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Santorini to Crete: Family Travel Tips Inspired by Our Own Greek Journey

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Greece is a perfect family destination for a wonderful summer holiday.

We decided to travel a bit further afield this summer since Elio would be staying with his grandparents and after lots of deliberation we settled on Greece.

We booked flights with Swiss to Heraklion where we would stay one night before taking the Seajets boat to Santorini the following morning. We picked a hotel in the city centre for that first evening which enabled us to walk about a bit during the afternoon and find somewhere nice for lunch and dinner.

The next morning we took a taxi to the port and were able to get straight onto the boat which was extremely large, well appointed and comfortable. The journey lasted about 2 hours and we were soon arriving in Santorini. We had hired a car to enable us to explore the island and headed to our first accommodation on Perivolos Beach. It’s always hard to get a sense of the surroundings when booking on Airbnb but we were delighted to find that our villa was literally across the road from the beach and on a bustling road full of bars and restaurants.

Our villa was simple but well equipped with everything we needed for a week of chilling on the beach. Santorini is a volcanic island so the beach in Perivolos is black sand which didn’t bother us at all but you can find a couple of sandy beaches in different parts of the island.

Our first job was to hit the supermarket. On Santorini they advise you to drink bottled water instead of tap water so we stocked up on that. Supermarkets aren’t cheap so if you have a car it’s worth picking one a little further away from the beach with are slightly less expensive. We were happy to pick up lots of fresh fruit, yoghurt and local honey for breakfast.

There is plenty to visit on Santorini. Jean and I spent a week here together in 2012 and hired a quad on which I think we covered the whole island including the monastery, and the towns of Fira and Oia. The children weren’t too keen on leaving the beach so we decided to do just one outing to Oia during our stay. Oia is beautiful and well worth a trip. Parking is limited so it’s a good idea to get there early as the town is very popular and gets full fast. As well as the breath-taking views, there are lots of little boutiques, cafes and restaurants to visit. Its a really beautiful place.

The rest of the time we spent enjoying the beach and the children loved the sea which was warm enough even for Jean and I in early July :-). The weather was wonderful while we were there ranging from 30-38 degrees but Santorini is quite windy and we were grateful for that, as well as the air-conditioning in the villa.

Our favourite place in Perivolos beach were : Jojo's for a drink, Wet Stories for the atmosphere, Aegan Safran for the food.

After one week on Santorini, we were heading back to Crete for the next part of our trip.

The boat back to Crete left in the afternoon and it is worth mentioning that you can’t get onto the boat more than an hour before the departure so be careful because you might end up waiting in the searing heat without shade if you get there too far in advance (like we did!).

Back in Crete and we had hired another car to drive the 2.5 hours to our villa which was about 20 minutes away from Chania. Having spent a week on the beach, the second part of our holiday was more about the pool. Our villa was absolutely perfect, modern and clean and the pool was warm and inviting. After a week of restaurants, we were looking forward to BBQ’s and enjoying the garden.

We did manage to drag ourselves away to visit Chania a couple of times which I loved! We parked as close as possible to the Venetian port where there are lots of restaurants and a huge number of little shops in the beautiful streets of the old town behind. We really enjoyed wandering around and picked up some gifts to take home for Elio.

There are lots of beaches around where we were staying in Lagkadakia, one of which is a short walk from the villa. Jean and Jude set off to check whether it would be suitable for snorkelling and Jude came back and rather shyly told me it was a nudist beach. But good for snorkelling nonetheless so we all went down there the next day (in our swimwear :-)) to check it out. The water was beautifully clear and blue and we could see lots of lovely fish as we explored. I am generally not a big fan of swimming in the sea but even I loved this experience and it was such a joy to be able to share it with the children now they are older.

Our week of villa chilling went so fast and before we knew it, it was the penultimate day of our holiday. For the last night, we decided to stay at The Nest resort which is perched in the hills about 20 minutes away from Heraklion airport. We had booked a beautiful large villa with two bedrooms and a private pool so we could squeeze in a bit more swimming before we left. They have a really nice restaurant where we ate in the evening and the staff were so friendly, it was a beautiful way to end our holiday.

Despite being really impatient to get home to Elio, we were sad to leave Crete. We had such a beautiful, relaxing time, it feels like a dream looking back at the pictures now.

Here are a few little things that might be useful:

  • Restaurant tips seemed a bit hit and miss and were included in some places and not in others so it’s worth checking if you aren’t sure

  • You can’t put toilet paper in the toilet in some parts of Crete and Santorini so look out for signs

  • Driving around was slightly nerve-wracking at times so if you hire a car, its probably a good idea to get as much insurance as possible

  • On Santorini they advise you to drink bottled water instead of tap water

  • It's very hot in Heraklion airport, we found a cool area between the Security and the Duty free area. You'd be grateful for a fan if you have one.

  • Local business owners are really nice and speak many languages in case English is not your forte

  • Don't pay an excessive price for a seat on the beach: it's the same sand and sea ;-). Some of the loungers were ridiculously expensive. Some restaurants offer that you pay a fee and offset it with all your daily consumptions

  • Chania is a great place to find gifts and food

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