London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
For volcanoes obsessed kids and Atlantis legend seekers, look no further than Santorini family holidays, bliss for all parties. Aqua luxury suites were certainly the highlight our formidable Santorini stay, with its epic views, boutique design, luxurious features.
We adored Santorini 14 years ago – a couple and friends’ holidays; now with the kids dare I say we enjoyed even more! Last time we stayed in Thira, the postcard Cycladic town with iconic views over the volcano plus vibrant nightlife.
For Santorini family holidays we found Imerovigli perfect pied a terre: the highest point of the caldera has epic views, it feels authentic and uncrowded. The views over the volcano and the 2 volcanic islands (Nea /”New” Kameni and Palea/”Old”Kameni ) do not get any better. From Skaros one can soak in Santorini’s dramatic geography and Oia and Thira are stunning at sunset time. The cobbled alleys and white washed villas are so picturesque and way quieter versus Oia and Thira.
Why did I label our 2020 Santorini family holidays as formidable after years of sustainable luxury and authentic travelling?
We stayed at Aqua Luxury Suites Grand Suite, one beautiful boutique 2 beds, with a huge terrace and a sweet private pool with jacuzzi overlooking the volcano, perfect for the boys to play and for us to chill sipping bubbles and thanking God and Aqua team for bringing us back to life after months of lockdown, home-schooling and super long working hours with all sorts of added complexities.
The Grand Suite set-up of the suite is perfect for families: 2 bedrooms and one super beautiful living area; the colours are Santorini typical: turquoise, white, pale grey and green – a visual delight.
The breakfast in the privacy of our terrace was spectacular, each morning 9:30am the team would bring us downstairs fresh pastries, fruit platters, eggs and Nutella pancakes. The orange juice was fresh and the cappuccinos perfect, all super blissful in the most epic and zen setting.
The also tried one lunch at Aqua Mare Restaurant– Santorini rose wines are out of this world and so were the risotto and Greek cheese in pastry. The boys loved their pastas and pizzas, Aqua makes it super hard to leave their stunning premises and the team is super sweet and helpful.
The sunsets in Santorini are to die for and we simply cannot decide which one was best. Oia makes a delightful walk at 5pm through its whitewashed cobbled streets, chic, and arty boutiques. We descended in Amoudi bay for one beautiful dinner, great mussels saganaki, octopus and squid. The sunset was stunning and so emotional, back after 14 years in Santorini after 2 kids and 1 pandemic!
The second sunset we absolutely loved was whilst sailing, the sun disappeared surreally and slowly red and orange into the sea. But the one that I found the most spectacular was from Imerovigli: a golden sky at first went on fire.
Santorini sailing is superb to get to properly appreciate and soak in the epic geography and rock formations. We swam by the white beach, we sailed by the red beach, we passed by Daliesque rock formations and black beaches. We swam in warm springs, next to the volcano and by the 2 volcanic islands (Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni). The kids adored the swimming and snorkelling, the jumping on the catamaran and the sailing – a wonderful half day spent with Santorini Sailing Spiridakos.
The trekking and climbing in Santorini are also great fun and few minutes away from Aqua Luxury Suites there’s Skaros rock, an ancient Venetian castle with epic views. This used to be the principal place of the Christian congregation in Santorini, till the beginning of the 1800s and the legend says that it has never been conquered during its 600 years of existence. Completely ruined during an earthquake in the 19th century, now it makes an adventurous climb highly recommendable before sunset for the vistas over Imerovigli, Oia and Thira. We picked a windy day which made the ascent and the descent with the 6 years old even more dramatic. Luckily, there are few terraces with killer views to sip a well-deserved aperol post hiking and to get to enjoy what happened to be the most spectacular sunset.
One can also trek along the caldera from Thira to Oia or the other way – just over 10 km (about 6 miles), a mix of paved, pedestrian streets and dirt hiking trails, hilly walk with little shade, best very early in the morning or late afternoon to experience.
Santorini food options are simply superb. In Imerovigli apart from Aqua terrace dining, we tried Anogi, great food and sweet piazza setting , with friendly cats and personnel.
Ammoudi Fish Taverna has an unforgettable setting overlooking the crystalline waters of the Aegean sea. Listening to the waves and indulging into traditional Greek seafood with a twist over the sunset skies where countless stars appear slowly but surely is pure magic.
But our 6 days gourmet highlight has been The Seaside – eclectic fine food at its best. We had an early dinner wrapping up a beautiful afternoon on the beach and we absolutely loved all their sushi, ceviche, and modern Santorini dishes. They say they won the finest restaurant awards in Greece, we fully agree it’s well deserved.
The Seaside makes a wonderful place as well to spend the day or afternoon on Santorini’s iconic black beaches – so fun for the kids to stare at the black sands and little pebbles and splash into the beautiful crystal waters.
Covid 19 adjustments: In the brave new world of 2020, we found Aqua Luxury Suites well versed in keeping us all safe and healthy whilst not compromising on warm and super professional service. All staff are wearing masks or transparent shields, the temperatures are checked at arrival, breakfasts limited mostly to your own terrace, there’s lots of antibacterial cleaning to keep the premises virus free plus QR code menus everywhere.
For the loveliest and safest transfers and guided tours we warmly recommend Simos Ioannis: super prompt, helpful, super knowledgeable and friendly.
So our overwhelming conclusion is not only luxury Santorini with kids is feasible and enjoyable but highly recommended in periods with smaller crowds. Receiving usually 2 million tourists per year, Santorini is top bucket list one of the most photographed spots worldwide. Summer 2020 when we had this magic island almost to ourselves, spared of the cruise ships crowds and the usual touristy gatherings has been truly formidable. BA flies directly from Heathrow, 4 hours to paradise. And in case one wishes to extend Santorini family holidays to further Greek island hopping we highly recommend Crete and Elounda Beach, just over 1.5 hours of ferry and less than 1 hour drive from Heraklion port.
In the new brave era of travels during a pandemic, where Greece has managed so well the cases and travelling restrictions, Santorini family holidays are high on our travel guidance list, half term October and Easter 2021 included.
Disclosure: many thanks to Aqua Luxury Suites for the media rates, fantastic Grand Suite upgrade and warm hospitality. Super excited impressions as usual are ours and our kids’.