Family Friendly Santorini – What to See and Do
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS
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When you think of Santorini the iconic images of the white buildings with blue roofs come to mind. Those visions are almost impossibly beautiful. And yet…it is just one of the many cool things to see when you visit Santorini.
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Oia
What’s not to like about the glorious iconic village of Oia. The starkness of the white buildings against a blue sky overlooking the bluest of water will take your breath away. In addition to the blue roofs you’ll see the occasional hot pink bougainvillea. Stunning!
Oia is very pretty to look at and full of shops and places to eat. This city is an absolutely perfect place to visit. Shop and find a spot to eat with a view. It gets crowded with cruise ship visitors and is also expensive. GO!! Brave the crowds and spend the money. It is a MUST see iconic spot.
We had an afternoon snack with an amazing view. There was truly something magical about the stunning blue sky and the perfect water that made my chocolate crepe taste even better!
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Fira
Fira is at the top of the caldera and overlooks the old port where the ferries dock. It is the capital of Santorini and while less crowded that Oia, it is vibrant and busy. We chose to stay in Fira during our stay and loved the shops, the restaurants and the view!
While in Fira be sure to see the Museum of Prehistoric Thira. This very small museum really packs a punch with the items on display. It holds frescoes and artifacts from the ancient city of Akrotiri which was preserved in the ash of a volcanic eruption, just like Italy’s Pompeii. My favorite was the fisherman. Isn’t he just amazing?
**NOTE** this is one of the museums that is enforcing the “NO posing with the art” rule. So…no selfie here.
You’ll also see the only gold price left behind by the people of Akrotiri before they fled to Crete. Sensing a major catastrophe after a series of earth wakes, they gathered everything of value and left. Only this little guy remains. Was he left behind as a gift to the gods?
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Akrotiri
Akrotiri is Greece’s Pompeii. This very advanced city had buildings that were three stories high, a flush toilet and lovely frescoes. These frescoes give us some hints to how well traveled the citizens were as they show animals that are only found in far away places.
This ancient site is covered with a roof to protect it from the weather. On a side note, this wonderful roof also protects visitors from the heat!
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Beaches
When visiting Santorini, you must visit the beach, right? I’m pretty sure it is a rule. I’m not at all a beach person, but made it a point to visit. What a spectular view and afternoon we spent enjoying the scenery.
As Santorini is a volcano – still considered an active volcano even though the last eruption was in 1950, the beaches here are made of volcanic rock and are mostly black. Black sand is super hot in the sun on delicate feet! Be sure to bring along water shoes or flip-flops for everyone. Once in the water you’ll encounter some rocks so water shoes are the best choice if you intend to get in the water.
There is also a red beach in Santorini. This marvelously colorful beach is not easy to access either. Near Akrotiri, the red beach has dramatic cliffs behind it. I couldn’t help but think of Mars when I saw it from a distance.
Monolithos Beach is great for kids because the water is shallow as it meets the shore and the black sand is quite fine. Check out these black beaches, too.
The sound of the waves and the views of impossibly blue water and blue sky will soothe your soul. There are lots of beaches here – try more than one. Be sure to visit the colored ones. Here the unusual beaches are red and white!
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Wine
In spite of being surrounded by water, Santorini is actually quite dry. Between the lack of moisture and the wind, constantly blowing from the ocean, the vineyards here look quite different than what you might expect. The grape vines look more like grape bushes. They are short and scrubby and grow low to the ground. Visit the wineries or try the wines at dinner. I fell in love with the Vin Santo. You can only get it there and I wish I had brought more home!
If you plan on bringing wine home from your trip (you SHOULD bring home wine because it makes a great souvenir) you’ll want to protect that wine on the long trip home! These special wine bottle containers for travel will protect that special wine you can only buy in Greece so once you are home you can sip and remember your fabulous trip.
These wineries in Santorini all have tours!
The most famous and largest winery on the island can be busy; especially with weddings. Be sure to call in advance to get their schedule or schedule your winery visit online.
Founded in 1947 by the Venetsanos family, this winery has a museum where you can learn how wine is produced. Sip wine on the terrace which overlooks the caldera and the port. You can schedule on line to take a wine tour or watch the sunset here.
This winery is truly a family affair having been run by the same local family for four generations. Visit the vineyards and get a closer look at how the grape vines are grown in small circles to protect themselves from the wind. As a gardener, I found this really interesting!
Run by the Sigalas family, you’ll be able to taste 10 different types of wine at this picturesque winery. Sit on on the terrace and enjoy the fresh nibbles from their onsite kitchen. Their wine tasting tour includes some local specialties like fava beans, feta cheese and olives. The Domaine Sigalas Winery is quite close to Oia.
The Koutsoyannapoulos family has created an underground museum (over the course of 21 years!) which illustrates how the wine is created. Walk 8 meters underground visit this very unique museum.
Do you see why these little wine bottle travel bags are so important? Buy some for your traveling friends, too. They make a great Christmas gift or a Bon Voyage gift! Maybe they’ll bring some wine back for you, too. ;
The oldest winery on Santorini was founded in 1836 and proudly started the wine production on the island! You’ll find a wide range of wines here.
This wine label is well known and is shipped all over the world. A favorite here is Thalassitis. Enjoy sipping this wine on their terrace which is just steps away the beach. A curious tidbit about the Gaia Winery is that in 2010 the winery submerged 450 bottles of their Thalassitis wine. Of the three that survived and when one was opened it was discovered that the wine was fantastic! Now, the winery submerges a few bottles each year where they are aged for 5 years and then sold at auction. You’ll want to bring some home so pack these travel bags for wine bottles to bring it home safely.
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Sunset
Santorini is home to the world’s most beautiful sunset. Have you seen the photos? The view is REAL and crowds swell in Oia to almost impossible numbers each night with people vying for the ‘perfect’ spot.
The sunset can be seen from almost anywhere on the west side of the island. You don’t have to share the moment with hundreds of other people!
Get away from the crowds of Oia to see it in peace. We chose a 1/2 day tour our first day in Santorini which ended with the sunset. I chose the 1/2 day afternoon tour over the 1/2 day morning tour just for this reason. I wanted the guide to choose the best spot and then deal with parking! Our fantastic guide through Santorini Day Tours, was near the monastery. We had this incredible view with only one other family.
**NOTE** It is surprisingly chilly as the sun goes down. Bring a light jacket.
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Outdoor Movie Theatre
The weather is so nice in Santorini so an outdoor movie theatre is a brilliant idea! In the village of Kamari (Where you’ll also find the fantastic bakery – Milopetra) this movies are shown in English with Greek subtitles and would be a fun experience for the kids. Like all evening events in Greece, like dinner, the movies start late! The doors open at 20:30 (8:30) and the movie starts at 21:30 (9:30). Check out what is showing at this fun open air movie theater. Drink local wine and watch the cats (My kids always count cats on our adventure. Read more about this funny tradition here.) while you wait on the movie to begin.
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Ride the Cable Car
One of the three options from getting from the port to the capital city of Fira which sits at the top of the caldera. It carries 1200 persons per hour, which is really important if you arrive when cruise ships do! The entire ride is only 3 minutes long but affords you simply stunning views. The kids will enjoy the opportunity of a new type of transportation and everyone will enjoy the view. Be sure to take a selfie of the whole family as you cruise up the 200 meters from the shore to the city. The Santorini Cable Car schedule changes according to the time of year so check before you arrive.
I thought it was so interesting that the cable car company was concerned about a local standby for transportation – the donkey. The donkey drivers receive a portion of cable car ticket sales.
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Ride a Donkey
There is a LOT of talk on the internet about travel and experiences with animals. I firmly believe that with research you can choose an animal experience that is good for both the animal AND the traveler. Read more about travel and animal experiences in general here.
This isn’t as much an issue with donkeys because they have been used as a working animal for 5000 years. According to Long Ears Myth Vs. Fact, a donkey and a mule can outwork, out carry, and outlast the horse. So enjoy this fun experience guilt free!
You can ride a donkey just for fun or arrange a donkey trip as transportation from your ferry to your hotel. Either way – it is an interesting and unique experience for the island. Alex, who helps run the Villa Anto hotel can arrange this for you. According to Alex, his father has a group of the ‘nice type of donkey’. While I didn’t know there was more than one kind, I’m sure ‘nice’ is the type of donkey best for a vacation adventure.
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Hike the Volcano
In the center of the caldera you’ll see two small islands – the larger is Nea Kameni and you can hike. Explore a real live volcano on foot and see lava rocks up close. Pick one up…some are super light because they are filled with air pockets. The only way to visit one of the youngest islands in the Eastern Mediterranean is by boat! Ask at your hotel for the options like: Santorini Excursions.
Nea Kameni is studied for seismic activity by scientists from the Institute for the Study and Monitoring of the Santorini Volcano (ISMOSAV). These guys study the volcano and are working towards being able to forecast any future eruptions with increasing precision. Also, part of what they do? Prevent rumors! False statements about a volcano erupting would surely be bad for the tourism trade, right?
This hiking trail is steep, very rocky and not for everyone. If you have plans for this fantastic hiking trip start now to get the kids ready. We make the kids train for the heavy walking we do on each trip. No whining about being tired here! This trip I was the slower one because I broke my foot just 9 weeks before our trip. I can blame it on the foot, but the truth is the kids have surpassed me in their hiking ability now that they are 11 and 13. You’ll be outside in the sun for this hike. Be sun safe!
No one EVER regrets a good shoe. Make sure the whole family is properly outfitted, too. Kids with sore feet complain! (And so do their moms 😉
Family Friendly Santorini – What to see and do with the KIDS – Swim in the Volcano’s Hot Spring
With an active volcano you might expect some heat!! Underwater vents heat the waters near Nea Kameni to 95 degrees. Some say the sulfur in the water has many benefits like helping with skin conditions like psoriasis and with pain from conditions like swelling from arthritis. Even without the benefits like this one…swimming in the warm water that is heated by a volcano is a pretty cool experience.
Any time you swim, be sun safe! You don’t want a burn to ruin your trip! Cover up the whole family. Kids have more delicate skin than adults. We love rash guards for the whole family. They aren’t hot because they are made of a similar fabric to a swim suit and they dry just as fast.
We had such a marvelous time on our family adventure to Greece and you can have one, too! Take the whole family.
Read up before you head to Greece to have the BEST trip of your life!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist