Crete Family Hotels

Updated: January 23, 2018

Crete for families.

Crete Hotels for Families – 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 when you arrive).
  • Water Parks in Crete: Limnoupolis (Chania) • WaterCity (Heraklion, the largest on Crete) • Aqua Plus (Hersonissos) • Star Beach (Hersonissos)
  • The best kid-friendly beach on Crete is the incredible Elafonisi beach. It’s about a 90 minute drive from Chania by bus or car.

The 11 Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in Crete

Amirandes, Grecotel Exclusive Resort – Gouves

Amirandes Grecotel Resort with Kids
Upscale, opulent resort with an extensive accommodation range having comfortable family suites (up to 4 people) and Grand Beach Residences (up to 8 people). Family suites have spaces separated by sliding doors, terraces, a garden and pool. The massive residence has a 2 infinity pools, jacuzzis and landscaped gardens. Hotel is built around a lagoon and has an Olympic-sized seawater pool. Hotel Phone: +30 28970 41103.

Doge Traditional Hotel – Chania

Renovated Venetian house, centrally located in old town Chania, featuring inviting, rustic Junior Suites (up to 4 people) and split-level Suites (family of 5) with tiled floors, wooden ceilings, wrought iron furnishings, 4-poster beds (some), kitchenettes, fridges and tea/coffee makers. Has a great roof terrace and everything is within walking distance – harbour, restaurants, shops, markets and more. Hotel Phone: +30 28210 95466.

Palazzo Duca – Chania

Well-located in Chania old town, close to the Old Venetian harbour, this charming hotel features quaint, spacious suites (sleep family of 4) with parquet floors, wood beam ceilings, sofabeds, fridges, basic kitchenettes and balconies. Has one top floor suite with a jacuzzi on the patio. Many restaurants, bars and tavernas are a short stroll away. Hotel Phone: +30 28210 70460.

Elounda Bay Palace – Elounda

Elounda Bay Palace with Kids.
Chic, beachfront hotel with breezy, 2-bedroom family suites and 3-bedroom penthouse suites (both for up to 6 people). Family suites have sofa beds, bathtubs and private balconies while the penthouse suite has a kitchen, hifi systems, tvs in bathrooms, jacuzzi and steam bath and a spacious terrace. Free facilities include use of the gym, tennis courts, sauna & hammam. Hotel Phone: +30 28410 67000.

Minos Beach Art Hotel – Agios Nikolaos

Delightful, artsy, tranquil, beachfront resort with a laidback vibe, set in lush gardens, featuring spacious 3-bedroom, seafront, whitewashed private villas (for up to 6 people) with home cinemas, dressing rooms, well-equipped kitchenettes and direct sea access from the sun terraces with private pools. Resort has 2 private beaches and is within walking distance of the town. Hotel Phone: +30 28410 22345.

St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas – Agios Nikolaos

Appealing bungalow style beach resort set in lovely gardens, overlooking the bay, featuring huge, airy 3-bedroom suites and villas (up to 6 people plus 1 infant/child) with mini-bars, bathtubs and verandas. The high-end villas add heated private pools with sun decks, jacuzzi bathtubs and private terraces. Note that there are lots of steps throughout the resort; ask for ground floor rooms if they’re an issue. Hotel Phone: +30 28410 90200.

Elounda Mare Relais & Châteaux Hotel – Elounda

Elounda Mare Hotel with Kids.
Vibrantly rustic, earth-toned, 3-bedroom bungalows with pools (up to 6 people) having mini bars, wooden floors, fireplaces, private balconies and furnished gardens. Hotel has a Blue Flag awarded private sandy beach, and an excellent Kid’s Ark – animal park themed kid’s area, water park, dancing lessons, soccer camp and kid’s spa, (some facilities are at the hotel’s sister property). Hotel Phone: +30 28410 68200.

Atlantis Beach Hotel – Rethymnon

Modern, bungalow-style hotel right across the beach, 1.6 km from town, featuring comfortable, good-sized, 2-room family suites (family of 4) with sofa beds, fridges and furnished balconies/patios. Hotel has its own private sandy beach and there’s a supermarket next door. Hotel Phone: +30 2831 0 51002.

Mantraki Hotel Apartments – Agios Nikolaos

Spacious, bright, traditional Greek style apartments (up to 4 people) with sofabeds, fully equipped kitchens (fridge, cooking hob) and big balconies with marina views (some). Excellent central location, with the each, town center, lake, port, restaurants and shopping within easy walking distance. Ideal for long stays. Hotel Phone: +30 28410 28880.

Suites Pandora – Chania

Stylish, centrally located hotel, housed in a traditional 17th century building with airy, elegant suites (family of 4) with high ceilings, antique furniture, kitchenettes (fridges and stoves), marble bathrooms and balconies (some). Lacks a lift and while harbour view rooms have good views, there are issues with loud music from nearby clubs. Hotel’s rooftop terrace offers splendid views over Old Town Chania. Hotel Phone: +30 28210 43588, +30 28210 43589.

Aquila Atlantis Hotel – Heraklion

Within walking distance of the city center, port, and waterfront restaurants, this well-located, good-value-for-money hotel has comfortable, roomy family rooms (up to 4 people) with coffee machines, mini-bars, and good-sized balconies. Nice rooftop pool and small indoor pool. Very close to the Archaeological museum. Hotel Phone: +30 2810 229 103.

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63 Questions and Comments

  1. Elounda Resort for Family of 4

    Hello Dave, thanks for such a helpful website. We are planning a trip to Crete in early October this year, for 5 nights. We are a family of 2 adults and 2 sporty teenage boys. Elounda sounds like a lovely area. We’re hoping to find a resort there that has fabulous views, but importantly caters for teens, and has lots of activities such as tennis and watersports. We’d also like to be able to walk to a village so we don’t have to eat at the resort all day. Domes of Elounda looks fabulous but I wonder whether it is the right choice, and perhaps you could recommend somewhere else with gardens and space in a similar price bracket? Many thanks Belinda (Sydney, Australia)

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Elounda is a great spot to spend a vacation and in early October the weather and sea temperature should be just perfect. There are many up-market and luxury hotels in Elounda – or rather near Elounda village – and the Domes is up there among them. At the top end, there is not a major difference in quality and service, but there is a subtle difference – perhaps vital in your case between the two main locales where the hotels are located.

      There is one set of hotels on the south side of Elounda village between 4 and 6km from Elounda village itself. Here are the more established original luxury hotels of the Elounda Riviera. These are getting on in age but are very well preserved and function exceptionally well and provide a professionally polished concierge. You will see them from the road as you crest the hilltop main road coming from Agios Nikolaos.

      There is another stretch of luxury hotels running along a longish bay protected by the offshore peninsula/island of the Spinalonga Peninsula and the little island of Spinalonga itself. This is home to at least three hotels of more recent development among which is the Domes that you allude. The water is more protected here and the views over to Spinalonga are fantastic.

      However, there is one major feature that distinguishes the two areas. In the former the beach and all the hotels’ facilities are contiguous: that is the sea is directly in front of the hotel and there is generally a lot more hotel space. Because it is the more established area, it is ‘posher’ and can be more expensive. In the latter, the beach and the hotels are separated by the main through-road and there is not quite as much hotel space. This may or not be an issue, but in all honesty, it is more satisfying not to have a road separating you from the beach.

      On the south side, there is a brace of contenders (all listed on here) of which the Porto Elounda Golf and Spa Resort is the most expansive – it has a 9-hole golf course between the main complex between it and the more expensive villages, activities, pools and beach areas abutting the sea. There is a soccer programme for young travellers. Its subtler and more low-key (and a bit less expensive) sister hotel the Elounda Mare is just round the bay and shares all the facilities of the larger hotel. The granddaddy of them is the Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas with a LOT of activities on hand. They include tennis, mini soccer, badminton, mini golf, table and tennis and it too has a subtler sister the Elounda Bay Palace with a water sports center offering scuba diving, sailing, water-skiing, windsurfing, fishing, and jet ski.

      On the north side the two contenders are the Domes and the Blue Palace Resort & Spa of which the latter is more up-market and (more expensive). As mentioned, the main road runs past the front of the hotels which is only an issue if you think it is. In the case of the Blue Palace an internal funicular takes guests from the main hotel under the road and directly to the beach.

      The Domes and the Blue Palace are a longer walk to Elounda village than from the south side hotels (4kms), but cabs are inexpensive and hotels will order one for you. Your decision will ultimately depend on budget and perhaps the tips above. The location speaks for itself. Simply superb.

  2. Loutro or Similar Place on Crete

    Hi Dave, we are heading to Greece for the first time in June/July 2018 for 3 weeks with 2 kids aged 9 and 11. Our plan is to visit Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos and Crete. We have seen beautiful photographs of Loutro in Crete but I can see that it is more isolated and I’m wondering whether we should spend time there or whether there are other parts visually similar you would suggest rather than Loutro. Happy to be in a quieter area with good beaches, and tavernas. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Loutro is a small isolated community on the south coast dependent entirely on the south coast ferry service. See here for ferry info. It can be a good place to stay if you really don’t mind going anywhere other than within the confines of Loutro Bay. The ferries are very regular so you can easily move to Agia Roumeli for a change or seek to exit via Chora Sfakion. Both these places are similar in style to Loutro and if that is your style then it’s a fine place to vacation: thousands do so every year.

      Other south coast places that you may consider that are in a similar vein, but more easily accessible by road are (running from West to East) Palaiochora – a sizeable village/town with a lot more choices on offer including two different kinds of beaches (sand and pebble) and good connections to Chania. Sougia further East is a cosy little community with a pretty decent beach and taverna scene and you will feel a little less claustrophobic than in Loutro. There is a road in and out and the bus serves Sougia.

      Frangokastello is a potential option and while it does have a rather nice beach (and haunted castle!) it’s an open more ‘rural’ area and might not appeal for a lengthy stay. It feels very undeveloped. Plakias even further east offers more promise and is a very popular and quite atmospheric coastal village that you may consider in the same light as Palaiochora. Good beaches both in the village and a couple of kilometres further east and a good supply of restaurants and tavernas – as well as accommodation – make this a top candidate. Last of the south west coast candidate is Matala with its troglodyte caves used by hippies in the 60s – including Joni Mitchell (listen to her ‘Blue’ album). Busier and more commercialised than Palaiochora or Plakias it is still a pretty and buzzing little community.

  3. Greek Holiday for Family of 4

    Hi David. First of all what an amazing blog. We are a family of 4. My boys are 12 and 10. We’ve been to Rhodes, Kos, Kefalonia, Skiathos and loved all of it. We love to explore the historical sites but equally love the beach. We prefer to be closer to restaurants, taverns, and the town than too remote as we like to soak up the local culture. We’re not bothered about clubs or late nightlife as we have 2 boys who we’d prefer to have a good nights sleep and wake Fresh for the next day. We have heard Crete is very good for families. My boys love the look of the labyrinth and dinosaur park, but equally has become known for its clubs and 18+ holidays. Could you recommend a good location to stay. We found a good deal for Hersonnis but I’m concerned how close this is to Malia. We’re also considering Pefkohori in Halkidiki which looks beautiful but I’m not sure there is enough to do. Any help you can give would be great. Happy holidaying, Kerrie Gregory.

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Crete is a great destination as it packs in so much and you will find all the things you are looking for – restaurants taverns, town life and local culture, but you need to choose carefully. One thing is almost certain and that is that you will find none of the above in Malia or even Hersonisos … The two almost contiguous resort strips are synonymous with budget package holidays and 18+ vacations for northern European ragers. Malia is in essence a grossly overgrown agricultural village that is typified by Anglified eateries, pubs serving British beer, and a primarily 18-25 age group presence. It is the worst that Crete has to offer. Hersonisos, further west is somewhat more grown up – it has more of a town feel to it – but it is still similarly patronised – the only difference perhaps being that the age range is broader. It is not a particularly Cretan kind of holiday destination.

      You are probably better off looking at either the Chania ‘Riviera’ running west of Chania for about 14kms and comprising Agia Marina and Platanias. Touristy it is, but not quite as crass as the two aforementioned places to the East of Heraklion. You will have room to breathe here, there are plenty of things to do for the boys and if you research meticulously you will find some more than half-decent places to eat. There is always the ever-popular and picturesque Chania Old Town nearby where you will find all the tavernas and towny atmosphere that you are looking for.

      Similarly, the Rethymnon Riviera running east of Rethymnon (between Heraklion and Chania) offers a similar deal and the Old Town of Rethymnon competes vigorously in the atmospheric stakes with Chania for its olde world ambiance. Getting into either Chania or Rethymno from a hotel on the beach is no more than a short bus ride. You may also like to consider Agios Nikolaos way beyond Malia and/or its neighbouring village of Elounda. The scene is a little more laid-back, the scenery better and the feel a little more ‘countrified’.

      Pefkochori on the first leg of the Chalkidiki peninsula is a poor resort cousin to the options in Crete and you will find more Serbian, Bulgarian and Romanian spoken here than Greek. The scene is ‘patchy’ at best – scruffy might be a more apt description – and it is in the north where the weather can be colder than the south at the beginning and end of the main tourist periods. The Chalkidiki *is* beautiful but the middle leg (Sithonia) is preferable to the first leg Kassandra – where Pefkochori lies.

  4. Best Destination in Greece for Family of 4 with Young Kids

    Hi David, first, thank you for your very informative blog!

    We’re a family of four – 6 year old and 2.5 year old, mum and dad. We’re thinking of going to Greece end of August 2017 for 7 days. But to be honest we are not sure where to visit in Greece as we have never been to Greece before (or even Europe!) but we thought we could start with Greece :p

    Reading your comments, it looks as though Rhodes and Chania are the most family oriented destinations – but would you recommend for us a destination in your opinion that you think would be the best place to go? It doesn’t have to be the two places i’ve mentioned above.

    Mainly we are looking for some beach, good luxury hotels and food (but not too expensive and without compromising on quality) and some variety stuff for the children to enjoy? We are also looking for some relaxation too may be the last 2 days of the holiday.

    Thanking you for your help!
    Caroline G C

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Rhodes and Chania are both great but would not recommend them on the same trip as they’re a good distance from each other and require a full day of travel (or more) to get from one to the other. The island of Naxos is the single best greek island for families. It’s got it all: great beaches, wonderful food, fun day trips to the interior of the island, interesting history, and even a water park (small but fun).

  5. Crete Holiday for Family of 4

    David – thanks for your fantastic site. We are an American family just moved to London and looking for end of August one week vacation with mostly relaxation and a little sight-seeing. My daughter is 13, really interested in greek myth and especially Minoan times. My son is 11 and will want to goof around with other kids in pool/beach. Parents love to go for walks and explore and do some yoga. We’d love a place that is mellow, good food options at hotel/resort nearby (two of us are vegetarian). Which place would you recommend? Thanks! Alex

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Sounds like you need an all-inclusive package deal somewhere close to the main sites of Knossos and Crete’s main archaeological museum in Heraklion. While Heraklion is not commonly recommended as a destination itself, the coastline running eastwards as Malia is home to a string of accommodation and beach pockets that cater for mass packaged tourism and slightly upper-market resort hotels that would serve as a good base for a week’s vacation.

      One place comes to mind that could be considered and that is the Amirandes Resort about 30 minutes’ drive from Heraklion airport. It’s a sizeable and exceptionally well-run place belonging to the Cretan-owned Grecotel chain. It has pools and pool bars for relaxing, a scattering of restaurants and beach bars offers a lot of grassy areas and is generally a very breezy, laid back upper-end resort. Ground floor suites abutting the beach area boast private pools, while still comfortable and sizeable rooms in the main building block boast a bath in the middle of the living area! (You might prefer two rooms!).

      Vegetarian food is generally and unspokenly available in Greece as veggie-only dishes are part of the national cuisine anyway. Hotels such as the Amirandes will always cater for vegetarians. You’d probably need a hire car to get around as the hotel is a little isolated in the village of Gouves but it’s only a 22.5km drive to Knossos and less to Heraklion itself. Other sites that you may wish to visit are generally only available if you are planning to drive there. The end of August is still a very busy period in Crete so bookings in good time are in order. Finally, you may find walking – as in gorge walks or mountain hikes – a little too strenuous given the heat of the season. The best walk may be along your beach or through your hotel gardens where you are in easy reach of a cool dip or a cold beer or lemonade.

  6. Crete with 2 Year Old

    Hi David

    I’m loving your blog! Just wanted a little advice. We plan to go to Greece at the end of May with our daughter who is just under two. Previously we’ve been to many parts of Greece as a couple and our favourites have been Santorini, Mykonos, Skiathos, and Lindos. We like somewhere with a resort type feel but with a town / village of a decent size to walk into, with a mixture of traditional Greek character but also nice cocktail bars and a bit of entertainment, but nothing OTT or full of night clubs. Would be great if there were playgrounds or play areas for the little one. Not overly bothered about beaches as we aren’t big fans of the sand, although I do have to say I loved St. Paul’s bay in Lindos. We were thinking of coming to Crete but don’t know the area and wondered what you would recommend or if you think an alternative destination would suit us better? Accommodation wise we tend to like a small luxury boutique or higher end larger hotel.

    Many thanks,
    Emma

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Crete is almost a country in itself – a mini Greece – that has almost as much variety as the mainland. You will certainly find what you are looking for in Crete and from what you say, you sound as though you want a one-stop shop and don’t want to move around too much. A couple of areas jump to mind immediately that are family friendly, folksy, and reasonably Cretan.

      The first is Elounda over in the far middle East of the island – about an hour’s drive from Heraklion Airport. It consists of two parts: the once small, but now sizeable fishing village that consists of a harbour (and fishing boats!), pretty tavernas (not big on bars and night clubs) and beaches if you want them. Accommodation ranges from budget/medium rooms, appartments and hotels close to Elounda village and further out – both to the north and to the south a collection of pretty good higher-end larger hotels. Of the higher–end hotel groupings, the southern ones probably win out as they have the advantage of direct access to the beach, while the northern cluster generally require you to cross a road.

      The end of May is a good time for booking deals and because Crete is further south than your usual Greece haunts, the weather and water usually warm up quicker, so scour the websites of the hotels listed on here: the Elounda Bay Palace is a subtly more family oriented establishment with two small beaches, heated indoor and sun-heated outdoor pools and has the advantage of being closest to Elounda village (3km, 36 mins walking). Further out (1.2 kms extra) is the Elounda Mare Hotel, similar in style and format to the former. You can live and dine in–house in either of these two places, of course, but you will find a village of a decent size to walk to and the hotels do have play areas and those optional manicured beaches.

      The other option is to pander to your desire for a small, luxury boutique hotel of which there are a few worth mentioning over in Chania Old Town to the West. Consider Casa Delfino or the Domus Renier Boutique Hotel. Here you would be staying in an Old Town with narrow and colourful streets and the ‘playground’ would be the atmosphere and walkways of the Old Town, unless you took a bus to a local beach (Notis Beach is excellent for children to play and paddle). The tourist stretch contiguous to the west of Chania (Agia Maria and Platanias) is very popular but more middle market and full of bars, cafes and restaurants. Happy holidays!

  7. Crete for Family of Six

    We will be in Naxos 4 nights, Santorini 3 nights, and then spending our remaining time in Crete. We are deciding between split time in Chania and Agios Nikolaos for 6 or 7 nights with our four young children (1-8 yrs). How would you split the time, and which would you do first? We are most interested in hitting the best beaches, the charming historic seaside towns themselves, and good food. Thank you for your input!

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Sounds like a great plan and splitting your time between those two beautiful towns is perfect. If you’re flying (departing) from Heraklion then Agios Nikolaos would be make a better final stop as it’s a shorter drive to the airport (than from Chania).

  8. Rhodes or Crete for Family Vacation

    Hi. We want to travel to either Crete, Elounda specifically or Rhodes with our children (age 2 1/2 and 8 years old) in June for a week. We will be travelling from South Africa. Can you advise which you think would be best in terms of islands? On Crete we were looking at Elounda Beach Hotel or Domes of Elounda. We want beach access and child friendly with a touch of luxury. Of the two hotels which would work well? Or should we consider Rhodes over Crete and specifically thinking of the area of Lindos? Thank you for your insights. I would greatly appreciate them.

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      It doesn’t take much thinking to come up with an immediate answer for Elounda. The Elounda Beach Hotel is the winner: it has direct beach access and is more friendly to children. The Domes does not have a direct beach access. That said there is a slight twist to the Elounda Beach Hotel option. It has a sister hotel just around the bay called the Elounda Bay Palace and it might be just a bit more child friendly and a bit cheaper while not eschewing the luxury of its larger sister. Both hotels share the same facilities and movement between them is by complimentary buggies that run around the whole hotel campus. The (de facto) private beaches are really nice and there is nothing quite like having a hotel with its own sea access.

      As for Rhodes (Lindos) we are talking about different scenes. While the Elounda hotel scene for the hotels above, is secluded, enclosed and protected and Elounda village is a fair walk away, Lindos is in your face. Pretty, popular yes, and a people-puller – it is decidedly more crowded and tourism-driven. Lindos has pretty beaches and the village itself dishes out picturesque winding alleyways (that Elounda doesn’t have), but it is not quite as family-friendly as you may be looking for.

      One hotel that does come to mind that you care to consider for Rhodes and not far from Lindos is the Lindian Village. It’s a resort in the same style of the hotels above and offers a little more seclusion than if you were to stay in Lindos itself. It offers a fairly comprehensive child minding and child entertainment package and is a very relaxing environment.

      Is Rhodes better than Crete? Very hard to say as both have their attractions. Rhodes definitely has more of an ‘island’ feel while Crete is almost a mini mainland in itself. Of the beach scenes in Crete, Elounda is the one that feels more like an Aegean island.

  9. Crete with Kids in Late May and Early June

    David,
    Thank you for a very helpful website.
    We are planning a trip to crete for 2 weeks at the end of May / beginning of June. We are hoping to go to a friends wedding just east of Heraklion in the first weekend, and then holiday elsewhere on the island.
    We have 2 young children, aged 1.5 and 3, and would like accommodation near a beach, with access to a pool too. I would really rather not stay in a very touristy area, and fancy some of the towns and villages on the south coast. My concern is the journey time from Heraklion to these, on top of the flight, and managing this with young children. I’m particularly interested in Peleochora but open to suggestions. Much nearer to Heraklion, are there any suitable places in the Matala area?
    What is driving like in Crete and how long would it take to drive to any suggestions you have? We have researched car hire (with child seats) and it seems pretty expensive. Do you have any suggestions for where to source reasonably priced car hire?
    Many thanks
    Natalie

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Well, you seem to have more or less answered your own question. Matala on the south coast (71 kms, 1 hour 20 minutes from Heraklion) is about the most ideal spot for a post-wedding holiday with two young children – assuming that you don’t want to stray too far from Heraklion. If driving is not a problem, then there is no real reason why you should not consider Paleochora (209 kms, 3 hours 10 minutes) over in the West or perhaps even Plakias (114 kms, 1 hour 47 minutes) which is even closer. If you locate these places on the map you may also come across Agia Galini (77 kms, 1 hour 30 minutes) – a similar type of coastal village, but does feel somewhat crowded and claustrophobic – so perhaps exclude this one.

      Between the first three there is not much difference in size and feel. Matala is the more famous jewel of ‘not very touristy’ areas on the south coast. If you are aware of Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell, well she lived here a short while and even wrote a couple of her more famous songs here. It’s got the famous troglodyte cave beach described in the link and a generally hip, chic and sunny feel to it.

      Plakias is mellower and has more of a village feel and offers pool-equipped accommodation and a decent beach in town and some even better ones a few kilometres to the east. There is a nice range of tavernas for dining and even the odd bar or two for night life. Paleochora falls perhaps in between the two and is an equally attractive place to stay. It has a sandy beach on one side of the fortress-crowned peninsula and a pebble beach on the other. Plenty of accommodation too and if you do your research you will find that cool pool you are looking for.

      Your worry about driving time, while understandable, is not really warranted. Crete is a large island and people drive and are supported with a good road network. Sure, Paleochora will take you over three hours to drive, but it’s well fast, coastal road as far as the north-south turnoff at Tavronitis (158 kms, 2 hours 8 minutes) and a generally easy, though occasionally winding road across the island to the south coast. Generally driving in Crete is just fine, but fine is ultimately dependent on what you are used to. Many visitors do and really, must hire a car in order to get around, given the distances. Any travel from north to south is going to involve some mountain driving, but roads are good and well-metalled, with guard rails or walls and plenty of room to maneuver. Travellers do tend to drive perceptibly slower than locals (much to the frustration of the locals!), but as long as you are confident, you should have no problems whatsoever.

      Recommending a single car hire firm is difficult as there are many local ones – and you will get better deals on the ground with a local firm than say from making a booking with the major companies. So, you could turn up at Heraklion Airport and negotiate a local hire deal at the arrival area. Hire-cars are generally not expensive in Crete and even less so at the end of May. A sample search on SkyScanner brings up offers in the region of €100-€110 for an economy car for a week at the end of May.

  10. Where To Stay in Chania with Kids

    David,

    First off let me commend you on your blog. Your suggestions have helped us enjoy wonderful vacations on many of the greek islands, especially Naxos, an island I would have never visited if I hadn’t visited your site and now my favorite place in Greece. Next up for us this summer is Chania for 5 days. My question is where is the best place to stay for me, my wife and two daughters (15 & 13). The biggest thing we want to experience while there is the best beaches, (I especially want to go to Elafonisi) during the day and the town of Chania at night. Unlike Mykonos though, where we stayed at Platys Yialos, took the water taxi between beaches and took the bus into town every night, Chania appears to be much more spread out. What do you recommend?
    Peter

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      There is a nice beach vibe to the west of Chania that stretches for many miles and different pockets of development. But I much prefer to stay in the Old Town of Chania and commute to the beaches through the day.

  11. Best Luxury Hotel for Families in Elounda

    Hi Dave,
    We are considering booking a 2 week vacation to Crete for back half of July, 2017 and wanted some advise. Traveling with 2 children (10 and 7) and my husband, we want a luxury, relaxing feel but a kid friendly resort that has a lot to keep them busy and entertained. If you had to choose between Elounda Bay Hotel, Elounda Beach Hotel, and Blue Palace Hotel, which would you recommend for families wanting both?

    Thank you in advance for your help and counsel!
    Barri

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      All of these hotels are kid friendly to a larger rather than smaller degree so you are spot on in your choices. The Elounda Beach and the Elounda Bay Palace are sister resorts coming under the same management and both are excellent luxury resorts. Of the two, the Elounda Beach is the more up-market and more expensive while the Bay, not shirking on comfort, is a little more compact and a little more budget friendly. They are both more or less contiguously connected creating in effect one long mega resort and the good thing is that all facilities, beaches, restaurants, clubs, spas and kids activity options are shared between the two and that is a major advantage.

      Another important advantage is that both are next to the sea and between them share four de facto private beaches – two to each hotel. The range of facilities include a kids club, a kids freshwater pool, children’s supervised animation programs, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts and various beachside distractions. Of the two the Bay is probably the more family-oriented hotel while the Beach caters better to discerning adult clients.

      The Blue Palace Hotel shares many of the luxury features of the other two, but has some distinct differences. Firstly it is located on the north side of Elounda opposite the island of Spinalonga about 4.2 kms from Elounda village. (The Beach and Bay are 2.1 kms south of Elounda village). It has a rather nice, manicured private beach, BUT it is pebbled and separated from the main hotel complex by the main coastal road. That said, guests access the beach via an internal funicular – which may be fun itself – but the hotel is not strictly a beach hotel. The hotel management will talk up the ‘beach scene’, but it is not the kind of beach where you let your kids wander off at will as you could easily do at the Bay or the Beach. It is overall a large adult-tilted hotel – exceptionally nice it must be stressed – but for kids, the Elounda Beach and the Elounda Bay Palace are better and of these two, the Elounda Bay Palace probably gets the firm nod for your needs.

      Mid-July onwards is getting into high season, so early bookings are suggested. Elounda and its surroundings are truly one of the more magical holiday places in Crete so you will not go wrong with whatever you choose at the end of the day.

  12. Crete with Teens

    Hi there, we are going to spend 10 days in Crete (Chania area) in July with four teens 15/17. We want an authentic Greek atmosphere but with enough nightlife to entertain the older teens (even just one or two bars or clubs). We usually holiday in NE Corfu near enough to Kassiopi. We were considering Kalyves as it looks lively but is there enough going on there to keep teens entertained? And if not, where do you suggest in that area. Thanks for you help. Ciara

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Big change in distance from Kassiopi (Corfu) to Kalyves (Crete), but you’re close in your judgment in that they may be similar. Both are off-centre ‘resorts’ with each attracting their own clientele. Kassiopi is fuller-on in comparison to Kalyves, that doesn’t quite get the same kind of touristy vibe as its Corfu equivalent. There’s a little less to Kalyves inasmuch as it is a one street village with a downsized ‘scene’ and a small, but decent beach. Entertainment for your teens depends on what they want, or are used to from Corfu. However they’re probably not going to find it in Kalyves. There are a number of bars or clubs, but maybe not enough distractions in comparison to more cosmopolitan Kassiopi.

      Alternative locations are not too far away, but you might have to move to the other side of Chania, further west. Platanias (11km further west of Chania) is the core of a lively tourist strip and has a lot more going for it for four teens. Clubs, water sports, bars and cafés, there is much more of a teen scene than at Kalyves. It is fuller-on than Kassiopi, but there is not quite the pretty boat harbour scene that you would find in its Corfiote equivalent.

      That said, you won’t quite find your ‘authentic Greek atmosphere’ either, so you may need to re-programme your thinking altogether and move south. Two places come to mind that could just be your Cretan Kassiopi are Paleochora and Plakias – both on the south-west coastline. They are similar in that they are developed villages by the sea, still retain a perceptible Cretan/Greek feel and have enough distractions to keep teenagers at bay. They would most likely appeal to the parents as well. Both have ‘authentic’ i.e. non photo menu restaurants, low-key no mass tourism veneer and don’t quite ride with the bubbling hype of the northern Crete scene.

      One final tip is to consider Matala further east from Plakias, though it is quite a way from where you were originally planning. It is Paleochora and Plakias on boost juice and offers more choices for teens. They might just dig the fact that 60’s hippies used to hang out here. Note also that July 20 onwards is hitting high season in Crete, so if you plan to book something, do it in decent time.

  13. Family Resort in Mid April

    Hello, we are looking to go to Crete in mid April 2017. We are a family of four children aged 6&8 years old. Are you able to recommend a family friendly resort and hotel for a family must be nice and have plenty for the children to do. Would like the hotel to 4/5 star and near the beach.
    Look forward to your reply. Adrian

    1. DavidDavid The Hotel & Travel Expert

      The resort areas of Crete will still be very quiet in mid-April. Even if you find a resort open it will feel empty and quiet. Pools and sea won’t be swimmable yet. Kids club would likely be closed. Much better to stay in Chania or Rethymno as those towns will be much more lively and fun.

  14. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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€.

  15. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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!

  16. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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).

  17. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  18. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  19. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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).

  20. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  21. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  22. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  23. 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. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  24. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  25. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  26. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  27. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  28. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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!

  29. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

  30. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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!

  31. 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 The Hotel & Travel Expert

      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.

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