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Family Activities on Crete's Beaches, in the Hills, and at Sea

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Beaches are the star attraction for most families vacationing in Crete. Gently shelving sands like those at Georgioupoli, Matala, and Palaiochora are good for smaller children. Older kids can snorkel safely in pebbly coves where the water is glass-clear. On land, you'll find horseback riding, water parks, cycling, and open-air museums.

Family water parks

 

Most resorts in Crete have at least 1 water park, offering families with kids a great day out with rides, slides, and pools for all ages. Some slides are designed to boost the adrenaline levels of even macho teens, but there are also pools and slides for tots.

 

Acqua Plus

 

A high-tech bracelet system means you don't have to carry cash to pay for kids' drinks and snacks, and also cuts the time you spend waiting in line.

 

Ethniki Odos Aerodromiou Kastelliou, Chersonissos, Crete 71200. Tel: +30 2897 024950

 

Acqua Plus website

 

Watercity Water Park

 

Watercity offers family-friendly thrills and spills not far from downtown Heraklion. It has more than 30 slides and pools, including 2 pools specially for children and 5 slides designed for smaller kids.

 

Anopoli Pediados, Heraklion, Crete 70008. Tel: +30 2810 781317

 

Watercity Water Park website

Kid-friendly horseback riding

 

At Plakias, on the south coast of Crete, Nikos Vardakis's stables have something for all the family. Kids who have never ridden before can gain confidence while mounted on donkeys and ponies that are chosen for their gentle temperament. Smaller kids love the petting zoo, where they can meet friendly rabbits, chickens, and sheep.

 

Alianthos Crete Horse Riding

 

Donkey and pony riding lessons for younger children, plus longer rides along Plakias's sandy beach or in the hills inland.   

 

Damnoni, Plakias, Crete 74060. Tel: +30 2832 031196

 

Alianthos Crete Horse Riding website

 

Open-air attractions

 

Crete has a number of open-air museums that introduce visiting families to traditional island customs and ways of life. They are staffed by volunteers dressed in the elaborate costumes that were everyday wear only a few generations ago. Some of these attractions are great for kids, who can watch artisans making pottery, weaving, and cobbling using age-old skills.

 

Lychnostatis

 

This open-air museum is an eye-opener for young visitors. It features old-fashioned houses, a windmill, a shepherd's hut, an olive press, and gardens filled with herbs and fruit and nut trees.

 

Thesi Plaka, Limenas Chersonissou, Crete 70014. Tel: +30 2897 023660

 

Lychnostatis website

 

Crete underwater

 

Crete's glass-clear waters and sheltered rocky coves are perfect for snorkeling. Young adventurers can see shoals of silvery sardines, rainbow-colored wrasse, and, with a bit of luck, octopus. Tots who are too small to snorkel can come close to the marine life of Crete in the island's aquariums, where huge grouper, tiny shrimp, sharks, and many more sea creatures swim, crawl or wave their fronds in huge seawater tanks.

 

Cretaquarium-Thalassocosmos

 

This excellent sea life center is home to thousands of fish, mollusks and crustaceans. Handheld English-language audioguides tell kids all about the creatures in each huge habitat tank.

 

Proin Amerikaniki Vasi Gournon, Gournes, Crete 71003. Tel: +30 2810 337 788

 

Cretaquarium-Thalassocosmos website

 

Cycling Crete's backroads

 

Renting a mountain bike is a great way for adventurous families with older kids to explore Crete. There are kilometers of mostly car-free dirt roads and forest trails, and even more widespread networks of hill tracks. For fit and experienced cycling families who enjoy a challenge, there are demanding itineraries that take you deep into the hills and reward you with spectacular views.

 

Martinbike Travel

 

Martinbike rents a choice of road and trail cycles and will set your bike up in advance to suit your measurements.

 

Hotel Sunlight, Lenika, Aghios Nikolas, Crete 72100

 

Martinbike Travel website