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12 Best Greek Islands for Families

While you might think a vacation in the Greek Islands is for honeymooners or other romance-seeking couples, there are lots of family-friendly islands throughout the country. With fabulous beaches and clear, warm blue waters for swimming, a rich and fascinating history, and endless activities for families, it’s one of the world’s best destinations for all ages. I’ve explored many of the Greek isles and have discovered some that may not be best for bringing the kids and others that are especially ideal, including those on this list.

Lesbos Cityscape of Mithymna, Lesbos, Greece
Credit: Cityscape of Mithymna, Lesbos, Greece by © Ccat82 | Dreamstime.com

Lesbos

Lesbos is an under-the-radar island where you can enjoy a more laid-back atmosphere with fewer tourists, along with hot springs, sandy beaches, mountain villages, and ancient castles. It’s a great place for a more authentic trip that includes soaking up the local culture, but you’ll find plenty of things to do. Discover the fossilized trees in the Petrified Forests, embark on a 4X4 safari, and enjoy watersports like kayaking, snorkeling, or diving. You won’t want to miss exploring the town of Molyvos, which hosts an incredible castle with a rich history, standing proudly on a hill overlooking the harbor, the town, and even across the Aegean Sea to Turkey.

Hydra Hydra, Greece
Credit: Hydra, Greece by © Anyaberkut | Dreamstime.com

Hydra

Hydra is so close to Athens that it’s easily doable as a day trip, just a 90-minute ferry ride away, but you’ll probably want to stick around awhile. It’s a totally car-free destination that makes for a much more relaxed experience and is easy to explore on foot. The ferry arrives right in the center of the main town so it really couldn’t be more convenient and there’s plenty to do. It’s like a time warp. Instead of the noise of engines, you’ll hear the clip-clop of donkey hooves, as they’re used for transport instead – something the kids are sure to love. Activities include a wide range of watersports, like kayaking, canoeing, diving, and snorkeling, along with horseback riding, which can bring you to the island’s highest peaks, along the coast, or even in the water to swim. If you’re up for a hike, the trek to the Monastery of Agios Nikolas takes only about an hour, traveling through wild, picturesque landscapes. It’s enjoyable just to explore the shops and cafes in Hydra Town too.

Kos Ancient ruins in Kos, Greece
Credit: Ancient ruins in Kos, Greece by © Sborisov | Dreamstime.com

Kos

One of the Dodecanese islands and one of Greece’s most budget-friendly places to visit, Kos is known for its abundance of beautiful sandy beaches and its rich ancient history, with multiple Greek and Roman landmarks to discover, especially around Kos town. Tigaki Beach is great for families with shallow waters the little ones can splash around in, along with cafes and ice cream vendors. The Lido Water Park offers more fun in the water with a variety of pools and slides, and there are a wealth of outstanding excursions for adventurers. One of the family favorites is the Land Rover safari, which will take you off-road into the hills for incredible views over Kos, Nisiros, Kalimnos, and even Turkey. It concludes with an authentic Greek dinner on a rooftop, where you’ll dine with a panoramic sunset view. This island is an ideal combination of relaxation, beach time, adventure, and history.

Zakynthos Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos, Greece
Credit: Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos, Greece by K.C. Dermody

Zakynthos

Zakynthos is popular for families thanks to its fabulous beaches with many kid-friendly options like Alyakanas, Kalamaki, and Argassi. It’s a great place for beginning snorkelers who can even swim alongside sea turtles, and there are two water parks. You won’t want to miss the chance to visit its most famous beach, Navagio, which is often referred to as Shipwreck Beach, with a rusty old skeleton of a ship on the sand. Framed by electric blue water, it’s one of the most breathtaking sights you’ll ever witness. It can be visited as part of a boat tour that also includes the Blue Caves, some of the most famous caves in all of Greece. Plus, this island, part of the Ionian archipelago, tends to be a lot more affordable than most.

Crete Paleochora Beach, Crete, Greece
Credit: Paleochora Beach, Crete, Greece by © Jure Gasparic | Dreamstime.com

Crete

As the largest island in Greece, Crete is incredibly diverse, offering something for everyone, from beautiful, soft sandy beaches edged by turquoise water and water parks to spectacular mountain trails and a ton of history. To entertain and educate, there are even tours designed for the younger ones in the family with interactive experiences and games. You can delve into the past by searching for clues and playing a game as you walk to the city walls of Heraklion. If you want to spend most of your time at the beach, there are 650 miles of coastline. Escape the heat by whizzing down slides at Watercity Water Park, which also has a lazy river and wave pools. You’ll find many family-friendly resorts, too, including all-inclusive beachfront properties.

Corfu Corfu, Greece

Corfu

One of the larger Greek islands, located in the heart of the Ionian Sea, Corfu is a very green island with charming little villages and a wide variety of beaches, including stretches with powdery soft sands like Saint Gordios and Glyfada. On the north side, the water is shallow and warm, ideal for families with younger ones. There are waterfalls and bird-filled lagoons to discover, too. If you’re up for a hike, you’ll have countless options as the 93-mile Corfu Trail spans the island’s entire length, delivering mountain, olive grove, lagoon, and sea views. In UNESCO-listed Corfu town, the kids will get a kick out of running through the maze of winding alleys that encircle the Venetian architecture, and there are many great restaurants with welcoming staff that offer the ideal spot to introduce the kids to the local fare.

Sifnos Panagia Poulati, Sifnos, Greece
Credit: Panagia Poulati, Sifnos, Greece by Archway Andres via Flickr.com

Sifnos

Sifnos is a Cyclades island that you may not often hear about, but it’s home to many kid-friendly activities and beaches that are perfect for sandcastle-building and refreshing dips, not to mention some of the best food and wine in the Greek Isles. There are around 125 hiking trails suitable for families with older children and everyone can join a pottery workshop to have a little creative fun together. Boat excursions are inexpensive and there’s plenty of interesting education available too, including a huge hilltop acropolis to explore and a picture-perfect monastery/church, Panagia Poulati, ideal for Instagram feeds. If you’re looking for a totally unique experience, head to the old abandoned mines in the village of Agios Sostis where you can learn about the island’s mining heritage and explore old tunnels.

Rhodes Entering the ancient city walls of Rhodes
Credit: Entering the ancient city walls of Rhodes by © Rangpl | Dreamstime.com

Rhodes

One of the most beautiful Greek Islands to visit, Rhodes offers a fantastic mix of ancient Greek history, beautiful beaches, and lush landscapes. The Valley of the Butterflies is a serene paradise with meandering streams and thousands of colorful butterflies that everyone in the family will love. That goes for the Palace of the Grand Masters, too, a massive castle-like complex that feels as if it must have been made for a film set, but it is very real, built by the Knights of Saint John in the early 16th century. There are also 3rd-century BC fortifications to marvel at by visiting the Acropolis of Lindos. As if that’s not enough, you’ll find many family-friendly beachfront resorts with beautiful pools and a water park with rides and slides for all ages.

Lefkada Lefkada island in Greece
Credit: Lefkada island in Greece by © Panagiotis Karapanagiotis | Dreamstime.com

Lefkada

Those who don’t want to take a ferry or flight to the islands should consider Lefkada, linked to the western part of the mainland by bridge between Corfu and Kefalonia. Apart from the usual white sandy beaches and gorgeous, clear water for snorkeling, there are many other things to do, like head to the Nydri Waterfalls, which plunge into a sapphire lake framed by huge rocks that offer memorable swims during the warmer months. Near Vasiliki and Ai Yannis, windsurfing and kitesurfing are possible, with lessons available for beginners. There are water parks and playgrounds that are sure to thrill the younger ones, too. If you’re up for a museum visit, you can tour the Olive Museum “Fabbrica” to learn how olive oil is made and enjoy a tasting.

Milos Kleftiko, Milos Island, Cyclades, Greece
Credit: Kleftiko, Milos Island, Cyclades, Greece by © Lefteris Papaulakis | Dreamstime.com

Milos

One of the top off-the-beaten-track Greek Islands, Milos offers Cycladic charm with magnificent beaches minus the crowds. Instead of exciting nightlife, enjoy unspoiled nature and time for reconnecting with your loved ones. One of the most popular places to visit is Sarakiniko, famous for its white, lunar-like landscape that makes it look as if it should be on another planet. Contrasted by water that ranges from translucent blue to emerald, it’s absolutely stunning. It can be explored on part of a boat tour that will take you around to many of the other beaches on the island too. Other activities include kayaking, 4X4 tours, hiking, and visiting the colorful fishing village of Klima. Exploring the catacombs is sure to thrill the kids – the ancient underground cemetery dates from the 1st through the 5th century AD.

Kefalonia Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia, Greece
Credit: Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia, Greece by © Adisa | Dreamstime.com

Kefalonia

One of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia is so spectacular it seems as if it can’t be real. It’s more mountainous and wild than many, with little coves framed by Easter egg-blue water. Families who want lots of amenities should stay around the southern end close to the capital of Argostoli, which offers plenty of lively resorts, but those seeking tranquility will find it in the north around Fiskardo, one of the most charming small towns in Greece. As you stroll along the shore, look for the many sea turtles or jump in and you might see one up close; just don’t touch. There are caves to explore with stalactites and stalagmites and plenty of cafes, restaurants, and ice cream shops that everyone will appreciate.

Naxos Beautiful clear waters at Plaka Beach, Naxos, Greece
Credit: Beautiful clear waters at Plaka Beach, Naxos, Greece by K.C. Dermody

Naxos

While many people equate Santorini with the Cyclades, there are some more family-friendly islands in the archipelago, like Naxos. It’s home to some of the best beaches in Greece, with crystal-clear aquamarine water that’s like a natural swimming pool, including many that are safe for tiny tots to splash around, including Plaka, which has shallow water and a lifeguard. Facilities like bathrooms, showers, and restaurants are easily accessed, too. There are opportunities for horseback riding, family sailing trips, kayaking, and even kid-friendly food tours – Naxos is renowned for its farm- and sea-to-table ingredients. There are also hotels with children’s pools when you want a change from the sea. Be sure to take the short walk to the Temple of Apollo. The huge doorway and six Doric columns are all that remain, but it’s perfect for a family selfie.

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