For our 10th wedding anniversary, we wanted to take a vacation… a REAL vacation! Usually, when we are traveling, we are trying to cram in a ton of site seeing and exploring. We love that, but it does get exhausting and we don’t do it in hopes of relaxing, but rather for the experience and the educational aspects. I’ve always dreamed of visiting the Cyclades, so we decided a Greek holiday would be just right for us. We also wanted our kids to be with us to celebrate, so we chose a family-friendly island where we could just kick back and have an enjoyable time. The gorgeous island of Paros exceeded our expectations!
We flew into Athens on an evening flight, stayed the night, spent the full next day seeing the sites in Athens (amazing!), stayed another night, then took an early morning ferry to Paros the following day. Blue Star ferries is very nice, clean, and enjoyable to ride on. The cost is roughly 30-40 euro per adult. We were late getting to the ferry, so we only found seats on the sun deck, which, while still very nice, was a little too hot and sunny for the kids. If you can avoid waiting in the elevator line with a stroller, that would be wise. We didn’t know this for the excursion to the island, but our return trip was more enjoyable because we were able to get better seats. The ferry ride is about four hours.
We chose to stay in the charming fishing village of Alyki, and I can’t imagine there was a better spot on the island for our family! Everything we needed was right there! The incredible local restaurants are on the water. At the beach, chairs are free of charge and you can order food and drinks…. right on the beach! We loved that the sandbar is long enough that we could just watch our kids play in the water safely. There’s a small grocery store, a couple gift shops, and a car/ATV/scooter rental office. Alyki is situated on an inlet, so there are also daily boat trips around the island and to other islands available. It was perfect.
A friend suggested using booking.com to find a place to stay. We usually use Airbnb, but we took her advice and found an incredible hotel that honestly seemed like it was too good to be true! It turned out that the photos online didn’t do it justice! It was absolutely perfect and extremely inexpensive. We stayed at the Angeliki Hotel, a family owned and operated hotel with one of the best restaurants on the island! We had three rooms (two adjoining), since there are six of us and my sister came with us. All three rooms had balconies overlooking the water. It was so nice to put the kids to bed and sit on the balcony with a glass of the delicious made-in-house wine watching the majestic Parian sunsets. We also loved seeing the fisherman go out in the early morning. It was just a super cool experience all around!
We loved seeing all the fish and octopuses sun-drying at all the restaurants. *You must try the sun-dried fish, a regional delicacy.
You will see everyone in Greece drinking these gorgeous, two-toned iced coffees in the summer. They are called Cappuccino Freddos, and they are a daily must! For us, they were a twice-daily indulgence!
Everyday in Paros was a day in paradise! Our most favorite day of all, however, was when we took a boat trip on Rofos Daily Trips, a 3.5 hour trip broken into three stops, with food and beverages included. We first stopped at the most beautiful blue lagoon for swimming. The insanely clear waters will blow your mind! When everyone got back on the boat, there was an immaculately prepared fruit salad waiting for us. We next stopped at a pirate cove for snorkeling. The kids got such a kick out of it! I loved that they had plenty of snorkeling equipment, pool noodles, and safety vests available for kids (and adults). This time, we got back on the boat to find freshly prepared bread and a delicious greek salad, along with stuffed grape leaves and regional cheeses. We made one more stop for swimming in bright turquoise waters on the way back to the inlet. We keep joking that all of our photos look like we are photo shopped onto a fake background, because the water is so bright and pristine! Captain Ilias is cheery and warm, as is his crew. They had upbeat music playing and everyone on board was having a perfect day! The cost was just 30 euro per adult, and 20 euro for our seven year old. Our three kiddos five and under were free.
After just staying put and relaxing for a couple days, we decided to go exploring. We went to the local vehicle rental shop and rented an ATV (which Ben drove and let the kids take turns riding with him), and a small car for me to drive with the other kids and my sister. It was only 60 euro total for 24 hours! We drove to the small ferry port to go to the small sister island, Antiparos. It is one euro per ticket for adults, and five euro per car. It’s a short seven minute ride. We loved getting to drive around this tiny island! We went in the natural cave, then did some shopping and had ice cream in a local creamery. It’s definitely worth carving a day into your itinerary to visit.
Our last full day was our anniversary, so my sister watched the kids for a few hours while we rented a Vespa to cruise around the island on (14 euro for one day!). The entire island is gorgeous, but we did feel that we found the island’s sweet spot in Alyki!
The major ferry port is in Paroikia, the most hopping town on the island. It’s a great place to grab drinks, a bite to eat, and shop for handmade goods. We took the local city bus to and from Alyki, and the station is located right at the ferry port. It’s very easy to figure out, inexpensive, and they have undercarriage storage for luggage.
We had seven glorious days on this majestic island and we would highly recommend it to families with children of any ages! There are activities for everyone to enjoy!
Helpful notes for families:
- There are many family-friendly hotels and villas available all over the island at affordable prices, even at the last minute- We are, of course, partial to the charming and friendly Angeliki Hotel.
- Vehicle rental is inexpensive and easy to access if you need it- You most likely won’t need one for the majority of your stay (if at all). We only had a vehicle for that one day.
- The city buses take you everywhere on the island for a small fare- 1.80 per adult, if I recall correctly.
- You may wish to have a small stroller- You might not need it. We brought our umbrella stroller, and we did nap the younger two in it a couple times when we were seeing other parts of the island.
- Get cash in Paroikia- Most of the small towns do not have an ATM, so you’ll want to take out cash when you get off the ferry. This is especially important, because there are many shops and restaurants that only accept cash.
- You don’t need to pack carseats- It’s always funny when I see people carting carseats around in Europe. Car rental places will give you one (our car rental place there put two brand new ones in the car for us). And taxi cabs will not wait for you to install one in their car. You just get in with your kids on your lap and roll out!
- The mosquitos are intense- This was an unpleasant surprise. We got so many bug bites at the beach! The small grocery shops sell insect repellent and bug bite relief cream. Our family uses completely non-toxic products, and I hadn’t brought natural insect repellent, so I bought the chemical stuff. It didn’t work. Honestly, we got better relief using the lavender essential oil I had in my purse. Just something to keep in mind when you’re packing. Someone did mention drinking a gin and tonic to keep them off, which surprisingly seemed to work! Of course, that wasn’t an option for my seven year old, who was nibbled most of all.
- Buy snacks before you get on the ferry- The ferry has okay options available, but you can find better, less expensive fare at the shops surrounding the port.
- Arrive early to the ferry to get a good seat- And fold up your stroller so you can take the escalator, instead of waiting for the elevator (they will probably see small children and usher you to the elevator, only for you to wait 20 minutes. Don’t do it!).
- Greece was the most affordable and relaxing family holiday we have taken to date!
I hope you found this post helpful! And I do hope you visit Greece with your family. It’s so worth the trip!
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