The whitewashed architecture of the Cyclades is one of the most classic Greek images. Spend two weeks amid this island chain's charms with this family-friendly itinerary full of hands-on activities for school-aged children. You'll start off with games and stories in Athens, then head to Tinos to learn about the art of marble sculpting. From there, you'll visit the villages and beaches of Naxos before you wrap up your trip along the rim of Santorini's famous caldera.

Highlights

  • Experience the myths and games of ancient Greeks in Athens
  • Explore the marble arts of Tinos and sculpt your own
  • Learn to cook in a traditional village on Naxos
  • Soak in the sunset over the caldera on Santorini

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens & Explore Plaka Athens
Day 2 Athens Mythology Tour & Ancient Strategy Games for Families Athens
Day 3 Parks of Athens and Private Riviera & Cape Sounion Tour Athens
Day 4 Athens to Tinos & Food Tour of Tinos Town Tinos
Day 5 Marble Art Workshop & Villages Tour and Hike at Tinos' Stones Tinos
Day 6 Beach Day & Family-Friendly Brewery Visit Tinos
Day 7 Tinos to Naxos Naxos
Day 8 Naxos Bike Tour & Beach Day Naxos
Day 9 Day Cruise Around Naxos Naxos
Day 10 Naxos Villages & Cooking Class Naxos
Day 11 Naxos to Santorini & Sunset Walk Santorini
Day 12 Oia Walking Tour & Beach Day Santorini
Day 13 Fishing Trip & Lost Atlantis for Families Santorini
Day 14 Santorini to Athens & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens & Explore Plaka

Monastiraki Square and Sunset over Plaka
Monastiraki Square and sunset over Plaka

Welcome to Greece!

Once you've settled in at your lodgings, head out for a walk through the Plaka neighborhood, the oldest and the most charming neighborhood of the city and ideal for an evening stroll. 

Walk in the pedestrian part of the city and try to trace the remnants of the city’s various stages at spots like the Roman Agora, the Old University, the Tower & the Bath House of the Winds, the Benizelos Mansion, the Monument of Lysicrates, and all the lovely Byzantine churches. If you have the time, stop in at one of the two children’s museums, the Museum of Greek Children’s Art and the School Life & Education Museum.

Settle in at a taverna for dinner or pick up souvlaki along Monastiraki Square, then finish it off with some loukoumades, traditional fried dough with honey and cinnamon.

Day 2: Athens Mythology Tour & Ancient Strategy Games for Families

Learn ancient strategy games - Photo from Kotsanas Museum

Explore the Acropolis and Ancient Agora with your family, learning about Greek mythology and history while enjoying views of the city and kid-friendly activities.

After meeting your guide, you'll start your walk up to Acropolis Hill, the "Sacred Rock" that defines Athens. You'll visit all its popular monuments, including the Parthenon, Theater of Dionysus, Temple of Athena Nike, and Temple of Erechtheion. Listen to the legends of the Greek pantheon, such as the mighty Zeus, Athena (goddess of wisdom), Poseidon (god of the sea), Dionysus (god of wine and theater), and more. The stories will keep kids entertained and asking questions.

After enjoying Acropolis Hill and learning the city's secrets, you'll walk down to the ancient marketplace, the Agora. Socrates and Plato hosted many political and philosophical discussions on this plaza. At the end of the tour, enjoy a family activity inside the ancient Agora, using all your newfound knowledge about Greek gods, goddesses, and heroes.

Next, you'll head to the Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology to test your skills and learn about ancient puzzles and strategic games. During an experience designed to maintain the entire family's focus and interest, you'll discover and practice important intelligence strategies used by ancient Greeks from as early as the Minoan to the Late Hellenistic period. 

Start by learning a few games, including pawns and dice, where you'll compete for trias and enneas. You'll also observe the rules of playing tilia and polis before practicing a few rounds yourself. Then, tackle the ostomachion of Archimedes, a puzzle consisting of 14 geometrical pieces. When finished, you can take a wooden version home with you. After the games are done, you'll have time to peruse the rest of this unique institution, which features a fully functional model of the Antikythera Mechanism, the oldest example of an analog computer.

Day 3: Parks of Athens and Private Riviera & Cape Sounion Tour

Explore the Ancient Greek Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion
Trade the bustling markets and ancient sites of Athens for a little reprieve in nature. Greece's lively capital is home to its fair share of peaceful and verdant parks and hills, all reachable within the city center.

From the hill atop Mt. Lycabettus, you'll enjoy sweeping, panoramic views of the ancient city, including the famed Acropolis Hill and the Saronic Gulf. Avoid the long lines at the funicular and follow one of the innumerable paths to the top. Along the way, you'll pass several viewpoints and pockets of green to enjoy a rest, picnic, or game of frisbee. The park feels like a different world despite being in the middle of buzzy Athens.

For a different perspective, Philopappos Hill just southwest of the Acropolis is one of the best places to get those perfect city views. On top of the hill, you'll find a mausoleum dedicated to its namesake: a famous mogul and benefactor of Athens. Philopappos lived in the city from the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. Along with the nearby slopes of Pnyx and Nymphs, the hill is a favorite amongst Athenians and tourists alike and a great spot for a pleasant walk or picnic.

Next up, a private car will whisk you along the Athenian Riviera, a beautiful coastline with hidden bays and beaches. You will pass from the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center and Park and then by the Flisvos Marina with its family-friendly restaurants and coffee shops. 

You can make an optional stop here to visit the Neraida Floating Museum, which narrates the business career of the ship’s owner, John Latsis, as well as the history of the ship from its construction in 1939 to the completion of its reconstruction in 2010. If you and your kids love ships and boats, and especially battleships, do not miss the opportunity to visit the Park of Naval Tradition inside the marina. Historic vessels are docked there, such as the destroyer “Velos” (now a museum of the struggle against the military dictatorship), the only copy of an ancient trireme named “Olympias” and the cable-laying ship “Thales of Miletus" constructed in the U.S. in 1909.

Opposite the marina, you will find the Benaki Toy Museum, which opened to the public in 2017. Its holdings, based on the collection of Maria Argyriadi, include toys, books, ephemera, clothing, and other items associated with childhood from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. You can opt for a private tour and interactive activity here as well.

Further south, another optional stop is at the rescue and rehabilitation center for sea turtles, run by the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece in Glyfada. Its purpose is to treat injured and sick sea turtles and eventually release them back into the sea, as well as to raise awareness regarding this rare species that reproduces in the endless sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. Take part in the sea turtle rescue tours, adopt a sea turtle for 10 days, and enjoy a meal on the Glyfada beach. 

The tour ends at the tip of Cape Sounion, home to the famous Temple of Poseidon that overlooks the Saronic Gulf and its islands. Before heading back to the city, you can opt for an early dinner at a traditional taverna right on the beach. Enjoy fresh seafood caught just a few feet from where you're sitting, plus good company and the sound of the waves lapping the shore as you watch the sunset.

Day 4: Athens to Tinos & Food Tour of Tinos Town

Charming streets of Tinos - Photo from Routes of Tinos
Charming streets of Tinos - Photo from Routes of Tinos 
Head out to the islands on a high-speed ferry from Athens to Tinos, a journey of about two hours.
As one of the most beautiful islands in the Cyclades, Tinos is home to a unique culinary tradition and way of life. Once you've arrived, you'll embark on a food tour of the island's main town to experience the tastes and smells of typical Tinian cuisine. Explore the streets of the island's charming old town, filled with cobblestones, colorful facades, and hidden courtyards, with a local guide who will lead you through picturesque alleyways as you stop at several food shops.
You'll chat with the owners, learning about the significance of different traditional delicacies. Enjoy tasting local meats, dairy products, vegetables, herbs, drinks, and sweets. Your guide and hosts will reveal the secrets behind many inherited recipes and how food impacts the island's culture and daily life. 

To end your tour, sit with your guide at a traditional taverna in the Tinos old town and savor a delicious meal featuring many of the products you tasted throughout the day. Enjoy your lunch the Greek way, with good food and good conversation.

Day 5: Marble Art Workshop & Villages Tour and Hike at Tinos' Stones

Explore marble ruins - Photo from Routes of Tinos
Discover the artistic secrets behind ancient Greek statues and temples. The island of Tinos is known for its marble production, and some of its villages are made entirely of marble. You'll explore the beauty of the towns, the history of this important stone, and your own skills as you attend a marble workshop to try your hand at the craft.

Your first stop is the Museum of Marble Arts. Your local guide will lead you through the exhibits, explaining how the Tinian craftspeople transform a marble slab into the impressive Greek staples you know today. You'll view marble statues, fanlights, fountains, altarpieces, tower bells, palaces, and even entire stadiums.

Next, visit Pyrgos' cemetery, an open-air sculpture museum filled with marble works of art. Take a break in Pyrgos' main square to enjoy a traditional Greek coffee, ouzo, or local raki. Pair your drink with some sweets or Greek meze (similar to appetizers or tapas). As you snack, your guide will share more stories about the island's culture and marble's impact on the islanders' daily lives.

Your next stop is Giannoulis Halepas’ house to learn about the greatest Greek sculptor. The house acts as a small museum of Tinian artists and hosts a workshop with one of the sculptors. You'll observe the artisan working on the marble as he explains all the production stages, the tools used, and the secrets of his art. After observing and learning about the craft, you'll make your own piece of art. Your local sculptor will give you a crash course on the art of marble carving and provide you with all the necessary equipment. Then, he'll help you bring your own masterpiece to life.

Stretch your legs and see some stones in the wild with an easy hike to the villages of Volax and Falatados, where you'll find massive round boulders from millions of years ago. Starting in Volax, you'll stroll through the rocks and make your way toward Exomvourgo Hill to admire the Venetian fortress. The townspeople of Volax were famous basket weavers, and many still practice the craft today. While walking through the streets, keep an eye out for weavers or artisans selling baskets, many made of bamboo, willow, and osier shoots.

Continue through the Tinian countryside to Falatados and three other villages, Steni, Mesi, and Kathliaros. Along the way, your guide will lead you past dovecotes, watermills, and a medieval Catholic village with arches and traditional houses. Wander through the town's narrow alleys and climb the stone steps to access different levels and views.

Day 6: Beach Day & Family-Friendly Brewery Visit

Turqouise Coves of Tinos
Turquoise coves of Tinos
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A trip to the Greek Islands goes hand-in-hand with a day at the beach. With smaller crowds than its Cycladic neighbors, Tinos makes it easy to find your own piece of paradise. And with so many options, Tinian beaches cater to all visitors. If you like to surf, you'll find beaches with excellent waves, or if you like to sunbathe, you'll find those with perfect sandy shores.

Depending on your preferences, there are a few choices. Agios Sostis, Laouti Bay, and Agios Ioannis Porto are the most child-friendly beaches, with family-friendly taverns, sunbeds, and umbrellas, calm weather, and sand. If you want somewhere a little more secluded, try Apigania Beach, a calm, east-facing beach. With less wind and fewer waves, it's an excellent choice for snorkeling. To get to this beach, you'll need to walk along a short path, which keeps it quieter and much less crowded than its neighbors.
Once you've soaked up sufficient sun, soak in something else as you learn about the beer production and traditions of Tinos with a family-friendly brewery tour. You'll visit the Tinian brewery Nissos, which offers incredible views of the Cyclades, including Syros, Delos, Mykonos, Paros, and Naxos islands. On a clear day, you may even spot a few dolphins playing in the Aegean Sea.

The award-winning brewery provides an excellent example of local entrepreneurship combined with traditional Greek tastes. You'll start with a tour of the factory, observing the beer-making process from start to finish. Kids love learning how a drink comes from grains and watching the machines in action.

Then, enjoy some tastings. Parents can try five types of beer while kids nibble malt seeds, wort, and barley. Pair your beer (and non-alcoholic drinks for the kids) with local goods, including cheeses and charcuterie. You can extend your visit with an optional pizza-making activity and savor your meal alongside beautiful views of Tinos.

Day 7: Tinos to Naxos

Portara at Sunset
Portara at sunset
Take a high-speed ferry for just over an hour from Tinos to Naxos, the Cyclades' largest island. 
The evening is yours to explore the dusky beauty of Naxos town (Chora). Start by exploring the narrow streets with their distinctive white and blue accents, admiring the Cycladic architecture. The unique positioning of the buildings protects from the heat and wind, and historically from external threats.

You'll find hidden alleyways and courtyards, all exposing the daily routines of the locals. Overlooking the town of Naxos and atop a small hill is the Venetian Castle, or the Kastro as the locals call it. All the narrow, twisting streets seem to slowly pass through time, helping you travel back to the Venetian era as you ascend the castle.

Then, make your way down to the seafront promenade for a totally different look and feel. The waterfront is far more lively and cosmopolitan, connecting the island to the rest of the Cyclades. Stop for snacks or drinks while you wander, and don't miss the famous local cheeses—the island is one of the few places in Greece that produces cheese using cow milk. Parents can also sip on the locals' favorite liqueur, kitron.

As the sun starts to set, walk across a short causeway to the Portara, the Temple of Apollo's entryway. This is one of the best places to watch the horizon change colors and relax as dusk turns to night. The Portara is the only part of the temple that still stands today, proudly enduring on the islet of Palatia.

Day 8: Naxos Bike Tour & Beach Day 

Agios Prokopios Beach
Agios Prokopios beach

Set out to explore Naxos via bike today. Enjoy a road cycling session with a professional guide on a popular route through the island's western side. You’ll pass by the beaches as well as the traditional villages of Vivlos, Agios Arsenios, and Glinado. You'll also head off the beaten path to a traditional tavern in the town of Mesi Potamia, where you can enjoy this relaxing atmosphere amid the trees by the river. 

If you want, you can expand your trip by an additional 8 miles (13 km) and opt for an inland route rather than cycling by the beaches. You'll still visit the traditional villages, as well as the Temple of Demeter and the Byzantine Church of Agios Mamas.

Once you've sufficiently exerted yourself, it's time to hit the beach. Featuring smaller crowds than its Cycladic neighbors, Naxos makes it easy to find your own slice of paradise on its famed beaches. Whether you're looking for privacy, rustic beauty, or a lively scene, you can find it on Naxos. 

Depending on your preferences, there are a few suggestions for Naxos beaches:

  • Agios Georgios. This beach is the closest option to the main town, offering easy access and proximity to cafes, restaurants, and shops. Generally filled with families, it's the perfect option for enjoying shallow waters and a bit more energy. An Aqua Fun Park for kids can be found in Stelida.
  • Agia Anna & Agios Prokopios. Both beaches feature sweeping sandy banks and offer plenty of amenities, including chairs, umbrellas, and tavernas. With a lengthy shoreline, you can easily claim a spot and enjoy privacy. The shallow water makes them an excellent option for families and snorkeling. You can find pedal boats to rent.
  • Plaka & Apollonas. Like Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios, these two beaches offer amenities, privacy, and family-friendly waters. However, they're slightly less crowded and provide a quieter reprieve.

If your family is on the sportier side, there are options for beginners' classes in kitesurfing, windsurfing, and scuba diving as well.

Day 9: Day Cruise Around Naxos

Sail on a Catamaran - Photo from Naxos Yachting
Sail on a catamaran [Photo from Naxos Yachting]
Set sail on a catamaran around the crystal-clear blue waters of Naxos Island. You'll pass by sandy anchorages, rocky coves, and picturesque seascapes. You'll depart from lively Naxos Marina and join a friendly and professional crew.

As you sail around the coast, your captain will make a few stops at designated swimming areas. Jump off the boat, swim in the open sea, or walk up rocky cliffs and leap into secluded pools. You can also try snorkeling in open bays and sheltered coves. For lunch, you'll enjoy a traditional Greek spread.

Day 10: Naxos Villages & Cooking Class

Looking to the sea from Naxos
Rent a car today to explore the charming and historic villages of Naxos at your own speed. You'll zip through the island's peaceful nature, stopping to admire quaint towns and savor scenic vistas. 

A great place to start is the village of Apiranthos, situated at the foot of Fanari Mountain, the island's third-highest peak. Known as the "Marble Village," it's home to winding streets and traditional architecture. Many buildings and alleyways feature the famous marble, left untouched since the days of the Venetians. The local dialect also seems stuck in time, with its unique blend of Ancient Greek and Byzantine elements.

Next, continue to Chalki, once the island's capital and main administrative and trade center. The town sits scenically in the Valley of Tragea, the primary olive cultivation area of the Cyclades. You'll find numerous neoclassical houses and buildings, all a testimony to the wealth and power the village once had.

As you stroll through Chalki, admire the old mansions, picturesque churches, and colorful alleys featuring a combination of Venetian towers and Byzantine chapels. Amongst Naxos’ oldest churches, you'll find the Church of Panagia (the Virgin). This chapel dates back to the 9th century and features beautiful Byzantine and post-Byzantine frescoes.
End your drive in the village of Kaloxylos, home to just 30 inhabitants, for a cooking class. The hamlet's charms range from flower-filled yards to century-old olive trees, classical architecture, an impressive church, and the Cyclades' biggest folklore museum. A local family will welcome you into their home and share stories about everyday life in this traditional little town. Then, you'll prepare a typical Greek meal.
You'll help your host prepare a three-course menu based on fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients. Using traditional recipes passed down from generations, you'll learn about the Mediterranean diet and why it's significant to the islanders. When finished, enjoy your meal the Greek way: alongside local wine (for parents). Swap stories with the family and ask questions about the recipes, ingredients, and Naxian cuisine.

Day 11: Naxos to Santorini

Hiking the Crater
Hiking the crater
Take a 1.5-hour high-speed ferry from Naxos to the famous cliffs of Santorini.
There's nothing like a Santorini sunset, as the island's viewpoints are some of the Cyclades' best. It isn't easy, however, to find a spot without extreme crowds. Get off the beaten path and discover the hidden go-to's so you can have the views mostly to yourself.

Perhaps the best way to enjoy the caldera views is along the Fira to Oia Walking Path. This route runs underneath the island's main road, offering a peaceful and quiet stroll while enjoying endless, uninterrupted views. You don't have to trek the entire trail to reap the benefits; a great entry point is at the Pantheon between Imerovigli and Oia. From here, enjoy a short, easy, and mostly downhill walk with excellent views.

One of the island's best spots for sunset is Skaros Rock, an impressive rock formation that juts out into the sea. The views require a short hike from the trailhead at Imerovigli, so wear some sturdy shoes. The terrain is rocky, so pay attention to where you step, especially when returning from sunset after dark.

If you're interested in savoring those perfect panoramic views of Santorini without the crowds, visit the Monastery of Prophet Elias. This is the highest point on the island, so you'll get a 360-degree view of the sea, rocky cliffs, and white-washed villages. Before making the drive, take a peek at the weather report, as it tends to get a little foggy at the top.

To catch views of Santorini's entire crescent-shaped caldera, you can hop on a quick 30-minute ferry to Thirassia (departing from Ammoudi). Thirassia is one of the remote volcanic islands set within the crater. To get the best views, leave the small port and walk up to the village. On the way, you’ll enjoy scenes of the entire caldera from a unique vantage point.

Day 12: Oia Walking Tour & Beach Day

Enjoying views of the caldera
Explore Oia, Santorini's picture-perfect village, with a private, local guide. Dramatically perched atop the cliffs of the caldera, this scenic town contrasts famously against its natural surroundings. Rusty rocks and azure-blue waves complement its pastel cave houses, whitewashed facades, and colorful harbor. Enjoy strolling through the charming streets while admiring the views over the caldera and volcanic islands.

As you walk through the main streets and back alleyways of this enchanting village, your guide will make several stops to point out exceptional viewpoints and interesting island history. Listen to stories about Oia's culture and heritage, then discover the picturesque fishing harbor of Ammoudi. You'll descend 300 steps along the caldera's rim, ending at a small port untouched by time.

Afterward, it's time to hit the beach. Most of the island's banks feature dark volcanic sand in black and red hues, contrasting perfectly with the deep blue sea and whitewashed villages. Enjoy relaxing, swimming, or snorkeling in the surreal scenery, but don't forget your sandals or water shoes, as the dark sand becomes incredibly hot in the midday sunshine.

Santorini is home to several beach options. For families, try Kamari Beach, the most upscale and touristy of Santorini's beach towns with a fun and family-friendly vibe. The beach's black sand and pebbles stretch for over three miles, providing numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars. You'll also find places to rent jet skies or snorkeling and scuba diving equipment. 

For somewhere a little less busy, Monolithos Beach is home to Santorini's best sand and the most family-friendly beach on the island. It offers a quiet and relaxed vibe with a just small cluster of hotels and restaurants. You can rent umbrellas and loungers and enjoy watching the white-capped waves flow onto the shore.

Day 13: Fishing Trip & Lost Atlantis for Families

Aboard the fishing vessel
Experience Santorini's famed seafood aboard a traditional fishing boat while eating the catch-of-the-day for lunch or dinner with a fishing trip that can take place either first thing in the morning or in the evening. You'll start your excursion at Vlychada Marina. As you head for one of the deepest and most diverse spots in the Aegean Sea, your boat will release nets and creels in hopes of catching shrimp and octopus.

Your expert guide will teach you about the island's traditional fishing methods and help you get acquainted with your equipment. After learning a few basic techniques, you'll try your luck in the water. Whatever the ship catches, you'll enjoy for a meal!

After fishing, you'll dock at a gentle harbor where the crew will prepare your seafood. While you wait, enjoy swimming or snorkeling in the sea. If you haven't snorkeled before, your guide is happy to help you learn some diving and breathing techniques.

If you choose to take an evening trip, after dinner, you'll return to the open sea and watch a famous Santorini sunset. Enjoy views of the caldera as the sun melts in the sea before returning to Vlychada.
Before or after your time on the water, depending on how you choose to schedule your day, learn the story of Lost Atlantis. Live the myth at the new experiential museum in Santorini, the only museum about Lost Atlantis in the world. You can learn about the myth of Atlantis, how it is connected to Santorini, experience its destruction, and explore multiple digital installations for Atlantis.

Then continue to the possible inspiration behind the legend at Akrotiri, one of the most significant prehistoric settlements of the Aegean Sea. This archaeological site features an ancient city preserved by volcanic ash for thousands of years. You'll walk through the city's remarkably preserved ruins and learn why this site played such an essential economic role. Stroll amongst the ancient walls of the houses and learn what the inhabitants did each time the volcano erupted, how they took their ships out to sea only to return and rebuild their settlement from scratch.

Day 14: Santorini to Athens & Depart

Setting sail
Hop a flight of about an hour back to Athens, where you'll catch your international transfer to head home or onto your next adventure.

Map

Map of Athens and the Cyclades for Families: Athens, Tinos, Naxos & Santorini - 14 Days
Map of Athens and the Cyclades for Families: Athens, Tinos, Naxos & Santorini - 14 Days