Car-Free Destinations to Enjoy with your Kids

Stunning locations, tons of fun activities, great food and above all, safe zones for running around.


NAFPLIO

Where: In the Peloponnese. The illustrious and picturesque city stretches across a peninsula and up the hillsides of the Argolic Gulf. 

The place: The capital of newly liberated Greece between 1829-1934, the seaport city of Nafplio enchants its visitors with its elegant, colorful architecture (thanks to the Venetian occupation between 1338-1540) and neoclassical homes, combined with artsy shops, quaint tavernas and picturesque cobblestone side-streets. Kids play freely in the spacious main (Syntagma) square, climbing and spinning in the large playground at Capodistrias Square and visiting the “O Stathmos” Child Awareness Museum

Another great spot is Fougaro, which runs classes, workshops and exhibitions for kids of all ages. 

For food, there are plenty of lovely tavernas with kid-friendly menus: for fresh fish go to Arapakos or Savouras, for pizza visit Gratella, and for dessert try Antica Gelateria di Roma or Sokaki for chocolate crepes. 

Get active! Take a sunset or early bird walk along the coast and then climb the steps up to the Palamidi castle and count for yourself – is it 857 or 913 steps? All we know for sure is that it’s not 999!

Hire a Funbike or hop on the tourist train that takes you through parts of the old town. 

Take a water taxi to the Venetian fortress of Bourtzi across the harbor; older kids will be fascinated by the creepy fact that this was used by Ottoman rulers to keep and execute prisoners.

Take a nature walk to the Acronafplia peninsula to see the oldest of Nafplio’s three castles – kids love walking through the long tunnel and climbing on the five cannons (known as The Five Brothers) on the western tip of the headland.

INFO

How to get there: Reachable by car or KTEL bus from Athens (just over 2 hours). 
KTEL: 37 Bouboulinas, Nafplio, Tel. (+30) 2752.0 274.23.


  • O Stathmos Child Awareness Museum, 31 Vas. Konstandinou, Tel. (+30) 2752.0 28.947
  • Fougaro,  98 Asklipiou Ave, Tel. (+30) 2752. 047.300
  • Arapakos, 81 Boumpoulinas, Tel. (+30) 2752. 027.675 
  • Savouras,  77 Boumpoulinas, Tel. (+30) 2752. 027.704.
  • Antica Gelateria di Roma, 3 Farmakopoulou & Komninou, Tel. (+30) 2752. 023.520 
  • Sokaki Cafe, 8 Ethnikis Andistaseos, Tel. (+30) 2752. 026032

INFO

How to get there: Around 1.5 hours by flying dolphin. You can also drive to Metoxi (on Poros, around 150k from Athens) and then take a sea taxi or boat across to Hydra (around 25 minutes). 


  • Oraia Ydra, Hydra port, Tel. (+30) 2298. 0525.56. 
  • Xeri Elia Douskos, Main square, Tel. (+30) 2298. 0528.86. 
  • The Cool Mule, Hydra town, Tel. (+30) 2298. 0521.00. 
  • Saronic Chamber Festival, Bratsera Hotel, Tel. (+30) 210.7211.694. 
  • Hydra School Projects, organizer Dimitris Andonitsis, Tel. (+30) 693. 8024.554.

Hydra

Where: Between the Argolic Gulf and the Saronic Gulf, around 37 nautical miles from the port of Piraeus.

The place: Hydra, where all forms of transport – except the donkey – are forbidden, is great for exploring pretty cobblestone side-streets and backstreets while admiring beautiful 19th century buildings. 

Stop for a bite at a seaside taverna and treat your kids to crispy-fried fish and home-style ladera dishes (try Oraia Ydra in the daytime and Xeri Elia Douskos in the evening), followed by handmade gelato at The Cool Mule in the main town. 

Pop into the Koundariotis Museum to see traditional costumes, weaponry and art, or visit the galleries and pretty shops – teens with artistic inclinations will enjoy visiting exhibitions around the town between June and September organized as part of the Hydra School Projects.

Another thing kids will love is hopping on and off water taxis to get around. 

Get active! If your kids enjoy a good (but not demanding) hike, there are plenty of signposted hiking routes, such as an ozone-saturated trek from Hydra’s port to the Monastery of Profitis Ilias, or to the scenic little port of Kamini, or to Palamida, where you can enjoy a swim. 

There are several kid-friendly swimming spots, such as Vlychos, Aghios Nikolaos, Ydronetta, Kamini and Bisti, and many rocky coves where older kids can jump into the water.

If you’re on Hydra in late June don’t miss the Miaoulia festival, featuring an awesome fireworks display and the re-enactment of the sinking of the Ottoman flag ship, this year taking place on June 24, the date on which the Greek War of Independence hero Admiral Miaoulis died.

In August (2-9), attend a classical concert al fresco at the Saronic Music Festival.

Monemvasia

Where: Located in the municipality of Laconia, off the east coast of the Peloponnese, the Monemvasia castle town is around 300k from Athens.  

The place: The good news is that cars are left outside the entrance of the castle-island, but the bad news is that prams are not easy to maneuver around the castle town – so take a second option like a marsupial along.

Beautifully preserved and surrounded by lush vegetation and striking sea views, Medieval Monemvasia evokes images of knights and princesses in romantically-inclined adults, so imagine how kids feel walking along its towering walls and vaulted rooms or walking on dimly-lit cobblestone streets.

Set your kids free to run around in the fresh air, but beware of some spots with steep cliffs, particularly in the upper town, or wind-tunnel-like stairways.

Get active! There’s plenty to do within the castle, and then there are all the mainland areas right outside it. Start within, strolling around, touring the castle town and all its corners, play in the main square where the cannon stands, take a steep hike to Goula for breathtaking views over the sea, and visit the small Archaeological Museum (former Muslim mosque) and the Velies Folklore Museum.

Outside, kids enjoy visiting the nearby Watermills at Talanta and the impressive cave in the village of Kastania. For swimming, older kids can dive off the rocks of Portello at the old wall, while, for younger kids, it’s preferable to head to Ampelakia or Pori beach (20 minutes drive).

INFO

How to get there:  

  • Drive along the Attiki Odos highway toward Corinth and then take the national road to Tripolis and then Sparta. After that, follow the smaller (signposted) roads to Monemvasia.
  • There are also buses departing daily from the Kifissos KTEL station in Athens (around 7 hours).

  • Archaeological Museum, Tel: (+30) 2732.0 614.03
  • Velies Folklore Museum, Visits are by appointment with the supervisor, Mr. Dimitrios Tsagaris, Tel (+30) 2732.0530.98 & (+30) 694.2420.508.

INFO

How to get there:

  • By air, you can fly to Ioannina National Airport, and from there take the KTEL bus.{In Athens, Kifissos KTEL Station: Tel. (+30) 210. 512.9363}
  • By bus from Athens, take the KTEL to Ioannina from Kifissos station (around 5 hours), and from there change to a bus (they run daily) to Zagori’s villages (40 minutes to 1.5 hours).
  • By car you can reach Zagori via the Kozani-Ioannina national road from Kalpaki or Metamorphosi (Karyes).  

  • Ioannina Bus Station, 45 G. Papandreou Ave, Tel. (+30)26510. 274.42 & 26510. 250.14 
  • Ioannina National Airport,  135 Leof. Grammou, Exochi, Tel. 2651.0836.00 ext. 83602 
  • Taverna Sopotseli, Dilofo, Tel. (+30) 2653.0226.29 
  • White Pegasus, Megalo Papinko village, Tel. (+30) 697.7011. 275 
  • Kanela kai Garyfalos, Vitsa village, Tel. (+30) 26530. 716.71 
  • Pita Tis Kikitsas, Monodendri village, Tel. (+30) 2653. 0713.40 

Dilofo

Where: In the eastern and central area of the Pindus mountains of Epirus, Dilofo (meaning two hills) is one of Zagori’s 48 traditional villages. It lies 35k northwest of Ioannina.  

The place:  Tranquil and immersed in greenery, scenic Dilofo is not only completely car-free but also one of Zagori’s most picturesque villages, with exemplary traditional architecture and homey yet lavish guesthouses.

Kids can safely run free around cobblestone streets and in the main square under the giant plane tree while you sip a coffee at the tinykafeneion.

Dine at Dilofo’s oldest taverna, To Sopotseli (since 1901).

Get active! Just a short drive away, enjoy walking on Zagori’s stone-arched bridges such as Kokori, built in 1707, which arches high above Voidomatis river.

To take in a remarkable nearby vista of Vikos gorge, Europe’s deepest, drive to nearby Vradeto village, Zagori’s highest point (1450m altitude). 

Options abound for woodland hikes in the immediate surroundings to suit small and large feet. North of Dilofo, in Megalo Papingo village, you can take kids horseback riding at White Pegasus

For food head next door to Vitsa to try delicious mushroom specialties at Kanela Kai Garyfalo, or to Monodendri to be pleased as pie at Pita tis Kikitsas. 

Lindos

Where: On the Dodecanese island of Rhodes, 50km south of the main town. 

The place: A village with sparkling white churches, sugar-cube houses and turquoise waters, and a notable archaeological site on Rhodes, Lindos is a pedestrian-only zone with many charming features for the whole family. 

From shallow-water beaches such as Aghios Pavlos Bay (great for snorkeling) and scenic, family-friendly tavernas, to pleasurable hikes to the history-drenched Acropolis, Lindos makes for a great base where one can see remnants of its past as a bastion of the Dorians, Romans, Knights of St John, Venetians and Ottomans.

Lindos is also an attraction for rockers as it hosts the annual Lindos Rock Festival from June 14-21.

Get active! Around the end of June there is also the Lindos Medieval Feast. The Old Town hosts the Medieval Festival that features live music, art, dance, stilt walkers, food and drink. 

From Rhodes town you can take a day trip to Symi island to the northeast to enjoy a refreshing swim and fish lunch (try the tiny fried prawns, a local delicacy). 

Rhodes is also a place where kids can relish car-free play in the Old Town, as well as visiting the Aquarium

For yet more aquatic entertainment a little further out, visit the Water Park in Faliraki. 

Outside the village of Archipoli is the Toy Museum, while for more outdoor action, don’t miss out on the Petaloudes, or Butterfly Valley nature reserve (26k north from the main town), especially beautiful between July and August, and the Natural History Museum within the same zone.

INFO

How to get there: There are KTEL buses daily heading from Rhodes town (1 hour). 


  • Lindos Rock Festival, Tel: (01283) 229.901 or 0773.4514.319 
  • Lindos – Rhodes Medieval Festival, Tel. (+30) 22410. 744.05 & (+30) 697.2 178.603 
  • Rhodes Aquarium,  Cos St. Tel. (+30) 2241.027.308 – 78320
  • Water Park, Tel. (+30) 2241.0 84.403
  • Butterfly Valley, Tel. (+30) 2241. 082.822


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