A Greece family vacation is the perfect combination of city exploring and beach hopping. With kid-friendly cities like Thessaloniki and hundreds of islands to choose from, there’s something for all kinds of families with kids of all ages in Greece.
Our ideal itinerary covers one week in Greece with the kids. On this itinerary, you’ll spend two days in Thessaloniki and 4 nights split between Crete’s biggest cities. You’ll hike through incredible nature, snorkel shipwrecks off the coast, enjoy museums, and try your hand at cooking traditional Greek cuisine. In addition, you’ll have plenty of free time for lounging on the beach, wandering the cities, or just hanging out at your hotel or Airbnb.
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Greece family vacation 1-week itinerary
We like to start a Greece family vacation with a visit to Thessaloniki for two main reasons:
1. It’s cheaper and easier to find flights with connections to all of Europe’s major airports. The extra flight leg required to get to a Greek island from the United States is really pushing it when traveling with kids.
2. Stopping in a city adds diversity to your getaway and is great for introducing the kids to a new culture. (Plus, there’s only so much beach time that’s truly relaxing with little ones).
We’ve intentionally left out specific restaurant suggestions as Greece is truly full of amazing eateries making it easy to find the perfect place for your family to dine.
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Day one: Explore the waterfront and Old Town
Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, about 5 hours north of Athens by train, is a city full of history. The accessibility of ancient architecture here makes it the perfect place in Europe to introduce your kids to the rich history of the continent.
Start your trip by visiting the White Tower, perhaps Thessaloniki’s most famous landmark. The tower, which was once used as a prison, is now a museum that showcases the history of the city. The White Tower is located at the far end of Thessaloniki’s gorgeous, waterfront promenade lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Near the White Tower, you’ll find multiple cruise options (some even free with the purchase of a drink on board) that sail around the bay.
Day 2: Museums and more
Enjoy a slow morning to recover from jet lag before you head to the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, which is home to an impressive collection of artifacts from Ancient Greece and Macedonia. The museum offers interactive exhibits that are perfect for kids, including a virtual reality tour of ancient Thessaloniki.
Since this is your last day in the city, choose from the following to plan your perfect day.
A few more ideas to fill your second day in Thessaloniki:
- Children’s Museum of Thessaloniki: This interactive museum is designed specifically for children and offers a range of hands-on exhibits and activities related to science, art, and technology.
- Noesis – Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum: This museum is located in the Thermi District and features interactive exhibits related to science, engineering, and technology. It also hosts regular workshops and events suitable for children and the whole family.
- Take a cooking class: Thessaloniki is known for its delicious food, so why not take a cooking class and learn how to make some traditional Greek dishes with your kids? Several cooking schools in the city offer classes that are suitable for children.
In the evening, head up to the city’s old town (Ano Poli), which is full of narrow streets, colorful buildings, and traditional taverns. You can even grab some snacks from a mini-mart and head up to the city’s old town walls where you can watch the sunset with the locals.
Days 3-7: Island life on Crete
The reason we love Crete for a Greece family vacation is because of its size and authenticity. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and is known for its stunning beaches, historic sites, and delicious cuisine.
Day 3: Settle in Chania and rent a car
Arrive first in the city of Chania for your Greece family vacation to the islands. Here, you can explore the Venetian harbor, take a walk around the old town, and have a leisurely lunch by the water. Call it an early night tonight so you’re well-rested for a big day of exploring tomorrow.
Chania is home for the next two nights. Today or tomorrow morning it’s vital that you rent a car to make the most of your visit to Crete.
Day 4: Samaria Gorge or shipwreck snorkeling
If your kids are a bit older and capable of tackling a moderately challenging hike, head to the Samaria Gorge National Park, which is one of the longest gorges in Europe. The natural landscape here is incredible and it’s also home to rare wildlife, like the Cretan ibex. The hike through the gorge is suitable for children over the age of eight, and there are plenty of rest stops along the way.
If you’re more interested in some ocean activities today, there’s an off-the-beaten-path shallow shipwreck you can explore as a family. Head to the “Dimitrios P.” shipwreck off the coast of northwestern Crete (ask around if you get lost). Make sure to bring a snorkel and water shoes and enjoy this incredible chance to explore a shipwreck up close and personal.
Day 5: Historical city and Greek cuisine
It’s time to head to the other side of Crete and re-settle in Herkalion. Enjoy the drive over and take the time to stop by different beaches and enjoy some seaside meals along the way. The road between the two cities is a pathway of beautiful beaches and adorable seaside towns.
Once you’re settled in your new accommodations in Herkalion, head back out to visit the Palace of Knossos, located nearby. This is the largest archaeological site on the island and is considered one of the most important monuments of ancient Crete. The site offers guided tours and interactive exhibits that kids will enjoy.
After, consider taking a cooking class back in Herkalion with the kids and learning how to make some traditional Cretan dishes on your Greece family vacation. Cretan dishes are some of the finest examples of traditional Greek cuisine.
If a cooking class isn’t for you, stop by the beautiful Amnissos beach on your way back into town. This is the perfect beach, with bars and sun beds, to relax after exploring Knossos.
Day 6: Enjoy the beaches
It’s time for a day of pure beach bliss to round out the Greece family vacation. Some of the best beaches on the island include Elafonisi Beach, Balos Lagoon, and Falassarna Beach. These beaches offer crystal-clear waters, soft sand, and plenty of space for kids to play.
However, the north coast of Crete is truly the perfect place to ‘choose your own beach’. Drive along the main road and you’ll have your pick of many different, yet equally impressive, beaches to choose from.
Day 7: Time to say goodbye
It’s time to pack up and go home from your Greece family vacation. Depending on your flight time, enjoy one more morning by the water, exploring the town, or taking a scenic drive. Don’t forget to buy your souvenirs (or load up on delicious Greek pastries for the flight home) before you go.
Spending one week in Greece with kids is a great way to create lasting memories and introduce them to the country’s rich history, stunning natural landscapes, and delicious cuisine. Thessaloniki and Crete are two destinations that offer something for everyone, from historic sites to beautiful beaches to interactive exhibits. Whether you’re exploring the streets of Thessaloniki or hiking through the Samaria Gorge in Crete, there’s no shortage of things to do in Greece with kids.
Looking for something quieter? Check out our favorite Greek islands for a quiet vacation.
Thessaloniki is also one of the most beautiful cities in Europe to visit in 2023.
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Learn how to easily plan your Greece trip in 7 simple steps.