Santorini, well-known all over the world for its magical atmosphere; famous for being the perfect romantic scenario and ideal spot for an unforgettable honeymoon. However… what about seeing a different Santorini? An island accessible to families even with small kids.
Santorini is far more than an incredibly beautiful island. It’s a place full of history, with a rich culinary tradition and fantastic hinterland villages many visitor ignore, stunned as they are by the spectacular views of its Caldera.
The old island of Thera has an outstanding range of activities to offer, apart from sunset gazing and photo hunting. Kids can enjoy riding donkeys, visit to museums,art galleries, archaeological sites and even factories open to the public with interesting insights not many have the chance to see.
Activities in Santorini for All the Family
A Visit to Ancient Thera
The old island of Thera has an outstanding range of activities to offer, apart from sunset gazing and photo hunting.
This region lies on an elevated headland that divides Perissa from Kamari: Meso Vouna (or between mountains). The flatness of the plateau and its height result in a phenomenal 360° panorama. A visit to Ancient Thera is a must-see place if your kids love ancient civilizations. And just right from the start, driving on one of the most spectacular roads, the Kamari Serpentine, with its 22 hairpin switchbacks, will take your breath away.
This settlement offers a very different observation point. Some important ruins in Ancient Thera include the Temple of Dionysus, the Sanctuaries of Artemidoros and Apollo Karneios, the Terrace of the Festivals, and several ancient graveyards.
If you prefer to avoid the Kamari Serpentine, it is also possible to reach Ancient Thera on foot, the hiking trail starting in Perissa takes about an hour and rewards you with spectacular views.
The Old Settlement of Akrotiri
Santorini’s Pompeii, if you will, lies in Akrotiri which is on the southernmost tip of the island. Remains date back to the Second millennium BC. Here, the Bronze Age has left a permanent mark, all ruins are incredibly well-preserved and you can almost walk inside the two and three-story buildings of the original settlement; once adorned with colorfully vibrant wall paintings and frescoes.
Inside the amazing structure built over the excavations to protect the area from the elements, it’s possible to find pottery and vases still very much intact. The remains of this advanced civilization will astonish you.
Among the many tasty products the rich soil of the island gives, we can count aubergines, peas, grapes and amazing tomatoes. These cherry-sized tomato of Santorini has been cultivated on the island since the end of the Nineteenth century. The early morning moisture the volcanic soil is able to retain, combined with the rich minerals it contains produce tomatoes with a very distinctive flavor. Its typical characteristics are a hard peel, high in sugar and very mall size. All these make them ideal to produce tomato paste.
In the village of Vlychada, a historical tomato has been transformed into a modern industrial museum which offers an interesting journey back to the industrial past of Santorini. The exhibition guides visitors through the cultivation, processing and production of tomato, experiencing all the traditional methods followed by the tomato producers of Santorini. Audiovisual material present firsthand experience of a by-gone industrial era.
Another staple in the local production is wine. Grapes in Santorini produce some of the best-known Greek products around the world. Kids will be able to learn everything about the process of wine making as well as about old traditional techniques for harvesting and bottling by paying a visit to Koutsoyannoupoulos wine museum. Parents will also be rewarded with a tasty experience trying some of the wines they produce.
Alternative Stays for Low Cost Travelers
Who said that staying in Santorini had to be expensive? Did you know you can experience life in one of the many caves of the island in a very fancy hostel? Caveland is a new lodging experience in the heart of Karterados, quite close to Fira, established by travelers proposing hosts to experience as much as possible for the lowest price. Caveland is a complex of cave houses and terraces with amazing views and small gardens with trees. They offer a wide range of accommodation options (from dormitory style bunk beds to single beds and private double rooms). The decor uses many types of local techniques and the rooms are furnished with refurbished antique and local furniture.
More Alternatives for Families
When it comes to beaches, kids will have their own place too. Monolithos has the most child-friendly shallow waters.
There is a gorgeous water park in Santorini, fully organized and great for families. It can be found in the hotel Meltemi, but you don’t need to be a guest to enjoy amazing water experiences. Santorini Water Park is in Perissa, and there families can take advantage of the three different swimming pools, enjoy their water slides and a playground area (free for hotel guests). A perfect alternative for middays when the dark sand of the black beaches gets too hot for smaller feet.
When it comes to beaches, kids will have their own place too. Monolithos has the most child-friendly shallow waters, playgrounds and kids will probably be able to meet other pairs of their same age to spend long afternoons playing and having fun on the sand.
Greece is always fun for kids when it comes to eating. What child doesn’t love gyros or souvlaki? And let’s say it, they are much healthier that the regular kind of fast-food you can find anywhere else. But that’s not all, afternoons can be also sweet with a plethora of choice among loukoumades, pancakes, waffles and delicious ice cream!