Who said children can’t have fun in Santorini?
Alternative Santorini for Children: A Day with the Family Outside Fira
Santorini island is magical, inspiring, majestic. Is it captivating, alluring and mesmerizing? It definitely is. It’s also more than just a ridiculously gorgeous island. Spectacular to the eye, but also fulfilling to the soul. Us parents, though, are often forced to gear down as we reach travel fantasy ecstasy since it’s been labelled “for couples only”. So what do we do with the kids? … For couples only? I beg to differ! Whoever said so has no clue about kids! That’s far from truth, kids can also enjoy a view from the Caldera! But you know what? There’s even more for kids and for adults too. For instance a day with the family outside Fira! Santorini proudly displays its strong cultural heritage if you are keen on discovering it.
Apart from the two local museums, the Archaeological Museum of Thera and Museum of Prehistoric Thera which contain significant findings and artifacts, here are two locations that promise satisfaction to culturally thirsty little eyes…
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 from sea level result in a phenomenal 360° panorama. A visit to Ancient Thera is a must-do if your kids love all that’s ancient. And it’s a must from the beginning. A drive on one of the most spectacular roads on Earth, the Kamari Serpentine, with 22 hairpin switchbacks, takes your breath away (not always in a good way!). The settlement is on the east side of Santorini and offers a very different observation point. Important ruins are the Temple of Dionysus, the Sanctuaries of Artemidoros and Apollo Karneios, The Terrace of the Festivals, and ancient graveyards that will certainly move you.
If the Kamari Serpentine is too much for your vertigo, reach Ancient Thera on foot, the hiking trail starting in Perissa takes about an hour and rewards you with spectacular views of the Aegean.
Santorini’s Pompeii, if you will, lies in Akrotiri which is on the southernmost tip of the crescent-shaped island. With remains that date back to the 2nd millennium BC, the Bronze Age has left a permanent mark on this side of the Cycladic island. The ruins are incredibly well-preserved and you can almost walk inside the two and three-story buildings that were part of the original settlement; once adorned with colorfully vibrant wall paintings and frescoes.
You’ll find pottery and clay decanters still very much intact. The remains of this advanced civilization will astonish you. So as not to miss any important detail, we opted for a professional guided tour of Akrotiri (KeyTours’ Shore Excursion). And it was excellent to get a well-rounded insight of the most prominent areas of the island, and in a reasonable time.
Back to base: Fira
This particular tour was flexible in terms of pick-up as well as tour hours. In fact it began as soon as we were ready, it’s them who adapted to our schedule, not us! (Yes, they know you are on holiday!). It is perfect if you are spending a few days in Santorini but I also think it can show much of the island if you’re a cruise passenger. In that case, they pick you up from the port of Athinios, at the base of the Caldera, they take you to Akrotiri and show you Oia. And you finally return to Fira, Santorini’s beating heart.
If you are staying in Santorini for more than a day, can I suggest you three things to do?
Try fava! Fava is probably the best-known dish from the island, and when it’s cooked by the book, it’s heaven. Fava has nothing to do with fava beans, it’s a dish mainly made of yellow split peas, and a must in Santorini.
Taste wines! I’ve already talked about wines and kids in Santorini. Seriously, our experience was awesome. And third..?
Splurge! As much as you can. Santorini is a treat to the senses, enjoy sunsets, tastes, experiences… and choose a ravishing hotel in Fira, such as the lovely Kalisti, (which, by the way, means beautiful in Greek; and the Kalisti honors its name!). We were lucky to manage our time quite wisely and to return to the hotel in time for some relaxing downtime. Kids included! We all took in all those beautiful cultural images experienced during the day and enjoyed a memorable dinner overlooking the Caldera… romance does not mean kids forbidden. In a way, that’s how kids are started sometimes!