When it comes to booking a holiday abroad, families can often be put off the idea, as taking the kids on a long flight can be too stressful. Yet that needn’t be the case!
The Greek island of Crete is just a short – around 3 to 4 hours – flight away. And, unlike other Greek islands that have a reputation for being party islands or for honeymooners only, Crete is an incredibly family-friendly holiday destination.
Accommodation-wise, Crete has a vast range to suit different families. All-inclusive resorts can be incredibly convenient for families, especially when there are kid’s clubs on-site with special pools and activities to keep them entertained.
Alternatively, for families that cherish that home-away-from-home feeling, private villa rentals can offer you far more privacy and as you’ll have your own kitchen, this can be useful for heating bottles or preparing picnics for a family day out.
Full of gorgeous beaches, Crete is also full of culture with a mountainous landscape great for walks and historic towns begging to be explored. Here is our ultimate guide to some of the amazing family-friendly activities Crete has to offer:
ACQUA PLUS WATER PARK
A brilliant day out for kids and parents alike, the Acqua Plus Water Park is Crete’s biggest and safest water park, with something for kids of all ages to enjoy. For children under 8, there is a special kid’s area that is equipped with smaller sliders as well as a play park for them to enjoy.
For the older kids and adults, there are more ‘extreme’ slides that will keep them entertained for hours. In fact, you might have trouble dragging your family away at the end of the day!
HIRE A CAR
By far the best way to enjoy Crete is by simply renting a car and exploring this wonderfully scenic island. Not only is this easier than managing public transport with young children, but your own car gives you the freedom to decide where and when you want to travel.
You can hire a car in many locations. We usually collect ours at the airport as that way you save on paying for a taxi, especially if it’s a longer drive to your holiday destination. Also make sure you go for a company which offers no excess insurance with no hidden costs and read their T&C before you sign anything.
Pack yourself a picnic and drive along Crete’s stunning coastline, with Plakias up to Rethymno being particularly scenic. You’ll see passing river flows of Kourtaliotiko Gorge and can take the short walk up to the nearby church and waterfall. Perfect for lovely holiday snaps.
Crete is steeped in culture and myths; indeed, legend has it that Zeus himself was hidden in a Cretan cave shortly after he was born for safety from his grandfather Cronos. You can visit the cave in question today, named Dikteon cave, it can be reached by two paths up a hill. These are steep but manageable, and there are toilets and drinks available at the top to refresh before going into the cave.
Also worth a visit is Sfedoni cave, which is considered one of the prettiest on the island due to its multi-coloured formations. Near the village of Zoniana, there are handy guides in the cave that will happily tell you about the legends and stories associated with the cave, which the kids will adore.
LITTLE FUN TRAIN
Perfect for anyone with small children, the Little Fun Train offers a fun and alternative family day out. Guided tours last around 2-3 hours each, which is a nice length of time for the kids, and include trips to sights such as the Grand Canyon, Blue Lagoon and even an olive oil factory, where the kids can learn how the oil is produced.
Children always adore seeing the magical creatures that live in our oceans, and the Aquaworld Aquarium not only lets the family get up close to marine life but also teaches the kids about these animals in a fun way. There is even a reptile house where the kids can interact with animals such as turtles, snakes, and iguanas.
Of course, a trip to Crete wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of its many stunning beaches – many of which are family-friendly with the Blue Flag status. Aghios Panteleimonas and Chrissi Akti are some of the most beautiful and most family-friendly, with clean shallow waters and soft sands that are ideal for younger children.
Another must-visit is Elafonisi beach – its famous pink sands, turquoise waters, untouched dunes and rock pools of sea life will keep the children entertained all day! It, therefore, comes at no surprise that this heavenly beach can get extremely busy, so if you want to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit after late September when the weather and water are still warm.
True, beach holidays will involve sand castles and paddling in that gorgeous Mediterranean Sea, but Crete is also famous for its horse riding. Not only is this a wonderful experience for the whole family to enjoy, but some riding schools even offer free riding lessons for children. There’s nothing quite like riding a horse on a gorgeous beach – or even through one of the many gorges, canyons, and mountains of Crete!