Why Crete is Best for Families

While you might think a vacation in the Greek Islands is for honeymooners or other romance-seeking couples, there are lots of family-friendly islands throughout the country, although we feel Crete is really the best.

Crete is the largest Greek isle, incredibly diverse with everything from beautiful beaches and mountains to a wide range of attractions and activities that are sure to keep the kids (and parents) happy.

Child running to the beach, Crete
Child at waterpark, Crete

Family-Friendly Beachfront Resorts with Special Activities for the Kids

There are multiple resorts that aim to please families with children on Crete, including options right on the beach. Porto Elounda lies along the Elounda coast about an hour east of Heraklion offering spectacular sea and mountain views. It has its own beautiful private beach and a wealth of amenities for all ages. Teens can enjoy sailing, tennis and golf lessons, water skiing and all sorts of ball games. They also get their own dedicated space filled with board and table games. The activity list for kids aged 5 through 11 is extensive, including water sports, arts and crafts, treasure hunts and beach Olympics. The water park includes two shallow swimming pools and two water slides, while an olive grove adjacent to it features swings, slides, ramps and a trampoline. There’s even a wellness program, Six Senses Kids, which includes athletic hours, educational presentations, nutritional workshops, healthy snacks, and special treatments.

The grownups can take diving lessons, play a round of golf, go windsurfing, take a wine-tasting class and enjoy the Six Senses Spa, which offers Reiki treatments, a hammam, massage, and a thalassotherapy pool.

Water Parks and Local Experiences Tailored for Children

While some of Crete’s hotels and resorts offer water parks for their guests, there are several others too, like Watercity. Located between Hersonissos and Heraklion in the Anopolis area, it features multiple pools, including pools just for the kids, wave pools and a giant park pool, along with a lazy river, thrilling rides and games.

Local experiences can be enjoyed throughout the island that are specially tailored for the younger ones too, like “The Myth Around the Palace of Knossos.” Fun for the whole family, you’ll explore the myths that surround the ancient Palace of Knossos. Led by experienced pedagogues, walk through the ancient scenery while enjoying interactive activities and playing games based on writer and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis’ book, At the Palaces of Knossos. It includes a picnic based on foods common in the Minoan diet too.

Another fun option is “The Fall of the City Crown” excursion which delves into the fascinating culture and medieval history of fortified Heraklion. Aimed to entertain all ages, you’ll get to search for clues, playing a game while walking to the city walls. Chat with locals and visit some of the most important monuments for a trip back in time to 1669 Heraklion.

Golf course in Crete
Elafonissi, Crete

Outstanding Golf Course Near the Beach Resorts and Acqua Plus Water Park

If some members of the family would prefer to play a round of golf while the others want to splash around in the water, it’s easy to do both on Crete. The Crete Golf Club is a championship 18-hole course, the only one on the island, and it’s located next to the Acqua Plus water park, along with multiple beach resorts. Thanks to the island’s climate, the mildest in the Mediterranean, it’s suitable to play in every season and offers a scenic desert-style design. The water park features a lazy river, 50 different slides, games, a playground and a children’s area.

Lots of Safe Beaches the Whole Family Can Enjoy

There are lots of great beaches on Crete with soft sands and calm, shallow waters everyone in the family can safely enjoy. Golden Beach, officially called Chrissi Akti, is named for its soft sands that have a warm golden glow. It’s the easternmost of four sandy stretches within walking distance of Chania that make up Agii Apostoli. The water is clear and shallow and there are plenty of facilities, including sunbeds, umbrellas, water sports and a play area for the kids

.Rethymno Town Beach is located near Rethymnon on the north coast. It stretches for over 12 miles and offers water sports facilities, tavernas and beach bars. While it’s usually busy, it’s nearly always possible to find a quiet spot due to its length. Elafonissi, with its pink sands, leaves visitors of all ages speechless. Incredibly scenic, if you travel to southwest Crete, don’t miss it. Voted one of the top beaches in Europe, the water is clear, turquoise and incredibly shallow, with lagoons where the kids can safely play.

Enjoy family-friendly activities, visits to the beach and the chance to explore fascinating historical sights on this 10-Day Family Adventure!

Collecting eggs on Cretan farm
Family visiting Knossos, Crete

Day Activities Within Just a Short Drive

No matter where you stay on Crete, you’ll find unique activities to enjoy for the day within just a short drive. You might even visit an authentic Cretan farm – the kids will love meeting the farm animals, and perhaps the chance to milk goats and collect eggs. Learn how to cook some of the local specialties, discover how olive oil and Raki is made, and the secrets of making those tasty Cretan pies.

There are all sorts of hikes through the mountains from short treks to longer jaunts, donkey rides, biking trails, sea kayaking tours for the whole family and much more. If you have younger children, be sure to visit Dinosauria Park in Heraklion where you can marvel at huge dinosaur sculptures that even make noises and move. There are educational games, interactive displays, and opportunities to excavate fossils too.

Kid-Friendly Archaeology Sites and Museums for Educational Travel  

Crete is home to multiple archaeological sites and museums, along with a fascinating history and culture that makes it ideal for educational travel. Many of these places are kid-friendly like Knossos, the most significant archaeological site on the island. As mentioned, there are tours tailored for families with children like “The Myth Around the Palace of Knossos.” Kids will marvel at the vibrant frescoes with their mythical creatures, and likely wish that they could sit on the impressive King Minos throne. Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum exhibits findings from Knossos and other large Minoan palaces on Crete. It’s considered the best spot for children to learn about the history of Minoan Crete through hands-on activities and interactive experiences.

Taking a boat trip to tiny Spinalonga Island, a historical site off of the Elounda coast is another ideal option for families with older kids. It hosts a mid-16th-century fortress that served as Europe’s last leper colony from 1903 to 1957. Featured in the bestselling novel The Island by Victoria Hislop and the subsequent Greek TV series, it’s become a part of pop culture. Learn about its history, explore Venetian, Ottoman and modern buildings and enjoy a swim in the bay.

Visit impressive Minoan sites in Crete on our Ancient Treasures of Greece 8 Day Trip!

Chania Town, Crete
Crete food

Warm Local Hospitality from Cretans Who Love Children

Cretans, as do most Greeks, love kids and are renowned for their warm hospitality. Cretans, in particular, are some of the friendliest you’ll meet in the country, making it a wonderful place to introduce children to a different culture. It’s one of the best lessons you can give your kids, instilling curiosity about the world they’ll take with them long into adulthood. In the process, they might even create friendships that will last a lifetime.

A Fantastic Culinary Scene

Crete is famous for its gastronomic delights, providing something for everyone – and, much of it is not only delicious but nutritious too. Cretan fare is the basis of the Mediterranean diet, characterized by the quality and freshness of ingredients, with dishes often farm-to-table, something that started here long before it became a popular trend also. There are incredible fruits like pomegranates providing a unique healthy sweet, and lots of citrus. In fact, you’ll often find oranges on the table, a fruit that’s existed in every Cretan home for centuries. The local Cretan yogurt is rich and creamy, made with sheep’s milk instead of cow’s milk. Topped with honey, nuts, and fruit, it’s one of the tastiest, healthiest and most convenient breakfasts you can have.

Meals are often served family-style, making it easier for those with little ones with picky tastes. Some dishes that they might grow to love include saganaki (fried cheese), calamari (fried squid) and dolmadhes (flavored rice wrapped in vine leaves). Gamopilafo, combines meat and rice, is often a hit with the kids too. The sweet pastry called kalitsounia, baked or fried using mizithra cheese, sugar, and cinnamon, is sure to be a favorite among all.

One of the best ways to introduce everyone in the family to the various eats on Crete is to take a food tour – while exploring the neighborhoods and streets, you’ll have the chance to sample all sorts of locally-produced foods.

You can take a look at all of our Family Trips to Greece here or you can give our travel experts a call on +1 646 201 9437 to find out more about vacations to Crete.

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