The Greek Island of Crete is a top destination for a family holiday in Europe. Its sparkling seas and alluring beaches balance perfectly with a backdrop of rugged, snow-capped peaks, ancient ruins and sleepy hilltop villages. But where are the best places to stay in Crete with kids?
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Whether you come to throw down a towel or explore the myths and legend of Greece’s largest island, there’s plenty of things to do in Crete to compliment your holiday modus operandi.
But having a good base can make or break your island getaway. In this post I’m sharing the best places to stay as well as recommended accommodation.
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Is Crete a good place to spend a holiday in Europe?
With direct flights from the UK averaging at about four hours it doesn’t take all day to travel to the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean and the birth place of European civilisation.
It’s a must for fans of mythology and beach life alike with weighty sites like the Palace of Knosses to explore and the largest number of Blue Flag beaches in Greece.
Add to that a deliciously warm summer season with temperatures of between 18°C to 29°C and this Greek island is a top pick for family holidays in Europe.
Find out more about why Crete is a great place to visit in my guide to family holidays in Crete.
Best places to stay in Crete for families
The main places visitors stay in Crete for their location, facilities and sights are Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, Elounda, and Agios Nikolaos.
However, the places that are the best for families can be whittled down to Chania, Heraklion and Hersonissos due to the number of child-friendly beaches and attractions in these areas.
Here’s a bit more about why you should consider these destinations on your short list of places to stay in Crete:
The capital of Crete is famous for its Venetian harbour and old town where you’ll find winding alleys full of character shaped by a history of occupation, rebellion and independence over the past 800 years.
Things to do in the town itself include walking the harbour wall to the picturesque lighthouse, relaxing in on of the water side restaurants and visits to the Agora market, Archeological Museum and Maritime Museum.
Close by you can explore the ancient city of Aptera which was once the commercial centre of Crete. It’s now a ruin but you can still see Roman cisterns, an amphitheatre dating from the 2nd Century BC and views across Souda Bay.
If meeting wild terrapins would appeal to your children then hire a car and head to the turquoise waters of Lake Kournas.
Chania is also the ideal base for a trip to Elafonissi beach with its curious pink sands.
Here’s some more things to do around Chania.
This is Crete’s largest town and the place from which to visit the ancient city of Knosses. This is famous as Europe’s oldest city and the setting for the legend of the Minotaur – half bull, half human that lived in a labyrinth below the Palace.
You’ll also find largest Crete’s largest Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, where you can continue lesson in Greek mythology, as well as a Natural History Museum, history museum and the fortress of Koules.
This is the largest tourist resort in Crete, so expect a modern holiday town with plenty of entertainment for families. If you are after a fun family beach break more than a trip to experience culture and heritage this is your best place to stay in Crete.
It’s probably the ideal spot if you are travelling with teens and young adults who want to experience some of the nightlife.
Hersonissos has two water parks, an aquarium, a tourist train, and plenty of play areas. If you want to visit a beach away from the main resort head to Sarandaris Coves where the sandy beach slopes gently into the sea.
You might also like my guide to planning family holidays in Greece.
Which is better East or West Crete? Heraklion or Chania?
If you fly to Crete from the UK you’ll land in either Heraklion or Chania. This in itself may determine whether you stay in East or West Crete.
But if you want to keep your options open here’s some things to consider:
What kind of holiday do you want?
West Crete and Chania is a more traditionally Cretan region while East Crete has more commercial and touristy areas.
If you want to relax in a traditional taverna then Chania is the place to be. But if shopping is one of you favourite holiday pastimes then Heraklion and Hersonissos cater better for you.
Heraklion has Knosses, the biggest Minoan Palace, on its doorstep making it the big hitter for ticking a World renowned heritage site off your bucket list.
It’s also in the central and Eastern region of Crete that you will find more family attractions like theme parks, aquariums and aqua parks.
However, Chania is the starting point for lots tours to other parts of Crete. So make this your base if you will not have your own transport.
There’s plenty of beaches to pick from in both the East and West. Although for the most beautiful Chania wins with easy day trips available to the Elafonissi and Balos beaches.
If you are after a more lively beach scene then the 300m stretch of sand at Hersonissos offers water sports as well as plenty of places to grab a bite to eat.
Of course you can hire a car and have an two centre holiday to experience the best of both East and West Crete.
Family friendly hotels and resorts in West Crete
Here’s a selection of the best family-friendly places to stay in Crete including hotels and all-inclusive resorts in the West:
Kiani Beach Resort near Chania
An all-inclusive resort in Crete recommended by us!
If you are looking for an all inclusive resort we can highly recommend Kiani Beach Resort* near Chania.
It’s located on the Blue Flag beach beside the town Kalyves. As part of the all-inclusive package you have use of three swimming pools (one indoors), brilliant family suites, entertainment, kids clubs and buffet dining.
The Kiani Beach Resort team work their socks off entertaining guests throughout the day and evening. The Animation Team deliver quizzes in multiple languages, play games with the kids, and run exercise classes, as well as the Kids Club.
We had a great stay with just the right balance of activities and relaxation at the hotel. Exploring all the fun things to do in Chania was made super easy with the onsite excursions office, taxis outside the hotel and a good local car hire company.
Read our full review of Kiani Beach Hotel in Crete.
Santa Marina Beach Resort near Chania
This resort in Crete has been recommended by Chrysoula Manika from Greece Travel Ideas.
Santa Marina Beach Resort is the perfect place to stay if you are planning a family vacation on the island of Crete.
The hotel is located in the village of Agia Marina right on the beach with many restaurants and shops within walking distance.
The city of Chania, one of the must-see places in Crete is only 5km away from the hotel. It can be easily reached by car, public bus or taxi.
The hotel boasts over 200 rooms, two restaurants, and three bars. A traditional Cretan night and a karaoke night are also organised weekly.
This 4 star Crete hotel* has direct access to the beach, swimming pools including a children’s pool, a mini club for children over four-years-old with recreational activities, and a children’s playground.
Finally, there are specially designed dishes in the restaurant for the kids.
All in all, the Santa Marina Beach Resort is an excellent choice for families who want to enjoy a relaxing holiday near Chania.
Alcanea Boutique Hotel in Chania
This family hotel in Chania has been recommended by Elena Pappalardo from The Carry-On Chronicles.
Alcanea Boutique Hotel* is the perfect accommodation for families seeking an affordable and spacious stay in a prime location. Ideally situated along the Old Venetian Harbor in Chania, this boutique gem was beautifully restored back in 2011. However, it still retains its historic charm and offers guests beautiful views of the Old Port.
The property offers eight spacious rooms, including a family room that can accommodate up to five. Plus, the hotel’s colourful and stimulating decor is ideal for children.
There are also two common areas – inside and outside – where families can stretch their legs, as well as a café and wine bar on site.
In addition to the family-friendly nature of the property, the Maritime Museum of Crete is just next door. This museum makes for a fun family outing and is a popular place for school trips.
Plus, the hotel is conveniently located just steps away from numerous restaurants and eateries, so guests won’t have to travel far to find a meal for their hungry kids.
Almyrida Residence Hotel near Chania
The family-friendly hotel in Crete has been recommended by Earth’s Magical Places.
Located on the north-west coast of Crete, within a small town of the same name, the Almyrida Residence* is a fabulous hotel with a modern and elegant feel.
The town of Almyrida is about 45 minutes away from Chania and other popular spots on the island. However, despite being small, with a friendly local feeling, the town is well established for tourists with plenty of delicious restaurants and things to do.
For example, there is a gorgeous beach with shallow water making it great for young families.
The hotel itself is packed full of amenities and is also perfect for families! There’s a stunning rooftop infinity pool (with a highly rated restaurant terrace) and even a spa for the adults.
Meanwhile, there’s a child-friendly pool on ground level, along with a bowling alley, to keep the kids entertained.
With panoramic views over the beach and the Lefka Ori mountain range, there’s not much more you could hope for when looking for somewhere to stay in Crete.
Family hotels and accommodation in Heraklion
Heres some recommended places to stay in Heraklion, Crete:
Galaxy Hotel Iraklio in Heraklion
This family hotel in Crete has been recommended by Gabi Ancarola from The Tiny Book Crete Travel Blog.
Galaxy Hotel Iraklion* is a fantastic 5-star luxury hotel situated in convenient and central location in the capital of Crete, Heraklion, within a walking distance from the Old Port and Plateia Eleftherias, Heraklion’s main square. Therefore, staying at the Galaxy allows you to visit the main landmarks in town.
If you’re staying in town for a short time and are not into visiting the beaches in Heraklion, then this place is one of the few hotels in the city centre offering a wonderful swimming pool that kids love, plus a gym and a wellness club.
Dads who golf can even access the golf course the hotel features a few minutes by car from the centre.
The hotel also has an allergy-free room policy.
Connecting family rooms are really comfortable and provide private spaces for each member of the family, making it a perfect accommodation for a family vacation. Kids receive a bath kit and dedicated treats including biscuits, candies, and more!
A special word should be spared for Galaxy’s gastronomy. Not only does the hotel feature two fine dining restaurants with kid-friendly options, but it also serves one of the most authentic, rich, and delicious Cretan traditional breakfast you can find in town.
Renting a car in Crete is a common way to travel the island.
Galaxy also features a super convenient valet service that allows guests to completely forget about the stress of finding a parking space during their holidays.
Andreas Apartments near Heraklion
These family-friendly apartments near Heraklion are recommended by Sylvie Simpson from Travels with Eden.
One of the best family-friendly accommodation options in Crete is the Andreas Apartments in Gouves.
Gouves is located just 19 miles from the capital, Heraklion, and it’s the perfect resort for families. Choose between numerous beaches, world-class cuisine and many tourist attractions.
The Andreas Apartments* are just a few minutes walk away from the beach. The small apartment complex has a friendly atmosphere, a pool and a snack bar.
Rooms are very suited for families with cooking facilities and comfortable beds. Cots can also be provided if you’re travelling with little ones.
The Andreas Apartments have lots to keep the kids entertained. There’s a large playhouse packed with toys from pool toys to bikes for use during your visit.
The snack bar serves up excellent value cuisine, from chips to milkshakes and Greek specialities.
There are also some fantastic restaurants on the same road as the apartments. The Paradise restaurant serves up traditional Greek cuisine, and there’s a large play area for the kids.
Just a short walk away, you’ll find the Island Hotel Bar and Restaurant, which serves world-class cuisine overlooking the beach. There’s also a play area here, including a large bouncy castle!
Family friendly hotels in East Crete
Here’s a resort recommendation in East Crete:
W Suites in Stalida
These apartments in Crete have been recommended by Andrew Balfour from Motor Sport Guides.
Located in the pretty coastal village of Stalida (also known as Stalis), W Suites* offers affordable
rental apartments that are perfect for families with small children.
The apartments are newly renovated with small kitchens, well-appointed private bathrooms and large terraces.
The resorts’ large swimming pool has a separate wading pool for children, sun lounges and a bar
serving drinks and snacks. There’s also a spacious private garden where your children can play
W Suites is about 300 metres from the nearest beaches, including several family friendly resorts
where you can rent sun lounges with free use of a swimming pool.
The resort is also within easy walking distance of local restaurants and shops in both Stalida and Malia. The terminus of the ‘Happy Train’ is also a short distance from W Suites – this is a great way to get your bearings in the area and your kids will love riding the train.
More places to stay in Crete
There’s an abundance of family resorts in Crete. Check out Jet2 Holidays for package deals at all inclusive, half board and self-catering family resorts in Crete*.
A villa is the ideal place to stay in Crete if you are looking for somewhere to have a larger or multi-generational holiday. So, if you’d prefer a private villa there’s plenty of choice on this Greek Island*.
If you’re wondering about the best time to visit Crete, how to get around or what to do while you’re there, check out my guide to planning a family holiday in Crete.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links marked with *. If you click on one of these and make a purchase I may earn some commission. This does not affect the price you pay.
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