Crete doesn’t cater to kids in the obvious ways other countries do; there’s often a scant supply of safety ropes in ancient ruins, and a lack of children’s menus and the spatial awareness not to smoke in their presence. But what Greeks embed in their children is a strong sense of social inclusion and spirit of adventure, while they will treat your own kids with kindness and genuine warmth. From your children’s first bite of calamari to their first snorkel or descent into a cave, Crete is a place they will never forget.

Best Regions for Kids

  • Iraklio

Iraklio City has the best kid-friendly museums in Crete.

  • West & South Hania

The ideal active family area with glorious mountains and ‘desert island’ beaches.

  • Rethymno

Youngsters love Rethymno’s Venetian fortress and a romp along the lovely promenade.

  • Eastern Lasithi

The lonely ancient sites of this region will spark young imaginations.

Crete for Kids

Crete has plenty of beaches to choose from, from sugar-fine sand to pebbles, and hidden coves to public stretches. Add to this coral-blue waters aglimmer with sunken ships to snorkel, and fun boat trips to be had, and you can see that H20 is going to be a big part of your Cretan adventure. But there are many other attractions that will also light their imaginations, from myriad ruins, to creepy caves, and ruined castles to ancient myths.

Eating Out

Greek tavernas are particularly kid-friendly. Some dishes that kids might grow to love include calamari (fried squid), tiropitakia (cheese parcels in filo pastry), dolmadhes (flavoured rice wrapped in vine leaves) and saganaki (fried cheese).

Nuts and dairy find their way into lots of Cretan dishes, so if your kids suffer from any severe allergies, ask someone to write this down clearly in Greek so you can show restaurant staff before you order.

Hikes, Bikes & Horses

Apart from the more strenuous gorge and mountain walks, such as the Samaria Gorge, there are numerous options to suit the family. The same goes for cycling, while most horse-riding outfits are excellent at tailoring sessions to all ages.

Museums & Attractions

Head to Iraklio’s Natural History Museum, where the Discovery Centre is crammed with interactive features. And the Cretaquarium, where youngsters will love the shark tank, jellyfish tank and hands-on pool.

Children’s Highlights

Awesome Beaches

  • Elafonisi Fun bathing in tiny lagoons amid beautiful surroundings.
  • Bali A series of accessible coves with all services.
  • Kato Gouves Rock pools and clear water for young explorers.
  • Vaï Palm tree paradise; quietest outside August.
  • Paleohora Choice of two town beaches with safe bathing.

Interactive Attractions

  • Water City Enjoy the water fun park at Anopoli, southeast of Iraklio.
  • Natural History Museum Visit the exciting children’s section in Iraklio’s imaginative museum.
  • Agora Browse through Hania’s lively daily market.
  • Cretaquarium Get up close and personal with magical sea creatures near Iraklio.
  • Fortezza Explore Rethymno’s Venetian fortress.
  • Aqua World Meet rescued snakes, lizards and turtles at Hersonisos.

Outdoor Adventures

  • Boat trips Along Hania’s south coast or around Elounda in Lasithi.
  • Hiking Short sections of easy gorges like Zakros or Agia Irini.
  • Kite flying On quiet beaches.
  • Horse riding At Avdou, below the Lasithi Plateau.
  • Caves Dikteon Cave on the Lasithi Plateau or Skotino Cave near Hersonisos.

Planning

Accommodation

Big resort-style hotels tend to open later in the year than independent accommodation, as late as June; however, they are generally more tailored to kids’ needs. Many hotels don’t charge for young children and will often provide you with a camp bed.

Accommodation is considerably cheaper in the off seasons, potentially quieter, and locals have more time to chat.

Don’t Forget

  • Sunscreen – and plenty of it! – as well as hats, sunglasses and water bottles.
  • Travel highchair (either deflatable booster seat or a cloth one that attaches to the back of a chair).
  • Lightweight pop-up cot for babies.
  • Medicine, inhalers etc along with prescriptions.
  • Plastic cups and cutlery for little ones.
  • Newborn’s car seat – unless you have pre-checked with the car rental agency, you’ll likely be disappointed.
  • Portable change mat and hand sanitiser – nappy-changing facilities are rare.
  • For toddlers not yet walking consider bringing a sturdy carrying backpack as strollers are a struggle in villages with steep cobbled streets.

If you come unstuck for baby monitors, car seats, bottle warmers etc don’t panic, My Baby In Greece rents, sells and will deliver all these items across Crete.

When to Go

For younger kids and toddlers it’s worth thinking about visiting in spring, early summer or autumn when the sun is not too strong and temperatures are pleasantly warm. June is probably the earliest your kids can swim in the sea; anytime before and the water is cold.

Safety

Crete is generally a safe pace to travel with children. The largest danger is heat stroke – remember Crete is blessed with a regular breeze so it’s easy to become over exposed to the sun without realising it. Be careful, too, at isolated beaches and coves that may have powerful offshore currents. And finally, always be mindful of youngsters at ancient sites, where there might be no safety fences or loose masonry.

There are doctor’s surgeries around the island, but for anything serious head to Venizelio hospital in Iraklio. If hiring a car, check for agencies that have child seats available and fit the seats yourself.