Don’t you worry, there are more than enough islands for everyone in Greece. Six thousand of them to be precise (well, not actually precise, but it’s about that many). There’s hardly any countries in the world with that many islands - though with around 220,000, Sweden is hard to beat - and choosing between these countless islets is no easy thing. Fortunately, we here at Plum Guide have put together our years of experience to narrow it down to just a few for this expert list of the best islands in Greece for families (yes, they want to come too, unfortunately).
As you might expect with islands, most of them are replete with sandy beaches overlooked by dramatic cliffs and other rock formations, making for cosy bays and isolated little patches of sand. Imagine yourself splayed out like a starfish on the beach, your kids, for once, not arguing, but rather building sandcastles. This can all be yours, if you do just as we say. Choose from one of these picturesque little gems in the Greek archipelago.
An aerial view of Paleokastritsa Beach, Corfu, Greece
It’s no surprise that this one makes the top of our list of the best islands in Greece for families. Well, there's actually no particular order, but Corfu is a household name as far as Greek islands go. What you may not know is that it’s known as the Emerald Isle for its abundance of greenery, so you’ll be able to roam through the forests and parks for miles with your family (avoid the temptation to lose them all amid the trees). Walk with a donkey at the Corfu Donkey Rescue. Explore the Corfu Town to get a sense of the local culture. Climb aboard a glass-bottom boat and check out the vibrant aquatic life below.
For obvious reasons, the following suggestion is going to be a common theme: take the kids to the beach (there are nearly 60 on this little islet; enough for an entire post in itself). You can't really have any reputable list of things to do in Greece without mentioning the beach. One of the most iconic family strands is the Issos Beach, with its still, shallow water and wide open sandy spaces. Explore the sand dunes and stay for the sunset for an unforgettable view of the crimson sky that the Ancient Greeks would have admired. Actually, it is thought that they would have called it ‘wine-looking’ because they didn’t have words for blue or dark red. That’s how Homer called it (the poet, not The Simpsons). Other top beaches for families include Palaiokastritsa Beach, Agios Gordios Beach, and Glyfada Beach.
A view down a street with shops and plants in Crete, Greece
Another world-famous island, Crete is known not only for its beaches, but its rich and eclectic history. As one of Greece’s southernmost islands, it has a remarkably long summer, meaning you can stay as long as you want (more or less), and choose times that fit around the school holidays. So, what’s actually there? Well, loads. Go for a hike with the whole family through the arid valley of the Imbros Gorge. Stroll beside the ramparts of the Rethymnon Old Town, and bring the little ones to the Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Centre to see the octopus or the blind turtle - expected to live to 100 years old. What is going through its mind? Anyway, now it’s sand time. Head down to the Balos Lagoon or go for a swim in the perfect turquoise waters of the Elafonissi Beach, which has shallow little pools that are perfect for the kids. Marathi Beach, Kalyves Beach and Tersanas Beach are among the other highlights for families.
A large beach with clear blue water in front of tall hills in Rhodes, Greece
All Roads Lead to Rhodes. Or something. Hey, your kids won’t know that’s wrong. They also probably won’t entirely appreciate the historical importance of the medieval town at the centre of the island, which is packed with UNESCO sights. Still, it’s worth showing them around the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights, so they can at least know in later life that they’ve been there. Bring them to the Farma of Rhodes and let them hang out with the ostriches, camels and kangaroos. Now, work on that already-sparkling tan at Faliraki Beach, and take a banana boat or jet ski out on the water. Head to Faliraki Water Park for a day your kids won’t forget in a hurry. Explore the coast for such nearby sandy treasures as Agathi and Tsampika.
A street full of white buildings and small Greek flags in Mykonos, Greece
It’s known as one of the nightlife hubs, but that could be a good thing. I mean, you like a bar, right? Maybe? And also, your kids might be getting on a bit. There are plenty of quiet and beautiful parts of the island where you could lodge, just a short taxi ride away from the buzzier spots that your teens will enjoy. There are beach parties and the like too, but we’ll let your rebellious teen look into that for themselves. Our job is to find the family activities for you. Platis Gialos, Agios Stefanos and Ornos Beach are among the best of Mykonos’ quiet, safe beaches. See the windmills together, wander through the Mykonos Old Town, and admire the yachts in the Little Venice district.
A row of small white buildings across the clear blue sea in Paros, Greece
Paros may not be the first Greek island that springs to mind when you’re planning a family vacation, but it’s on this list for a reason. There’s an abundance of fantastic family activities on this island, with the hikes really steal the show. Trek along Byzantine Road, wander through Paros Park, or even spend a day strolling from Parasporos to Butterfly Valley (maybe steer clear of this one if you have a phobia of butterflies, though). If hiking isn’t what the family needs, you can try your hand at horse riding, cycling, cooking, and even stargazing - there are few better ways to round off a day in the sun. And on top of all this, there are (of course) a number of incredible beaches dotted around the island, so don’t forget the bucket and spade. Kolymbithres Beach, Faragas Beach, and Golden Beach are just a handful of the numerous options for your sandy day out, so head to the coast. Working on your tan while the kids splash around in the shallow water - it doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
A white cottage with a blue gate and blue front door on a sunny day in Santorini, Greece
Santorini is probably best known for its world-renowned sunsets, and that’s definitely fair - they’re pretty special. Kids may not be so interested in the views however, so it’s time to find some family fun - you won’t be hunting for long. Santorini, like all the Greek isles, is a brilliant destination for families, with beaches, hikes, and an endless array of memories to be made. Santorini is definitely an island for exploration, so keeping busy is arguably the most important aspect of travelling here - discovering new places is always a thrill. Hop aboard a boat for a tour of the caldera, and swim up to the volcanic hot spring (that’s definitely one for show and tell). Or explore the various different villages, each with narrow paths perfect for impromptu games of hide and seek. Try not to lose them though, because then they’ll miss out on the food - one of Santorini’s biggest draws. And they will never forgive you for that.
A docked fishing boat floating in the sea in Naxos, Greece
If your idea of a great family holiday is getting some peace and quiet, you'll be delighted that we're rounding off our list of the best islands in Greece for families with Naxos. The islet of Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades, but you'll also encounter much fewer tourists than on the aforementioned isles. Plus you get to stay at one of the gorgeous homes in our collection. How about that? Each of our lodgings have been tried and tested by professional home critics, so you and the family are in for a guaranteed great night's sleep.