12 Reasons to Visit Greece With Children
Because travelling on ferryboats is cool. Because creamy yoghurt with fruits & honey make a yummy breakfast. Because the national guards in front of Parliament (with those pompoms on their feet) look so funny. There are umpteen reasons why Greece is a great country for family holidays. Here are my top 12.
1) Greeks love children – They do, truly. Including yours. Your little ones won’t get disapproving looks, they’ll get cuddles – innocent and genuinely well-meant cuddles. And you can pick up some Greek vocabulary in the process: agápi, glikié mou, koúkla, hrisó mou, all meaning nice things. Everyone says Italians love kids, but the Greeks top the charts. And don’t worry if an old lady does ftou ftou, as if she is spitting at your child. It simply means that no bad luck will fall upon him or her. Ever. A little magic never hurt anyone.
2) No mealtime tantrums – Simply because the food is so good. Homemade fries served as a starter. Cucumber and tomatoes that taste so good that kids gulp them down. Fried octopus. Keftedes (little meatballs), pastitsio (the Greek version of lasagne), fried barbounia (red mullet – the crispy tail is the best part). Your kids will surprise you as they clamour for garlicky tzatziki to dip their bread into.
3) And eating out Greek style with kids is fun – Especially when it’s in a beach taverna or when you can arrive by boat. No endless waiting. No best-behaviour requirements. Noisy is expected. Messy is viewed as a sign of appreciation.
4) Accommodation is easy – Most Greek hotels have family rooms and suites. Extra single beds. Extra doubles. Rooms that interconnect. Cottages or apartments with little kitchens. There are amazing villas for rent too.
5) No need to carry diapers – Guess what, Greeks have babies, too! And those babies wear diapers, so yes, you’ll find everything you need once you get there. Carry what you need for the journey, plus a few extras so you don’t have to run to the shop as soon as you arrive, but no more than that.
6) No bedtime rules – That should definitely be part of the holiday fun, no? And you are on holidays, right? So relax. It’s okay. See all those local kids running around late in the evening? Eating ice cream, kicking a ball around, playing hide and seek? They are having a great time. Everybody watches over them. No need for babysitters. All taken care of.
7) There’s no ocean – There are seas. The Ionian Sea and the Aegean. No tides. No currents. No dangerous creatures living under the water surface. Often no waves. Just beautifully clear, clean and warm waters.
8) Oh yes, and there are nice beaches – Quite a few, actually. Organised ones with loungers and umbrellas, for the first day maybe, until you realise that unorganised beaches are a lot more exciting. Sandy ones with shallow waters perfect for toddlers. Some with fine sand, terrific for sandcastle building. Some with coarse sand, that doesn’t stick so much between the toes. Pebbly beaches great for skipping stones on the water. Popular beaches where kids can make friends. Hidden coves where you can be alone. Rocks to jump or dive from. Beaches that are protected from the summer meltemi wind, others that are exposed and where you can play in the waves. Take your pick.
9) You don’t have to look for a playground – Car-free village alleys and squares are as much fun. More even. And the best place to make local friends.
10) There’s all this other fun stuff too – Like this magnificent temple in the middle of Athens, what’s it called again, oh yes: the Parthenon. Ancient theatres. Castles and cliff hanging monasteries. Ancient Olympia. Delphi. Get them an engaging book about Greek mythology and it will all come to life.
11) There are cute animals – Kittens are favourites (dinner leftovers never go to waste.) Some hotels have their own farm animals children can help caring for. Donkeys all over the place. Go for walks (in parks in Athens even) and spot tortoises. Rent a little boat see dolphins playing in the sea. (Okay, you need a bit of luck for that.)
12) And you could adopt a puppy – If your kids (and you too, even though you won’t admit it) fall in love with that adorable homeless puppy you are bound to come across, get a local vet or charity to help you, and you can take it home with you. And name it Zorba.
Jacoline has crisscrossed Greece with her two little boys who are far from little these days. Get in touch when you are ready for your non-stress-smiles-only family holidays in Greece.