In the event you’re attempting to select a Greek island for a household vacation, you may’t overlook the largest of the bunch – not least as a result of there are such a lot of issues to do in Crete with children
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In reality, in contrast to a few of the smaller islands the place you may discover the highlights in every week, you’ll want longer to find the whole lot there may be to do on Crete with children – it undoubtedly pays to select your base correctly if you’re reserving lodging.
From Venetian historical past to seashores and boat journeys, there’s lots to tempt close to Rethymno (or Rethymnon) and Chania with children within the western a part of the island, and additional east in direction of Elounda, however you’ll discover most household points of interest close to Heraklion, the island’s capital, and Hersonissos.
The south and much east of the island are quieter and fewer touristy – in addition to farther from the 2 airports at Chania and Heraklion, plus the primary ferry ports within the north – however whether or not you’re on the lookout for historical past and fantasy, chilled out solar, lively journey or household enjoyable, you’ll discover loads of issues to do for youths in Crete.
Learn my information to Greece with children for extra suggestions and inspiration
Get pleasure from a seaside day
Crete is famed for having a few of the most stunning seashores in Europe, so you may’t plan a household vacation in Crete with no seaside day or two.
Wherever you’re staying, you’ll discover a few of the family-friendly seashores in Crete close by: there are such a lot of, that it’s arduous to know the place to start. However to assist slender them down, I’ve listed a couple of of my favourites by space.
Household-friendly seashores within the west of Crete
- Falassarna Seaside – some of the stunning pure seashores in Crete, with tremendous golden and pink sand and crystal clear waters.
- Platanias Seaside – an extended sandy seaside simply west of Chania with loads of vacationer amenities, together with motels, eating places, water sports activities, lifeguards, and extra.
- Balos Seaside & Lagoon – a ravishing secluded seaside with white sand and shallow turquoise waters, accessible by (a busy) ferry from Kissamos port or boat tour.
- Frangokastello Seaside – a sandy seaside sitting beneath a 14th century fortress on the southern coast of Crete.
- Elafonisi Seaside – this distinctive seaside is legendary for its pink sand because of the hundreds of damaged seashells it incorporates.
Household-friendly seashores in central Crete
- Matala Seaside – Crete’s laid-back hippie seaside resort sits in an enclosed bay, surrounded by tall cliffs affected by cave tombs constructed by the Romans 2,000+ years in the past.
- Bali Seashores – for a quiet household seaside day, head to the 5 small sheltered seashores that encompass the calm and picturesque seaside resort of Bali (nothing to do with the one in Indonesia!)
- Potamos Seaside – a preferred seaside in Crete with native households, this lengthy sandy seaside is way quieter than lots of the huge vacationer resorts.
- Hersonissos Seashores – a group of small native seashores simply to the east of Heraklion, with calm, clear waters and loads of family-friendly amenities.
Household-friendly seashores within the east of Crete
- Voulisma Seaside – a big stretch of beautiful white sand seaside with crystal clear turquoise waters in Mirabello Bay on the northeastern coast of Crete.
- Vai Seaside – a secluded seaside surrounded by one of many largest palm tree forests in Europe, with loads of picturesque nature and nice mountain climbing routes close by.
Hit the water
Discover extra of Crete’s beautiful shoreline with some family-friendly enjoyable on the water, together with loads of water sports activities from scuba diving to sea kayaking.
For scuba and snorkeling, Chania and the north west of Crete is a good space for freshmen. You’ll discover loads of diving faculties providing classes for youths across the Bay of Afrata.
Different water sports activities resembling sea kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, browsing, and jet skis, will be discovered at seaside resorts everywhere in the island. You gained’t have to journey far to search out to search out lessons or tools rent.
Spend a day at Lake Kournas
For a barely extra mellow time out with youthful youngsters, head to Lake Kournas, the one freshwater lake on Crete. Nestled in a ravishing valley, there’s hundreds to do across the lake for a enjoyable household time out.
You possibly can take a stroll across the lake (a full lap takes round an hour), cease for a picnic alongside its banks, or profit from the solar loungers and umbrellas on the a number of small pebble seashores.
On a heat day, you can even take a swim within the lake or rent a pedalo to go out onto the water. And don’t overlook to seize some meals to feed the lake’s many geese.
In the event you don’t have your personal automotive, there are day journeys to Lake Kournas and Chania in addition to excursions to native villages and Lake Kournas too
Take a Pirate Boat cruise in Rethymno
The historic Venetian city of Rethymno is likely one of the prettiest locations to go to in Crete, with its slender tree-lined streets, numerous architectural types, and grand fifteenth century fortress.
However the primary factor to do in Rethymno with children is to go all the way down to the Venetian harbour and take to the water on a pirate ship.
Set sail to discover the caves, rock formations, and seashores surrounding Rethymno on a conventional wood pirate ship, The Captain Hook. This half-day tour is assured to be successful with children.
Attempt a ship journey to the smaller islands
In case your children don’t fancy a pirate boat, otherwise you’re staying elsewhere on Crete, there are a string of different boat journeys to select from – once more, you’ll be spoiled for selection.
This half-day boat tour from Chania takes you to Lazaretta Island (a former leper colony), in addition to providing the possibility to be taught extra historical past of the world and to cease, swim and snorkel.
Or strive a crusing journey from Heraklion to Dia island, simply to the north of Crete with time to snorkel, swim and relax – there’s a morning boat tour as effectively, each appropriate for youths aged over 4.
Head to a waterpark
Nothing screams enjoyable household time out in Crete like a visit to one of many island’s water parks. Most water parks in Crete are solely open for the summer time season between Could and October so ensure to test opening dates earlier than your go to.
Acqua Plus Water Park
Acqua Plus is the largest and hottest water park in Crete. Situated 25 minutes from Heraklion on the north of the island, the massive park has over 50 thrilling water slides, rides, and video games for youths and adults of all ages.
For teenagers and older youngsters, you’ll discover excessive slides just like the Kamikaze and Giants of Terror, whereas little ones can benefit from the children’ waterslides, exercise playgrounds, a fantasy inflatable fortress, and plenty extra.
There’s a skip-the-line ticket with an elective pick-up from Rethymno in case you don’t need to drive, in addition to different tickets together with transfers from elsewhere on Crete.
Different water parks close to Heraklion in central Crete embrace:
Just below 5 miles from Chiana, Limnoupolis is one other enjoyable water park for households within the west of Crete.
The park has the same old enjoyable actions, from adrenaline-fuelled water slides to stress-free swimming pools, a loopy river, and youngsters’s leisure areas, so it’s preferrred in case you’re on the lookout for issues to do close to Chania with children.
There are tickets together with transfers and lunch obtainable in case you don’t need to drive or take a taxi.
This distinctive Minoan-themed amusement park near Heraklion is a good place to show children about Greek mythology in an entertaining and interactive manner – undoubtedly some of the uncommon issues to do in Crete with children!
Ideally suited for youthful youngsters, Labyrinth Park has an enormous vary of actions, together with mini golf, quad bikes, archery, horse rides, a stay escape recreation, and – in fact – an enormous 1300sqm labyrinth for the entire household to get misplaced in.
You can too pop by the projector room, the place movies on the traditional Minoan Civilization of Crete are proven all through the day, and luxuriate in lunch within the historic Knossos-themed cafe.
Head to an aquarium
One other nice option to spend a day in Crete with children is by visiting one of many island’s greatest aquariums to be taught concerning the native aquatic life.
Aquaworld Aquarium and Reptile Rescue Centre
Aquaworld was Crete’s very first aquarium and remains to be one among its hottest points of interest at this time, residence to native sea life and quite a lot of reptiles from around the globe.
A lot of the animals are rescued or had been injured and now have a brand new sanctuary at Aquaworld. Children will love getting hands-on with fascinating creatures, from holding big pythons to petting tortoises.
Cretaquarium is a big Mediterranean themed aquarium near Heraklion in central Crete. Presently one of many greatest and most fashionable aquariums in Europe, the centre is residence to over 2,000 sea creatures throughout 60 tanks.
From big sharks to microscopic plankton, children can be taught all about marine life within the area and there’s an audio information as you discover (or you may pay further for a brief guided tour too).
Ebook tickets with free cancellation right here.
Stroll with prehistoric creatures at Dinosauria Park
Little ones can be taught the whole lot there may be to learn about dinosaurs at this interactive theme park dedicated to the prehistoric beasts.
At Dinosauria you may journey again in time to the Mesozoic period as you wander across the park discovering full-sized animatronic dinosaurs, whereas interactive screens educate you concerning the life and habitats of every dinosaur you encounter.
Children also can get hands-on with enjoyable actions together with fossil excavations, hatching a dinosaur egg, and caring for injured creatures on the Basic Hospital of Dinosaurs. The park has a restaurant, present store, and huge youngsters’s play space too.
Go to the Historical Minoan Palace of Knossos
The Palace of Knossos is one among Crete’s most well-known historic landmarks and a must-visit for guests of all ages. The essential archaeological web site is residence to the ruins of a Bronze Age palace that was the ceremonial and political centre of Minoan civilization.
Thought of to be Europe’s oldest metropolis, Knossos and its Palace are steeped in historic historical past and Greek mythology, most famously the legend of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur but additionally the story of Daedalus and Icarus, who flew too near the solar,
To essentially get essentially the most out of the Palace of Knossos and its museum, go to on a guided tour so youngsters can hear the various tales and legends that make this web site so vital.
No matter you select, it’s effectively value reserving tickets upfront and getting there early (or ready till later within the afternoon) to keep away from the queues and the warmth throughout summer time.
You should purchase tickets upfront from websites like Get Your Information, Tiqets and Viator however sadly in case you’re coming from the UK and travelling with children, there’s not at present choice to get the diminished youngster charge on these websites so that you’ll have to e book direct – youngsters who’re EU residents get in free.
The Heraklion hop-on hop-off bus stops at each Palace of Knossos and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in addition to exploring the town
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Even when your children aren’t usually followers of museums, that is undoubtedly one to placed on the record, and an incredible choice to mix with a go to to Knossos, round quarter-hour away.
With 27 galleries throughout two flooring, its assortment covers 5,500 years, from the Neolithic age to Greco-Roman occasions, together with the world’s greatest assortment of Minoan treasures – simply one of the best museum to go to in Crete with children.
You possibly can wander by recreated interval rooms, frescoes and sculptures, in addition to different artefacts alongside the best way, together with the whole lot from artworks to home goods.
It’s additionally blissfully air conditioned. You should purchase joint tickets, though as with the palace of Knossos, you solely appear to have the ability to get youngster tickets in case you e book direct.
The Heraklion hop-on hop-off bus stops at each the museum and the Palace of Knossos in addition to the town’s different highlights, so it’s a sensible and enjoyable option to discover Heraklion with children
Discover the cave the place Zeus was born
The Cretan mountains are residence to over 3,000 caves and caverns. However essentially the most well-known of those needs to be Dikteon Cave within the Lasithi plateau on the east of the island.
The massive cave isn’t solely ecologically spectacular with its many stalagmites and stalactites, however in accordance with legend, it’s additionally the birthplace of Zeus, the chief Greek God.
Locals would as soon as head off on a pilgrimage to the sacred cave to worship and produce choices to the Gods. Immediately, it’s a preferred vacationer attraction the place you may find out about Greek myths and legends.
Uncover Historical Aptera
For extra historic Greek historical past, go to the stays of the town of Aptera close to Chania, as soon as the industrial centre of Crete round 2,000 years in the past.
Children can discover the in depth historic ruins, from the Roman cisterns to the massive amphitheatre and hilltop Ottoman fort, plus there’s loads of area to run round as you get a style of the island’s fascinating historical past.
Aptera is situated round 8 miles from Chania and there’s a small charge of €2 to enter the archaeological web site.
Hike in Samaria Gorge
For lively households who take pleasure in getting out in nature, you may’t miss mountain climbing Samariá Gorge.
Slicing by Crete’s White Mountains, the 16km canyon is likely one of the longest and most well-known of its variety in Europe. The mountain climbing route begins from Xyloskalo on the Omalos Plateau and ends on the seaside village of Agia Roumeli on the south coast.
Alongside the best way, the hike takes you thru Samaria Nationwide Park, a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, which is residence to distinctive wildlife in addition to the eye-catching surroundings.
The total hike takes round 6 hours and is medium problem, so higher for older children or extra skilled younger hikers though you’ll discover guides with donkeys strolling up and down the route to supply some respite for little legs. The hike will be performed by your self or on a guided tour.
In the event you’re on the lookout for various hikes in Crete with children, Imbros Gorge is an effective one to contemplate
Study Crete’s deserted leper colony
Spinalonga is a small rocky island within the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete that was as soon as dominated by the Venetians and the Ottomans. Within the early 1900s, the island turned a leper colony and was nicknamed the island of the dwelling lifeless: at its peak, it had round 400 residents.
The colony wasn’t disbanded till 1957, making it one of many final of its variety in Europe. Its darkish historical past impressed the best-selling novel, The Island – in case you haven’t learn it, I extremely advocate it – and it’s turn out to be one thing of a vacationer magnet consequently.
Try Maria’s Island by the identical writer, with the story instructed by one of many youngster characters from The Island, good for youths to be taught extra about Crete and Spinalonga
In the event you’re a fan, or that’s merely piqued your curiosity, you may go to the deserted settlements on the island and be taught extra on a guided tour.
Ferries run from Plaka or Elounda – there’s an extra charge to pay on the island itself – in addition to excursions to Spinalonga from Heraklion and Rethymno, and longer boat excursions which cease at Spinalonga.
Do take water and any snacks with you as there are restricted (and pricy) amenities on the island, plus restricted data in case you don’t have a information – realistically, this isn’t an incredible one with youthful children.
In the event you’re intrigued by the concept of a leper island however are staying within the west of Crete, Lazaretta island is a cease on some boat journeys from Chania – though there’s not an enormous quantity remaining from its previous historical past.
Discover Venetian fortifications
This Greek island, like its northern neighbour of Corfu, was as soon as dominated by the Venetians, and in case you head to Chania or Rethymno, you may nonetheless discover the fortifications they constructed.
In Chania, the Venetian partitions encompass the town, encircling the older Byzantine ones, whereas the harbour was additionally constructed by the Venetians – the unique lighthouse is lengthy gone, however there’s a beautiful stroll out to its alternative.
This enjoyable self-guided scavenger hunt is an effective option to get children exploring, with an audio information path that takes you to the city’s key sights as you comply with clues to unravel the challenges.
And in case you’re visiting Rethymno with children, the Fortezza – because the Venetian citadel is understood – nonetheless towers above the city, and you’ll go to the star-shaped constructing, as effectively the Venetian harbour right here (with its personal lighthouse, additionally a alternative for the Venetian authentic).
Lychnostatis open air museum
This little museum in Hersonissos is the proper option to get a style of what life was like in Crete in years passed by.
With a deal with folks traditions and culutre, you may discover a shepherd’s shelter and little windmill, in addition to seeing outdated wine and olive presses and wandering by a herb backyard.
There’s a gallery with work by Cretan artists on show too, plus there’s an audio information and a beautiful little cafe. Purchase tickets with free cancellation right here.
For extra tips about visiting the Greek islands with children, try my posts on one of the best issues to do in Kefalonia, Kos, Skiathos and concepts for exploring Corfu, together with my information to Greece with children
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