Crete is, on a whole, a very family-friendly island – especially when you compare it with other Greek islands that have earned themselves reputations as being a party or honeymooner’s destination. Yet Crete, which is Europe’s most southerly Greek island, is a far more diverse destination. This is an island which, yes, has miles of beautiful sandy beaches, but is also full of mountainous regions perfect for hiking, and historical villages where the children can learn about this island’s extensive history – including the myths of the Ancient Greek gods. In fact, legend has it that Zeus himself was born on Crete.
Being such a family-friendly destination, Crete has a lot of accommodation options to suit different families. All-inclusive resorts can be a particularly good option for families due to their convenience. Many will even offer clubs, on-site pools and activities to keep the kids entertained. Alternatively, you can opt for privacy and that home-away-from-home feeling from renting a private villa. Plus, many of these villas have a private pool – which your kids will adore – and also means you won’t have to share with other tourists.
Then, once you’ve got your accommodation sorted, it’s time to get out and explore with the family. Here are just 5 fun things to do with the kids while you’re there:
Acqua Plus Water Park
The biggest and safest water park in Crete, Acqua Plus Water Park is an absolute must-visit for any family visiting Crete. Indeed, you’ll have the kids wanting to return as often as they can! For the older kids, the water park has a series of ‘extreme’ slides for 8-year-olds and older, such as the tsunami. For the younger children, there is also a kid’s area with smaller slides as well as a playpark and table tennis area. There are numerous places to eat on the site with offerings ranging from burgers and chicken nuggets to more traditional Greek food, there’s also a cocktail bar for mum and dad. Prices are €27.00 for adults and €17.00 for children.
Visit A Sea Cave
There’s something about caves, with their eerie, echoing spaces and multi-coloured stalactites and stalagmites, that makes exploring them incredibly fun – and Crete is home to some spectacular caves. One such place is the famous Dikteon cave, where legends say that Zeus himself was born and hidden from his grandfather Cronos, who ate infants. The cave itself can be reached by two paths – both of which are quite steep but manageable, however there are donkeys you can rent to take you to the entrance. There’s also a bar at the top which sells refreshing drinks and has toilets.
Sfedoni Cave is another spectacular, natural wonder near the village of Zoniana. Considered the prettiest cave in Greece, visitors can walk a path of around 270m taking in the impressive, multi-coloured formations. You may even see some of the cave’s wildlife including snails and bats. There are also informative guides on hand that can tell you the history and legends associated with the cave.
Little Fun Train
Anyone with small children on holiday knows how difficult it can be to get around, especially in the heat. Which is exactly why the Little Fun Train is such a spectacular thing. These guided tours, which go to various top tourist spots on the island, all last around 2-3 hours on an open-air train, making them perfect trips for the kids. Tour trips include the Blue Lagoon, Grand Canyon and olive oil factory. Ticket prices depend on the trip but are usually €19.00 for adults and €9.00 for children.
One of the most popular activities in Crete is horseback riding, indeed, the island has long used horses in history for travelling across the island and many people still own a horse today. Which is why you’ll find various horse riding schools and horse-led tours across the island. Places like the Pegasus Equestrian Center offers free horse riding lessons for children of all ages, aimed at familiarising themselves with the horses and how to care for them. Or, for private one-on-one lesson, EGVUS offers lessons with certified instructors. The kids will absolutely adore spending time with these beautiful horses, although be warned, they might just want to take up lessons when you get home too!
There is something incredibly magical about seeing and learning about our ocean’s inhabitants, which makes Aquaworld the perfect afternoon out for everyone in the family. Open from April to October, this aquarium features rescued wildlife from across the globe, and who now have a safe home in Crete. There’s also a reptile house where visitors can touch and interact with the animals, including snakes, turtles and iguanas. Entrance is €8 for adults and €4 for small children.