With glorious beaches, breathtaking mountainous landscapes, a rich cultural heritage, and all kinds of fun activities on offer, there really are loads of things to do in Crete with families.
We recommend the excellent Fodele Beach resort as a great place to stay there, but if you are looking at the island as a good destination choice; what would you like to do there?
In fact there’s so much to do, the only problem is trying to fit it all in!
To help you all out, we’ve provided our top picks of things to do in Crete with kids.
1. Nab yourself some beach action
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete boasts long stretches of stunning coastline – which means lots of lovely sandy beaches. But which are best for families?
There are so many family-friendly beaches in Crete, it’s difficult to choose, but here are just a few to try:
Elafonisi beach on the south-west of the island is said to be the most beautiful beach in Crete, and is well known for its delicate-pink sand. Calm and shallow waters make it ideal for very young children and toddlers.
You could also try Marathi beach to the north-east of Chania – a sheltered cove which provides protection from the wind and elements, or Chrissi Akti– a long stretch of golden sand, also close to Chania.
In Hersonissos, which is a popular resort not far from Heraklion, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly beaches with soft white sand and crystal clear waters.
If you’re staying in or near Rethymno, then check out Plakias and Damnoni beaches on the south coast, or take a boat ride from Rethymno harbour to the gorgeous beaches of Bali and Panormo on the north coast.
2. Make a splash at a water park
If you fancy a day off from the beach, but still want to stay cool, how about visiting a water park?
Acqua Plus Water Park in Hersonissos is hugely popular. Set in beautiful gardens, the park is split into two sections – one for adults and one for children – so whether you’re a 5-year-old daredevil or a fainthearted 40-something, there’s a slide or ride for you.
Aqua Creta Limnoupolis, just outside Chania, is a great little water park, suitable for all ages. The park offers a good selection of slides to get the adrenaline pumping. Or take the lazy river ride if you need a change of pace.
3. Soak up the local history and culture
Crete has a rich and fascinating history, and there are many interesting places to explore.
The pretty port town of Chania is the second largest city in Crete (after Heraklion) and is well known for its magical Venetian harbour and lighthouse. Take a relaxing stroll along the pretty, narrow streets, and enjoy the many shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as the fantastic covered market selling a variety of local produce.
Rethymno is another beautiful old town, with a giant Venetian fortress at its centre and a picturesque harbour. There are plenty of boat trips from Rethymno harbour that will take you on a cruise along the stunning Cretan coastline, but the most fun way to travel is on a traditional wooden pirate ship!
Crete is the birthplace of the Minoan Civilisation – one of the earliest civilisations in the world – and the grand Minoan Palace of Knossos, near Heraklion, is definitely worth a visit.
This bronze-age palace was originally built in the 7th millennium BC. Today, it’s largely in ruins, although some parts have been restored over the years.
If your kids are learning about Greek mythology at school, this is a great place to boost their knowledge. The palace is steeped in myth and legend – it’s said that King Minos hired the inventor Daedelus to design it, and that under the palace, there was a labyrinth where the King imprisoned the Minotaur – a terrifying creature with the head and tale of a bull and the body of a man.
To get the most out of the experience, we recommend you hire a tour guide. Be warned, it can get very busy with long queues to get in, so it’s worth buying your tickets in advance.
For foodies, a trip to the Cretan Olive Oil Farm in Agios Nikolaos is a must. You can learn all about the Cretan diet and their traditional ways of making cheese, olive oil and wine. Enjoy a guided tour of the farm, followed by the opportunity to taste around 30 different local foods.
To stop younger kids getting restless, we recommend you pre-book a couple of the workshops on offer. Choose from cheese-making, pottery or olive-oil production, or take a cookery class and learn how to make some traditional Cretan dishes.
4. Get up close and personal with the wildlife
If you want to get out of the sun for a couple of hours, then a visit to an aquarium’s a good option.
Aquaworld Aquarium and Reptile Rescue Centre, which is situated in Hersonissos, is Crete’s first aquarium. Here you can see displays of local sealife, as well as reptiles from all over the world.
Most of the creatures have been rescued from injury or neglect and given a new home at the aquarium. The centre also provides kids with a wonderful opportunity to handle some of the animals, including snakes, tortoises and lizards.
Or you could try Creataquarium near Heraklion. It’s a large, modern aquarium which focuses on aquatic life native to the Mediterranean. The aquarium houses over 60 tanks exhibiting a wide variety of fish and other species.
Amazonas Park is a small, private animal park and rescue centre on the north-east of the island. The park is home to many different animals, including parrots, monkeys, lemurs and donkeys. It’s a great day out for all the family, and kids will especially love the chance to feed the lemurs! But be warned that the park is set high up in the mountains, so some of the walkways are very steep.
5. Finish off your things to do in Crete with something a little different
Journey back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the land at Dinosauria Park in Gournes (near to Heraklion).
As you wander through the park, keep an eye out for the many different types of model dinosaur on display – some will even move their heads and roar at you!
On your way round, you’ll discover a museum of dinosaur fossils, watch the hatching of a dinosaur egg, and see the Dino Hospital, where sick and injured dinosaurs are cared for.
There’s also a science centre where kids can carry out experiments, a fantastic playground, and an entertaining 5D cinema (although you have to pay a little extra for this).
Dinosauria Park is perfect for families with younger kids. But if you have older kids, or you’re just not that into dinosaurs, you could try Labyrinth Park, which is close to the town of Hersonissos.
This unique park is jam-packed full of fun activities. Get lost in the giant Labyrinth Minotaur maze, or dodge laser beams to rescue Helen of Troy in the Trojan Horse laser maze. There’s also mini golf, archery, donkey rides, an escape room and an eco-garden.
Well that rounds up my top picks for family-friendly things to do in Crete. Hopefully it will help when you come to plan your next summer getaway!
We think these are some of the best ideas for things to do in Crete – if you have any more, let us know in the comments or drop us a line.
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