The Greek Islands was always one of my top must-do destinations.  Those iconic postcard images of whitewashed buildings framed by a rainbow of blues – sparkling blue ocean, clear blue skies and deep blue roofs and window frames, left me longing to see it for myself.

This year, Steve had a conference to attend in London, which finally provided the perfect excuse to add Greece to our trip and see the islands of my dreams.  Once I started researching our time in the islands I quickly came across the widespread belief that the Greek Islands are not for kids.  Romantic honeymoons – yes, all night parties – definitely, but toddlers – not so much.  Well I can assure you that done right, the Greek Islands can be the best part of your European holiday – even with kids.

With a week to spend in the islands, we decided to stick with just two islands and take the time to relax and enjoy the break as we would have been away for over a month at that stage of our trip.  For me, visiting Santorini was my top priority as this was the island of my dream blue and white landscapes, but I decided to stick to just 2 nights there as I kept reading about how it wasn’t suited to kids. For our other island my choice was Naxos.  A much quieter, more traditional Greek Island, Naxos has gorgeous sandy beaches and small family run beachfront resorts in a number of coastal towns.  After a month of large European cities, and numerous inter-European journeys in cars, trains, ferries and flights, this sounded like just what we would need.

Santorini with a toddler

Landing at Santorini airport at 8pm with a hungry, tired nearly 2 year old after a full day of travelling from France and then being told that our booked room was not available to us, was not exactly what I expected for our arrival on my dream island. However after the initial panic settled and the owner of the unavailable hotel helped us to find a room nearby, we discovered that this misfortune had actually worked out just fine.  We checked into our room at the Kavalari Hotel in Fira and were instantly spell bound by the incredible view from our room.

Santorini Kavalari Hotel View

The Kavalari hotel is in a perfect location, right in the centre of Fira, and only metres from road access, making transport easy. It is also at the highest point of the cliff so we had minimal stairs to negotiate to get to and from our room.

Dropping our bags and heading off to find a late night dinner we had transitioned straight into Greek Island time.  As I sampled my first taste of Greek food – a thick spread of Melitzanosalata, an eggplant dip, on a slice of freshly baked local bread overlooking the view of the caldera, I knew we were in heaven.

Getting around Santorini with a toddler

One of the great things about taking toddlers to Santorini is that they are usually still at that age where it is a great novelty to climb up and down stairs holding mum or dads hand.  We found this was the case for us and Little Miss was more than happy to climb stairs until her legs were tired.

We left our travel pram in the room the whole time we were in Santorini, as its basically impossible to go anywhere without a huge number of stairs.  Its probably one place where we still could have used the Ergo baby carrier, or even better, a backpack carrier as this would have made it much easier to quickly traverse the stairs of the villages.

Unfortunately kids car seats are pretty much unheard of in Santorini, but by this stage of our trip we had become accustomed to many taxis and transfers without car seats, and had managed to relax our exacting Australian expectations and go with the flow. If you hire your own car you will be able to rent one, but with transfers we found that they were generally not available.

In the past we haven’t really taken private tours in cities we visit, however in Europe we found it to be a really great way of exploring a city and finding out more about the incredible places you are visiting, whist being able to tailor it to our interests and most importantly, to our little ones nap time and attention span.  In Santorini we took a half day private tour with a driver to the village of Oia and it was such a great way to see the island with someone who knew the best places to visit.

Miss 2 and our lovely guide Chris in Oia

The local people

One thing we were struck by during our time in Santorini, was how incredible the locals were with kids.  Perhaps because not so many kids stay on the island, we found that wherever we went people we met were so friendly and welcoming and so lovely with children.

In shops, Miss nearly 2 would be whisked away by the girls working there to see toy donkeys or try on cute outfits.  In restaurants and cafes, every attempt was made to find foods that suited her tastes and create dishes that she would enjoy.  She received so much attention from the lovely Greek locals, that she wasn’t bored anywhere in this adult oriented island.

We found that high chairs were available at almost all restaurants and whilst there weren’t specific kids menus, a small version of  a delicious, fresh adults meal would be created  to suit kids.

Day trip to Oia, Santorini

With only one full day on Santorini we were keen to soak up as much of this magical island as possible, and when we were offered a half day trip with a private driver we jumped at the chance.  Chris, our driver, picked us up after breakfast and chatted to us about what we would most like to see.  I was excited to visit Oia, the famed village at the tip of the island where many of my iconic postcard images had originated.

When we arrived in Oia, Chris showed us the way through the village to the ancient Byzantine Castle ruins which are in one of the most picturesque spots of Oia.  From here, you can see across the village to the iconic windmills and cave hotels as well as down the steep stairway to the fishing village below.

Byzantine Castle Ruins Oia Santorini

Oia township view Santorini

View from Oia down to the fishing village

Oia backdrop

This beautiful spot was still relatively quiet when we arrived mid morning as the cruise ship crowds were yet to arrive in town.  There was a busker playing traditional Greek music at the site and Miss nearly 2, who loves any opportunity for a dance, was thrilled to see him.

Just walking through the narrow alleyways of Oia is an adventure in itself, with a stunning view to be found around each corner, and cute little stores displaying their wares for tourists.

Oia is famed for its stunning sunsets, but we found with a little one, a morning visit was a perfect way to experience this gorgeous town without having to negotiate the huge crowds waiting for the sunset.

Alleyways of Oia Santorini

Gift shops in Oia Santorini

Exploring Fira

After nap time, we were ready to check out the village of Fira and set off on the main walkway outside our hotel through the town in search of the donkeys we could hear each morning as they made their way to the port.

There are a number of streets and alleyways running through Fira, but we preferred to stick to the coastline and made our way to the highest point of Fira town with a little shopping and sightseeing along the way.

Miss nearly 2 did an amazing job of walking through the town with just a few rest stops en route.

Smoothie break on the stairs of Fira Santorini

Cafe in Fira Santorini

The view from the top of the town did not disappoint, but we didn’t make it all the way down to visit the donkeys.

Cliffs of Fira from above

After our walk, it was time to find the perfect location for dinner with a famed Santorini sunset view.  Fira may not have the depth of colours that Oia does, but its sunset was spectacular, with the light illuminating the buildings and the cliff faces at it descends into the ocean.

Fira Sunset View Santorini

If we had more time available on our trip, we could have easily spent another couple of days in Santorini and taken the time to visit the beaches on the other side of the island as well as visit the historical centre of Akrotiri or perhaps taken a boat trip out to the volcano.

Related links

Stay tuned for our full review of our Santorini accommodation at the Kavalari Hotel, as well as posts on our time in Naxos and Athens with a toddler … coming soon.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Rina Patsiokostas
    Reply

    Hi there thank you for your review. I do have a question for you where did you stay in Naxos? I have too daughters 3 and 4 years old that I am traveling with. Thanks to your review and as a mom I am trusting your judgment. I am looking into Kavalari hotel as me speak. Santorini is a must.
    Thank you
    Rina Patsiokostas
    Rinapat1@hotmail.com

    • Travel Kids
      Reply

      Hi Rina,

      Thanks for your message. In Naxos we stayed at the Iria Beach Art Hotel at Agia Anna Beach. The rooms were very modern – light and fresh, the staff were lovely and the location fantastic for relaxing at the beach with plenty of great restaurants just nearby. I hope you and your girls enjoy the Greek Islands as much as we did!

      Cheers Cathryn

  • Lindsay
    Reply

    Great post. We are heading there next week with my almost 2 year old. I was dreading it a little bit to be honest but reading this puts me at ease. Thanks for the perspective x

  • Anna
    Reply

    Hello. Can you please tell me the name of the company for your half day trip with the private driver? Or how you found Chris?

    • Travel Kids
      Reply

      Hi Anna, Chris was recommended to us by the owner of the Aroma Suites in Santorini. You should be able to contact him in advance via the website: http://www.aromasuites.com. Have a great time on the island!

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