The Island of Crete is the largest of all the Greek islands. Like all of the isles, Crete is renowned for its amazing beaches. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend your entire vacation doing nothing sitting and playing in the sand.
Crete has many activities that your entire family will enjoy. Save the beaches for your down-time and plan to get out and have a little adventure on your trip. Here are some of the best ways to keep everyone happy and ensure that your holiday in Crete is one of the most memorable ones.
Thousands of years before toilets and plumbing appeared in Britain, the people of Knossos had flushing toilets and three separate water management systems. And that’s just one of the wonders of Knossos.
Knossos is where in legend King Minos lived sitting in his palace protected by the labyrinth and the Minotaur. It’s where Daedalus and Icarus where imprisioned until Icarus built wings to escape but flew too close to the sun. A guided tour will give you all an opportunity to learn more about the ancient settlement that was established around 7,000 BC. Amazing restoration work has taken place restoring several sections of columns and frescoes to their former glory.
Just a few kilometers outside of Heraklion it’s an easy day trip with public buses running there regularly as well as organised tours. In winter the site is closed on Sundays. It’s also shut for most of the Christmas-New Year period.
The capital city of Crete, Heraklion, offers a lot to explore. It is a mixture of the ancient city inside the Venetian walls and the modernized section outside of them. There are several interesting museums, covering the area’s archaeological, historical and natural past. If you plan on visiting Knossos be sure to go to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum as well.
The Natural History Museum offers many fascinating exhibits, including a fantastic section that caters to children with hands on activities and incredibly helpful staff. Children can dig for dinosaur bones, explore a cave, pretend to sail a boat, learn about local wildlife, touch different animal skulls and take part in craft activities. The museum itself is small and the kids will probably loose interest quickly but the children’s section is well worth visiting. On the lower levels is also an earthquake simulator, which is great fun and educational.
The Venetian harbor is the location of the Koules fortress. Your family can enjoy the sea breeze while strolling along the jetty. In the middle, you will find a canteen that sells snacks, so you can stop for an ice cream treat. There are plenty of bench seats along the way, boats to look at and seabirds to watch. The water is crystal clear and gorgeous.
Along the waterfront near the museum you’ll also see ancient ruins, coffee shops, a playground and a small beach. It’s a great place to go for a stroll and soak up the sun while learning more about this lovely city
Hire a Car and explore further afield
There is so much to see and explore on the island of Crete, so hire a car for a day to make the most of your visit. There are so many beautiful areas on the 250 km-long island that driving a car around will make sure you get to observe them all. Find little-known areas that most visitors overlook and escape for a little while.
The roads in Crete are excellent and the scenery is stunning. Whether you are driving inland or along the coast no matter which direction you turn the wheel, there will be plenty to see and do. The coastal road from Heraklion heading west is quite literally breathtaking. There are plenty of small beaches to stop at along the way for a play or lunch, with gorgeous sand, clear water and so many amazing rocks that your kids will want to collect. I swear we carried half of Crete away with us thanks to the kids rock collection.
Daytrip to Agios Nikolaos
The pretty town of Agios Nikolaos is surrounded by crystal clear water on three sides. Take your pick of the many cafes and restaurants that surround the large lake. It’s a great place to hang out as a family, with plenty of space to run and play including a small playground. In summer an outdoor cinema is set up on the shores of the lake, often playing family friendly movies. With the stunning blue clear waters, the various islands dotting the bays and the stunning cliffs and mountains of Crete in the distance, Agios Nikolaos is a lovely place to spend the day.
There are several beaches to enjoy as well. You can sign up for a diving excursion or go out on the water for a sailing trip. Nearby the sunken city of Olous near Elounda is a great family outing. While you can make out some of the ruins from the shoreline near the old ruined windmills, it’s best to take a boat tour and have someone explain the ruins to you – otherwise the kids will quickly loose interest!
The area is home to many fine resorts and hotels where you can stay overnight and enjoy this pretty town even longer.
Have Fun at a Water Park
A trip to Crete doesn’t have to be all scenery and historical excursions. Take some time out and enjoy a day at one of the great water parks on Crete. The largest, WaterCity, is in Heraklion and spans 80,000 square meters. You can also visit Limnoupolis Water Park, Acqua Plus and Star Beach.
Your entire family will enjoy an island adventure on Crete. There are so many places to visit and explore.