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How to do island hopping with Kids in Greece
Greece is a perfect destination for island hopping with its 6,000 islands out of which more than 200 are inhabited.
Island hopping when carefully planned may be super exciting for the whole family and a relatively easy thing to do. Most of the Greek islands are well connected with ferries and you may choose between the regular and the super fast ones, with the latter being obviously more expensive. So, here is what you need to know before you plan your island hopping in Greece:
Which area to explore
Greek islands are organised in groups (e.g. The Cyclades, The Sporades, The Dodecanese, etc.) and it’s easier to plan your island hopping once you decide which group of islands you want to visit.
For a start you may wish to pick the islands that are within close proximity to one another as your ferry trips will be shorter. This way you will be able to see if your kids feel well while on the sea, if they enjoy the cruise generally, and if they want to continue with their island hopping adventure. Starting with a long cruise may be tiring and may discourage your children from wanting more. Get plenty of maps from local travel agents and plan your route together with your kids. As you go, tick off or circle the places you’ve visited.
Check ferry connections
In general, there are two ways to get to the Greek islands; ferries (slower and high-speed) and catamarans/ flying dolphins.
Ferries on the Aegean are a really effective means of transportation. They are usually on time, spacious and comfortable, and within the same group of islands the cruise can last from half an hour up to 3-4 hours. Also, there are the best choice if you are prone to seasickness. To get to Santorini from the Cyclades though, you will need between 5 and 8 hours, and to get to Crete from Athens you will need to take a ferry.
To avoid getting stuck plan your route in advance and observe the timetables as ferries may not reach some remote islands on a daily basis, especially in low season which starts in October. One of the websites that you can use is Openseas.gr
You can easily buy the tickets online or if you are already in Greece you can buy the ferry tickets by walking into any travel agent a couple of days before your intended trip.
Things to do
On shorter routes your kids will be excited to explore the ship, visit the deck, bars and restaurants or find the best spot to admire the spectacular views, or just stare at the sea. However, if you are planning to take a several ferry trips, your kids may start to get bored. Bring enough things to keep them entertained and go for the most practical toys and games that will make your children busy for longer, but will be reusable too.
Depending on the size of your luggage you may want to take a small set of LEGO blocks, some stencils and stationary, a few story books and probably a tablet of iPad (not all ferries have wifi though). To add more of a holiday feeling to the activities use what is available locally.
What worked best with our kids was getting a pile of travel catalogues from a local travel/ferry agent, some pairs of scissors, glue and paper, and then encouraging them to create their own collages using the cut-out photographs. This way your children can too learn more about the local culture, geography and history.
Grab a good spot
For long ferry trips, unless you want to book a cabin, you will need to find a good comfortable spot for your family. On some ferries such as ANEK or Minoan Lines this is relatively easy as they have a massive lounge space with sofas and tables. As soon as you get aboard, try to grab the best couch so your children have enough space to play, draw or even sleep comfortably. With other ferries, you may need to occupy less comfy seats and find some space on the carpeted floor, which should be still OK for your children to play and move around. For longer trips avoid sun decks as it is usually too windy to spend the whole journey time there.