Greece: Wonderful family destination

Updated 24 March 2014

Greece: Wonderful family destination

If you have already visited Greece for your summer holidays, then you are fully aware of how your children can really have the time of their lives here.
But if this is your first visit, read a list we’ve made for you and choose your favorite family destination.
Either way, mums and dads, be prepared to relax and have a good time.
“Paidiá, kalosírthate!” (Children, welcome!) is what you and your children will hear when you come to Greece. Your family holidays begin with a hearty, warm welcome in a country where children can enjoy memorable adventures in the past and present. Here they will find themselves in places where their favorite heroes lived, like, Hercules, Alexander the Great, and the 300. They can learn about Troy and run around the track at the birthplace of the Olympics.
But, let’s see what else your children –and you, of course– will love in Greece:
• Sunny sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters and azure seas filling rocky coves and caves
• Classic ruins in romantic settings
• Olive, orange and lemon groves and important nature reserves
• delicious kid-friendly food cooked with the most nutritional ingredients of the Mediterranean diet: virgin olive oil, fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, etc.
• Water parks, beaches and spectacular swimming pools open all day long, and
• Above all, safety and warm hospitality.

Here are just a few Greek destinations to help you get an idea of how you and your family could spend your summer vacations in Greece.

Corfu (Kérkyra)
Where: In the Ionian Sea, part of the Ionian group.
Why: Often called the “Garden Isle”, Corfu is full of olive groves, cypresses, bushes, colorful anemones, orchids and a number of endemic flowers. Even the long sandy beaches provide a good example of marine flora. During the summer, electric blue thistles, sea squill (of the lily family) and flowering shrubs bloom. Corfu indulges in a mild Mediterranean climate all year round which is also good for the health.
Must visit: The beautifully preserved Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO world heritage site, filled with Venetian, French and British monuments and remarkable works of architecture. The sites that used to be the old aristocracy’s favorites: Mon Repos and Achilleion Palaces, Paleópolis, etc.
Where to stay: Five and four-star hotels offer accommodation specially designed for families and daily activity programs to entertain children (such as competitions, animation programs, etc.). Family-run, beachfront guesthouses also offer all the comforts you and your family need.
Corfu was the favorite island of Empress of Austria Elisabeth of Bavaria, also known as Sisi. It was for her that Emperor Franz Joseph I built the Achilleion Palace.
Join in with: The International Corfu Festival dedicated to promoting the rich musical heritage of the island. Concerts are held in Duomo, Achilleion Palace, the Fortress, several museums and art cafés.
An extra tip for kids: Enjoy your favorite cartoon movies at the open-air summer cinemas in the city.

Halkidiki
Halkidiki isn’t actually an island. It’s a peninsula on the mainland jutting out into the sea. But with so many superb beaches, it feels like an island!!!
Where: a peninsula in northern Greece, part of Central Macedonia
Why: Halkidikí is home to countless superb beaches, almost all of them blue flag winners, lush green forests and a rich gastronomic and cultural heritage.
Must visit: The cave of Petrálona, one of the most important caves in Europe, Stágeira, the home land of Aristotle.
Where to stay: Rent a room in a traditional seafront guesthouse, or choose from a wide selection of major hotel complexes. There also hotels that offer specially organized activities for youngsters of all ages (from 4 months to16 years old), so that parents can enjoy spa treatments while their kids are being looked after by specialist child minders. Special prices depending on your child’s age are also on offer.
Join in with: Open-air festivals that feature world-class jazz, classical, ethnic and folk music.
An extra tip for kids: Enjoy pool games and water polo in pools specially designed for you!

Crete
Where: In the southern part of the Aegean Sea, separating the Aegean from the Mediterranean Sea
Why: Crete is home to Europe’s earliest civilization. Glorious sites, splendid beaches, remote hinterlands and hospitable people. By far the longest summer in Greece.
Must visit: The Archaeological Museum in Iráklion, the Minoan sites (Knossos, Mália, Phaestos, Zakros), Lassíthi Plateau, the Diktean Cave,Chania and Rethymno old towns, Samaria Gorge, the islet of Spinalonga.
Where to stay: At family-oriented resorts which operate as self-contained communities and offer everything from sportswear to boat trips and cultural tours. The sand and the beaches in these places are ideal for children who want to play and paddle all day long. There are also countless guesthouses and 3-star hotels all over the island; either on or within a short walk of the seafront or in the mountain villages.
Join in with: Countryside festivals (paniyíria) and other celebrations held in the cities, traditional Cretan weddings and Renaissance festivals.
An extra tip for kids: Definitely visit Cretaquarium in Heraklion (Iráklion) and the water park in Chania with Disneyland games and giant waterslides!

Zakynthos
Where: In the Ionian Sea, the southernmost of the seven main Ionian islands
Why: Lush vegetation, white-pebble Blue Flag winning beaches with azure waters, impressive Venetian works of architecture surrounded by olive and fruit groves, numerous family tavérnas with panoramic views over the sea.
Must visit: San Marco Square, the Kástro (Venetian fort), the Solomos Museum, the Blue Caves at Cape Skinári, To Naváyio (Shipwreck Bay) and the Cape Kerí caves. Where to stay: At well-organized resorts, in rooms, seafront hotels, rentable windmills (sorry, there are only two).
Join in with: Day-trips to tiny cliff-top hamlets to catch the sunset and countryside festivals (paniyíria).
An extra tip for kids: Learn how to protect the loggerhead sea turtle and explore the island’s fascinating underwater world at the Marine Park!

Alonissos
Where: In the Aegean Sea, the third member of the Northern Sporades
Why: Peaceful and serene, more rugged than its neighbors, with a strong British and Italian presence and second-home owners from all over the world, spring waters, pine forest, olive groves, orchards, arbutus (a native flowering plant), heather, kermes oak, and lentisc (type of mastic tree). Resident herbalists and a homeopathic academy. Some of Greece’s cleanest seas.
Must visit: Hóra (Paleá Alónnissos), Stení Vála, Roussoúm Yialós, Marpoúnda Bay.
Where to stay: There are a few all-inclusive hotels, many rooms and family guesthouses, plus some 3-star hotels.
Join in with: Art exhibits and countryside festivals (paniyíria).
An extra tip for kids: Find out how to adopt a newly-born monk seal at the Marine Park (and please eat some of the local apricots –they are really tasty here)!

Ancient Pella: In the land of Alexander the Great.

Where: In the current Pella regional unit of Central Macedonia in Greece
Why: Set out on a magical journey through time to the glorious kingdom of ancient Macedonia, where Alexander the Great was born. Peer into the rich history of the Macedonian state capital, a bustling metropolis of the Classical period. A number of excavations of the site reveal the ancient city’s majestic grandeur.
Must visit: The monumental palatial complex that occupies the northernmost hill of the city, and covers an area of 60.000 m2. Wander around the city’s commercial and manufacturing center, the so-called agora (ayorá), which was in fact the biggest agora of the ancient world.
This huge building complex included shops, workshops, administration offices, and the repository of the city’s historical records.
The main avenue of agora was actually connected with the city’s port, the ruins of which are still visible today.
The ancient agora is constructed according to the famous urban planning of Hippodamus (Hippodamian grid plan): well-defined city blocks, paved streets with sidewalks, and elaborate water supply and sewage systems. They all illustrate Pella’s modern infrastructure and sophisticated urban design. The two-story private houses built in Doric and Ionic style brings to mind images of a prosperous, ancient, city.

An extra tip for children: You will certainly be impressed by the outstanding mosaic floors that used to decorate the city’s grand mansions – the most famous are the ones depicting the Abduction of Helen, Rapture, the Amazonomachy (the battle of Amazons), and the Deer Hunt. You can marvel at these decorated floors (considered the most important group of mosaics in Macedonia) at the New Archaeological Museum of Pella.


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