Our family vacation to Greek was a great mix of Greek history, laid-back island life, and family fun. With a two-year-old, a fourteen-year-old and two adults, we took it nice and slow, savoring each stop. This slow pace gave us plenty of time to enjoy the locals’ affection for children and for the all important nap-time.
I would highly suggest following our route if you have three weeks to spend traveling through Greece. We flew in and out of Athens. After seeing the historical sites in Athens for three days, we headed to the islands. We traveled from island to island just like the locals, via ferry. From Piraeus, the port of Athens, we took a hydrofoil to Hydra. After five days in Hydra, we had to return to Piraeus to catch another ferry for the islands on the remainder of our trip (Piraeus to Paros to Santorini to Piraeus).
Here is our trip via Route Perfect. I will take you through the logistics and provide a quick overview of the highlights. I have also provided links to the stories about each place on my blog if you would like more detailed information. If you want to make our vacation your vacation, just click on the bright orange “View trip details” button and enter your departure date, number of people in your party to price your trip. If you like what you see, book it. It’s that easy.
We arrive in the Athens airport via Swiss Air and take a taxi to our accommodations, an apartment in the Panormou-Abelokipoi neighborhood. It is hard to believe that we only spent three nights in Athens considering all of the things we did. The highlights include exploring Plaka, hiking to the top of the Acropolis to see the Parthenon and the Erecthion, visiting the zoo and the Children’s library in the National Garden, watching the changing of the guards outside the Presidential Mansion, drinking ouzo in a neighborhood pub in the Panormou-Abelokipoi neighborhood and riding the metro all around the town.
From Piraeus, the port of Athens, we take a high-speed hydrofoil, the Flying Cat Two, to the nearby island of Hydra. Traveling to Hydra is like traveling back in time. This carless island is filling with beautiful stone pebble beaches, quaint narrow alleys, picturesque harbors and silent evenings. The only forms of transportation available on Hydra is by boat, by foot or by donkey. We stay on this island for five days, enjoying the slow pace and the friendly locals. Our accommodations, Mr. Henry’s house, is located halfway between Hydra Town and Kamini Port. We enjoy exploring the shops in Hydra Town, swimming in the cool ocean of Kamini Beach and lounging under the umbrellas of Bisti Beach sipping frappes. You can read more about the tales of Hydra here.
To get to Paros, we have to return to Piraeus and catch a different, slower moving ferry, the Blue Star Ferry. Once we arrive at Paros, we catch a taxi to the other side of the island to Logaras. We stay at the Akteon Hotel which offers apartment suites. Paros has beautiful sand beaches and smooth surf making it an ideal location of wind surfing. We spend five days alternating between lounging on the soft sand beaches and exploring the small towns. The town of Naoussa is filled with shops featuring works by local artist and restaurants lined along the water. We explore the ruins of a Venetian castle near the port. Paros can easily be explored by catching a local bus that is cheap and runs often. You can read more about the tales of Paros here.
To get to Santorini, we continue on the Blue Star Ferry from Paros, passing the islands of Naxos, to the island of Santorini. Once we arrive at Santorini, we catch a taxi to the town of Oia, the home of the famous sunsets. We stay at Zoe’s House, a cave dwelling with a priceless view. Santorini’s towns of Oia and Fira offer incredible views and gourmet restaurants. The wines of Santorini taste of the ocean and the volcanic soil. Santorini has red pebble beaches and black pebble beaches. It is also home to the ruins of an ancient civilization, Akrotiri, fabled to be the lost city of Atlantis. Santorini can also easily be explored by catching a local bus that is cheap and runs often. You can read more about the tales of Santorini here.
We return to Piraeus from the islands via the Blue Star ferry. We catch a bus to the airport and spend one final night in Athens at the Sofitel Hotel of Athens located, literally, across the street from the Athens airport.
I hope this information inspires you to visit this beautiful country too. Please do take the time to learn a little Greek before you go. You will find a little goes a long way in connecting with the locals and establishing good will. Learning Greek has never been easier. Just a few months ago, Duolingo launched its Greek for English learners. I learned Greek before I travel to Greece using Rosetta Stone. I would highly recommend using both programs as Rosetta Stone gives you more of an opportunity to speak and Duolingo is free.
My two year old son learned how to say, please, thank you and hello (Παρακαλώ, ευχαριστώ, γεια σας) which earned him squeals of delight and free caramels from the local shop keepers. Now, he is nine years old and obsessed with Greek mythology. You can read more about the benefits of speaking Greek on your Greek vacation here.
Life is an adventure, not a destination.
“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves” – Euripides