Why Greece is the Perfect Family Holiday

why Greece perfect family holiday

I love Greece. It’s the place I dream of escaping to every summer. It has everything I’m looking for in a family holiday: it’s beautiful, it’s laid-back, it’s full of history and, given that the UK sometimes has cold and damp weather over the summer, you’re guaranteed sunshine. What’s more, it’s easy to get to and great value for money.

There’s an estimated 6,000 islands and islets in Greece of which 227 are inhabited. As a family we’ve visited lots of Greek islands but we’ve never been to the same place twice. That’s the other great thing about Greece. Each island has its own distinct character so there really is something for everybody.

THE FEEL

When I go to Greece I feel as if I’ve captured the Mediterranean as it was supposed to be. It’s what I imagine it was like in Italy and southern France in the 1950s. There’s a timelessness and an old-fashioned feel to Greece that you find so rarely in other parts of the Med where it’s just so busy in the summer, the roads clogged up with cars and people fighting for space in the restaurants and on the beaches.

There are, of course, busy resorts in some parts of Greece but it’s not very hard to find that picture-perfect little harbour with colourful wooden boats and a couple of simple tavernas. Some of the best places we’ve ever stayed have been in Greek boutique hotels. If you go to a beach in August, chances are that you won’t be packed in like ever so many sardines jostling for space along the sand.

So much of Greece still feels unspoilt and old-fashioned. You’ll wander around a village where men play backgammon all day and old ladies dressed entirely in black sit over their lacework. If you go to some villages in the afternoon it’s so quiet that it feels like a ghost town – because everybody is having a siesta.

It’s the perfect place for a family holiday. Children are adored and given attention by everyone they meet and the atmosphere is so chilled out and laid-back that the whole family relaxes.

Take a look at my guide to the Best Laid-back Greek Islands for a list of some of our favourites.

THE FOOD

Everyone in our family loves Greek food. It’s delicious, it’s healthy and it’s fun to eat and share different things together. On the Greek islands, we eat fresh fish every day and lots of salads and vegetables. We can quite happily munch our way through plates of whitebait, calamari, octopus (fried or thinly sliced in olive oil), sardines, anchovies and red mullet.

We usually order a variety of different foods for the whole table to try: the fish; dips like houmous and taramasalata; Greek salad; stuffed peppers and tomatoes; stuffed vine leaves and courgette flowers; cheese and spinach pies; and grilled feta cheese. It’s all delicious and everyone has their favourites but we all try to taste a bit of everything.

It’s a great way to encourage children to try lots of different things. My youngest still refuses to eat salad and the eldest won’t eat the whitebait because the eyes put him off – but at least they’re trying everything else.

Eating mezze-style like this makes our mealtimes so much more social. Sharing the food makes us interact more with each other. We all talk more and everybody has a better time. It’s definitely one of the Five Fantastic Foodie Reasons for Travel.

In Greece we don’t tend to go to the fancier, more expensive restaurants because the simple tavernas offer everything we could possibly want, whether we’re sat under a reed canopy beside the beach or in a shady spot in a small town square. The atmosphere is always relaxed and unstuffy and the food just perfect.

THE BEAUTY

Greece is, quite simply, stunning. Its crystal clear waters, whitewashed houses, picturesque harbours and stunning sunsets make it one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe. So much of it is still unspoilt so you won’t find as many of those ugly developments that you get on so many other Mediterranean coastlines.

Greece has the second largest coastline in Europe (after Norway) so it makes the perfect beach or sailing holiday, with plenty of child-friendly beaches with shallow waters and sheltered bays. But you can also find dramatic mountain ranges, vast gorges ideal for hiking and tiny villages with cobbled streets and white houses draped in pink and purple bougainvillea.

THE HISTORY

The myths of Ancient Greece and its gods are full of wonderful stories to fire up any child’s imagination. History really comes alive in Greece where you can find a temple dedicated to one of the gods or goddesses on even the smallest of islands.

You can see where Theseus fought the minotaur at the Minoan palace of Knossos in Crete, climb to the top of the Acropolis in Athens to gaze at the Parthenon temple, visit Mount Pelion, home of the centaurs or take a trip to Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games.

Some of the oldest European civilisations developed in Greece so you’ll spot Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman influences as well as the Ancient Greeks. You could visit the extraordinary 14th-century monasteries perched on top of rock pillars at Meteora or the sacred grotto on the island of Patmos where St. John had the visions which led to the Book of Revelation.

THE VALUE FOR MONEY

Greece has always been good value for money. You can stay in gorgeous boutique hotels for much less than you’d pay in Italy or France and a family of four can eat out for as little as 45 euros.

Most foreign visitors don’t need to pay for a visa and if you book early you can pick up relatively cheap flights. What are you waiting for?

For more Greek island inspiration, take a look at A Photo Tour of Folegandros and Is this the Perfect Greek Island?

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78 Comments

  1. 31st March 2017 / 11:25 am

    A great post to inspire Clare! I found it very uplifting (as well wanting to explore).

    Although not Greece, you might like to read (fiction) Under a Sardinian Sky. Beautiful prose/figurative language. Brings to life the Simius community and culture. Not what I was expecting at all from the blurb!

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      3rd April 2017 / 7:46 pm

      Thanks so much, Shaz. I find being in Greece uplifting. Thanks for the book recommendation. I do enjoy escaping into the landscape of a book and Sardinia is somewhere I’d love to visit. Xx

  2. 31st March 2017 / 3:58 pm

    The food, the beauty! Greece is on my short list of places I want to visit! It’s absolutely gorgeous!

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      3rd April 2017 / 7:48 pm

      It IS absolutely gorgeous, Christine. I love everything about it – particularly the less touristy, laid-back islands. Honestly, it’s a wonderful place to travel and relax.

  3. 3rd April 2017 / 11:14 am

    I totally agree with everything here, I found myself nodding along and developing a hollow feel in my stomach as I realised how much I would love to have a Greek holiday booked right now. Funny how I would class every other holiday as ‘travelling’ but Greece is always a holiday for me. A real holiday. See, now you’ve got me thinking we should book for our week free in October. Great post!!!

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      3rd April 2017 / 7:54 pm

      Oh thanks Alex for such lovely comments. Greece is my perfect place – I completely relax when I’m there. We’ve been to lots of different islands but they all seem to make me fall in love with them – provided they’re not the busy and touristy places. A real holiday, that’s exactly it!

  4. 6th April 2017 / 8:23 am

    I agree love love love Greece. Not yet been with the baby but can not wait to take her #farawayfilea

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:38 am

      It’s one of my favourite places on earth. We’ve been more often with the children than anywhere else.

  5. 6th April 2017 / 8:39 am

    I’ve only been to Santorini and we are trying to rectify that this year although my friend still wants to go there for a full week. Eek. Your love of Greece, it’s culture, food and sun always shines through Clare

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:39 am

      Thanks so much, Katy. Hopefully you’ll persuade your friend to venture further than Santorini. That’s not the Greece that has so captured my heart.

  6. 6th April 2017 / 8:51 am

    I went to Greece a couple of times as a kid and those trips are some of my fondest memories! I still haven;t made it back there as an adult but hopefully I will soon!

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:41 am

      I went a couple of times as an adult but we’ve been more often with our children. It’s such a wonderful place.

  7. 6th April 2017 / 9:11 am

    I’ve never been to Greece but the more images I see the more it interests me. Sounds like it would be a good option for our summer break with my step-kids! #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:41 am

      It most certainly would, Keri!

  8. 6th April 2017 / 9:26 am

    You always inspire me with your Greek posts, I’d love to go island hopping with my kids. I’m surprised to hear Greece’s coastline isn’t the biggest in Europe with all those islands, but love trivia facts like this! #farawayfiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:43 am

      Island hopping is quite easy, particularly over the summer months when the high speed ferries can get you from island to island so quickly. It is fun arriving by boat!

  9. 6th April 2017 / 9:41 am

    Awesome! I’ve never been to Greece and obviously I’d like to see some of the popular islands, so it’d be nice to learn more about the lesser known islands and since you never go to the same place twice, you should make a list of some of the Greek islands you’ve visited! I saw some beautiful pictures in your post, I’d love to know where they were! #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:44 am

      You’ll find lists of some of my favourite islands in my other Greek posts, Lolo, particularly the Laid-back Greek Islands post. Some of the most popular islands aren’t necessarily the best to go to.

  10. 6th April 2017 / 9:57 am

    Would October break be a good time to visit Greece? Would you still be able to swim? It’s so beautiful – I would love to share this with my kids! Thanks for the inspiration. #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:48 am

      Most islands start winding down towards the end of October as many close at the beginning of November. The more southerly islands like Crete will still be lovely and warm for that October break. But let’s face it, they’ll all be a lot warmer than Scandinavia!

  11. 6th April 2017 / 11:45 am

    Your pictures are stunning, exactly what I think of when Greece comes to mind! Visiting from #Farawayfiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:49 am

      Thanks so very much, Nicola.

  12. 6th April 2017 / 12:02 pm

    I visited a few Greek islands before my son was born – Poros, Zante, Kefalonia – but then we found other places to holiday. I feel sad now, as I remember we had such wonderful times in Greece. I should return and recapture those feelings you describe – how authentic the smaller resorts are and how fabulous to eat simple food in a taverna.
    #farawayfiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:51 am

      That’s the problem, isn’t it? There are always so many wonderful places to travel. We have been relatively often to Greece, partly because we can recapture that atmosphere in a different island each time so it doesn’t feel as if we’re returning to the same place. The great value for money means we can afford a better standard of hotel and stay for longer than we could in Italy or France.

  13. 6th April 2017 / 1:23 pm

    The photos are amazing, and the food sounds delicious as well! I realllly need to get to Greece! πŸ™‚

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:51 am

      Thanks so much, Amanda. You absolutely do!

  14. 6th April 2017 / 2:07 pm

    I love Greece too – especially the food and the baby-friendliness. My other half was not quite so convinced. I think we need to try a few more islands to find him the perfect one! #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:52 am

      I think so. All the islands are different – there’s bound to be a few that will capture the heart of your other half!

  15. 6th April 2017 / 4:43 pm

    At the risk of repeating myself, these photos are simply stunning! I’ve always wanted to go to Greece, but can’t seem to convince my husband… I’m going to show him your photo as inspiration! #farawayfiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:54 am

      Greece is just wonderful, but I don’t need any convincing. Hope he finds it inspiring!

  16. 6th April 2017 / 4:57 pm

    We’ve only been to Crete, and that was 10 years ago, but it remains one of the best holidays we’ve had. So chilled, so sunny, so tasty. Wonderful post, Clare, it makes wonder why we haven’t gone back!
    #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:54 am

      We really liked Crete too. We’re actually going back at the end of May. Can’t wait! Thanks so much for your lovely comments.

  17. 6th April 2017 / 6:48 pm

    That is a great post. I never made it to Greece when I was living in Europe and I suspect it will be a decade or so until I get the opportunity again. I continue to live vicariously through travel bloggers!
    #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:55 am

      Living vicariously through travel bloggers isn’t such a terrible thing – I do enjoy reading posts and looking at photos from different parts of the world and making lists of all the wonderful places I want to travel. One day!

  18. 6th April 2017 / 8:17 pm

    I totally agree with what you said about Greece feeling timeless .. it really does. I’ve only ever been to corfu but it feels so classically Mediterranean. I absolutely love it! #farawayfiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:56 am

      I think I mentioned before that Corfu was my very first Greek experience. I do love an old-fashioned kind of holiday, the more laid-back the better.

  19. 6th April 2017 / 8:29 pm

    My husband used to work with a man from Greece. He would come home almost every day talking about how much he wants to go to Greece. I’m sure we’ll be making our way over there before too long. #farawayfiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:57 am

      What a lovely story! You must go – it’s the most fabulous part of the world.

  20. 6th April 2017 / 8:46 pm

    I love Greece and this has really made me pine for it! Such beautiful photos, so evocative of all the things that make Greece such a wonderful holiday. That photo of the Greek salad has me craving a proper Greek version! The only thing I don’t like about Greece is the ouzo – not a fan. I’m off to read your other Greek Island posts. Thanks for hosting #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:59 am

      Thanks so very much, Jo. I definitely pine for Greece – particularly in the cold, dark winter months. Greek salads just don’t taste the same outside of Greece. I’m not a fan of ouzo or retsina either – eurgh.

  21. 6th April 2017 / 9:59 pm

    Greece looks so beautiful. I would love the visit. And the food looks great too! I’d love some good calamari!

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 10:03 am

      You’ve got to love a place with fabulous food and the most incredible scenery.

  22. 7th April 2017 / 2:02 am

    You do not have to do a lot of convincing for me. I have been to Greece twice and can attest it is a dream destination. I have spent more time on the continent but loved every city I visited. Agree the food is delicious and your money goes a long way. I still have jewelry I bought in Athens. It reminds me of the country every time I use it. #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 10:05 am

      It is a dream destination, isn’t it? I like the jewellery too. I do enjoy bringing back nice pieces from the places we’ve travelled – the best kind of souvenirs.

  23. 7th April 2017 / 3:11 am

    Great post, Clare! Tips on laidback beaches, food, historical places and beautiful pics of Greece πŸ™‚ I wonder what’s happening now with the financial crisis? Just a couple of years, big news on their financial crisis were reported in the media but now you hardly hear reports on how they are doing. #farawayfiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 10:07 am

      Thanks so much, Kat. We visited a few years ago and the Greeks were all really concerned about tourism in light of the financial crisis but recently things have perked up again. I’ve read that it’s one of the most popular destinations this year for the British – it’s seen as good value and relatively safe compared to some other parts of the world.

  24. 7th April 2017 / 5:56 pm

    Greece has been on my bucket list for ages and for exactly the reasons you’ve mentioned! The food is amazing, the islands seem to be absolutely stunning and there’s a charm to those tiny villages that you can only find in secluded places in Southern Europe. I’m really looking forward to visiting one day!

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:01 pm

      You will love it, I’m sure, Van. There have been Greek islands I haven’t warmed to, mainly the really busy, touristy ones, but the majority have been amazing in so many different ways.

  25. 8th April 2017 / 1:17 am

    Argh these photos make me want to head to Greece tomorrow. Unfortunately Europe is not on our radar for 2017 as we are travelling to Asia this year. I love reading your inspiring posts.. just need more leave to travel to all the wonderful places you post about.

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:03 pm

      Thanks for posting such a wonderful comment, Lyn. You really made my day when I read it. We do love Asia too – I’d love to take my children there one day.

  26. 8th April 2017 / 4:10 am

    Greece is a very beautiful and diverse country. I was only around Thessaloniki. What is your favorite part / island of Greece?

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:04 pm

      That’s such a good question, Tomas, and really hard to answer! I think that the island we visited last summer – Folegandros – was the closest to perfect we’ve yet found.

  27. 8th April 2017 / 11:25 am

    So pretty!!! I really want to go to Greece! We’re trying to figure out if our fall beach trip will be to Greece or Croatia and it’s such a tough choice. Thanks for sharing!

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:05 pm

      Greece is amazing, Danielle. Going in the autumn would be great – still warm and not so busy. Looking forward to finding out where you end up.

  28. 8th April 2017 / 6:40 pm

    It looks so beautiful – we went to Crete when our youngest was 8 weeks old & so can’t really say we fully appreciated it as much as I’m sure we would now! Perhaps we’ll get back there one day #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:06 pm

      There’s only so much you can do with an eight-week-old, isn’t there? We really liked Crete even though it’s one of the larger islands. We’re going again later this year.

  29. 8th April 2017 / 9:47 pm

    Greece is one place I’ve yet to visit and am tempted to now I’ve read your post. #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:06 pm

      Greece is utterly wonderful, Helena. Hope you get to go there one day.

  30. 9th April 2017 / 11:42 am

    Sold. That is all! That is some list of advantages.

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:07 pm

      Perfect! You won’t regret it.

  31. 10th April 2017 / 9:24 am

    That dangling octopus sure brought back some memories of my time in Greece! #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:07 pm

      Living in the UK, it was a big deal to see Octopus hanging upside down to dry – not something we get to see usually. It took me a while to work out what it was!

  32. 10th April 2017 / 11:34 am

    Love your photos of Greece. Perhaps I will finally visit the country next year.

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:08 pm

      Thanks so much, Ahila. I do hope you get to go to Greece. I’d love to read your impressions of it.

  33. 10th April 2017 / 2:42 pm

    Greece is one of my favorite travel destinations in the whole world! Been so many times, but still have some Greek Islands left on my travel bucket list! Your post made me nostalgic – all these wonderful pictures really transmit “the feel”

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:08 pm

      Thanks so much, Anna. It’s definitely one of mine too. That’s the marvellous thing about Greece – there are always more wonderful islands to discover.

  34. 10th April 2017 / 5:40 pm

    I totally agree and love Greece as a summer destination. The beaches on the islands are wonderful and it’s so nice to find a beach that is not packed with people.
    #farawayfiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:09 pm

      We just love it. Obviously we can’t go every year but it always seems to call my name, particularly around January/February time when everything is so dreary in the UK. I love that you can find really quiet beaches at any time of the year.

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      21st April 2017 / 3:10 pm

      OH very romantic! You’ll have to write about that one… I’d love to read it.

  35. 12th April 2017 / 11:27 pm

    I absolutely love Greece too – I’ve only ever been there without my family but I would love to take them there. It is just such a lovely place, and great for kids! #farawayfiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      22nd April 2017 / 6:15 pm

      Greece is so brilliant for kids. It’s one of those places that I loved pre-kids but it’s even more special with them. It’s such a chilled, easy holiday with a family.

  36. 16th April 2017 / 5:39 pm

    I do love Greece – I hadn’t realised there were quite so many islands! I’m looking forward finally to going back again next month with my daughter. It’s always seemed so family-friendly and reading this has made me feel even more excited about the reasons to visit.

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      22nd April 2017 / 6:16 pm

      How exciting, Cathy! Which island are you going to? Greece is my idea of the perfect family-friendly destination. I just love it. We’re off again next month too. We usually go in the summer so it will be interesting to see it at the end of May.

  37. 21st April 2017 / 7:56 am

    Greece is hands down a stunning place. And to be honest, I just find out now after reading your article that Greece has 6000 islands. Dude that’s a lot of islands to visit! And even you visit the different island each visit, you won’t be running out of islands anytime soon. Hahaha. Do I even have to elaborate how agree I am with you about Greece? But I gotta tell you about Phuket. You seriously gotta visit Phuket. Check out our website for a luxury place to stay with an exclusive ocean view! Thank you.

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      24th April 2017 / 5:27 pm

      I’ll certainly check out your website, Dana. I’ve only been to the islands on the other side of Thailand – Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Greece really is fabulous and as you say, there’s always somewhere new that you haven’t discovered.

  38. 26th April 2017 / 9:52 am

    We need to chat Clare! How do you feel about Greece for fall break? Or is it best in summer? We’re thinking about an October escape to Athens and Crete! Thoughts? #FarawayFiles

    • Clare Thomson
      Author
      27th April 2017 / 10:02 am

      We definitely do. I suspect Greece is best June and September. We usually travel July and August because of the children’s school holidays. Most islands stay open until the end of October and should still be warm then too. Athens and Crete both would be good options then. I’ll email you some more details. Xx

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