Santorini is primarily thought of as an adults only destination, with few of the usual kid activities on offer and many of the hotels being adults only. There are no theme parks, water parks or play areas, and this will deter many families from visiting the island. If that is what your child wants then it is best avoided, but it is possible for a family to have a fantastic time on the island so long as you plan ahead and know what to expect.
Santorini is a truly beautiful place, which even young children will appreciate, and if they are happy exploring new places, enjoying the beaches and wandering through cobbled streets then they will have just as good a time as you will. I took my two children there for a week and everyone declared it the 'best holiday ever', so it can be done.
Top Tips for staying in Santorini with Kids
• Stay in Fira Somewhere within an easy walk of the central bus station is ideal. There really is no need to hire a car on Santorini; its bad for the environment, adds to the traffic problems for the locals and it can be a nightmare finding parking in the towns, whereas buses are cheap and regular.
• Accommodation - Book your accommodation early as places book up quickly and family suites/rooms are limited on the island, as so many cater for couples or are adult only (see below).
• Pushchairs I would avoid taking one of these. There are a lot of cobbles, a lot of steps and you will find yourself carrying the pushchair as well as the child most of the time.
• Chose your season carefully I would definitely advise that you go out of the peak summer season, when the crowds, heat and prices are at their highest. October is a great time to take kids.
• Food There are very few supermarkets and the restaurants can be ruiningly expensive so check the menus outside before committing. However, portions are usually huge and children can easily share a meal without going hungry. Often the restaurants off the main road or away from the cliff tops are less expensive.
• What to do Balance out the time spent at sites or on tours with time in the pool or at the beach. There has to be compromises when taking youngsters on holiday and not overloading them is the best way to avoid complaints.
• Footwear Most of the villages and towns are cobblestoned – wear sensible shoes rather than flip flops or your feet will not enjoy this holiday.
• Supplies It goes without saying, but sun hats, sun cream, bottles of water and cool clothing are all necessities.
• Wildlife Santorini, like most of the Mediterranean, has plenty of different wildlife. Any patch of scrubland will produce countless lizards, wild cats, butterflies and assorted insects. Ideal for keeping little people walking, set them off lizard spotting and they will hardly notice the distances you may expect from them.
Read all about how to Slow Travel in Santorini >>
Where to stay in Santorini with kids
There are a few main tourist spots on the island.
Fira is the capital of the island and has a wide choice of shops, restaurants and hotels. It is also home to two cathedrals and most of the museums, as well as the central hub bus station. It has a beautiful old port, so many little roads to explore and its views are (in my opinion) far superior to those of Oia.
I found Aria Suites, which was a truly excellent hotel and perfect for a family. We had a two bedroom suite with a separate bathroom, several terraces and a view over the pool and caldera. We were given a huge breakfast every morning on our terrace, which set us up nicely for the day, and the staff were fantastic. It was quiet, away from any bars and nightlife, but still only a five minute walk from all the action, as well as being only five minutes walk from the bus station in the other direction, which made it ideal for day trips to the rest of the island.
Other hotels which were on my Fira shortlist
The El Greco is minutes from the centre of Fira and the bus station, has family rooms and suites, five pools including a kids pool and an onsite restaurant.
The Kamares Apartments have some family rooms, views over the caldera and are just a 5 minute walk to the centre of Fira.
Blue Angel Villa is centrally located and has three bedrooms, sleeps up to nine, has a hot tub and looks stunning.
Santorini Mansion at nearby Imerovigli was second on my shortlist. Imerovigli is a mile from Fira and this hotel looks stunning, as well as having family rooms that can sleep up to 8. Each suite has a hot tub and the views look stunning, I only rejected it as I wanted us to be closer to Fira and the bus station.
The most beautiful and famous of all the villages on the island is Oia (pronounced ear) which is on the north westernmost tip of the island. It is here that people line the walls every evening to await the sunset, and it is here where you find the majority of the oft-photographed hotels with their cliff side swimming pools, all overlooking the sunset.
For all its beauty however, Oia is packed with tourists, expensive restaurants and little else to retain the attention of small people for long. Perfect perhaps for couples who just want to chill out in the beauty of the place, dine out regularly and pootle around. It’s less ideal for families with kids who want to spend time at the beach, or swim in a pool bigger than a large bath, as so many of the cave pools are. The buses in and out are always overflowing, even out of peak season people miss the bus they want as it is too full, making it harder to get around the rest of the island from here, particularly with kids in tow.
If you do want to stay in Oia with kids, then Fanari Villas has family suites, a pool and hot tubs as well as a restaurant and incredible views.
If you are looking for a beach holiday rather than an historical and cultural one, then La Bellezza in Kamari, near Perissa, looks like a great hotel for families, with lots of family rooms, hot tubs and its right next to the beach. To explore the island however you would have to get a bus to Fira and then another bus out to your destination, making the travel hard work if you have kids.
There are villas for rent inland, but then you have to hire a car.
Want to search for more? Just read the description to ensure they accept kids, as many on the island don't.
Things to do with kids in Santorini
It can be hard to find kid-friendly tours as most of those on offer are for adults, such as meals on sunset cruises, horse riding on a beach, winery tours and the like. However, the Lost City of Atlantis is a 9D museum kids will love.