Crete with Kids – The Best Family Hotels

Updated June 16, 2016

Crete with Kids

Tips and Recommendations

  • Chania and Agios Nikolaos are the 2 best towns on Crete for families. Both are fun and friendly with good beaches, great restaurants, and a super fun atmosphere.
  • Knossos (10 minutes outside of Heraklion) is the most interesting historical site on Crete and definitely worth a visit. I highly recommend getting a guided tour (easy to arrange at the entrance gates).
  • Water Parks in Crete: Limnoupolis (Chania) • WaterCity (Heraklion, the largest on Crete) • Aqua Plus (Hersonissos) • Star Beach (Hersonissos)

The 13 Best Family Hotels in Crete

Palazzo Duca – Chania
Hotel phone: +30 2821 070460
The best hotel for families in Crete, Greece.

Doge Traditional Hotel – Chania
Hotel phone: +30 2821 095466
One of the best hotels for families in Chania.

Suites Pandora – Chania
Hotel Phone: +30 2821 043588
One of the best hotels for families in Chania.

Atlantis Beach Hotel – Rethymno
Hotel Phone: +30 2831 051002
One of the best hotels for families in Rethymnon.

Hotel Olympia – Rethymno
Hotel Phone: +30 2831 029815
One of the best hotels for families in Rethymno.

Palm Beach Hotel Apartments – Rethymno
Hotel Phone: +30 2831 025597
One of the best hotels for families in Rethymno.

Cavo Spada Luxury Resort & Spa – Kolimvárion
Hotel Phone: +30 2824 022121
Best family hotel in Crete.

Aquila Atlantis Hotel – Heraklion
Hotel Phone: +30 281 022 9103
Best hotel for families in Heraklion.

Minos Beach Art Hotel – Agios Nikolaos
Hotel Phone: +30 2841 022345
The best kid friendly hotel in Agios Nikolaos.

St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas – Agios Nikolaos
Hotel Phone: +30 2841 090200
Luxury family hotel in Crete for kids

Mantraki Hotel Apartments – Agios Nikolaos
Hotel Phone: +30 2841 028880
Budget Family Hotel in Agios Nikolaos

110 questions and comments

  1. Thessaloniki and An Island in Winter

    Hello David,
    Im visiting my family in Thessaloniki in December to January 2017 for two weeks. Wanted to visit an Island while we were there thinking of Crete considering there weather should be the warmest. Any suggestions?

    Thank You for your time,
    Dino

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Yes, Crete will be the warmest and have the most to offer in December and January. You definitely want to fly. Aegean and Olympic have direct flights 3 times per day and cost is around 50€.

  2. Resort in Crete for Family of 4

    Hi,

    I will be travelling with my dad and two kids (4 and 2years old). We are after an area that we can enjoy a child friendly beach in the day and be close enough to a town at night to go out for dinner.

    The timing will be around end of June. Any hotel/resort recomendations would be great also.

    Thank you
    Petrea Riches

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      The end of June is a good time to visit Crete, so a wise choice. It is before the tourist rush of mid-July onwards and the sea has usually warmed up enough to make swimming pleasant. Your question is fairly general, but a couple of places sound like what you are after especially since you mention ‘resort’.

      There are two resort strips on the north coast that most likely fulfil your expressed requirements. The Chania-Platanias strip running west of the wonderful town of Chania and the Rethymnon-East strip running east of Rethymno. Both strips are between 10 and 14 kms long and are very similar with one perhaps important differences for young kids. The Platanias strip resort hotels are directly abutting the beach, while on the Rethymnon strip a road divides the hotels from the beach. Since you have young kids, you may not want to have them crossing a busy road.

      With that in mind, you may care to investigate the Platanias-Agia Marina area to the west of Chania. You can get into Chania quite easily by local bus, though there are more than enough amenities to keep you occupied if you just stick to the resort environment. It’s hard to recommend specific hotels as this depends very much on your individual preferences and budget, of course. The hotels listed on here are more up-market hotels (among the best of course) in Chania town. You will find plenty of other options if you do your usual online search.

      The beaches along here are long and the water shallow, though if you choose a hotel with a pool – especially one for kids – you may feel more comfortable. Most restaurants will have menus in English and you will certainly find dishes to suit the kids’ tastes. Chania Old Town has some wonderfully atmospheric restaurants that you and the kids will enjoy. There are not many places you can dine in a roofless old building. You can in Chania and it is magical!

  3. Crete and Beaches in Early October

    Hi David will you be kind to advise my regarding holiday in Crete?
    I’m planning to go on 1st of October.
    I wish to stay in Chania however I’m not sure where is the best beach in that town?
    I will travel with 3 year old daughter we wish to stay close by a sandy beach.
    How often bus depart from Chania to Balos and Elafonsi?

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Assuming that you mean this 1st of October, that’s not too far away, so let’s consider your request. October is shoulder season for Crete and many designated tourist hotels shut up shop from the 20th onwards, though many do linger on well into November especially now as the weather has been good and looks like being a warm Autumn/Fall in Crete.

      Chania (Old Town) is a good base and there will be quite a bit of life in the Old Town – where most people gravitate to. However Chania is not a beach town in itself. It has a couple of town beaches within walking distance of the Old Town, but the beach scene per se stretches 14 kms westwards and is centred upon the two contiguous communities of Agia Marina and Platanias. The beach quality is pretty much the same all along and there is little to distinguish one section from another. As a rule of thumb the centre is probably the best place to be as that is where most tourism facilities, interesting things to do, places to eat and cafés and bars to hang out in are. The area round the Rodakino Café cum Beach Bar is probably the hub of activity for the Agia Marina beach scene so looking for a place to stay near here might be a good starting point and you will get a half decent sandy beach.

      As for taking buses to Balos and Elafonisi you can forget the first option because buses don’t go there and if you do go there by car you’ll need a 4WD, or high-clearance car AND you’ll need to cart all your beach gear and food with you as there are minimum facilities on the beach itself. Best bet is to take a day cruise out of Kissamos. As for Elafonisi, buses run from the Chania bus station at 9am daily and return at 4 pm (€11.00 each way).

  4. Crete for 2 Weeks – Too Touristy?

    Hi David, hope you are well. My wife and 8 year old daughter go to Greece every summer. We have been to Milos for the last two summers and absolutely loved the undeveloped feel and stunning beaches. We are thinking of going to Crete but am worried that it will be too touristic. We go in August for two weeks every year. Any suggestions of which area of Crete would be perfect?

    Elias

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Milos is undoubtedly a great island getaway. It still pulls the crowds and those beaches on the south coast are to die for. August, as you are no doubt aware, is peak season in Greece – especially the two week period from 1 to 15 August at which point the biggest summer religious festival takes place and things can get quite frantic. Things do quieten down starting 20 August, but in general August is the top-billing month of the Greek holiday calendar and that has it advantages and disadvantages as you have probably discovered.

      Crete is no different in this respect, but it is a different destination altogether in comparison to the cosy island feel of Milos. Crete is basically a country-sized island in itself – think Cyprus in comparison. This leads to a different feel to the place which may be a pleasant surprise or a shock to the visitor used to smaller places. That said you can find some great destination on Crete, but you need choose selectively. Look at a map and think of Crete as 8 slices of a large pie. There’s the North-South divide (2 slices): the North is touristy to the max and home to large tourist enclaves centred around four West to East slices of the pie comprising Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos. The South and the far western and eastern coastlines are more traveller territory and home to smaller welcoming communities that range from well-developed to still undeveloped and where the four northern sectors are matched by similar divides in the South.

      If you want Milos on Crete, you’ll need to look south. You won’t find pretty blue and white Cycladic houses around horseshoe bays, but rather more functional architecture spread fairly evenly across the coastline. The wildest part of the coastline is between Sougia and Sfakia where there is no road and the in-between settlements are served by coastal ferry. You might find your small island feel here in the two communities along the coast of Agia Roumeli and Loutro. Running west to east Palaiochora, Plakias, Matala and Myrtos are four tidy communities that all have a nice feel. Matala is the most popular and the one with the most ’island appeal’ while the other three are cosy communities with good beaches and a sense of being away from the crowds (but we are talking August, don’t forget) so do bear in mind that people do like to holiday here too.

      Of the northern communities probably Agios Nikolaos and its glitzy sister just north Elounda come the closest to the Greek island feel with cosy bays and an island or two off-shore and probably the best accommodation on the island. At either end there is dreamy Kato Zakros on the far eastern coastline that almost lives in its own isolation and is perfect for the getaway that you may crave, while Falasarna is a relatively undeveloped area with a huge beach. Tucked away on the southwestern corner is the car accessible beach of Elafonisi that is considered by many to be Crete’s finest beach. There is limited accommodation here which will almost certainly be booked out way ahead.

      There you have Crete in a nutshell. ‘Perfection’ depends how you perceive it. If Milos is your yardstick then look south and read up on the above destinations. If you are looking for a touch of luxury, then Elounda may be your calling. If you want to be with the throngs, then perhaps look at the Platanias/Agia Marina resort strip west of Chania. Chania is probably Crete’s most visited and photographed tourist town, but gets very busy in August. As a final wild card tip, the north coast does offer one island-like holiday community and you’ll find it almost hiding off the main coastal highway between Rethymnon and Heraklion: that’s Balí – stressed on the final syllable unlike its Indonesian namesake.

  5. Late October on Crete with Kids

    Hi David,
    What a fab blog you have!
    I am currently trying to figure out the best place to stay when we fly to Chania on 18 Oct for a week (my husband, myself and three children under 10). We would like there to be some atmosphere, nice tavernas, beaches and good bus routes etc. I have been looking at Aiga Marina and Platanias, as well as Stavros on the Akrotiri peninsula. I realise this is getting on for the low season as such, so it would be greatly appreciated if you could offer some advice please. Many thanks, Katie

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Indeed 18 of October and beyond things are definitely starting to wind down in Crete. A fair number of hotels over in Agios Nikolaos and Elounda close up shop altogether while in Platanias, Agia Marina much the same thing will be happening. The tourist season in Greece this year – while very active right now (mid-August) – has shown a curious drop-out at the beginning of the season May/June and may well show a similar trend for the end of the season, so just be aware.

      The best bet would be to base yourself in Chania Old Town where the cosy hotels (boutique or bargain) will still be operating in late October. More out-of-the-way places such as Stavros may, or may not have shut up most shops; you’ll need to check online. The towns of Chania, Rethymnon, and Heraklion have a large local population so never feel too quiet, even in December and January.

      Once an area starts to close down hotels the rest of the businesses follow suit and the whole atmosphere changes, so stick to an area where there will be some activity at least. October is a pleasant time in Crete and you will still be able to swim but you don’t want to temper the enjoyment of your holiday by settling into a place that is devoid of fellow travellers and limited in what it can offer by way of facilities. With kids in tow you’d really be wanting some kind of activity for them as well – water sports, swimming pools, bicycle hire etc.

      By way of food for thought, the tourist seasons in Santorini and Mykonos – on the contrary – seems to kick on forever and will still be going full swing in October, if it’s any comfort or ideas for an alternative location. Similarly Athens’ tourist seasons only takes a low bow in Winter and is pretty buoyant all year.

  6. Crete vs Naxos

    Hi David,

    There is so much good information on your site. We are debating between Crete vs Naxos/or another island in cyclades.
    Our original itinerary is 2 days Athens, 2 days Nafplio, 3 days Santorini, 5 days in Crete or Naxos, 1 day in Athen and back to US. We are staring Aug 21st, so will be at the peak of busy season but that’s fine. We simply love good beaches, want a local experience too, hopefully can stay in a local small boutique hotel or a bed and breakfast kind of a place, also open to stay in a resort, but should be close to the beach.

    Your suggestion will be very helpful.

    Megha

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Crete and Naxos are both wonderful so you can’t really go wrong. That said, for this itinerary I would probably stick with Naxos. It’s going to make your travel distance noticeably shorter and Naxos being much smaller is going to make for a more relaxed 5 days (exploring the excellent Naxos beaches and perhaps the inland villages).

  7. Which Greek Islands with Kids

    Hi there Dave,
    GREAT website!
    My husband and I and our 2 year old daughter are looking at a 3 week holiday in September.
    Would you recommend 3 weeks in Crete OR 1 week Mykonos, 1 week Naxos and 1 week Paros.
    Don’t know if 3 weeks is too long in Crete and where would you stay? Was thinking of 4 -5 days each time starting from Chania and going along the coast and ending up in Heraklion.
    We would love somewhere close to beaches and local restaurants and our daughter to have the opportunity to play with other kids at a resort or hotel.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Kind Regards
    Meg

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      3 weeks is not too long for Crete – there’s so much to see 3 weeks is a nice amount of time to explore Crete properly. That said, of your two options I would choose 1 week in each of Mykonos, Naxos, and Paros. Island hopping on the ferries is fun and each island has a clearly different feel that gives each week a distinct focus. If you’re a beach lover all 4 islands have great options but clearly Mykonos, Naxos, and Paros (combined) have more great beaches than Crete. If you’re flying directly from Europe (not via Athens) then I would fly into Mykonos and then spend a day or two in Santorini at the end and fly out from there – this would save you from going back to Mykonos as neither Naxos or Paros have direct flights to international destinations.

  8. Crete Holiday with 2 Year Old and Baby

    Hello David,
    What a great website you have – really useful to see all your suggestions.
    I’m hoping you can help me plan our Crete holiday. We’ll be staying for 1 week in the beginning of November (we work in tourism in the UK so its the earliest we can get away!). Probably flying into Heraklion and out of Chania.
    We’ve got a 2.5 yr old & a baby & are looking for a relaxing holiday with a bit of beach, some culture & history & lots of good food. I’m debating between Chania and Palaohora. I’m guessing neither will be very touristy at that time of year – will they both have plenty of restaurants open still? Is it worth our while traveling down to palaohora for the slightly warmer weather & sea? Is it easy to get down there – do you recommend renting a car or could we get a bus?
    We are not sure between 3/4* hotels or a villa/apartment but would like to be near restaurants and avoid the all inclusive aspect whilst also keeping it affordable.
    Any help you can give us would be great as a lot of info is focused on summer stays so it’s hard to know what might work best for us in November.
    Many thanks in advance.

    Kate Symonds

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      The beginning of November is right at the end of the tourist season and while it has some advantages, it carries one or two (mostly) anticipated disadvantages which. Chania’s visitor season carries on beyond the end of October so you will have more chance of finding more places open than in Paleochora which is more subject to the rhythms of the tourism market.

      It’s not hard to get to Paleochora by bus from Chania. There are six buses every day at 05:15, 08:45, 10:45, 12:45, 16:00 and 20:00 and five return buses matching the arrival of the buses from Chania. Tickets are €8.30 each way for, kids would be less. Hiring a car would be an advantageous decision as it would allow you to get around and about Paleochora which would be limited to do if you went only by bus. That said, you would probably still hire a car for a day or two – as needed – from a car hire outfit in Paleochora rather than hire it for the full week from Chania or Heraklion.

      There wouldn’t be many – if any – all–inclusive options in Paleochora in November, or indeed at any time of the year. It’s a much more traveller-oriented destination with smaller family hotels and appartments to rent. There are of course plenty of restaurants, though they respond to the seasonal visitor patterns and quite a few will have closed up shutters and stashed their pots and pans for Winter, so choices will be somewhat limited. As for warmer seas, there shouldn’t be much difference between Paleochora and Chania by that time of the year, though the optimum time is September/October for sea temperatures. Paleochora has two beaches, each on opposite sides of the peninsula on which Paleochora is located: there’s a sandy and a pebbly beach. Take your pick according to preference.

      Chania is a different ball game. It’s a lived-in town that really doesn’t die down, though the Old Town does grow quieter and quite a few places close over Winter, but there is definitely more going for it even in early November. The slightly down side is that it is not a beach town as such, though there are beaches within walking distance of the Old Town that are quite reasonable. The beach and tourist parade to the west stretching 14km out to Maleme will definitely be on the wane and that will be more pronounced the further away from Chania you go.

      Bottom line for a November holiday, Chania probably gets the nod. You can in all probability find some really classy accommodation in Chania Old Town that includes breakfast. You can eat a light lunch – say a club sandwich and beer by the harbour and dine cosily at night on the inner alleyways with a bottle of the finest Cretan wine and it won’t break the bank. Hire a car for a drive out for a couple of your days and assuming you are still having warm weather, enjoy some of the local beaches.

      Paleochora is a more summer-oriented deal. It is very comfortable during that time, but November may be getting a little too quiet for comfort. Use you hire car to drive out and check it. If it looks good you can always come back next year.

      Finally – and here you may be better positioned to find the best deal – fly in and out of Chania if possible. Why run the extra distance via Heraklion if you don’t need to. While Heraklion is not far, it does add an extra three hours to your travel. Avoid if you can.

  9. Late August in Crete with 10 Year Old

    Hi David, just came across your incredibly helpful site. I’m booking a last minute week in crete for myself and my 10 year old daughter in late August. We basically want a lovely warm beach that’s easy walking distance from a good basic hotel with a pool, but we also want to be able to go out a few times in the evening to wander around a nice Greek town. Would prefer not to spend the whole holiday in a purpose-built resort.

    Might Paleochora fit the bill? Thanks for your advice!

    Alison Woodhead

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Paleochora is a great little village/town to spend a relaxing week in Crete. Yes, it just might fit your bill. It is a small – but not too small – community in the SW coast. It attracts travellers rather than tourists on organised packages. Accommodation tends to consist of small family-oriented hotels and eating establishments run the gamut from vegetarian to meat and fish tavernas. All in all the quality is overwhelmingly good.

      Have a look at Homestay Anonymous if you are looking for a ‘good basic hotel’. Have a look also at Joanna’s Place for something a tad nicer. For a satisfying meal consider the old converted school house known logically as “To Skolio” (the School). Well priced and well-proportioned meals.

      The village sports two beaches: sandy Pahia Ammos (Broad Beach) on the western side of the peninsula on which much of Paleochora sits and pebbly Halikia Beach on the east side. Depending on wind conditions, or your preference for sand or pebbles, take your own pick. (I prefer pebble beaches for swimming as the water always seems clearer and more refreshing.) A pool? Why worry about a pool when you have beautiful warm sea water to bathe and swim in?

      Late August is still the busy season so do make sure you have a reservation locked in before you go. There are other places you could consider in the same mold as Paleochora such as Plakias – also on the south coast – or Myrtos further east along the south coast, but since you asked whether Paleochora fits the bill, the answer is highly likely – yes.

  10. Crete with 2 Children

    Hi David

    We are planning to travel to Crete next year. We have 2 children aged 10& 12. We would like to rent a villa. Any ideas where to stay. Ideally I would like a villa to be within a 10min walk of a small town/nice beach/ tavernas. I would like to take them to Knossos and Spinalonga and a visit to one of the larger water parks. Also like to go on boat rides. Any suggestions? I read that the beaches on the north are cooler and windier than the south – is there a noticeable difference?

    Vikki Macdonald

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      The sea water temperature is very much dependent on the time of year you will be in Crete. All the seas around Crete warm up gradually from June onwards and by late August and September there is not a lot of difference in the temperature of the water … and it is warm. Where there is a difference is in the type of beach and in the prevailing winds.

      The North coast has a preponderance of open coastal beaches at the main traveller destinations. There are less open beach scenes around Elounda and Agios Nikolaos and Balos beach on Gramvousa is protected also, but reachable only by boat excursion. The North coast is susceptible to the prevailing northern wind called the ‘meltemi’ which acts as a natural air-conditioning on the one hand, but can whip up the waves and sand on the other. It’s more prevalent in the middle Aegean, but can also affect Crete. The southern coast is characterized by smaller bay beaches with more open stretches of beach to the east. On the whole people tend to prefer the swimming in the south and the beach scene is overall cosier with more pretty bays and less crowded spots to relax.

      That said, your waterpark experiences are all located in the North. There are the main parks of Watercity Waterpark near Heraklion, Acqua Plus at Hersonisos, and Limnoupolis Water Park near Chania – all on the north coast (because this is where you’ll find most of the tourists). Your best bet may be to look for a villa in the north perhaps along the coastline linking Agios Nikolaos and Elounda. You’ll have your beach scenes, your boat rides, you will be close to at least a couple of waterparks, and it won’t be too much of a hassle to visit Knossos.

      A rental car would be the best solution to link all your planned visits. As for a villa, take a look at villas.com for some ideas about where you might stay in Elounda. There are plenty of choices to suit all budgets. The best (and most obvious) boat ride around Elounda is to the island of Spinalonga, while with a car you should drive down to Ierapetra and take a really cool boat excursion to the offshore island of Gaïdouronisi where you can spend the day adrift in the Libyan Sea.

  11. Where To Stay in Crete

    Hi,
    We are Canadian Greeks and are visiting Crete for 2 weeks with our 8 and 9 year old. We are staying at an all-inclusive in Malame the first week of July but are wondering where to stay the week before? We do not want to do an all-inclusive because we want to be free for beaches and adventure. Should we stick to the Chania area or do you suggest somewhere else?
    Thanks!
    Sia

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Chania is a wonderful town with loads of charm, great food, good nearby beaches, and well located for some adventurous day trips. So yes, it would be a great choice.

  12. Crete to Paros

    Hi! Can I take a high speed ferry from Paros to Crete? I am leaving Paros July 14 and can stay in Crete until the 18th. I HAVE to see Elofounissi Beach! I have a 4 year old and a 10 year old as well, so a total of 5 people traveling. You say Chania is prettier than Heraklion but is there a port in Chania? Help!!!

    Niki

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      The Highspeed 7 (run by Hellenic Seaways) leaves Heraklion 7 days a week in high season at 9am. It makes stops in Santorini, Ios, Paros (at 12:40pm), and Mykonos. There is a port near Chania but that’s primarily ferries to Athens and there are none to Santorini or Paros.

      Edit: Oops, I see you were inquiring about Paros to Crete, not Crete to Paros. The same Highspeed 7 visits the same islands on its way back from Mykonos. It stops at Paros at 2:40pm and gets to Heraklion at 6:50pm. There is also a Seajets ferry but I would recommend the Highspeed 7. Still no ferries to Chania.

  13. 4 Nights on Crete

    Hello David,
    I have planned 4 nights in Crete during the second last week of August. We are a family of 4 with 2 kids ages 10 & 7. They are pretty active and do a bit of hiking too. Please review my itinerary and suggest any other additions, edits or let me know if I’m completely off track.

    Day 1: Flight from Athens to Chania, Rental car (Avis maybe) Hotel in Chania
    Drive to Stefanou beach (doable to get to beach with kids & car?) or then Balos (logistics of driving in small car possible?)
    Day 2: Drive from Chania to either Samaria Gorge or Imbros Gorge for total 2-3 hours moderate hike, we want to see the gorge, but kids can only walk so much. Is it worth parking in one of the towns to take ferry to do reverse hike to Iron Gates of Samaria or do Imbros? Is Imbros Gorge easier to get and stunning? And maybe a beach for an hour after & drive back to Chania?
    Day 3: Drive to see Knossos Palace, lunch & then drive to Blue Palace Elounda, rest up at the beach and some snorkelling.
    Day 4: Day trip to Spinalonga island…..any other beach or small hike later in the afternoon?
    Day 5: Drive back early morning to Heraklion to catch ferry to Santorini ( 1night/2 days and back to Athens to fly back home)
    Please do advice if this is a good itinerary for Crete and make any suggestions as I have only booked the flights.
    Thanks & really appreciate your help!

    Priya

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      The itinerary is fine as it stands, though it does take in a lot of Crete in a very short stay and you will be doing a fair bit of driving. Let’s look at what you are thinking of doing and then let’s see how you might best use your four nights.

      Day 1: There are four flights a day on average to Chania from Athens in August with Aegean Airlines: at 05:05, 07:50, 17:00 and 21:55 (this is a for a sample Monday in mid-August: see Aegean). To make best use of your day and to enjoy some sleep the night before, head for the 07:50 flight (50 minutes) to Chania and you’ll have a full day ahead of you. Chania Airport has a few car rental agencies including local outfits and international ones such as Avis, but given you are still going to be in the busy season, perhaps best organise your car before you arrive. Select a hotel in Chania Old Town and park your car in one of the two car parks at the northern tip of the rampart walls on the western side of the harbour and then you will be within walking distance with your luggage for the Old Town. You can certainly explore the Akrotiri Peninsula with its minuscule Stefanou Beach, but you may want to end up at Stavros (with its own beach scene) for lunch. To get to Balos Beach you will need to drive to Kissamos (41km) and take a cruise, but this is a day trip in itself and you’ll probably have to choose between Akrotiri and Balos.

      Day 2: Now the Samaria Gorge is another day trip in itself and the car won’t be of much use to you. This is because the Gorge hike starts in one place (Omalos) and ends up in another (Chora Sfakion) from where you have to take a bus back to Chania … leaving your car stranded at Omalos! Omalos is 39km from Chania. The way to do it is to use the bus and the coastal ferry which will ship you from the end of the Gorge at Agia Roumeli east to Chora Sfakion. The Samaria Gorge, however is a challenging walk and once you’ve committed, you either walk to the end (16km) or turn back (uphill) to the start. You suggest doing it backwards – from Agia Roumeli to the Iron Gates. Yes, you can do that, but you’ll need to start from Chora Sfakion where you’ll take the coastal ferry. The Imbros Gorge is pretty spectacular too and less frequented. It runs between the villages of Imbros and Komitades (both linked by bus or taxi) and you can certainly do as much of the gorge as you and the family can manage and walk back to either village. It’s probably better to combine your beach experience with the Samaria Gorge backwards walk. Walk up to the Iron Gates, backtrack lunch and beach it at Agia Roumeli then head back on an afternoon ferry to Chora Sfakion where you will have left the car

      Day 3: Sounds like you have that one mapped carefully. Easily doable.

      Day 4: Depending on what you have booked yourself by way of accommodation in Elounda – and there are some mighty fine places there – you find that your trip to Spinalonga (recommended) and the other half day relaxing by your hotel pool of private beach is all you need. You could take the car and drive across the narrow causeway to the island/peninsula of Kalydon and find your own beach. Elounda Boat Cruises package Spinalonga, cove swimming and a BBQ lunch in a 5 hour all-in cruise that you might find the better option.

      Day 5: Makes sense, but there is one possible glitch. If you have hired the car at Chania Airport, you may incur a penalty for dropping it off in Heraklion on your final leg. Check carefully. This would probably apply for local companies; perhaps not for the Internationals, but do check. Allow a minimum of one hour’s driving to get back to Heraklion from Elounda bearing in mind that the morning catamarans for Santorini depart at around 09:00. Figure out also where you would drop the car off and whether it is near the port of Heraklion.

      The itinerary is fine: the only observation is that it involves a fair bit of driving and you are spreading yourself widely across the island (it is 200+ km from Chania to Elounda). Visitors on short-term trips tend to stick with one side of the island or the other to maximise the down time. If you are happy to put in the driving, then run with it. You may be better served by sticking to either Chania or Elounda as the four nights base and making nearer excursions from there instead. Less time lost in travel and checking out and in of hotels.

  14. Crete in October with 5 Year Old

    Hi David!
    We will be travelling to Crete in mid October. Our main wish is to see the historical sites but since we are taking our 5 year old daughter the trip needs to have some kids entertainment and relaxation feature as well. My question is- what town would be the best to stay in? Something not too far from Heraklion as the Knossos Palace is a must-see. Access to Public transport would be handy too. Could you also recommend us any hotel, please? I wanted to go all inclusive with jet2 but my partner would prefer something that isn’t a big resort and has an authentic Greek feeling. Is there something that could sort of combine both features with a compromise if need be?
    Thanks a million in advance!
    Beata

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Travelling in Crete in mid-October you will start to notice close-down operations as the long summer seasons begins to wrap up operations. It will be less noticeable in the large towns such as Heraklion or Chania so consider basing yourself at one of these two places. Some hotels and restaurants in between may already have shut up shop for the season though there should be enough open to meet basic needs until the end of the month. Of the two Chania is unquestionably the prettier option, but it is a compromise as it is 141 km (87.5 miles) from Heraklion and Knossos. Knossos is still doable (from Chania) in a day bus trip or (more conveniently) an organised day excursion. Chania would be a better option for a 5 year old girl as is is more “magical” and by that I mean that the narrow winding streets of the Town of Chania appeals to the child in all of us.

      Of the hotels in Old Chania – and you can view a few listed on here – the Casa Delfino or the Casa Leone are two perennial favourites and you will likely get shoulder season discounts. They are old-looking, but luxuriously appointed places with stunning views over the Venetian harbour. They will appeal to your husband who doesn’t want the big resort feeling, but might be a bit boring for a restless five year old who would likely appreciate a large swimming pool that you’d find at one of the beach resorts.

      You mention entertainment for your daughter and water obviously comes to mind. The big water park beyond Heraklion may or may not be quite right for your daughter so you might end up going to the beach or a pool. The decent beach strip in Chania runs for about 14 kms (8-9 miles) westward and this may be your compromise. The large ‘resort’ hotels here will necessarily offer a lot more by way of entertainment for kids as well as a pool or two, so you may consider staying here – for her sake. You will not be too far from Chania for that more Greek experience, but you’ll be near a beach and in a hotel that offers more tangible entertainment for a child. Again factor in end-of-season close down – the beach will be very quiet at this time of year.

      Heraklion as a base is probably best not considered. It is a fine town, but not really a kid’s town. It’s a grown-ups kind of place, one to enter Crete through and one to leave from, but is based taken in on a tour and your daughter will enjoy the mystical magic of Minoan Knossos – though the otherwise splendid Archaeological Museum may not hold the same attraction for her.

      One final compromise could be Rethymnon. It’s closer to Heraklion (80kms or 50 miles), has a well-appointed hotel and beach strip running east from the Chania-like town, and is just that little bit quieter. End-of-season close down needs to be factored in as well. Both Rethymnon and Chania are connected to Heraklion by fast efficient buses that run more or less hourly. Hope the suggestions have been helpful.

  15. All Inclusive Resort near Beach in Crete

    Hi David,
    We are looking for a family friendly hotel all-inclusive by the beach in Crete. We are travelling on May with our 2 years old daughter. It will be her first time on the beach. Do you have any suggestions for us?
    Thank you
    Helena

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      First up your date – early May. Not sure how early you are planning to travel, but bear in mind that May 1 is Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday – and May Day bundled in one busy package – so if you plan to be there on that day be prepared for a bit of chaos – particularly with travel arrangements either side of Easter. After Easter things will quieten down for a while as the official tourist season gears up. That means that some hotels and some tourist facilities – restaurants, tour agencies, hire–car places may just be starting up so you will have the pick of them all. Early May also means that the weather may well be warm(ish), but the total sea body will not have really warmed up yet and swimming in the sea may be a tad chilly. So, a standby pool is probably a good idea.

      So where to go? Well with a young child a resort hotel does sound like your kind of best choice and there are two or three locales that come to mind – all similar in many ways. First up, look at a map of Crete and locate the strip of real estate running about 17km west of Chania in the NE sector of Crete. Here is a popular holiday destination known by the generic name of Platanias, although it is in fact made up of several contiguous neighbourhoods. It is also home to a bustling holiday community and it is where you will find a comfortable hotel with a pool and a beach out back. For a family with a young child an all-inclusive hotel with facilities for a child – high chair, play park, security etc may just be the ticket you are looking for. The beach along here is pretty similar from end to end. Flat, sandy, exposed i.e. no pretty coves to speak of and if you stay at a hotel on the beach, that beach will be right outside your hotel. In high season it can get busy here, but in May things will be calm still. You may have to do a bit of web-searching to find a hotel that suits your tastes and budget and bear in mind that some are ‘adults only’ i.e. no kids, but focus your search on Platanias.

      On the eastern side of Chania is Rethymnon – similar in many ways to Chania but smaller. Its beach strip runs from the east side of the town for about 13km and offers a wide selection of all-in hotels that would suit your requirements. The Grecotel Creta Palace comes to mind; it’s a 5-star place with three pools and a private beach and a children’s pool too. The Atlantic Beach Hotel is a somewhat more economical option and is closer to Rethymno. There’s a pool and a beach opposite, but you have to cross a road to get to it. There are plenty of options so a bit of digital searching should find the perfect combo for you and your family.

      If you really want a special touch, consider Elounda sitting above pretty Agios Nikolaos in Crete’s far East. You can have all of the above plus the pretty picturesqueness that is missing from the Chania and Rethymnon beach strips. Accommodation runs from super-lux to moderate and once again you will find plenty of places to consider online. Top choice? Elounda Gulf Villas and Suites: sauna, massage pool, gym, and large playroom for kids. Can’t do better than that. Happy pickings and have a great trip!

  16. Catching Ferry for Heraklion

    Hi David,
    We will be in Crete for one week in July staying near the Chania area. We will need to travel to Heraklion to the port to catch a ferry to Santorini after our week is up. Do you suggest that we stay in Heraklion on our last day to catch an early ferry the next day? Are the buses able to take our luggage?
    Thank you for your help. 🙂
    Jo

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      It is possible to take the early morning bus from Chania and get to Heraklion in time to catch the ferry (the port is an easy 5 minute walk from the bus station). But it’s inevitably a little stressful. I would do as you suggest and arrive the night before. Heraklion has some great local restaurants within the walkable downtown core. And if you arrive in the afternoon the short trip out to Knossos is well worth the effort.

  17. Crete or Rhodes with Kids

    hello!

    I’m traveling with my 2 boys, 6 year old and 1 year old. I would like to know which place is better for kids between Crete and Rhodes? I’m looking for a nice hotel with sandy beach and where we can have a walk to nearby shops and restaurants.
    Thank you very much

    Lara

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Both are great! Crete and Rhodes are both excellent islands for kids (and adults too). Rhodes is a good choice because it is a not-too-large (but sizeable) island. It has a magical Old Town, a coastline dotted with sandy to pebbled beaches, waterparks for kids, mountain villages where you step back in time, great eating (when you know where to find it), and it is well connected to other islands and mainland Greece.

      Crete is a BIG wonderful island (and often considers itself a separate country) – it has a diverse landscape, equally good beaches, waterparks, and other water based activities, cruises, diving and fun rides and a culture and music like nowhere else in Greece. On both Crete and Rhodes you can easily find a hotel with nice beach where you can walk to the shop and restaurants.

      The question is where? A couple of suggestions and they are going to be ‘loose’ at best as I don’t really know your profile or preferences, but in Rhodes I am seriously thinking of Rhodes Old Town. Why? Because I have done what you are looking for while being based in the Old Town: wanted a decent beach, good food and plenty of shops. I say the Old Town because of its unique ambiance – you feel like you are living in the Middle Ages. I’d suggest a stone ‘boutique’ hotel of which there are several in the Old Town worth mentioning. Where’s the beach? – well you can walk to it and it abuts the Casino on the east side of the tip that forms part of the New Town. The waterpark is outside of Rhodes Town and is well advertised. The shops in the Old Town are generally touristy shops, while the shops in the New Town are well, shops – for clothes, shoes, luggage, electrical goods, etc.

      In Crete, both Chania Old Town and Elounda would make great bases. In the Chania Old Town you have a similar experience to the one in Rhodes only you have to walk a little farther to the nearest decent beach – about 2.5km to the west of the Old Town – while in Elounda it’s a bit more up-market where you can book a hotel with a private beach or even your own pool! Chania for the atmospheric experience, Elounda for the bling with a touch of luxury.

      You haven’t mentioned budget, but I imagine you are like most people and want the best bang for the buck. A lot will depend on when you travel: high season is July 20 to August 31 and high season rates apply and demand also rises. Outside those times you can get good deals. Kids will like both the places mentioned above. There are things to do and places to explore and if you do book a hotel you can always work out from its website what facilities it offers for younger guests. Shopping can be good value (especially for shoes) as long as you shop in the regular retail areas and avoid the tourist shops.

      Looking for a place to holiday in Greece can be like shopping for clothes or perfume. It all depends on who you are and what you like. So, go seek, research, think and choose. Either way it will be a fine choice. Happy holidays!

  18. Water Temperature on Crete in June

    Me and my family are going 2 weeks to Platanias, Crete – travelling on June 25 and we want to know how the pool temperature is like. Is it still Cold or is it nice to swim at that time of the year?
    Thank you for your lovely website.
    Susse

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Platanias is an active tourist resort community on the north-west coast of Crete, west of Chania and with a pleasant seashore and lots of hotels and hotel pools. The weather at the end of June is generally warm (27° average) and that assures that both the sea and the pools will be pleasantly warm. Hotel pools generally are warmer than the sea as they are sometimes heated (though most aren’t, so you might want to check with the hotel) and also collect direct sunlight so you can swim in a hotel pool in Platanias a lot earlier than you could in the sea.

      The sea will likely be quite warm by that time of the year so if the hotel pool doesn’t do it you can always jump into real sea water right next to you. The beaches here are sandy, flat, gently shelving, and have many beach facilities, so don’t just limit yourself to the pool. Tip: if you want a pool-like experience in the sea in a natural environment, hire a car and take a day swimming and sitting in the warm, shallow water at Elafonisi (64kms from Platanias) on the south-west tip of Crete. You won’t be disappointed.

  19. Photos of Crete

    I loved my visit to Crete, it is a great place to visit with kids. There is so much to see and explore with the history, food, culture and amazing landscape of the island. Here are 20 images of Crete that really bring you all around the main sites that I am sharing.

    Noel

  20. 1 Month in Greece

    My family wants to spend one month in Greece December 2015. We have a 4 year old daughter. We are traveling from the US so we want to rent a home or villa since hotel would be too costly and we want privacy. Should we do 2 weeks Crete and 2 weeks Santorini or just pick one place for the month? It’s really family & beach time. Thanks Paula Halloran

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      FYI, December is not beach weather in Crete, Santorini, or anywhere in Greece. It’s winter. And while Crete will be warm compared to much of Europe you won’t be doing any swimming. That said, it can be a great time to visit. To rent a place for a month check out Flipkey.

  21. Heraklion as a Base

    We have the opportunity to exchange our home with someone in Heraklion . We would be traveling in August with our children 6 & 8 yrs old. We have never visited Greece before & my concern is that staying in the city would be a nightmare to get out of. The city sounds somewhat unattractive, and choked with traffic making it very time consuming to go anywhere.? Since we would not have the option of staying in another location, this would be our “base” & we are mostly quiet, family friendly beach oriented folks. Tons of tourists & crowds are not our cup of tea. We would have about 10 days to explore & I’m wondering if some of the nicest beaches are close to this major city or how far of a drive (including getting out of the city) might many of the nice beaches be? Just don’t know enough about the area to make a wise choice. Looking for some advice!
    Thanks so much
    Kimberely

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      You are right. Most people are not fond of Heraklion – it’s no ones idea of a beautiful city. But … I quite like it. It’s very Greek with lots of great (non-touristy) places to eat. Some good museums. Knossos is nearby. Lots of beaches within a 30 minute to 1 hour drive. It’s central so good for getting to many different parts of Crete. And not as expensive as some of the more popular towns and resorts (though this won’t matter too much for you as you’ve already got your accommodations). It’s the biggest city on any of the Greek islands but it’s not huge by any means. It’s not Athens or Rome busy. As long as you’ve got your expectations in line I’d go for it.

  22. Weather in April

    Due to fly to Create on 3rd April with 6 and 8 year old girls. Staying near Heraklion. What sort of weather can we expect? Warm enough for lounging in the sun? Playing in pool with my 2 girls?
    Martin

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      You can get some nice days in April and warm enough to sit out in the sun (probably still want a shirt on) but most pools are not heated so it won’t be warm enough to get in the water (sea or pool).

  23. Lively Town with Good Beaches

    Hi David, my husband and I are planning to visit Greece in August for 2 weeks with our 6 year old boy. It’s our first time to visit Greece. We are looking for a kids friendly place, lovely beaches, interesting places ands sights to see. Don’t mind a hotel or an apartment but should be close to the beach and not far from town. A lively town is a must with shops, bars and restaurants. Any suggestions please? Thank you

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Both Chania and Rethymno are great towns with lots of atmosphere, great nearby beaches, and wonderful restaurants. They’d be right at the top of my list.

  24. Samaria Gorge with Kids

    You can try Imbros George and Samaria George.

    We did Samaria a few years back and we really enjoy it, especially the kids.
    I will suggest to book one night stay in Agia Roumeli for some rest and morning swim, also there is plenty of choice of water-sports near by.

    A friend of mine just came back from Crete, she did the Gorge in the autumn and she said that it was fabulous. However, my friend is a little bit of a adventurous type of person so she drove to Omalos early in the morning and after she walked down the George she had a short break and then walk all the way back!!!

    I would not recommend it unless you are really fit like her.

  25. Crete with Kids

    Hi David,
    My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece in August traveling with two kids (10 and 7 years old). Unfortunately, we only have 13 nights/12 full days. Our 2 main priorities for the trip are to see the main historical sites and spend some time at the beach. We are thinking of flying to Crete and flying back from Athenes. We want to spend 4 days on the mainland (2 nights in Athenes, 1 night in Olympia and 1 night in Delphi) and 8 days split between Crete, Santorini and maybe Mykonos (?). Our original thinking is to spend 4 days in Crete, 2 days in Santorini and 2 days in Mykonos? Would you recommend more time on Crete, perhaps instead of Mykonos? Also, given that we want to try and see the main historic sites on Crete and spend some time on the beach, what part of Crete would you recommend as a base? We will be flying into and leaving by ferry from Heraklion. Ideally it would not be in a very crowded place. We would also rent a car.
    Thank you,
    Alla

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      I really like Heraklion. Some people hate it but it’s probably the most Greek of any town or city on the Greek islands. There are beaches nearby that are easy to get to if you have a car. Knossos is a very short drive away. There is also a great waterpark that is within a 20 minute drive. But if you’re in Crete for longer than a few days I’d spread my time between Rethymno and Chania – but they’re not as central for visiting a variety of historical sites. And yes, I would skip Mykonos and spend those extra days in Crete.

  26. Family Visit to Crete with Kids

    Hi David,

    My family and I (wife, and two kids aged 10 and 8) are planning to visit Greece at end of July – till first week of August (8 days) are you able to recommend a place in Crete which is ‘kids friendly’ and near to local attractions etc.? we are looking for a 5 star hotel/resort or 5 star resort apartment. Truly appreciate any advise you have at hand. We are also planning to fly to Athens as point of entry to Greece and stay there for 2 nights.. is that sufficient you think?

    Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated.

    Shahid.

  27. Crete in November

    Hi David,
    We have just booked our tickets from Canada to Greece for November. I know it’s cooler and many places will be closed but it’s the best time for our schedules and we have a love for hiking much more than beach time. We also like that it will be less busy and that we will naturally come across restaurants etc loved by locals as the more touristy locations will be closed. Our current plan is to fly to Crete from Athens upon arrival. We plan to rent a home in Crete for a week. I was very sad to find out the Samaria gorge is closed but understand there are other hikes and gorges we can still visit. We then wanted to take a ferry to Santorini for 4 nights and then fly to Athens to explore the mainland including the Sparti area where we can do some hiking at Mt Tageytus. We are 4 adults and 2 children (6&8 who are already proving to be amazing hikers). Can you let me know your thoughts on our plans and if you have any concerns? Your feedback is much appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Fawn

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      It sounds like a great trip. I’ve been in Crete, Santorini, Athens, and the Peloponnese in November and all were enjoyable. In Santorini it’s easy to feel “This is low season? I don’t think I could handle high season.” – as it can still seem sort of busy depending on your outlook. Crete has lots to do that isn’t beach-based. The towns along the south coast can still offer swimming possibilities in early November (with a little luck). Athens is great in November and the coolish weather provides a much better atmosphere to tour the sites. The Peloponnese has some towns with higher elevation and can be cold by mid-November. Pack accordingly. We’ve seen snow in the Peloponnese in mid-November. Sounds fun. Good luck.

  28. Family Trip to Crete in June and July

    Hi David:

    I love this site – really great info – thank you. I’m trying to plan a trip to Greece for my family of 5 (kids are 15, 12, and 10). We’ll leave the 26th of June and can spend 12-14 days. Our family loves the beach, but we’re also pretty active and enjoy day trips, hiking, boat rides, historical sites, etc. We’re planning to spend the first three days in Athens and then would like to spend the rest of the time enjoying some beach time and low-key site seeing, maybe staying in 2 or 3 different locations in the same region/island. That said, I have two questions for you:

    1. I’m torn between the Peloponnese and Crete. Which one would you recommend? I know the history piece of the Peloponnese will be amazing, but what about the beach scene?
    2. If we choose Crete, how would you recommend we split our time, keeping in mind that we prefer locations closer to the good beaches versus in-town accommodations.

    Looking forward to your advice – thanks!

    Fran

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      I love the Peloponnese but would still recommend Crete for families. The Peloponnese does have some great beaches but they can be far out of the way depending on your itinerary. It’s also more difficult to get around the Peloponnese – bus routes are a little weird and not as regular as in Crete. As for where to stay in Crete – the beaches outside of Chania make a good base for exploring western Crete. Some time around Heraklion would also be recommended. There are many lovely towns along the south coast of Crete (Paleochora is my favorite). They’re not really a good “base” as there difficult to get anywhere else from but they make for great places to stay.

  29. Baby Backpack for Crete

    Hi
    Do you know if you could rent in Crete a baby backpack to carry my 1,5 year old son through Samaria Gorge? Anywhere in Chania or around?
    Thx
    Mikolaj

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      I can’t say for sure but I’d be very surprised if you were able to rent a baby carrier anywhere in Greece.

      1. Car Seat Rentals in Greece

        Hi David,

        Mybabyingreece.com is the first and only baby gear rental company in Greece operating in Athens, Crete, Thessaloniki and Rhodes. You may find items to rent such as baby carriers, strollers, car seats, and many many more at great prices.

        Alex from MyBabyInGreece.com

  30. Crete with 3 Kids

    Hello David,

    We’ll be travelling to somewhere in Greece in late August. We’ve been to kefalonia (katelios) lots of time but need a change. We are a family with three children aged 11, 8 and 2. They love the beach, crabbing, swimming, history and traditional dancing. We were thinking of Crete for the history but I visited rethmynon 20 years ago and thought it was too busy!! We are looking for a very quiet, sandy, gentle shelving beach. Sorry to be a pain, any ideas?

    I’ve been looking at Paleochora… Pahia Ammos??? Is that suitable for us??

    Thank you,

    Sarah

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Naxos (and the main beach of St George) is the best mix of all the things you’re looking for. Paleochora on Crete is also wonderful (the day trips you can make by ferry along the mountainous south coast of Crete are a real highlight) – the one drawback is that the main beach can get very blustery at times. Both are great choices though.

  31. Crete with 2 Young Children

    Hi David, after reading your amazing blog/website we decided to come to Crete 😉
    We are 4, with 2 kids (9 months old and 4 yrs) and we will stay 15 days in crete. The idea is to rent an apartment or book a hotel in a small & calm place, beach town with cafes and restaurants and enjoy good food and beaches. Our plan is relax, walk, spend time with kids and enjoy crete. We also plan to rent a car and discover the island if we have time, but it’s not our priority. Even if we have time, we maybe go 1/2 days by ferry to Santorini.
    I read that the south of the island is less touristic and nicer, with the best beaches. Is it correct? What would you recommend? Congratulations for your web!
    Pere

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Paleochora (on the south coast) is one of my favorite places on Crete. When you first arrive you think to yourself, Yeah, I could live here. Good restaurants, a nice walkable town (at night the main streets are closed to traffic), lots to do nearby. The best beaches are a boat ride away (which includes the island’s best beach Elafonisi). There are some nice beaches along the north coast but they are definitely more touristy.

      1. Pere

        Thank you David … excellent recommendation! We are working already on the accommodation.

        BTW, our plan is to go to Santorini a few days (4-5) from Crete with the fast ferry. Do you recommend it with 2 kids (9 months and 4 years)?

        Regards

  32. Hotel with Kitchen for Family

    Hi David,

    Thanks so much for the time you take to advise people. I’m looking to travel to Greece with my 2 small kids (2 and 3.5) and my mom, who’s visiting from the US. Want to do a beach trip with my kids – hotel directly on the beach which accomodates families with small kids (i.e. kitchenette in the room or snacks available for kids, kids sleeping area separated by a door so we don’t have to go to bed by 8). But my mom is also looking to see some historical/culturally interesting sights – preferably during in the afternoons while the kids are taking their naps. Any suggestions for locations which have hotels directly on a good beach for small kids (i.e. shallow, relatively calm water) but not too far away from something that would be interesting for Gramma?

    Thanks for any help.
    Erica

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Naxos town and St George’s beach would be perfect for you. Naxos has great beaches and lots to see and do away from the beach.

      The Naxos Resort Beach Hotel has a great location (near both the town and the beach), nice pool, and family-friendly vibe.

      Hope that helps.

  33. Turkey and Greece with Kids

    Hey David,
    Thanks for a great site.
    A bit of a redundant questions but I have one shot at this and gotta get it right. Traveling with teens (17 boy,14 girl) and kids (twin 8 yr old boys) to Turkey and Greece in July. Could you please suggest island(s) that would satisfy all ages and if you know of a house rental website that is reliable as most hotels don’t accommodate 6 people. Not interested in crowds but have the time and money to do something cool, exciting and fun. Any thoughts on an itinerary of places for 7-10 days would also be appreciated.
    Thanks much!

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Of the islands close to Turkey, Rhodes has the most to do. Both touristy and historical/cultural. For rentals try: Airbnb

  34. neven

    hello,
    great website!
    next month we are going to Mochlos with 2 little children. We know the west of crete pretty good, but on your site i can not find lots of the east of crete. Can you give some advice to do with the children? ( boat trips, little walks,…)
    thank you very much

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Agios Nikolaos and Sitia will be where you find the most to do. I’m not very familiar with the area but you will find some great beaches. Check here for more info on Eastern Crete. Good luck.

  35. Chania with Kids

    Hi there, I am going to Crete in July with my 2 children aged 15 and 12. We normally go the Balearics so this is a bit of a change and as ridiculous as it sounds, I am getting a wee bit nervous that we have made the right choice of destination. Chania sounds like my ideal town and I am now wishing we had booked nearer there. We have booked the Thomson Sensatori hotel in Lyttos Beach looks great for a chill out week but if I wanted to travel to Chania from there how long would it take? Also really fancy seeing Santorini – Thomson offer an organised trip – quite expensive but prepared to pay for it if you think it is worth the trip?

    I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments on your website, wished I had read it before booking but have decided just to go with what we have booked as we really did want a chill out holiday however feel I may have underestimated the size of Crete.

    Jane Mackenzie

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      It’s about 2 hours 45 minutes from Heraklion to Chania (and it looks like your hotel is about 25 minutes from Heraklion).

      Santorini is great and definitely worth doing the day trip. Another option (admittedly expensive) is leave your luggage at the resort, catch the 9:45am from Heraklion to Santorini (full schedule here), stay the night, and then return the next evening leaving Santorini at 5:35pm. You’d have the added expense of one night on Santorini. You could just take 1 or 2 small backpacks for a change of clothes. You’d get more time on Santorini and it might not be a whole lot more money than the day trip booked through Thomson.

      Just an idea.

      Good luck.

  36. Crete with Baby

    Hi David,

    My husband and I are planning on travelling to crete with our nine month old for one week. We are thinking about flying to Khania. We would like to find a place nearby that is not too touristy, that has a nice beach nearby, and has a variety of resturants/cafes that we could go to at night (possibly on foot). Do you have any suggestions?

    Elie

  37. Agios Nikolaos with Kids

    Hi David, just wanting to know what you think of Agios Nikolaos? Thinking of Candia Park Village with our 8 year old son. Is there enough to do around that part or would it make more sense to stay north somewhere near Chania? Thanks

    Lisa

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Chania has more character than Agios Nikolaos. Ag Nik is quieter and not as much shopping or nightlife – though still pleasant and relaxing. Chania is a great town with lots to see in town and nearby. There are more great restaurants in Chania too. Chania will be a bit more expensive however for comparable accommodations. Good luck.

      1. Chania vs Rethymno with Kids

        Thank you. Would you mind advising me on how Chania and Rethymno compare please? I’d love to stay in Chania but price wise and beach wise I’m trying to find somewhere slightly further along the coast. Agios marina beach area looks nice but sounds like it is a tourist resort lacking in character. Rethymno looks lovely, but Axos is booked up for end july/aug sadly. if you have any suggestions of nearby beach areas/hotels to either town I would be grateful. Thanks again for all your help.

        Lisa

        1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

          These 2 links should give you lots of choices: Chania hotels and Rethymno hotels.

          Both are great little towns. Chania is a bit more enchanting – especially at night – it has a very nice little harbour. But Rethymno has a very cool Old Town section too. Chania has better restaurants and more upscale dining options.

          1. Lisa

            Thanks very much for your wealth of advice. Have finally made a decision based on the information you have given me and have booked apartments near Chania. Thanks again, it’s a fantastic site. Best wishes

  38. Good Base for Family in Crete

    Hi David!
    We are American expats who live permanently in Italy. My daughter attends a small community run school and her class is currently studying Crete. There are three kids in her class. In mid-April my husband and I will bring our daughter and her two classmates to Crete for 4 days. My question is if you know how and where we can find out what kind of documentation we will need to enter Greece with my daughter’s classmates – two children we are not related to? Our family are all legal residents of the EU and the two friends are Italian citizens.

    Also, would you recommend basing ourselves in Chania, where we are flying into, and day tripping to Knossos? Or basing ourselves in the Heraklion area. We arrive in Chania late on a Monday evening and fly back to Italy late morning on Friday 4 days later. We have friends joining us from England who are also flying in and out of Chania, who are arriving on Tuesday and departing on Saturday.

    Thanks for any advice you might share!

    Best wishes,
    Betsy

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Betsy.

      You’ll definitely want to have a notarized letter from the parents stating that you’ve approved this trip. You might want to have it translated into Greek too, but certainly have it in English (not Italian). Here’s what to include in the letter. Be sure it’s dated and have all the travel details on it. Be sure all the kids’ travel documents are completely in order and nothing missing, expired, has the wrong name on it, etc.

      Sounds like Chania would make a lot more sense for what you have planned. Buses between Chania and Heraklion run regularly and take about 2 to 2.5 hours.

      Good luck.

  39. Cheap Flights to Crete

    Hi David,
    We are planning a trip to Crete from Germany and will be staying at the Village Heights Golf Resort. I have found some really great flights from Germany to Volos, Thessaloniki, and Kos. However, I am unable to find ferries or reasonable flights to Heraklion. Any suggestions?

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Look for flights to Santorini and then take the fast ferry to Heraklion which shouldn’t take more than 2 hours.

      1. Towns and Beaches in Crete

        Thank you. I will check that out. Also, we are traveling with 3 children (5, 11 & 15). We will rent a car but don’t think we will have time to explore the entire island in one week. What towns would you recommend that have things for the children? Nice beach? Also for the big kids at heart….winery?

        1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

          The best towns for kids are probably Rethymno and Chania. The best beach is Elafonisi on the southwest coast though Crete is loaded with fantastic beaches so maybe not worth the drive if your time is limited. The villages south of Heraklion are great and known for their wine and traditional Greek culture.

  40. Crete in July with Kids

    Hi David, Love your site! My husband and I (along with our 2 year old) are traveling Europe for a year. We are thinking about Crete for July….can you recommend an area where we could get by without a car? We are looking for a town where we can walk to a couple markets, a few restaurants, at least one good beach, and possibly a playground? We have spent some time in Paros, Santorini, and Mykonos before the kid, but none of these are really what we are looking for with him. We are leaning towards the Island of Crete because it seems large enough, but are open to another island. I guess we would love something similar to Paros, but a little bigger as our son would get bored easily there. Would Naxos be something to look into? Any suggestions would be amazing!! Thanks, Holly

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Yes, Naxos is great, though similar to Paros. Chania is the first place that came to mind on Crete. A bigger town than either Paros or Naxos has to offer. Playgrounds, markets, a nice beach, very walkable, fantastic restaurants.

      Paleochora is a great little town on the south side of Crete.

      Good luck.

  41. Cruise to Chania with Kids

    Hi David,

    I will be coming in on a cruise with my family early June. We wanted to take a break from the other historic ruin islands and try to go to a cave. When researching Crete is appears there are many to choose from however, we only have the day. We will be coming into Chania (Souda) from what our itinerary says. My kids are 12 and 14yrs old. Thank you for any recommendations.

    Kelly

    1. Kelly

      What about the cave of Saint Sophia? How far is it from the port where the cruise ships dock, how much is a cab to and from, and is it OK for healthy kids ages 12 and 14?

      Thank You!

      1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

        It looks like it’s about 50kms from Souda and would likely take between 1 hour and 1.5hours each way and cost about 50 to 70 euros. I’m sure it’s fine for a 12 year old.

  42. Tatyana

    Hi David!
    I’m not good in English.
    My (1 yr old baby) and friend’s (3 yr old kid) families planning to have vacation (2 weeks) in Create. We will be arriving to Heraclion’s airport.
    Could you recommend place (we will rent apartment) not far from airport (1-3 hours’ drive) with
    beach for kid’s
    market
    chemist’s

    Thank you for advice.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Rethymno is a great town. Lovely beach, good restaurants, not as expensive as Chania, and only 1.5 hours from Heraklion by bus. Here’s a link for hotels in Rethymno. Good luck.

  43. Greece with a 12 Year Old

    Hi, I wish to take my 12 year old daughter to Greece, and have no idea where to go. We would like sandy beaches close by and hopefully in a town to sit and have coffee. We are only going for 8 days, since we are starting our trip in England. Any suggestions?

    Jacqueline from Toronto

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Jacqueline. You are spoiled for choice. As I often tell readers it can sometimes be best to look at the flight schedules and see what’s available for your timeframe and let that play a big role in where you decide to go. Most of the islands are great and with a couple of exceptions you could go to pretty much any island (especially with your liberal criteria) and be happy. There should be lots of flights from London to Rhodes, Crete, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, and probably a half dozen more. There are many beautiful islands that don’t have direct international flights — for example Naxos, Paros, Karpathos, Milos, Ikaria — so for these you would have to take a ferry from a nearby island, or in some cases you could change planes in Athens and get a direct domestic flight. If you could find a flight to Crete that suited your schedule then I’d probably take that and split my time between Heraklion and Chania in the north and one of the beach towns along the south like Paleohora (a short boat trip from the fabulous Elafonisi beach), Frangokastelo, or Agia Galini. Try to fly in and out of different cities so you don’t retrace your steps. Good luck.

  44. Quiet Beaches on Crete

    Hi David,

    We’re considering Kalathas or Stavros beaches which look like they are also nearby (per Fodors) Do you know how they compare to Platanias? Thank you!!

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      The beaches on the Akrotiri peninsula are great, and you’re starting to get a bit farther from Chania so not as many crowds. I think this would win out over Platanias.

  45. Crete with 7 and 10 Year Old

    Hi David,
    We’ll be visiting Crete with our 7 & 10 year old from a Cruise ship in a few weeks and we stop in Chania, would love to hit a nice beach for a few hours. Can you recommend one that is not too far. The ship has an “excursion” that goes to Agioi Apostolo Beach. We usually prefer to go somewhere other than where the cruise ship sends folks but we only have about 6-7 hours.

    Thanks so much! Love your site and information!

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Amy. The beaches close to Chania are good but not great. Chania, however, is a wonderful town. The Old Town, harbour, and market are all great to wander around. I’d consider saving the beach for another island on your cruise. What other islands are you going to visit?

      If you were set on a beach I’d try Platanias beach which is about 11km west of Chania. Agioi Apostoloi is just outside of Chania and gets very busy. Platanias is bigger and you should always be able to find some room for yourself.

      If you had more time I’d recommend a visit to Balos or Elafonisi which are both wonderful. But you’d need 8 to 10 hours to visit them and not feel rushed.

      1. Amy from Phoenix

        Thank you so much David.

        Really appreciate the advice. We are going to Athens, Ephesus and Sicily and only a day in each. So, the ruins in the first two seem mandatory. Crete is really our only beach option. I assume we can probably grab a taxi in the town of Chania and have them come back and get us at a specified time? Would they be reliable?We’ve had good luck doing that in other place.

        Thanks again!

  46. Crete with 3 Children

    Dear David,

    first let me tell you how I liked your website! it gives you a good feeling on how to travel with kids in Crete!

    We are going there in few weeks, after Easter, and are still trying to find the best solution for our stay… maybe you have some advice?
    We have three kids aged 3,5 and 7 years, which is why we don’t know what the most practical solution would be to combine a nice relaxing holiday with some sightseeing… we have 8 full days at our disposal.
    The idea was to stay somewhere on the north coast, and to travel to different places from there. one or two nights we will also have in Heraklion, that is already clear.
    Would you rather advice us to stay in Chania town and travel to sites and beaches from there with a taxi when possible, or a rental car, or do you have a good recommendation about a nice beach between Chania and Retymno, cosy, not packed, not huge, not loud…. ?
    I would be happy about any advice you have for us…

    thanks very much!
    Johanna

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Johanna.

      I would suggest staying in Chania and taking a bus or taxi to some of the nearby beaches. There are some great ones to the west of Chania and then my favorite, Elafonisi, in the southwest corner of Crete. It’s about a 2 hour bus ride to Elafonisi. From there you could take a boat to the very cool town of Paleochora, spend a night or 2 there, and then loop back to Chania. I can’t speak about all the beach towns along the north coast but they tend to be either painfully quiet or very touristy and overrun with package tourists. The main towns of Chania, Rethymno, and Heraklion are all great. The south coast of Crete has more interesting towns and beaches but no major cities and, of course, it takes some time to get down there.

  47. Large Family Group in Crete

    Hi! Your info is great! My sister and I are planning a trip w/ our combined 5 kids ages 4 to 12 at the end of June. Our goal is to relax with beauty around us while the kids can explore a new culture and have fun. crete sounds fun but while she will fly from London i will from from the middle east. do you think i should fly into turkey and take a ferry to Hania and she meets me there? that way the kids can see a couple of days of Istanbul as well? i am not sure of the least expensive way to do this and don’t have more than a week to do this either. what places 2-3 do you suggest with one beach, a ferry ride, cobblestone quaintness, very clean amenities etc..? Your help is much appreciated! 🙂

    Nargis

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Nargis. Your plan sounds great. The only problem is time. It will take 2 full days of travel — and probably more if you’re stopping to see some sights — to get from Istanbul to Crete. I’d probably either meet in Lesvos near the Turkish coast or just fly to Athens and then make your way together to one of the cyclades.

  48. Rethymno and Crete with Kids

    Hi David,
    Thank you for your your answer. In fact, unfortunately, we can not go to Heraklion area because it would be too far for the ones who will arrive at Chania airport. So we thought in finding an area between both airports. What do you think about Rethymnon? Or maybe one week in Rethymmon and another one in Chania area?
    Somebody refered me the Odyssia Hotel. But the only information I could find is in German. I speak Spanish and French, english more or less, but not German. Did you heard about this hotel?
    Do you know personaly the Axos Hotel (it is refered on the website you recommended me)? How is the beach? Is there any activity for kids at the hotel or nearby ?

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Rethymno is a great town. Lots to do, great food and a very nice (but busy) town beach. Haven’t heard of Odyssia but Axos gets raves from some friends of mine and gets very good reviews from other travelers. It only takes a few hours by bus to get between Hania and Rethymno – I’d recommend 3 or 4 days in both and then do a little tour of southern Crete – Paleochora, Frangokastello, Elafonisi.

      All the best!

      1. Heraklion to Rethymno

        Thank you very much for your usefull information. Finally we booked 1 week at Axos Hotel (Rethymno) and 1 week at Renieris Hotel (Kato Stalos, Chania area). We planned at least 1 day at Elafonisi as I read it is a beach we can not miss.
        Do you know how is the road from Heraklion to Rethymno? Is it a wiggly road, a motorway ?

        1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

          Great! Let us know how it works out. The highway along the north of the island is quite nice, no problems there. The roads that lead south from the north – including the one down to Elafonisi – are definitely twisty turny and on the narrow side in sections. Give yourself lots of time if you’re renting a car and driving yourself, so you’re not in a hurry. There are many buses that go from Hania in the morning and return at night so that might be a good option if you’re not into the drive. There’s also a boat from Paleohora with a similar schedule: to the beach in the morning, returning at night. Good luck!

          1. Balos Beach

            The beach at Balos Bay is incredible too. Catch a boat from Kissamos. It’s a day trip tour of Gramvousa.

            C.T.

  49. Coralie

    Could you recommend us any hotel? We are 2 adults traveling with 2 children (6 and 12 years). Two of us are arrivng by Chania airport, and the other 2 are arriving by Heraklion airport. But all of us are leaving by Chania at 7:00 am ! We are going to stay in Creta for 2 weeks in july.
    Thank you in advance for your answers.

    1. DavidDavid My Little Nomads

      Hi Corali. Both places are great. Chania is much more beautiful and a top destination for travelers but Heraklion is not without its attractions. It doesn’t see nearly as many tourists and you feel like you’re in a truly Greek city.

      They both make great bases for exploring the surrounding area too.

      Good luck,
      David

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