How to travel Santorini with a toddler
Santorini with a toddler or baby might seem like a lot of hard work with all the hills and cobbled streets but we spent a week on this stunning island with our toddler and loved it, yes it wasn’t easy but it’s somewhere we have always wanted to go and we didn’t regret it one bit.
Santorini is well known for its Impressive views, whitewashed buildings, and tasty Greek cuisine. It’s always been a Greek island that has stuck out to me especially after seeing the movie ‘The Sisterhood of the travelling pants’ as a teenager (sorry fella’s I’ve probably lost you there!) the island just looked so quaint, pretty and inviting so we decided it would be one of our stops on our mini Europe trip.
Our son had just turned 1 year old when we traveled to Santorini and many people said we were crazy taking a baby to an island with so many hills but we ignored everyone and traveled to Santorini. Here are our tips, advice, and recommendations for taking a baby to Santorini.
Pro’s and Con’s
Here are some of the pros and cons that we found when traveling to Santorini with our toddler.
Kids love animals so the donkey rides are always a winner!
There are some interesting beaches in Santorini with volcanic sand which kids find very interesting as most are used to white sandy beaches.
Take a ferry (seajets) to neighboring islands, kids love to explore.
Locals love children so they are always made welcome in Santorini
The kids (and adults) will love the cable cars from Santorini old port up to the capital of Santorini, Fira
Santorini is not an island aimed at kids, its more adult orientated.
There are so many hills, which can be tiring for little legs.
The beaches are volcanic so not the usual white sands kids expect.
The paths are narrow which can make it difficult with a pram.
A lot of the hotels are small and don’t have large pools especially in Fira and Oia.
How to get to Santorini
We are lucky that Santorini is only a 4-hour flight from the UK so we flew out with Easyjet direct from Manchester Airport. The flight was a breeze as we flew early evening so our son slept all the way there! How lucky were we!! Night flights are something we always recommend with a young child as they tend to just sleep for the flight. Always been much easier for us.
Santorini is also easily reached by ferry from neighbouring islands and from Athens. The fast ferry will take around 5 hours and it can be cheaper to fly sometimes. We flew from Santorini to Athens, it was much cheaper than the ferry and it took approximately 45 minutes, I would definitely recommend flying with kids.
Travelling to Santorini in the “off” season
We decided to go out of season to avoid the crowds, have cooler weather and most importantly get cheaper hotel prices. We really wanted to stay in a cliffside hotel, you know the ones you see all the pictures of! Views of the volcano, Caldera, mesmerising sunset views… you know the ones? The only way we could afford to get all of the above was to go out of season at the beginning of October.
The weather was just perfect for us in the day, nice and hot but not too hot for a baby. It was however really chilly at night, you would definitely need a cardigan if you were sitting out. We used to bring our sons pants and jacket out for after sunset.
We stayed in the center of Fira and did not find it too be crowded at this time of year. We got around easily with our pram even with the streets being narrow but I feel it could be quite sweltering in the crowds during the peak summer months, especially with young children so I would highly recommend traveling there in early October.
Best Beaches to visit with kids in Santorini
Even though Santorini is not like most other Greek islands in regard to its beaches, it’s still a great idea to check out the beautiful volcanic beaches. Here are some of my favorites…
Red Beach has to be one of the most unique beaches I have ever seen. The beautiful red tones of the rock stand out immediately. Locate 12km south-west of Fira and only meters away from the ancient site of Akrotiri this famous beach is a must when visiting Santorini.
Although the beach is full of pebbles and not the best for sunbathing it truly is beautiful to look at. My son fell asleep in the car when we visited so I just relaxed and took in the view from the car park which overlooks the beach. It can get incredibly busy during the peak season, so get up early with the kids and beat the crowds. However, the beach is not the safest beach to visit with kids as there are signs up warning of falling rocks so id recommend stopping to have a look at the beach and staying on some of the other beaches below.
Kamari Beach is located 10km southeast of Fira and is one of the most popular beaches on the island. There is a bus that can take you there but we hired a car to tour the island. It takes around 20 minutes to drive from Fira to get to Kamari where there is a large accessible car park for the beach.
There is everything you will need for a great day at the beach with the kids, from restaurants to showers and sunbeds. Although the 5km long beach is black volcanic sand and stones it is a beautiful place to spend the day.
If you fancy some water sports you can hire paddle boats, try water skiing or even go snorkeling at the local dive center. Apparently, there is a great spot for the experienced diver. If your anything like my husband and son you will love the fact there is a football field and volleyball area to get rid of that extra energy.
After a paddle in the sea, we went for a bite to eat along the promenade where there is a great variety of restaurants to choose from. Kamari is a great day out for the family.
Perissa beach lies 13km south-east of Fira and is not too far from Kamari beach. With dark blue clear waters and a volcanic black sandy beach its easy to see why a day here would be fun.
We actually didn’t stop at Perissa beach as it was a bit of a chilly day when we went to Kamari so decided to give it a miss… maybe next time. This beach like Kamari has been awarded the blue flag for cleanness so its no wonder its one of the most popular beaches on the island.
There is a little water park for the kids with a selection of slides and a pool for them to play in at the end of the beach. There is a cosmopolitan feel at Perissa beach with its abundance of taverns and lively nightlife.
Family-friendly hotels in Santorini
If you’re looking to get a real feel of Santorini, views of the caldera, cave rooms etc then you will want to stay in Oia or Fira.
We really couldn’t decide where to stay in Santorini, we wanted a pool for our son but we also wanted a cliffside room with a view so we decided to split our time in Santorini between two hotels. Family rooms in Santorini can get booked up pretty quickly during the high season so if you are planning on traveling then, make sure you book your hotel well in advance to avoid disappointment. There aren’t too many hotels with large family rooms so if you see a hotel you like at a reasonable price, book it!
Our first stop was the Kamares Apartments in Fira. We booked the top room, the Deluxe apartment with an outdoor hot tub and wow was it worth it. The room was like a cave, which we absolutely loved!! At the peak of summer, this room is around £390 a night!!
We paid half of this in October and Santorini wasn’t crowded at all, personally, I think it’s the best time of year to visit with small kids. Another great thing about this hotel was the proximity to the center of Fira. It’s only a short walk to all the restaurants and in my opinion, the best restaurant on the island, carry on reading to find out what it was!
Read our review here to find out more about our stay at the outstanding Karamres Apartments.
Volcano View Hotel
Our Second hotel was the Volcano View situated on the outskirts of Fira and not really within walking distance from Fira with kids. However, this place has a great pool and absolutely breath-taking views of the caldera. The restaurant had delicious food and an incredible view of the caldera.
Read our review here to find out more about our stay at the Volcano View Hotel.
Best places to eat in Fira
Having been to Greece many a time as a child, the one thing that I always remember fondly is the food, I love Greek food! However, I knew with having a toddler going for a nice romantic meal every night will be a tricky task. So here are some of our favourite places we loved to eat in Santorini:
We arrived late in the evening around 10pm and headed straight out for tea. We were so fortunate to be near the restaurant Naoussa, only a few minutes’ walk from Kamares apartments.
They were closing up for the evening but welcomed us in and brought us some bread straight away. The staff was fantastic with our son and when the food arrived it was outstanding. Highly recommend the tzatziki, vine leaves, and beef stifado. We have never had better Greek food!
We usually like to try new places when we are away but the food was that good at Naoussa we decided to return the following evening when we got a lovely surprise, the view!! Because it was dark and the shutters were down the night before we didn’t get to see the beautiful view from the restaurant! Just amazing and our little man fell asleep in his pram so we got five minutes to appreciate it. Don’t miss this place out if you are in Fira, it’s seriously outstanding.
When we stayed at Volcano view we walked up to a Mexican restaurant at the top of the hill, Senor Zorba. The walk into Fira would have been too far for our son and Senor Zorbas had been recommended to us.
We are big fans of Mexican food so we were excited to try it out, not what you typically expect to be eating in Greece but great if you fancy a change. When we arrived at Senor Zorbas we were mesmerized by the views of Fira and the Caldera, they were absolutely breath-taking and the food was delicious too.
I had my usual chicken fajitas which were huge and would have fed 2 people, it looked like I had barely touched it when I had finished so if you have a big appetite try this place! This place is a must if you are staying at the Volcano View.
I’m not sure if I’d actually recommend this place but I just have to mention it as it was a pretty memorable experience. Our hotel actually recommended this place to us and it always seemed to be busy so we decided to give it a try one evening.
It was extremely busy the night we went and the food was tasty, my husband really enjoyed the moussaka. The one thing that stuck out to me was the owner, she is a character in herself and it was pretty entertaining watching her with customers, have a look at some of the reviews on Trip Advisor and you will see why.
We did hear this place was really good for breakfasts if you don’t have it included in your hotel stay.
Grab a Gyros
You just have to try a Gyros if you’re in Greece, consisting of chicken, pork or lamb wrapped in pita bread with salad, tzatziki, and french fries! They are amazing, I’ll be very upset going back to Greece as I’ve since been diagnosed as wheat intolerant so no more Gyros for me. You can pick a gyro in takeaways everywhere in Santorini, they are great when you are on the go with kids.
Best places to visit with kids
There is so much to see and do in Santorini and hiring a car is the best way to do it in my opinion. We spent a few days driving around the whole island. The beauty of having your own car is that you can stop off anywhere that takes your fancy, on our drive around the island we just stopped off at some beautiful viewpoints, churches and more. Here are some of the best things to do in Santorini
We stayed in Fira and it’s a fantastic place to be. There are lots of little-cobbled street with beautiful shops and restaurants serving authentic Greek cuisine. Why not take a stroll to the 3 bells of Fira, a greek orthodox church famed for its 3 bells, blue roof, and breathtaking views out to the volcano. Perfect picture opportunity.
Oia is a charming little village with whitewashed houses and blue domed churches that we all picture when we think of Santorini. We left Oia Village to last as everyone knows it’s where the best sunsets can be seen from the island and it most certainly didn’t disappoint.
The streets again are narrow and quaint but accessible for prams but I’d say a baby carrier would be better. There is good parking for your rental car in Oia which is only a short walk to the center of Oia. There are lots of lovely child-friendly places to eat in Oia, we stopped and had a bite to eat before the sunset and the staff was great with our son.
If you have the energy you can actually walk from Oia to Fira, it takes around 3 hours to walk it but I’ve heard It’s an amazing walk with beautiful views, probably best to do it first thing in the morning or early evening when it is a bit cooler.
Visit Amoudi Bay
We then drove on to Amoudi Bay, again a well-known spot in Santorini and I can see why. Only 300 steps below Oia (if you fancy the walk, probably a no no with young kids and prams) Amoudi bay is a romantic little bay famous for its fresh fish and stunning sunsets. We just had a little walk around before making our way up to Oia.
One memory of this place for me was parking on a very steep hill and watching a couple having the worst argument whilst trying to get their car out of an extremely tight spot. I’m not joking when I say they must have hit the car in front 10 times trying to get out!!! Beware the parking is quite packed and on a steep slope.
Take a donkey ride
When you think of Santorini you think of stunning sunsets, blue roofs and … donkey rides! The kids will love riding the donkeys from many different locations in Santorini. From the port of Fira to the center of Fira it will cost you around 20 euros per person one way. It’s a little costly but its a great experience for the little ones and a really cute picture for the photo album.
Swim in a pool with a view
If you don’t have a hotel with a big pool or even a pool at all for the kids to play in then take a dip in the beautiful pool at Lioyerma in Oia. As long as you purchase food and drink you will have access to the swimming pool where the kids can play all day long whilst you enjoy the amazing views.
Other things to do
As you walk through Oia and Fira you will see the most stunning entrances to hotels, they are like a door frame with incredible views of the volcano in the background and they make the perfect picture opportunity for a family photo.
Everywhere you go you will see the beautiful blue domes, gorgeous churches and so much more. My advice would be just to walk around and sometimes it’s better not to have a plan and go with the flow. If you are after a few more sightseeing activities you might want to check out the tours to the volcano and hot springs.
Transportation in Santorini with Kids
Santorini is an easily accessible island, whether you want to rent a car, take the bus or ride the water taxi they are all easily doable. We decided to rent a car whilst we were there to see all the different areas over two days and id highly recommend doing so.
I’d recommend hiring a car either before you go or from reception at your hotel. They provide car seats for babies and older children which makes life so much easier as you can stop where and when you want to.
Prices are reasonable starting at as little as £53 (67 dollars) a day during peak time. You can also ask at your hotel’s reception during your stay, this is what we did but remember we did stay in the offseason and it is probably best to book before you travel in the peak season. Check out Rental Cars for some great deals.
Santorini has a great bus service with the main station situated in Fira. Buses go all around the island and cost as little as 1.80 from Fira to Oia. You can also get to the beach of Perissa for 2.40 per person. Taxis are very expensive in Santorini, I wouldn’t recommend using them often. It cost us 15 euro for a trip that cost less than 5 minutes.
If you want to take a ferry from Fira to Oia this is an option, it takes around 25 minutes and costs 15 euro each to Amoudi Bay. There is a walk up a hill to the catch a bus that will take you further up.
The walk is around 10 minutes and can be quite difficult with small children as it is quite steep so I wouldn’t really recommend doing this to get from Fira to Oia.
Scenic Hike from Fira to Oia
If you fancy a scenic stroll along the picturesque caldera from Fira to Oia be aware that it can take 3-4 hours to hike the 10km journey, which may be difficult for little legs.
If you really want to do this hike with your small child id recommend a toddler carrier backpack and doing it early morning before it gets too hot or early evening when it gets cooler.
The hike starts at Fira and you will pass through popular towns such as Firostefani and Imerovigli with the Aegean sea and volcano to the left along your way. This is a beautiful hike with stunning views where you will get some amazing pictures and I would recommend it for families with older children who like hiking!
Essential travel gear
Here is some essential travel gear that we never travel without:
- Water shoes: The beaches in Santorini are very rocky so I would recommend getting a pair of water shoes for everyone, especially the little ones. You will be able to run on the beach and even go swimming in the water with them.
- MiFi device: Don’t pay for over the odds data roaming abroad, simply get one of these handy portable MiFi devices and stay connected where ever you are and save yourself a fortune on a fast reliable internet connection.
- Portable charger: We never travel anywhere without a Power Bank, charge multiple devices and iPhones at the same time and up to 7 times faster. Never run out of battery again on your travels, and there’s no need for a socket! It’s totally portable.
- Toddler Backpack: Why not give your little one their own toddler backpack for traveling around Santorini to keep all their toys in, our son has one and he loves the sense of responsibility. He also has a Ride on Suitcase which he loves flying around the airport in, provides hours of entertainment.
- Backpack for back pain: It’s important to get a good backpack, one that will help ease the load on your back, here are our best backpacks for back pain, that will be perfect for walking up hills, hiking, the beach and carrying all your essentials for your next adventure.
- Bug spray: As you may know, I get bitten a lot on holiday, too much in fact. So, I never travel anywhere without some mosquito spray. I even have to wear it at home here in the UK when I take my dogs for a walk to protect against other bugs and horse flies.
- Snorkel gear: What holiday wouldn’t be complete without going snorkeling, we recently purchased the 360 degrees all in one snorkel and it really is amazing, you get such a better view and there’s no separate pipe that leaks water into your mouth! Here’s a list of our best snorkel sets.
Santorini Travel Tips
Travel to Santorini out of season for cheaper accommodation and less crowds.
Always check what days cruise ships tender and plan your days around that. Will mean less crowds at tourist spots.
Go on the cable cars from Fira to the dock but beware restaurants want you to eat down there and may refuse to just serve you drinks, it happened to us. Bring water down with you.
Hire a car over tours, it will work out cheaper and you can do things at your own pace with kids.
Bring a lightweight pram or a baby carrier sling as you will need to carry it up steps at some point!
Try a Gyros, you won’t regret it!!
If your baby is bottle fed, order instant cartons at boots in the airport before you go and pick them up after security for the journey.
Santorini with kids FAQ
Before we traveled to Santorini I had so many questions about how child friendly the island would be so here are some of the questions I would have asked someone who had been with a toddler.
Yes, we did exactly that. The streets can be narrow and crowded so it can be a tight squeeze at times, but it is do-able, but it can be a struggle. We were there in the offseason, but I’d say it would be pretty impossible in the high season.
My husband had to carry the pram up steps quite a few times so please be aware that you will have to do this. I’d recommend a lightweight pram so that carrying it up steps is a lot easier especially in the heat.
I’d say yes bring one. We will be taking one on our next trip to try out. It would be a lot easier than a pram on the narrow streets and more practical in general. Check out our top 10 toddler carriers here I’d take the pram out in the evening, so you can eat your dinner whilst the kids have a snooze in the pram.
We drove around the whole island and experienced all the different aspects of what Santorini had to offer and, in my opinion, I’d have to say Fira was my favourite part of the island to stay with kids, but I can also see why families would want to stay in the beach areas like Kamari beach. Kamari beach has a volcanic beach and lots of lovely little restaurants situated along the beach. The beaches in Santorini can be quite rocky so be sure to bring suitable footwear, check out our post on………
I personally liked Fira as the views were breath-taking and we loved playing in the pool/jacuzzi looking out over the caldaria, that’s what Santorini is about to me, the views. So, to summarise, Kamari if you want a beach or Fira if you want the views, but make sure there is a pool for the kids to play in.
Yes, absolutely you can drive around the whole island in a day and we did exactly that. Santorini is quite an easy island to navigate around but if you’re not that confident about driving then I’d recommend hiring a sat nav that way you won’t get lost.
We also hired a kid’s car seat for around 5 euro a day. Santorini is an amazing island with so much to see and do so id highly recommend hiring a car. We booked our rental car through our hotel and they were very reasonably priced.
My son was 1 year old when we travelled to Santorini and he had a great time playing in the pool, strolling around the streets and riding the donkeys. As long as there’s a pool or beach (beaches aren’t that great in Santorini to be fair, a lot of pebbles) for them to play in after a day sight-seeing then yes, id definitely recommend Santorini for families with kids.
Some apartments don’t have a pool and I think with kids it’s essential to have one. We stayed at the Kamaras apartments and they had a big jacuzzi on the patio which our son absolutely loved (here’s our review), but if you’re after a bigger pool then the Volcano view is just perfect check out our review! If it’s a beach holiday you are after, then Santorini is not the place for you. Santorini is much more about the views.
There is a fair-sized supermarket in Fira where you can get nappies but milk for under 6 months old is usually only sold in pharmacy’s and can be very expensive. I would always recommend bringing enough milk with you for your trip, so you don’t have to try a different brand and upset your child’s tummy. We accidentally ran out in Athens and spent the best part of the day looking for a similar brand to what we usually use.
Lesson learned always bring enough for the trip. Nappies are easy to pick up in Santorini, I would, however, recommend wrapping instant bottles in nappies in your suitcase. Something I’ve always done so if the bottle splits the nappy will absorb the milk and clothes stay clean.
We were very impressed with how lovely all the staff in the restaurants were with our son. On our very first night, we arrived very late at night and went straight out to see if any restaurants were still open whilst our son slept in the pram.
Naoussa restaurant in Fira was a 2 min walk from our hotel and was closing up but invited us straight in and cooked us the most amazing meal! Highly recommend the moussaka, beef stifado and tzatziki We were so impressed we returned a few times during our stay where our son was made a fuss of every time. We found this at most restaurants during our stay, we never had a problem.
We always like to go to busy noisy restaurants with our kids that way if they play up its noisy so there won’t be an embarrassing scene. We also ate at a lot of Greek take always; the gyros are simply amazing and takeaways are always easier than eating out with kids! I’m so upset I won’t be able to eat the gyros when we go back to Greece with being diagnosed with a wheat allergy! So unfair!!
I hope youve enjoyed reading our tips and experiances in Santorini. It’s not a place you think of first to take children but it is a place your children will love. Santorini is a great experience for all the family and one that is not to be missed. We have fantastic memories from our trip and would encourage anyone who really wants to go with kids to do it, you’lll have a great time.