Crete is a fantastic place to take the family, especially while the kids are still young. Many people worry about taking babies and preschoolers on holiday but Crete is very welcoming as children are considered real people here and not something to hide away (parents will know what I mean).
You’ll see children staying up late as they spend a lot of time with their family and the neighbouring families and the children are often seen playing in the streets; all things we can’t regularly do at home. So, bring the family and let the children be children. Get ready for playing in the sea and climbing like real explorers. And get ready to have fun together and relax together.
To get to Crete, fly to ‘Zorba the Greek’ airport, you’ll probably know it as Heraklion Airport, which is nowhere near as big as the London airports. There are many package deals for holidays to Crete but it’s an easy place to be an independent traveller; so do plan ahead and book some car rental. Heraklion Airport can be a bit challenging to drive from during rush hour so don’t let the traffic here put you off exploring; as once you get on the motorway, things get a lot calmer.
As another part of your planning, do make sure the kids have some car activities to keep them distracted while you get to grips with the Greek way of driving. Yes, Greek drivers like their horns more than their brakes but it is normal here, so don’t take offence. Keep an eye out for motorbikes coming from all angles and you’ll be fine.
Having a car means you can have everything you and the children need and not have to worry about carrying lots of bags on day trips. You could choose to base yourself at one place and head out each day or tour around and check into new places each night. You know best what your family would enjoy more.
Heraklion isn’t a great place to stay. So definitely move on and try some of the coastal fishing towns where the fresh seafood makes everyone happy. Tavernas welcome children of all ages, so dine looking out over the water and let the kids play on the beach while you enjoy a well-earned drink, whether it be a cup of tea or a cold beer.
Crete is a popular island for hiking trips but don’t be put off as there are routes suitable for young children too. If hiking is not your thing, the beaches may well be and, being an island, you have the whole coast to choose from; so you can try a new beach every day.
A ‘must visit’ for families is the Aquaworld Aquarium at Hersonissos, between Anissaras and Stalis, 26 kilometres east of Heraklion. Many families sign up for the well-priced membership scheme and visit lots of times during their holiday.
You can see local sea life and plenty of reptiles, plus the staff are always keen to show you the wonders of nature they care for. You can even pose for photographs with a variety of reptiles and snakes. It’s educational but in such a fun way so no-one thinks they’re learning but they will be talking about their visit for the rest of the holiday.
Make sure you see Snap, the Nile crocodile who likes to bare his teeth!