There’s a huge range of things to do in Crete with kids, in fact, Crete is regularly voted one of the best islands to visit with kids. Travelling around Crete, you’ll find crystal clear turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, family-friendly attractions, towering mountains and above all a welcoming family-friendly atmosphere. Here are some of the best things to do in Crete with kids based on both travelling to Crete with my daughter and the recommendations of other family travel bloggers.
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Things to Do in Crete With Kids
1. Hike the Samariá Gorge (For teens)
Submitted by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan
The Samariá Gorge hike is one of the most popular hikes in all of Greece, and for good reason. As you continue further inside, the walls of the gorge become narrower, and the scenery becomes more and more mindblowing. This culminates with the passage through the “Iron Gates”, where you pass through a space just four meters wide, with rock walls towering 300 meters high on either side of you.
The hike includes several river crossings with the aid of bridges and stepping stones, and there’s a bit of scrambling over rocks too, all of which will keep the kids entertained. At 18 kilometres, it can be fairly strenuous though, so it may not be suitable for children under 8 years of age. The walk is definitely best for teens.
Plenty of tour operators organise hiking tours as a very long day trip from Chania. This requires a ridiculously early start, though, so I recommend staying overnight in Omalos instead, which is near the trailhead. You’ll be able to beat the crowds and the heat this way. When planning your trip, do note that the gorge is only open from 1 May to 15 October.
Kids will love catching a glimpse of the kri kri – a type of mountain goat who lives in the gorge and pretty much nowhere else. Samariá Gorge was declared a national park in 1962 to protect this endangered species. Little hikers will also get a kick out of drinking water straight from the freshwater springs, which is perfectly safe.
2. Visit Falassarna Beach
Submitted by David, Delve Into Europe
Falassarna Beach is on the remote western coast of Crete, surrounded by mountains with a daily sunset over the Mediterranean to savour. It’s a slice of paradise we were so enchanted with that a three-night stop turned into a fortnight. All because we had chanced upon one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen, and our five-year-old son completely agreed.
There are really five beaches at Falassarna, all quite different in character. The main Falassarna beach is near the southern end of the straggling village. The water is some of the clearest we’ve seen anywhere in the world, the sand golden with occasional sprinkles of pink along the shoreline. This is where most of the tavernas can be found, and some of them have mini-playgrounds for the kids.
Walk north from the main beach and the adventure begins. There’s a section of dunes and large rocks for adventurers, then a smaller, beautiful cove with a taverna on the hill above. Beyond the rocks another pristine bay beckons, with another series of coves below the Agia Paraskevi chapel. There are two superb natural rock pools here which are ideal for kids, the water is sheltered, shallow and calm. There is also a great beach bar and three tavernas just up the hill.
Falassarna feels like a world apart, and it’s very uncommercialized compared to most Crete resorts on the north coast. There’s only one hotel of any size, Falasarna Bay, which has apartments ideal for families. The taverna in the same building is one of the best in the village.
3. Kato Gouves Resort Town
Kato Gouves lies just 39 minutes by bus from Heraklion. The bustling resort is great to visit with kids. Kato Gouves beach is long, white and sandy. It’s been awarded a blue flag for its cleanliness and great waters. There’s a variety of local shops to visit too, selling souvenirs and beachwear. You can also pick up some local delicacies from locally grown dried herbs, pressed olive oil and sweet treats.
While you’re in Kato Gouves, why not visit Cretaquarium, the largest aquarium in Greece; packed to the brim with Mediterranean sea creatures.
4. Explore Kournas Lake
Between the provinces of Chania and Rethymno, Lake Kournas was once Crete’s biggest freshwater lake. Today, the lake is linked to the sea and is made up of partly seawater. Kournas lake is perfect for a stress-free day out in the sun.
Pedalos are available to hire at various points around the lake. See if you can spot the native species of turtle, especially as you approach the hills. Another popular activity is swimming. There are two main entry points to enjoy the water to avoid scrambling over stones.
There are two small beaches with a small number of sunbeds to hire. Most people bring a towel and perch on the sand. Kournas lake is surrounded by many souvenir shops selling local crafts and gourmet delicacies. Some fantastic restaurants and tavernas overlook the beach as well as many shops selling snacks.
The best way to reach Kournas lake with kids is to drive. from Georgioupoli, take the country road from the village without going on the national road. There’s also a turnoff from the national road (Kournas Village) if you’re travelling from further afield. View car hire prices and availability here. Lake Kournas is the perfect day trip no matter where in Crete you’re based.
Don’t miss – Syntopia Hotel, Rethymno
Want to Know More About Crete? Check out these handy guides
Getting Around Crete/ How to get to Crete with kids
By Car | Driving in Crete is relatively easy. The main highway runs from East to West along the North of Crete. It’s is a modern & well-made road, either single or dual carriageway depending on where you are. There’s a variety of car hire companies operating in Crete. Click here to compare the best hire car deals on Travel Supermarket.
Note | You are expected to carry documents, photo driving licence, insurance papers and car-hire details with you in case police pull you over to check your documentation. Parking by the coast and in small villages is relaxed. However, in the larger towns, it’s often not clear where you can park. It’s usually better to pay for parking (2/3 Euro).
By Coach | Crete is one of the more touristy Greek islands. A huge variety of tour companies operate on the island from global travel companies to independent local businesses. Due to the size of the island, a coach tour is a great way to see the island. With kids, it’s better to book a tour where you’re dropped off in a location rather than a guided bus tour. View the best trips of Crete on Get Your Guide here.
By Air | There are 3 airports in Crete, Chania (CHQ), Heraklion (HER) and the smaller Sitia airport (JSH). It’s best to book a flight to the airport nearest where you’re staying. Heraklion is the main airport in Crete, serving international destinations but mainly UK destinations, other Greek islands and Athens. Main routes include London – Heraklion with Jet2 or Easyjet.
By Private Transfer | If you’re travelling with kids and you haven’t hired a car, the next best way to get to your accommodation is by private transfer. You can get a quote with HolidayTaxis here.
Where to visit after Crete with kids
Santorini | Santorini is just a 2 hour, 25-minute catamaran high-speed ferry from Crete. Ferries run from Heraklion and Rethymno. SkyExpress runs seasonal flights from Crete to Santorini during the summer. During the winter, you would have to fly via Athens. As one of the most famous Greek islands, Santorini is well worth a visit (or even a day trip) from Crete.
Athens | Just a short flight (or a longer ferry), the capital of Greece is well worth a visit. Home to the world-famous Acropolis, Mount Lycabettus and many other things to see and do, you can even spend some beach time at the Athens Riviera. Kavouri beach is a must-visit. If you’re short for time in Athens, take a look at what you can do in 24 hours. After Athens, why not explore the rest of Mainland Greece?
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What’re your favourite things to do in Crete with kids? Will you be trying out any of these suggestions? Let us know in the comments below: