A brilliant combination for family holidays in Santorini
Flying to Santorini takes four hours but once you’re there, as it’s a small island, the transfer is only 20 minutes to Perivolos and even closer to Perissa and Thira.
The island’s capital Thira is the place to stay if you want to be in the midst of it all, but also retains its beauty with multi-coloured cliffs and whitewashed shops, museums and restaurants staggered into the hillside.
Or for traditional seaside fun, the beach resorts of Perivolos and Perissa share seven-kilometres of sand. Perissa is the busier end and has more family attractions like a waterpark, but as they’re close by they share lots of facilities and there are ancient towns to explore nearby.
Best family friendly beaches
A seven-kilometre black sand beach runs from Perissa all the way down through Perivolos, with the rocky Mount Vouno at the Perissa end providing some unusual holiday scenery. Tavernas, beach bars and small shops are dotted along the beach throughout.
Watersports like stand-up paddleboarding and jet-skiing are in abundance all along the shore as well as tamer activities like snorkelling, inflatables and good old pedalos to take little ones out in the blue sea. Even if you just want to get into the water without a float, the shore slopes gently for paddling and swimming.
Best family activities in Santorini
There’s no missing that Santorini is a volcanic island, and you can explore the volcanic calderas – or craters, part filled with water – on foot, by boat or even helicopter. Other fun family modes of transport can be found in Thira. If you descend the steps to the old port and wonder how you’re getting up again, don’t worry as there’s a choice between cable car or donkey ride.
Thira wasn’t always situated where it is now, in fact is used to be at the top of Mount Vuono, to the east of Perissa. The 2,400-year-old remains of ancient Thera include Roman baths and city ruins like the remnants of ancient shops.
Another archaeological site worth a visit is the ruins of the Bronze-age city at Akrotiri in the west, which is preserved inside a modern building with raised walkways and information signs. Or if you’re in Thira, the Prehistoric Museum holds artefacts from Akrotiri.
Half an hour’s walk from Perivolos is the medieval town of Emporio with old buildings, churches and a ruined castle to explore. But it’s not all ancient activities, as Perissa has a small waterpark near the beach, with a few slides and pools and a pirate ship sporting smaller slides for the nippers.
Other popular holidays in Greece
If you’re not sure where to take the family in Greece, other great options for family holidays can be found in Crete, Corfu and Zante. Or to find out more about holidaying in Santorini click to read our guide and check out the three great Santorini family hotels below.
Things To Do With Kids in Santorini
As far as scenic islands in the sun go, they seldom come finer than sumptuous Santorini. Although you’ve likely seen photographs of the rich blue domed roofs on the white buildings dotting the island’s shore, Santorini actually has lots more to offer.
The island is enjoyed by families all year round, and with so much to see and do, the kids are going to make some spectacular memories with you here. To help you know how best to invest your time, we’ve compiled a few pointers on ways to spend time with the children during your Santorini holiday.
Things To Do With Kids in Santorini
It’s not a trip away with the kids if you don’t visit the beach, and Santorini’s geology means that it’s got some of the best and most distinct beaches in all of Greece.
To make it a real adventure, head for the Red Beach, which is a strip of secluded shore hidden over some rocky trails you and the kids can conquer together. Once there, you’ll find red sand and steep shores, distinct thanks to the richness of the iron in the local rocks.
More conventional beaches are open to you too, of course. Continuing the colourful theme, the White Beach is a nicely tucked away spot that’s popular with swimmers, or head to Kamari, where the black sand sparkles in the hot sun.
Donkey rides along the shore
Animal lovers and fans of scenic routes will adore the donkey rides in Santorini.
The trails slink between Old Port, Thira, Oia and Amoudi Bay, and your trusty troupe of donkeys will have you up and down the corresponding hills at a serene pace. This is a wonderful way of discovering the island with the kids.
Boat tours in abundance
There are many types of boat tours available in Santorini, from glass-bottom boats that let you see beneath the sea, to catamarans that cruise around the volcanic fringes of the island.
Special mention also goes to the sailing ships that are active in the sea surrounding Santorini, which help bring your kids’ inner pirates to life. The boats often depart from Amoudi Bay and Old Port – you’re free to peruse the picturesque harbours and see if any of these fine vessels tickle your plucky little crewmates’ fancy.
Oia's secret bookstore
Often voted one of the best bookshops in the world, Atlantis Books in Oia takes the whimsy of all those old bookshops you remember as a kid and adds a sprinkle of Santorini sunshine.
Stairs lead down to a stony room packed with books of every description, as well as maps of the island handmade like treasure maps of old. Kids will enjoy the chance to get lost in this secretive little grotto of literature.
Climb to Skaro's Rock
For photos of the kids with the grand sweep of the sea behind them, not to mention the best views on the island, it’s best to head to Skaros Rock. The trail leading here factors in some of the most inspiring views you can imagine, as well as rolling green fields and clusters of pale houses clinging together in the warm sun.
Atop Skaros Rock there’s a hidden church too, making the trip all the more exciting.
Tour ancient Akrotiri
Centuries ago, Santorini was beset by a massive volcanic eruption. It levelled the town of Akrotiri, although those ruins have been superbly preserved today.
You can either book a guided tour of this place or explore it together under your own steam, but it makes for a fascinating glimpse into a past snapshot of Santorini life.
Lots of indulgent contemporary details are used in the decor at the 4* TUI Platinum El Greco Hotel, with views across the Aegean Sea. In a quiet area five minutes' walk just south of Thira centre, the large grounds have four pools and one for the kids, plus two outdoor whirlpools. La Pergola buffet restaurant offers something for everyone, and you can also get light meals at Greco Cafe and Aiolos pool bar. As well a standard rooms, the family loft-style suites sleep two to four people with a separate mezzanine level, and discount prices are available for children.
Right by Perivolos Beach and with two sea-view pools, Santo Miramare Resort also has its own private area of beach with volleyball and watersports available. There's a separate pool for kids and a TV lounge plus games to keep them amused, like giant chess, pool and table tennis. The buffet restaurant has enough choice for everyone among the Greek and international dishes or you might like to just have light lunch al fresco at the pool bar. For more space for your family, junior suites sleep up to four and have a separate lounge area plus a side sea view.
The intimate, family-run Perissa Bay Hotel is virtually on the beach, with a snack bar facing the sea. The friendly staff are happy to organise taxis and boat trips for you and advise on things to do locally. Continental breakfast is served daily and you're only 10 minutes from the centre of Perissa for lots of restaurants and cafes. Maisonettes and studios sleep families of five, and the pool has a separate kids section and whirlpool.