Greek people are generally quite family oriented and kind to kids and your baby or toddler will be a real novelty and talking point
There are plenty of accommodation options in Greece also from self catering to luxury hotels, guest houses and villas. Greece is a fun and easy vacation destination for families. There are no special vaccinations required and the food is generally baby and toddler friendly.
The Greek Islands
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, boasting spectacular scenery and beaches with sparkling turquoise water. It’s well known for its ancient historical and cultural sites. There are plenty of family-friendly apartments and hotels too, most with cots available on request and many with kids pools. Corfu is said to be the most beautiful Greek island, but it is also one of the busiest. You may want to steer your little ones clear of the well-known Kassiopi resort, popular with watersports enthusiasts and clubbers. Paleokastritsa is a beautiful cove with a backdrop of green hills, excellent for luxury-yacht spotting. For good sandy beaches, head to spots such as Agios Georgios, the busier Acharavi, Sidari, Glyfada or Agios Stephanos. Rhodes and Kos are further south and are great options for family holidays. From here, you can even take day trips to Turkey. There is a hydrofoil which reaches Bodrum from Kos Town in just 20 minutes. From Rhodes you can travel to Marmaris for a day or even for a few days.
When travelling to Greece, research the area that you are staying and find out exactly where your accommodation is based. There are some steep hills on some of the islands such as Santorini (which also has loads of steps), which are hard work with a stroller. Apartments in tourist spots may be closer to restaurants and nightclubs than you would like and might be noisy at night. Find out about local events too as many villages have festivals during the summer with parades, dancing, music and food.
Package holiday providers arrange for charter flights throughout the holiday season and there are also a lot of budget airlines which have routes to the Greek Islands operating throughout the summer season.
It takes around four hours to fly from the UK or Ireland to Athens. If you’re heading to the north-west islands such as Corfu or Zakynthos, it’ll take about three hours. From New York it takes about 11 hours to get to Athens and you can fly direct or break up the journey in a number of European airports.
Children younger than four should travel for free on buses and boats, and there is usually a discount for older children. You should bring your own food and water when you’re travelling by ferry as it’s not always provided.
Hiring a car is an excellent way to see a lot more of your holiday destination, and it also makes it easier to cart around your baby supplies.
Just bear in mind that the driving rules in Greece are different to other countries and you will need to be prepared to share narrow roads with an assortment of vehicles, from lorries to mopeds. Petrol stations are not plentiful so make sure you keep your engine topped up with fuel.
Although it’s sometimes possible to hire a car seat, you can’t be sure that it will meet the safety specifications that experts advise. The safest option is to take your own and make sure it’s properly fitted.
Buses run on most of the islands, and trains run on the mainland. They don’t always seem to follow timetables though, so allow extra time for your journeys.
Getting around the islands can often be easier by boat. There are plenty of ferries and smaller boats hopping from cove to cove or island to island, and it’s a fun way to see more of your destination.
When to Go
If you don’t have children who are in school yet then it’s worth booking your holiday outside summer holiday peak season(July and August) as it’s quieter and the sun’s not quite so hot. Keep in mind that the water can still be chilly in early summer but by September it’s perfect.
Hotels and restaurants on most islands close during the winter months. You’ll always find something open but things can be very quiet in the off peak season. On the less popular islands things close down even earlier in the Autumn and open up later in the spring.
Baby & Toddler Essentials
Breastfeeding in Greece
Breastfeeding publicly isn’t widely adopted in Greece, however there is no law against it and you are unlikely to encounter any problems. You may like to carry a muslin with you to give you and your baby privacy.
Water Quality in Greece
Tap water is generally safe to drink in big cities in mainland Greece, but the quality can vary over the islands. Drinking water is treated differently than in other countries and this change can cause a mild tummy upset so it is always best to use bottled water for babies and when preparing formula. Remember to look for a brand that has a low sodium and mineral content such as Evian. Brands with a picture of a baby on it are also safe for infants to drink.
Sterilising in Greece can be done with steriliser bags, microwave steriliser bags or steriliser tablets (although you will need a container for these). For more on sterilizing abroad, click here.
Shopping for Necessities
Shop times can vary. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, they usually open from 9am to 1pm and from 6pm to 9.30pm. On other days shops are usually only open from 9am to 2pm. So shopping in the morning is a safe bet.
Nappies, formula, baby food, wipes, dummies and other supplies are available in supermarkets, mini-markets and pharmacies, but they’re often expensive. Well known brands are particularly expensive. There may not be much choice either, even in the busier tourist areas. Larger supermarkets will have Aptamil and Hipp Organic. Other brands include novalac, nativa organic, frisolac, almiron, frezylac, S26 Gold. Jars of baby food will be similar to what you might find at home and you will also be able to find cereal, yoghurt, fruit, bread and snacks suitable for babies.
On the Greek islands, formula milk and nappies are not always easy to find in small shops but most islands will have a large supermarket which will stock all you need but it may be far from where you are staying so it is always best to bring everything you need if you will be staying in a more remote location.
Hotel shops do often sell nappies and reusable swim nappies. Check online or ask your travel agent to find out what’s available near your accommodation. You will be able to find fresh cows milk in larger supermarkets however, make sure there is such a supermarket close by and also shop for your milk early to ensure availability.
At larger airports in the UK and Ireland, Boots offers a click and collect service so you can purchase your formula and other essentials in advance and pick them up at the airport, after you pass through security. This includes bottles of premade formula which are handy for the plane journey. When travelling to Greece it is always best to bring the formula that your baby is used to. You may not be able to find your baby’s brand at your destination and if you do, it may be manufactured in another region and may taste different.
The electric mosquito-repellent devices are usually sufficient to keep the insects at bay at night and remember to bring a mosquito net for your stroller for when you are out and about in the evenings. Choose accommodation that has fly screen on the windows wherever possible. Some mosquitoes in northern Greece can provoke a severe reaction. For more on insect protection, click here.
Pharmacies & Doctors
Pharmacies are the best for minor ailments. They’re usually open between 8.30am and lunchtime. The pharmacists usually speak English, are knowledgeable and can supply a wide range of medicines and first-aid supplies. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen based products for babies and toddlers are available over the counter. There is at least one doctor on every island and larger islands have hospitals. Pharmacists and staff at your hotel will be able to direct you to a doctor or hospital locally if required. Make sure you bring a first aid kit with you on holiday also to deal with minor ailments along with a thermometer.
The heat and sunburn are the biggest concern for babies and small children. Hats, cool clothing that covers up limbs, and sun protection lotions with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 are a must for babies over 6 months. You cannot use SPF on babies under the age of 6 months so always keep them in the shade and bring long sleeved/ legged light clothing. On the beach, you might consider using a UV tent.
The winds can be intense in summer, especially in August and especially in the Cyclades. The wind blows from the north so beaches on the south coast of an island generally are the least blustery. Naxos in particular has a long string of protected beaches on it’s southwest coast. If you are going during this time a UV tent for the beach is handy as it will protect your child from the sun and will also stop sand from going into their eyes. For more on sun protection click here.
Electricity outlets in Greece are 220 volts AC, 50Hz and use round two-pin plugs.
In an Emergency
In the event of an emergency, you can call 112 and ask to be connected to an English-speaking operator. If you are the victim of theft or a serious medical emergency contact your local embassy or consulate.
High chairs are rarely to be found in restaurants which can make a stroller an appealing option as a place to sit a baby or small toddler during meal time. Another great option is to bring a fold up high chair with you.
Meals usually happen a bit later in Greece. Lunch is from about 2pm and dinner from 9pm however, restaurants in tourist areas open earlier. Bakeries also sell savoury pastries that make good picnic food. Bread is always served when you order in a restaurant. Your little one may also enjoy the kebabs, feta cheese, olives, ripe melons, and small cheese and spinach pies. You will nearly always be able to get an omelette rustled up and keftedes (meatballs) are also popular and handy finger food for toddlers.
Buffets are popular in some hotel restaurants. However, the food may have been left out for some time, so try to get there as soon as they start serving.