Crete Family Holidays
The main difference between Crete and other Greek islands is the local climate that is softer and more suitable for children as peak season lasts until November. The main activities for children in Crete are water parks, beaches, swimming and wonderful national food.
HOW TO GET TO CRETE
During the summertime, many airlines carry out flights to Heraklion from Germany, including Condor, Easyjet, Ryanair. Numerous charters should be taken into account since Crete is a very popular holiday destination in summer. You may also consider Aegean Airlines. Their flights during the low season may come at discount prices. Aside from Heraklion airport, Crete has an airport near the town of Chania. So if you stay in the western part of Crete, look for flights to Chania. The most convenient way to travel throughout Crete for a family is to rent a car. There are numerous companies offering car rentals at affordable prices.
WHERE TO STAY IN CRETE
Crete surely is more suitable for noisy youth partying, but it is also possible to find nice family-friendly hotels at affordable prices, especially at the beginning of the season. During this time the sea is of stunning beauty, the absence of flaming sun and the views are very diverse and picturesque.
Crete can be divided into two parts – the northern one and the southern one. Heraklion is situated in the middle of the northern coast. In general, the northern part is more about parties and noisy companies. The southern part is more about quietness, with its modest inconspicuous hotels and wonderful beaches at the Libyan Sea.
If you are comparing western and eastern parts of the northern coast, the western part is considered a noisy place for youth parties, east is more about calm and relaxing holidays.
The air is more humid in the western part, while the eastern part is known for its quiet bays and picturesque hills. Both sand and pebble beaches can be found there. More detailed information should be found in the description of the place that you have chosen to stay in. The majority of the beaches are in municipal property, but private areas can also be found. It is necessary to clarify that although Crete is located in the Mediterranean Sea, shores to the north bathed by the Aegean Sea, to the south by the Libyan Sea.
HOTELS AND VILLAS IN CRETE
If you haven’t booked a hotel or an apartment in advance, finding accommodation on arrival would not be a problem, especially if you rent a car at the airport. There are a lot of apartments for rent around so you can steer yourself any direction you choose and search for «room for rent» signs. But I wouldn’t recommend that way of traveling in case kids are in the back seat of your car. It is better to book housing in advance.
THINGS TO DO IN CRETE
Starting your tour I recommend from visiting Heraklion. See famous frescoes in the palace of Knossos and walk along the seafront with Venetian lions on fortification walls. Perhaps the most interesting and informative tour for children is to visit the Lassithi Plateau and the cave of Zeus.
The cave is situated in the middle of the island, about halfway between Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos. Winding serpentine road leads you to the village and proceeds up to the mountains. Donkey service may help you get to the cave. A bit later you reach the entrance of the Dikteon Andron cave where according to legend the supreme god of Olympus Zeus was born. It may be cool in the cave so be sure to have warm clothes for children. The cave descent is not very steep, so even the youngest children may attend this tour. There is a lake at the bottom of this mythical cave, so you can walk across the bridge and take photos of the stalactites.
While outside the cave, enjoy wonderful scent of mountain herbs. Continue your journey across the plateau of Lassithi then. There is a small museum dedicated to traditional Cretans crafts. While there you may inquire about the processing of aromatic herbs. Don’t miss an unusual museum of Homo Sapiens on the way to Lassithi that offers excellent opportunities for taking snapshots. I shall mention another tour through the Samaria Gorge in the western part of the island. It’s the largest canyon in Europe with a total length of 18 kilometers. Due to this fact tour takes about eight hours among the cliffs, so it can only be recommended for adventurous families.
Be sure to visit other Crete towns as each of them has its own unique feature. For example, Rethymno reminds of Venice since it was built during the period of Venetian rule on Crete. Agios Nikolaos would impress you with a deep circular lake in the city center. In the most southern European city of Ierapetra enjoy its stunning beaches and clean waters of the Libyan Sea, more transparent and salty than the Aegean sea. Another option for activities is to attend a one-day-trip to Santorini island that is known for its unique iconic landscapes (white buildings and black volcanic sand). I didn’t mention any church or convent because there are too many of them and it is really difficult to pick what’s best!
There are a lot of places of entertainment for children in Crete. If you drive the highway to the east along Heraklion coast you may find Cretan Aquarium. See the details here. I would name a list of water parks that my friends recommend to me:
- Water City, is located between the towns of Heraklion and Hersonissos, near the village of Kokkini Hani. The water park is regarded to be the largest and one of the best in Greece. This water park considered to be more tourist oriented. See the details here.
- Acqua Plus, located 7 km from Hersonissos. On the contrary, Acqua Plus is more for the locals. See the details here.
- Limnoupolis Water Park, 8 km from the city of Chania. See the details here.
- Star Beach Water Park. See the details here.