There are so many things to do in Crete with families it’s no surprise that the country is often voted as one of the most popular destinations for a family holiday.
The island is well known for its rich culture and amazing scenery, not to mention its beautiful sandy beaches. Swim in crystal clear waters, take a boat trip to discover rock coves, hire a car and explore the stunning scenery and so much more.
If you’re planning a family holiday on this idyllic Grecian isle then this post is for you! Here we list all the fun things to do in Crete with kids.
In Greek, the island of Crete is known as Megalónisos, the “Great Island”. It’s the largest of all the islands in Greece, the birthplace of Minoan civilisation and a wonderful family holiday destination.
Crete with kids
Take to the water
One of the best things activities for families in Crete is to discover the island’s underwater life. There are many scuba diving centres throughout the island (mostly in the north), catering to divers of all levels. Popular scuba diving locations in Crete are the Bay of Afrata in Chania, Panormos Village in Rethymnon, Hersonissos Cape in Heraklion and “Nikolos” Reef in Lasithi.
If you’d rather explore Crete with children from above the water then the south coast offers plenty of sea kayaking options. There are some remarkable sea kayak routes that will take you to some of Crete’s most unique places including as Paleochora, Sougia, Agia Roumeli, Loutro, Sfakia, Vai and Spinalonga Island.
Crete also offers plenty of surfing opportunities – wind surfing, paddle surfing and kite surfing – in locations including Elafonisi, Falassarna, Agia Marina, Plakias, Amoudara and Ierapetra.
Hit the mountain bike trails
Biking along picturesque mountain roads through traditional villages is a great way to enjoy Crete for families. Either join one of the scheduled bicycle tours in Crete or plan your own tour along with your family.
Mountain bikes are usually offered by car/bicycle hire companies. The smallest bikes that you can find for rent are for seven-year-old kids. If your kids are younger, you may rent a baby seat appropriate for bikes. For further information, we recommend Auto-Kappa car and bicycle hire.
Meet the local animals
One of the more popular things to do in Crete with toddlers in particular is to visit Aquaworld. Located in Hersonisos this was Crete’s first aquarium and it’s home to a unique display of local sea life and reptiles from from around the world. Most of the animals were rescued or injured and now have a loving home at Aquaworld.
Aquaworld is open from 10:00 until 18:00 every day from April until October. For more information visit the Aquaworld’s Aquarium official website.
Another fun thing in Crete for children is to visit the Cretaquarium, one of the largest and most modern aquariums in Europe. It was established as part of Thalakssokosmos, the largest complex for marine research in the Mediterranean area. It’s a great way to educate both children and adults about the species and ecosystems of the Mediterranean.
Take a hike in Samaria Gorge
Samaria Gorge is one of Crete’s most popular sights and a fun place to visit with kids. Measuring 18 kilometres long it is the longest gorge in Europe.
The gorge starts at Xyloskalo (1,227m above sea level) on the Omalos Plateau and runs down to the seaside village of Agia Roumeli, on the south coast of Crete. The walk through the Samaria Gorge takes between 4-8 hours; expect to complete it in six hours if you walk at a steady pace and take time to stop for photos and a rest.
Throughout the gorge there are resting points where you can drink water and have a snack. However, if you don’t feel up to the whole route, you can catch a lift on one of the donkeys that ply the route looking for weary visitors. This is a good option if you’re visiting Samaria Gorge with kids.
Remember to bring some snacks, wear soft sneakers and sunblock. You can also relax on the wonderful beach of Agia Roumeli after crossing the gorge. If you’d like to trek the gorge with a guide then Get Your Guide offer a full-day trip that ends with a swim in the sea and lunch at a taverna (minimum age 5-years-old).
Walk with Dinosaurs
Dinosauria Park is an outdoor sculpture park home to a huge number of model dinosaurs as well as a number of other prehistoric animals. The park covers a huge area and you can easily spend a day here wandering around the exhibits. If visiting with young children, be aware that the dinosaurs move and make noise! There are also interactive displays, educational games and the chance to excavate fossils.
Dinosauria Park is located near Heraklion, east Crete. For more information about your prehistoric adventure visit the Dinosauria Park’s official website.
Visit the ancient Minoan Palace in Knossos
Travel back in time to ancient Crete of the Bronze Age at the archaeological site of Knossos. The beautiful Knossos Palace is located near Heraklion and is the most important archaeological finding in Crete.
Knossos is connected with great legends such as the story of Daedalus and Icarus, the fearsome Minotaur, and the love story of Theseus and Ariadne. You can explore the ancient palace on a tour or go by yourself.
The site is open from April until October, every day from 8am to 7.30pm. Don’t forget to bring water, hats and sunscreen as the sun can be strong. Avoid the queues and buy a pre-booked entry ticket via Get Your Guide.
Go underground in Cretan Caves
Another adventurous activity you can do with your kids is to go underground. Crete is home to some 3,000 mountainous caves. Of these, Dikteon Cave is one of the most important.
Located in East Crete this is where, according to legend, Zeus was born and raised by the goat Amaltheia. Another version of the myth says that Dikteon Andron was the place where Zeus carried Europe, after he kidnapped her from Foiniki.
Today, the cave is full of stalagmites and stalactites and is also an important habitat rich with fauna. The cave itself is home to the vampire Mediterranean Ear Bat and other arthropods. Get Your Guide offer a day trip exploring the Minoan Path including a stop at Dikteon Cave (for children aged 12+).
Another popular cave to visit is Sfentoni in Zoniana village. It is easily accessible, with stalactites and stalagmites of different colours and shapes.
Discover the Old Town of Chania
The famous Venetian Port in the Old Town of Chania is definitely worth a visit. The beautiful harbour with its gorgeous lighthouse, plentiful restaurants, cafes and shops is the perfect spot to take a relaxing walk with your family. Spend your morning wandering the narrow streets in the Venetian harbour area and then take the kids on a glass bottom boat ride around the harbour.
Go to a waterpark
Acqua Plus is by far the most popular water park on the island of Crete and one of the most fun things to do in Crete for kids. It’s the first of its kind in the Balkan region located 5 km from Hersonissos and only 30 km from Heraklion city. The water park has two connecting sections, one for adults with extreme water slides and one for kids with water safe slides and pools.
For more information visit the Acqua Plus Park’s official website.
If you’re looking for things to do in Chania with kids then Limnoupolis is located only 8 km outside of the city. This aquatic park is packed full of fun, aquatic activities. When you’re exhausted from all that watery fun, have a snack, meal or drink in the restaurants and bars of the park. For more information about the waterslides and rates visit the Limnoupolis official website.
Family-friendly beaches in Crete
Crete is home to some of the best beaches in the world, including plenty of family-friendly ones with easy access to clean and shallow waters with soft, golden sand.
Some of the best beaches in Crete for families include:
Located on the southwestern side of Crete, this small island is home to white and sandy beaches. You can walk across to Elafonisi from the mainland. It’s approximately 75km from Chania.
Located on the west coast of Crete, this popular beach is made up of several strips of sandy beach bordered by beautiful turquoise waters. Nearby are the remains of a fortified Hellenistic harbour.
Chrissi Akti beach
The ‘Golden Beach’ is just 2.5km west of Chania and consists of two beaches separate by rocks. On the west is Chrissi Akit and to the was is Aptera beach. Chrissi Akti is the most popular with families owing to its shallow waters sun umbrellas, lifeguards, cafes and playground.
Just 11km west of Chania is Platanias beach. It’s an easy day trip from Chania but it does get busy with day trippers. It’s a long strip of sand peppered with beach bars, snack bars, life guards, water sports and more.
Located 13km away from Chania, this is a popular beach with families. The small sandy beach sits next to warm, shallow waters that are perfect for younger children. It does get busy at the weekend in particular so time your visit well. There is a snack shop on the beach and a small restaurant nearby.
Positioned between the towns of Rethymnon and Heraklion on the central north coast of Crete is Bali Beach. This is a lovely beach for families offering cool, calm waters perfect for swimming. The surrounding countryside offers plenty of good walking opportunities with beautiful views over the bay to Mount Kouloukonas.
One of the most famous beaches in Crete, Matala made a name for itself in the 1960s when hippies took shelter in the curved caves of the nearby cliffs. Today, this golden beach is popular with families. Matala is located 67 km south west of Heraklion town.
Agia Pelagia beach
Located 21km west of Heraklion is Agia Pelagia beach. It’s a busy beach owing to the popular tourist town of the same name that’s peppered with hotels, cafes, bars and more. The calm waters of the bay are great for swimming and the beach is also popular for waterspouts and diving.
Positioned 58km southeast of Agios Nikolaos is the small town of Makrigialos. Once upon a time it was a small fishing village but is now a bustling tourist town. Locals often call the beach Hani or, ‘Long Beach’, owing to its long length.
You’ll find cafes, bars, sun umbrellas for hire, water sports, showers and all other beachfront paraphernalia. The water is shallow and calm and the mountainous scenery of the Thripti Range is magnificent.
Make sure to visit Balos lagoon while in Crete. Located 56km northwest of Chania, this is one of the most photographed beach in Crete owing to its turquoise waters and dazzling white and pink sand. The sea is shallow and warm making it perfect paddling ground for young children.
Balos lagoon does get busy during the months of July and August so time your visit for early in the morning to avoid the crowds.