clear water, intriguing mythology brought to life, or spectacular cliffs with rising monasteries.