Crete: What’s It Got to Offer Families?
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, and it’s famous for its historical attractions, wonderful walks and tranquil beaches. While this is very appealing, it might not immediately strike you as a destination that’s perfect for family holidays – but it really is.
When it comes to family trips, for me the magic of Crete lies in the combination of a few key qualities. The weather and beaches are, of course, the obvious draw, while the chance for adventures in age-old caves and discovering all kinds of colorful creatures in the world’s largest aquariums are others. I think the historical side is pretty important too – there are some absolutely incredible archaeological sites that’ll fire up the kids’ imaginations as well as educate them.
Below, you’ll find some of my top picks for family holidays in Crete, while you can review your accommodation options at Sovereign Travel.
Most holidays involving young children tend to include a day spent on the sand with a bucket and spade, so let’s take a very quick glance at Crete’s beaches. The island has a good balance between quiet stretches, party beaches and family-friendly shores, and with a little research it’s pretty easy to find one that’ll suit you.
Among the best is at Aghia Pelagia, which is on the north coast and around 20 km outside Heraklion. The main beach here boasts calm water and golden sand, while it’s well organised and has plenty of amenities – the ideal place to spend the day.
We all love a little variety, so I’m sure you don’t want to spend every day at the beach – and the kids will definitely welcome a change! Cretaquarium couldn’t be more perfect for families, being home to a huge 2,500 creatures from the deep.
You’ll see species hailing from Mediterranean and tropical waters, including jellyfish, sharks and tiny seahorses – all of which are bound to captivate the kids. Plus, there’s a decent audio guide available in nine languages, which means you can all learn a lot, rather than simply admiring the amazing displays (though you’ll do plenty of that too!).
Dikteon Cave donkey ride
If you fancy doing something a bit different, I recommend a trip to Dikteon Cave. Now, there are thousands of caves in Crete, but this one is the creme de la creme; not only is it home to some stunning (and beautifully illuminated, I might add) stalactites and stalagmites, but it is also cloaked in mythology.
You see, this cave is believed to be where the goddess Rhea hid baby Zeus to protect him from his father, who she believed would eat the infant. While visiting the cave is exciting in itself, it can be made even more fun for kids by riding a donkey to get there. Since the cave entrance can only be reached by a fairly steep 15-minute climb, this is also the most practical option for those with children.
No visit to Crete is complete without visiting the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos. Exploring the ruins of this spectacular complex is a great way to sprinkle a little history and education into your trip – and the kids will be so awed by the sights that they won’t even realise they’re learning! It’s worth telling them the famous myth of Daedalus and Icarus as you amble around, since the site has ties to the story.
A few quick tips for your visit – bring a picnic rather than relying on the onsite cafe, since doing so is more fun and less expensive, while you should try to come in the morning to avoid the peak of the crowds and heat.