We visited Crete on a cruise back in September 2013. It's why we wanted to visit more of the Greek islands. It's simply stunning!
Thinking about taking your children on a summer holiday to Greece? If that’s the case you can be assured that Crete is one of the most perfect destinations for a family holiday. It is an island with so much more than just sand, sea and sun.
Crete is rich in natural beauty, history, tradition, culture and culinary delights. It also enjoys the longest summer in all of Greece. To say that Crete has 280 days of sun, which amounts to a staggering 3,360 hours, is no exaggeration!
Undoubtedly your children will eager to pack their bags and beach toys when you tell them they’ll be going to Crete, but please don’t make the mistake of limiting this precious time to a beach only holiday. Of course swimming in crystal clear water and building sandcastles may sound like the epitome of a great holiday but, at the same time, it would be such a shame to miss out on some of the many attractions that Crete has to offer that will give your holiday both and educational and a fun element. We have highlighted our favourite activities in Heraklion, the capital of Crete, all of which are beyond just sand, sea and sun.
Heraklion is Crete’s largest city and centrally located on the north coastline. We are honest enough to say that nobody falls in love with Heraklion at first sight as it definitely lacks some of the beauty that other areas and towns behold. Having said that, you won’t regret staying in Heraklion as we feel strongly that, because of its central location, it is the best base for further exploration of this wonderful island.
Fascinating History & Inspiring Culture
The Palace of Knossos is certainly the most important reason you should stay in Heraklion. Your children will love the myths that accompany the story of the greatest civilization of the world in a place where colourful frescoes and great legends, such as Theseus and the Minotaur, and Daedalus and Icarus, come to life. Definitely combine it with a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion where treasures of the Minoan era are well kept. Your children will love the fresco of the Prince of the Lilies as well as the Phaistos Disc (one of the X-files of Ancient Greece).
We also highly recommend a visit to the ‘MinoikiAvli’, a very amusing theatre play which takes place every Saturday at 16:30 at the brand new stone built theatre at the Equestrian Centre of Heraklion. The play focuses on Minoan religious rituals and ceremonies and you’d think the actors have literally stepped out of the frescoes. We can’t think of any better way to familiarize your children with the Minoan culture.
No doubt the brand new theme park ‘Labyrinth Park’ will skyrocket your children’s adrenaline levels as they frantically chase the Minotaur in the maze. The beauty of the Labyrinth Park lies in the fact that it is both very educational and fun at the same time.
Cretaquarium a.k.a. ‘Thalassokosmos’ will reveal treasures of the Mediterranean sea. Watch the fierce sharks, and the playful octopi, tiny sea horses and boneless jellyfish will captivate you.
For those of you who just love water parks, Water City and Aqua Plus await you with their multiple pools and slides.
The picturesque villages of Crete with their friendly inhabitants will enamour you. Cretans have the reputation of being the most hospitable people of Greece and you’ll soon understand just how true this is. Archanes, a village near Heraklion, is one of the most charming villages on the island. Have a wander around the beautiful narrow streets and admire the traditional, well-preserved houses. Close your eyes and smell the flowers growing in the white washed courtyards. Try the Meraklidiko Greek coffee in one of the local ‘kafenia’ (cafes). Make a point of stopping at ‘Bakaliko’ (shop/café with local Cretan products) and learn the secrets of Cretan cuisine. Make your trip even more memorable with a visit to the ‘Tamiolaki’ winery and learn about the art of wine making.
If you have several days to spare we recommend you rent a car and let the fun begin by exploring other main townsin Crete. Although some of the roads may not be quite the same standard as that of some other countries, the charm and beauty of Rethymno, Chania and Agios Nikolaos will soon make you forget about the driving.
Where To Stay
The Knossos Beach Bungalows and Suites are just a few kilometres from Heraklion airport and are a safe bet for families. The beach is protected from winds and is ideal for children because of its sandy beach and shallow water.
Alternatively, the choice of accommodation in both the city and the nearby vicinity is endless. You can find anything and everything ranging from simple rooms to apartments and from villas to luxury resorts.
For once, finding what suits your needs and your budget will be a piece of cake!
Maria Giannouli is the chief editor of KidsLoveGreece.com, a site that offers authentic family friendly suggestions for Greece. Her work experience in the hotel industry has been invaluable, however, her true inspiration has been her two sweet daughters who love all type of family traveling.