Greece › Santorini › Santorini with Kids
by Santorini Dave • Updated: April 20, 2022
Visiting Santorini with Kids
There’s no sense denying it. Santorini can be a challenge to visit with kids. But there’s no denying the stunning beauty of Santorini either. You’ve come all this way to visit Greece, and it would be a shame to miss it. You should visit Santorini.
As long as you know what to expect I think Santorini is a great island for families. But the best way to make it fun for everyone is to stay busy and explore what the island has to offer. It’s not really a hang-by-the-pool sort of destination (save that for Naxos, Paros, or Mykonos). Here’s a list of tips for making a family trip to Santorini awesome, fun, and memorable.
- Most visitors are adults – and most aren’t visiting Santorini to hang out with your kids. That said, you will be far from the only family in Santorini and there are plenty of kids when you go out to eat.
- Its beaches are black volcanic sand that can be scorching hot in the mid-day sun.
- It’s expensive. Many hotels have a boutique feel with smallish trendy rooms.
- Wine and food are big draws for Santorini – and neither are top things to do for the typical child.
- There are lots of great swimming spots all over the island.
- Kids love the boat tour of the caldera and the swim (from the boat) to the volcanic hot spring.
- There are several villages crisscrossed with crazy paths and winding alleys that are super fun for kids to explore.
- The history of the island, volcano, and caldera is fantastically interesting. (The Best of Santorini tour is a great way to see the highlights.)
Top 10 Tips for a Family Vacation in Santorini
1. Book Your Hotel Early
For many islands showing up on the ferry without a hotel isn’t a problem – in fact, it’s half the fun. But not on Santorini. Book a hotel as soon as you know your dates and plans. There aren’t a lot of hotel rooms on Santorini that will sleep a family of 4 to 6, which makes booking early even more important. These are some of the best family-friendly hotels on Santorini.
2. Visit Other Greek Islands
In a perfect world we’d all get as much time as we wanted on each of the Greek islands. But, of course, you’ve got a limited amount of time. There are so many great islands in the Cyclades for kids and families that spending more than 3 or 4 nights on Santorini is probably too long.
But you needn’t feel short-changed by a short visit. The great thing about Santorini is that its charms are immediately apparent. Even as you’re arriving on the ferry the views of the cliffs are incredible. (Arrival by plane is no less stunning – but on the ferry everyone has a window seat.) The drive from the port of Athinios up to the main towns above is an experience in itself. (If you come on a cruise ship, you’ll arrive at the Old Port – Skala Firas – where the only transport up is by cable car, donkey, or your own two feet.) And it only takes a few moments wandering the lanes of Oia or Fira to sense the incredible beauty of the island and peer down into the caldera below.
3. Do a Boat Tour to the Volcano
This is one of the highlights of Santorini. The boat takes you first to the volcano where you hike to the top to see some of the craters that have been created over the years. Then it’s on to the hot springs to swim in the warm seawater below. Then dinner on board, followed by a cruise around the base of the island where you could see the cliffs of the caldera up close. Finally, you watch the sunset and do some Greek dancing (a little gimmicky but still lots of fun) before heading back to port. These are easy to book after you arrive so no need to arrange in advance.
4. Explore the Towns of Pyrgos and Emporio
These 2 wonderful traditional villages are a colorful maze of walkways and alleys. Pyrgos is built on a hill with an old castle on top and fantastic views. Emporio is flatter and smaller, but both offer plenty of opportunities to get happily lost. The archaeological site at Akrotiri is also excellent.
5. Hit the Beach in the Morning
Santorini’s unique beaches can be enchanting or disappointing, or both, depending on your tastes. On one hand the dark black sand is cool to look at and makes for a very unique beach experience. On the negative side the sand gets scorching hot and can make getting around on the sand a tricky undertaking. (Tip: get some aqua Socks for your kids’ feet.)
The sand doesn’t get really hot until afternoon, so get to the beach early and enjoy the peace, quiet, and cool of some great Greek beaches. The best beach on Santorini for kids is Perissa.
6. Walk from Fira to Oia
This is a 10km/6-mile walk so it’s only for families with older kids, but what a walk!. The trek is fairly simple, but it will take at least 3 hours with kids. Try to walk in the early morning before its too hot, and remember to bring both water and sunscreen. Eat lunch in Oia then bus or taxi back to Fira (unless your hotel is in Oia of course, in which case you’ll do the opposite). If you have a toddler or young child then just do a portion of the hike, Imerovigli downhill to Fira is a good option. And definitely don’t take a stroller or jogger on the hike.
7. Go to a Movie at the Kamari Open Air Cinema
This is one of the most fun things to do in Santorini. The movies aren’t always kid-friendly, so check the schedule in advance, but they’re usually popular Hollywood-style movies in English (with Greek subtitles).
8. Wander the Streets and Lanes of Oia and Fira
Great views and cobbled streets aren’t just for adults. You probably know best if this sounds like something your kids would find appealing. But I’d be surprised if most parents couldn’t make an afternoon of wandering and exploring. Ice cream, crepes, and a few stories about exploding volcanoes will add to the experience.
9. Go for a Swim off the Rocks Below Oia
Locals swear this is the best place to swim on Santorini. Ask in Oia for directions to get down to the seawall and have a fantastically refreshing swim near Ammoudi Bay. There are a handful of seafood restaurants in the small settlement at the base of cliffs. It feels like a little fishing village and makes for a great afternoon outing. Take the steps down, but save those little legs the trek back up to the top – have the restaurant call you a taxi after you’ve had a snack.
10. Rent a Car
The bus system in Santorini is pretty good, so renting a car isn’t a necessity, but it will make experiencing some of the island’s attractions easier. All buses use Fira as their hub. Thus, getting from, say, Oia to Akrotiri, will require a stop and a new bus in Fira.
So rent a car. See the views of the caldera from a number of different angles around the island. Hit the best beaches for kids on Santorini (Perissa and Monolithos). Stop at one of the island’s many wineries. These are all things that are much easier when you have a car.
Hotels for Families in Santorini
There aren’t many large rooms on Santorini so book early if you need more than the typical layout with 2 double beds. The following hotels have good-sized family rooms.
- Aria Suites & Villas • Fira
Large villas with private plunge pools and awesome caldera view.
- Anteliz Suites • Fira
Senior and VIP suites.
- Kamares Apartments • Fira
Apartments for 4 to 6 people.
- Astra Suites • Imerovigli
Beautiful family rooms with views of the caldera and sunset.
- Santorini Princess Spa Hotel • Imerovigli
Triple and quad rooms.
- Andronis Arcadia • Oia
Family Suites, Two, Three, and Four Bedroom Villas, and the 6-bedroom Eden Villa can accommodate families of 4 to 12. All have heated, outdoor, private infinity pools. Three and Four Bedroom villas add an outdoor jacuzzi. Eden Villa has 2 pools.
- El Greco Resort & Spa • Fira
Triple and quad rooms
- Whitedeck Hotel • Imerovigli
Family cave suite is a good size.
- Fanari Villas • Oia
Good sized suites sleep 5 (or maybe 6).
- Villa Agnadi Studios • Finikia
Large family suites.
- Sea Sound White Katikies Apartments • Perivolos
Sea view suites for large groups.
- Sea View Beach Hotel • Perivolos
Suites for family of 6.
- Aegean Plaza Hotel • Kamari
Large triple rooms.
- Voreina Gallery Suites • Pyrgos
Deluxe suites with private pool.
You can find more detailed information about traveling to Santorini on our How to Get to Santorini page.
Ferry To Santorini
Highspeed ferries and catamarans from Athens to Santorini take about 4 or 5 hours. Conventional ferries take between 8 and 10 hours depending on the vessel and the route they take. The approach to the island by ferry is spectacular and makes the half-day lounging around the boat worth it. Ferryhopper is the best way to search for and book ferry tickets in Greece.
Flights To Santorini
There are flights from Athens and Thessaloniki to Santorini with Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines. The following budget airlines have cheap flights to Santorini from the main hubs in Europe (e.g. London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Paris) and many of the smaller airports as well:
Kayak is the best website for finding flights to Santorini – or anywhere else.
Santorini with a Baby – Specific Tips
I found the excellent advice below on a travel forum. After contacting the author and getting some more input from her, I thought I’d post it here for everyone. I’ve edited it for brevity and to include her later updates.
I have traveled with my kids before, but this trip to Santorini was my longest by far and I was going solo with only my 4-month-old son. (My husband and 2-yr-old daughter stayed home.) Here are a few thoughts of visiting Santorini with a young baby.
Flying with a baby on a multi-leg, overnight flight to Greece
Book well in advance so you can secure a seat in the bulkhead that has a bassinet option. I know British Airways and many other airlines have these. The downside of these bassinets is that they “trap” the person in the middle seat for as long as the bassinet is in place. If you are traveling with another adult, the trapped person may be one of you … but since I was traveling as a solo parent, it was a complete stranger. This made for some interesting negotiations over space and timing of putting the bassinet in place. If possible, wait to install the bassinet after meal service so you or the stranger in the seat can get up and go to the bathroom. ( I held my son in my arms while I ate). BA allowed me to pre-board and go through transfer at Heathrow in the priority lane. If they don’t point you to the fast lane, just ask.
Time Change, jet lag, and baby’s sleep schedule
My son adapted more easily than expected (usually he is not a great sleeper and doesn’t have a good schedule, so I was expecting the worst). I followed the same rules for him that I follow for myself when traveling overseas: Adapt immediately to new schedule and throw in an extra nap when needed. With the bright sun, it would have been very hard to try to keep him on his home schedule (and I would have been miserable).
Best place to stay with kids
We stayed at the Anema Residence Villas, located about 10 minutes outside Fira on the flatter side of the island. It was such a beautiful place that I felt excited about being “stuck” there while my son napped. We easily and happily passed time during the hottest hours of the day. We had our own private pool just off the room, so I could be out there relaxing while he was inside napping – and I could still easily hear him. There was plenty of room so we (and our stuff) could spread out. Though the villa was a bit more expensive than many of the hotels, the difference was not huge, and the rate included a rental car.
Baby supplies – What to take
Santorini was bigger than I expected and I could find most everything at the grocery store in Fira, including US brand diapers. I’m still breastfeeding so I didn’t need formula, but my suggestion would be to pack what you need if you use a specific brand. They had limited choices of baby formula and it didn’t match US products very well. There was no Similac or organic formula brands.
Don’t take a stroller
I regretted lugging my stroller through the airport. Some suggested that it might be nice to have so the baby could have a place to sit while out to eat, etc, but I found it wasn’t worth the effort to take it out since most places are off hilly cobblestone streets. And I didn’t use it in the airport either. I did use my Baby Bjorn and kept the kiddo strapped in while I ate or took turns having friends hold him while we ate.
Car transportation and baby seats
The car rental I used (set up by the hotel) was the local one in town and they supplied a car seat. The car seat was very basic and old … definitely not up to the standards of car seats in the US, but it served its purpose. I tried to drive very cautiously and stay off the busy main road in Fira as much as possible. I felt fine driving on the quieter roads and main roads between towns. If you’re just looking for transportation from the port or airport to your hotel, Welcome Pickups car service has car seats available on request.
Things to do
July is HOT in Santorini. I found it tough to be out and about with a baby. Even with a hat on him and loads of sunscreen I was still nervous about the sun. We focused our activities in the early morning and evenings. During the day, we hung out at the villa and enjoyed the scenery, pool, and the coolness of the villa. Don’t try to hike between Fira and Oia – really any part of it – unless it is early in the morning or in the evening. The sun really beats down on you. Also, it was sweaty and unenjoyable to walk around Fira other than in the evening. But once the sun started setting, we hit the town. Restaurants and wineries were great about having a baby. I have never been any place where people loved babies as much as Santorini. People gave him kisses and asked to hold him and bent over backwards to accommodate us. We ate at (and loved) Nicolas in Fira, Katina’s on Ammoudi Bay (Oia), and the Sigalas winery outside of Oia.
And finally I have to say just how happy I am that we went. Several people (both on the travel forum and in my life) thought I was bonkers for traveling so far away with my son by myself. Though it definitely had it’s stressful moments (I recall being close to tears as my son wailed his way through the L-O-N-G customs line once we were back stateside), I was still absolutely able to enjoy my trip – in fact, some of my favorite memories from the trip were created BECAUSE I had my son with me. It was like people saw me as a person they wanted to engage with and not just a tourist.
This is so wonderful! I am a single mom and am going to Greece for the month of June 2022 with my 6 yr old son. We have rented an airbnb for a week in Vothonas; I was seduced by the subterranean pool, although now I’m wondering if that will be a good choice for 7 full days with my son. Would you recommend breaking that up and staying on another part of the Island for half the time? We will be staying on Corfu Island for two weeks prior to this. My hope is to try and be a part of the culture as much as possible (vs a tourist) but am also very aware that I have an active 6 yr old boy and want to make sure this is a positive experience for him! Thanks in advance for any advice. Our booking (as of now) is June 20-27, 2021 but I’m open to shifting that a bit if you have a recommendation to do so! Also, do you think I’ll need a car the entire week, and it is easy to drive in Santorini? best, Angela
Vothonas will get you away from the more touristy parts of the island. The bus between Kamari and Fira runs nearby but you’ll still probably want a car (at least for a few days) to explore the island. Breaking up a one-week stay in two different towns is wise for most visitors but with a 6-year-old it might be worth it to remain in the same spot, not sure on that one.
Hi do you know any hotels in Santorini which have kids activities (for primary aged children) and evening entertainments like those in other Greek islands? I am thinking if the kids get bored of the beautiful views they can at least stay in the hotel and do some activities?
No, not really. All the main towns have a busy feel at night (they’re not boring) so being out and about is probably your best bet.
Thanks for the solid recommendations. Traveling to Santorini with 3 kids. Any recommendations on kid-friendly boat trips?
All of these boat tours are kid-friendly though would probably do a day tour rather than the sunset tour.
Really love your blog and it is super helpful as I do research for my upcoming trip with my 11 year old son. It is just the two of us and we are booked at Meli, Meli in Imerovigli for 4 nights, I can afford a bit more, but was trying to be conservative and I booked it thru Booking.com. Now that I did I am having regrets as I read some of the reviews and they are not all great. Do you know that hotel at all? Or if there is another one that is better for maybe a bit more? I would love something on the cliff overlooking the sea since it’s out first time. We are going on to Folegandros for 2 nights after Santorini and I booked Aria Boutique there. I have never been to either island and am also wondering about getting around. My son is super active to sitting by the pool all idea is never going to fly and we like to explore. Should I rent a car? I heard that might not be the best idea due to crazy traffic and driving – maybe an ATV daily rental is better?
Meli Meli is a fine hotel and good rates for what you get but it’s not convenient for easy access to restaurants, shops, and markets so perhaps not what you want if traveling with an 11 year old. Depending where you’re heading you might have to walk along a busy road with no sidewalk. The bus stop is nearby but a car would be useful in getting around the island. For two days on Folegandros a car is not recommended just be prepared for lots of walking, hiking, and exploration.
Great tips, great advice and looking forward to the book so thank you. We are looking at what seems to be a very new property called Cape9 in Akrotiri. Looks like what we want but can’t find reviews and we assume the photos are artistic renders. Do you know anything about the place?
I have not heard of this place (probably brand new). It looks great but it will not be within walking distance of many or any shops or restaurants. A rental car or lots of patience (for the bus) will be necessary.
Been reading your blog for a while and it’s really helpful so well done.
Just need some advice from you if possible.
My wife and I together with my daughter (5 years) and infant son (4 months) plan to travel to Greece at the end April.
I have 9 nights so plan on doing 4 in Athens, 2 in Mykonos, and 3 in Santorini. I will fly from Athens to Mykonos, take a ferry from Mykonos to Santorini, and fly back to Athens to fly out of Greece.
Any suggestions in terms of accommodation and towns in Mykonos and Santorini considering our children’s ages? I would enjoy 5 star hotels and have budgeted about $300 per night. What can you recommend? Also how is swimming at end April as we enjoy the water?
The sea water will be cool in late April but with some nice days swimming is possible – many people do swim in April, though probably too cold for most. Having a suite with a hot tub is nice. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but $300 will not get you a 5 star hotel in either island (especially for a family of 4). For kid-friendly hotel recommendations please see my pages on family hotels for Santorini and Mykonos.
What an amazing website! I’m planning a trip to Greece next July – August. We are a family of 6, my husband and 4 “children” (ages 23,21, 18 and 16). I would love for us to all stay in the same room/villa/suite. I’m debating between Fira and Oia. Here are some important factors to me: access to a pool (not just a jacuzzi), walking distance to town, nice views from the room, breakfast included or at least provided on sight, 4 or 5 star ratings. Also, as far as what to do in Santorini… what do you suggest as a perfect 3 day itinerary? My family (excluding me!) isn’t big into historical ruins, etc. They would prefer renting scooters and exploring. Looking forward to any advice! Lastly, is their a Mykonos Dave?
Mary Kay Viscounty
I would stay at the Aria Villas in Fira. Fabulous luxury suites with kitchen. You could get two and have a large portion of the deck (which is shared). You can use the pool at the hotel about a 1 minute walk away. 3 days in Santorini: definitely a boat tour of the caldera and walk the Fira-Oia hike. After that, a wine tour, walk up Pyrgos, cliff jump from the swimming spot around Ammoudi Bay, and watch an outdoor movie in Kamari. Maybe jet ski into the caldera for the adventurous. I do have content for Mykonos (you can find it on the home page) but no dedicated site.