We decided to choose Greece for our family holiday this year. Our daughter Holly is a very lively 6 year old, so we invited her best friend Daisy to join us and help keep her entertained. A lot of the hotels in Greece have free child places, so this was a lot more affordable than we’d thought it would be and both the girls were very excited...
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With so many options to choose from, and to satisfy everyone, it had been difficult deciding which Greek island to pick, so we thought – why not combine more than one? This was actually a lot easier than we had expected and after a bit of research, we happily settled on Mykonos, Naxos and Santorini.
The first stop on our mini island hopping adventure in the Cyclades was Mykonos. We stayed in a lovely four-star hotel in Ornos Bay, which turned out to be a great choice as it has a gently shelving beach, ideal for swimming. It’s only 3 km from Mykonos Town too, which was great for nights out and we found some pretty dolphin jewellery for both the girls, which they now won’t take off.
Daisy said she got butterflies in her stomach when she first saw the hotel – so we were off to a good start! The beach at Agios Ioannis was also a firm favourite with us all. Known as the beach featured in the film Shirley Valentine, it has a small but perfect beach with soft sand and plenty of things to see and do. The girls loved the iconic Mykonos windmills, which set high atop Mykonos Village, can be seen from every vantage point. They both had endless fun celebrity spotting whenever we were out and about in town and although we didn’t actually see anyone famous, there were definitely a few candidates for best looky likey!
After our first magical few days in Mykonos – which went far too quickly, we were off to the island of Naxos for a couple of nights. This beautiful little island ticks a lot of boxes for lovely beaches and scenic views. We spent time on the superbly sandy beaches and wandered around the narrow streets of Naxos Town, where we bought some local cheese. Culture boxes ticked too, we visited the Potara where the remains to the ancient temple of Apollo can be found.
Santorini was our last port of call. Our first ferry journey had been quick and convenient and this was too. Phil, my partner and I had read somewhere that Santorini is rumoured to be the Lost City of Atlantis – perfect material for keeping the girls occupied with stories of this legend; which we quickly researched on the web on the boat over!
We’d picked Santorini for the views and sunsets and it was lovely to hop between islands, giving the girls a different experience on each one. We also made sure we enjoyed our hotel’s facilities and especially the swimming pools as well as exploring the towns and countryside and doing our best to stop the little mermaids from turning into two little prunes from too much sun.
The girls absolutely loved Santorini. Daisy’s parents had told her to look out for mermaids in Santorini so this turned out to be a recurring activity on our holiday. One of our favourite days was on a Catamaran boat trip, where we saw red and white beaches and very dramatic Caldera views from on board. We went snorkelling too and visited the hot springs, with a lovely lunch on the catamaran. We spent long sun-fuelled days on the beaches at Kamari and Perissa, which have lots of watersports and restaurants. However, it was away from the beach that we had the most fun and enjoyment. Fira and Oia are amazing spots for watching the sunset and the girls absolutely loved this experience, both exclaiming that they didn’t know the sky could be so many different colours. I’ve got quite a lot of photos to prove this! They had both asked us to take more and more pictures, as the sun slowly dipped and changed from every imaginable shade of yellow, orange and red and different hues of blue and purple.
Food on both the islands was a big success for all of us. We ate at lots of restaurants and tavernas and everywhere we went, people were so friendly. It was like we were part of their families and Holly and Daisy liked it when they said kalimera to us. Holly loved the lamb – apparently, it’s better than mine. I can’t disagree. They both tried Fava in Santorini and liked it, which surprised me. The real winner though was Saganaki, which is a fried cheese in filo pastry. They loved the fact it’s covered in honey.
One of the best things about our holiday was the hotels. Holly and Daisy shared a bed in the living area off from the main bedroom and enjoyed waking up to the glorious sea views each morning – as we all did. It was lovely to sit on our balcony early evening with our sundowners - wine for us and lemonade for the girls and watch as the sun dropped down into the sea each night.
The girls said it was the best holiday they had been on and are convinced they did see mermaids. I think I did too!