Sifnos, Cyclades

It’s rare to find a hotel that appeals to children of all ages. Verina Suites does so brilliantly, and has plenty of perks for adults too. Staff in white deliver homemade lemonade to the squishy day beds that line the turquoise pool. Kids can mess around on giant inflatables or play table tennis, while their parents wind down with outdoor yoga sessions or summery cocktails. Suites in sandy hues are set among fragrant gardens, with terraces where you can doze to the sound of the waves. Shallow Platis Gialos beach is across the road, with pedal boats, paddleboards and a lively strip of tables-in-the-sand tavernas and beach bars to choose from.
Doubles from €110 B&B in low season (fully booked in 2019 school summer holidays), kids up to 16 stay free in their parents’ room
Getting there
Five hours by ferry or three hours by catamaran from Athens

Lesvos, North Aegean





Pool overlooking the sea at Little Bird, Lesvos, Greece


Every soothingly simple villa at Little Bird on the north coast of Lesvos has full-blown sea views. There are shady gardens, flagstone terraces for backgammon sessions as the sun sets behind the Byzantine castle of Molyvos and an infinity pool (and children’s pool) from which you might spot monk seals or flamingos. Skip down to Avlaki beach for a dip before breakfast at the Bird Café. Kids will love the fruit smoothie and home-made bougatsa (custard pie). Parents can while away the afternoon sampling the island’s most famous products: sardines, olive oil and ouzo.
From €90 a night (from €150 in high season) for a one-bedroom villa (sleeps three); €120 (€185 high season) for a two-bedroom villa (sleeps five), not including breakfast
Getting there Thomas Cook
charter flights from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham. From Athens, daily flights (50 minutes) with Aegean or Olympic airlines, or it’s 11 hours by ferry. Little Bird is 60km from the airport; car hire recommended

Arcadia, Peloponnese





View of misty mountains from terrace of Villa Vager, Arcadia Peloponnese, Greece


The nine-suite Villa Vager guesthouse, owned by Nicholas and Marina Vager, is homely yet stately. Marina, an interior designer, created the handsome alpine vibe, softened with lace curtains and wildflower bouquets. She also makes the tastiest pies, cakes and pizzas, (served beside a roaring fire in winter) after a day hiking the Menalon trail or river rafting. Most rooms have stirring views of rolling plains and fir-clad mountains. It’s a great base for active families with older kids; Nicholas’s adrenaline-fuelled quad-biking tours will have teenagers raving. If you want to drag the kids around some ruins, it’s an easy day trip to Mycenae and Olympia.
From €120 a night for a room sleeping three (from €170 in high season), including breakfast
Getting there
An hour from Kalamata airport or a two-hour drive from Athens

Elounda Bay, Crete





Elouda Island Villas couple in dining room


This spot on the island’s north-east coast is a byword for super-luxe holidays. The laidback Elounda Island Villas, blissfully isolated on a tiny, sandy cove, are refreshingly unpretentious and affordable. The open-plan, solar-powered houses are the epitome of understated Greek island style: slate floors, built-in beds dressed in pure white, locally made pine furniture, and canvas chairs on verandas overlooking Spinalonga bay. Breakfast is served in an open-air snack bar, where you can while away the afternoon while the kids (who must be six and over) build sandcastles on the beach. Take older kids kayaking or snorkelling around the sunken ruins of Olous or rent a motorboat to explore Spinalonga island. The houses are self-catering, but there are seaside tavernas within strolling distance.
From €130 a night (from €150 in high season) for a two-bedroom maisonette for four to five
Getting there Heraklion airport (
an hour’s drive), is served by several flights a day from the UK (in season only) and Athens. The ferry from Piraeus to Heraklion takes five to eight hours

Evia





Candili grounds


The 10,000-acre Candili Estate on the underrated (and Greece’s second largest) island of Evia, north-east of Athens, is part English country pile, part Greek history lesson. It’s been in the Noel-Baker family since Edward Noel, a relative of Lord Byron, bought the estate in 1832. Somehow, it has survived – a slightly threadbare but charming throwback, all sagging bookshelves, creaky wooden floors and hand-woven bedspreads. It’s the perfect setting for big family gatherings. The granary has been converted into 10 bedrooms overlooking a pool glittering in a glade. Also in the bucolic grounds is an icy plunge pool fed by a mountain spring, a ping-pong table, trampoline, and croquet lawn. Philip Noel-Baker, the puckish lord of the manor, encourages kids to pile into (and onto) his vintage Land Rover for off-road adventures. At dinner, everyone gathers around communal tables to swap stories over Stavroula’s wonderful Greek cooking. The whole place can also be rented as one, for up to 25 people.
Family weeks from €65 per adult, €40 per child (under 13) per night half-board and including snacks and drinks. Children under four stay free
Getting there
Two hours’ drive from Athens

Zagori, Epirus





Astra Inn, Zagorohoria, Greece.


Want to let your kids run amok in the wilderness? Zagori is just the ticket. This mainland region of soaring peaks, craggy gorges and rippling streams is gradually getting the attention it deserves thanks to lovely lodges like Astra Inn. Open year round, it’s in Megalo Papingo, one of 50-odd villages camouflaged in the hills. There are six wood and stone cottages and the cosy restaurant serves Greek comfort food (river trout, nettle pie, stuffed courgette blossoms) using ingredients reared, grown, or sourced locally by Kostas and Spyros Tsoumanis, brothers who will take you truffle or mushroom hunting in season. Tweens and teens can go wild swimming in rock pools, canyoning, rafting or hit the hills on ebikes.
From €100-€120 a night all summer, €15 per child, including breakfast
Getting there
Daily flights (45 minutes) from Athens to Ioannina, then one hour by car to Megalo Papigo

Laconia, Peloponnese





cottage at Eumelia biodynamic farm


Surrounded by more than a thousand olive trees, Eumelia, a biodynamic farm, is sustainably minded and beautifully designed. The five guest cottages have dusky pink and ochre walls painted with natural pigments, beamed ceilings and geothermal heating. Activities change with the seasons: grape pressing, olive harvesting or cooking lessons using organic produce from the farm. Kids can help the owners, Frangiskos and Marilena, to feed the animals, plant vegetables and forage for the herbs that find their way into the wild asparagus omelette, lavender biscuits and fig and prickly-pear preserve served for breakfast. There are free mountain bikes if you want to explore Laconia’s towering mountains or serene coastline.
€160 a night for a family of four (kids under 12), including breakfast
Getting there The closest airport is Kalamata (1¾ hours). It’s a 3½-hour drive from Athens

Chania, Crete





Ammos kids' club


Ammos is the gift that keeps on giving for frazzled parents of babies and toddlers. Every year, the owner, Nikos Tsepetis, adds more designer – or as they put it “museum grade” – chairs (yes, every year they add a few new ones) and contemporary art to the all-white sunny living/dining room, more kid-friendly treats to the extravagant breakfast spread, more toys to the playroom and heated pool. After upgrading the rooms, this year he’s redesigned the lobby in undulating white marble. The jackpot: four hours of free childcare from Monday to Friday, leaving parents free to loll on the sandy beach below or have a massage.
From €125 a night in low season and €190 in high season (10% of the room rate for kids from two to 15; 5% for under-twos). Breakfast is €11 for adults and €7 for children aged two to 10
Getting there
British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and Norwegian operate direct flights to Chania (four hours); flights from Athens (55 minutes) with Aegean and Olympic airlines and Sky Express. Ammos is a 30-minute drive from Chania

Kardamyli, Peloponnese





Notos Hotel, Kardamyli, Greece


Wedged between the Taygetos mountains and the Gulf of Messinia, the little seaside town of Kardamyli is where Patrick Leigh Fermor hung up his walking boots and laid down roots. Giorgos and Maria (who also run Fermor’s favourite taverna, Lela’s) have created the Notos Hotel, a cluster of stone apartments and studios tumbling down the hillside above the town. Open all year, the plain but spotless houses make a handy base for exploring the medieval castles, limestone gorges and shingle coves of the outer Mani. You’ll need to make (or pre-order, for an extra charge) your own breakfast and there’s no full-time staff on site. But Giorgos and Maria will point you in the direction of all the best local secrets.
From €100 a night (from €160 high season) for an apartment sleeping four, not including breakfast
Getting there Thomas Cook, easy
Jet, BA and Aegean fly to Kalamata, an hour’s drive away. Car hire recommended

Syros, Cyclades





Good Life’s houses are off-grid but well connected.


For Nick and Elspeth Geronimos, the Good Life is all about the humble pleasures that drew tourists to Greece before package holidays and fancy resorts. They have restored a smattering of 200-year-old cottages on Syros, an island with a lively year-round population and cultural scene. Surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, the self-catering houses are off-grid but brim with thoughtful features for families: washing machines, barbecues, filtered drinking water, baby equipment and kids’ bikes. You can help yourself to eggs, vegetables and fruit from the garden. It’s a five-minute stroll to peaceful Voulgari beach – ideal for toddlers. Older children can learn to sail or go pony riding.
From €90 a night for a villa that sleeps 4 (from €210 in high season), not including breakfast
Getting there Ferries depart from Piraeus, Lavrio and Rafina to Syros (3 to 3½ hours); daily flights from Athens (35 minutes)

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