Family Itineraries For Hersonissos, Crete
No-one would blame you for spending the majority of your time around the pool or beach -I’m sure it’s a legal requirement whilst on holiday. But if like me, your family also enjoy exploring the local area, then these itineraries are for you! Crete has so much to offer, and depending on how long you have in the area or the age of your children, with this guide you can be sure to prioritise! Hersonissos, Crete is 26km from the capital Heraklion and only 20km from the airport – making it a very easy journey for families who prefer a quick airport transfer. Plus Hersonissos is a good base to access all areas of the island. The Municipality of Hersonissos comprises the areas of Episkopi, Gouves, Hersonissos, and Malia, which all have their own attractions. We were kindly invited by the Tourism department to explore the local area, so I hope you find it useful? For a full breakdown of things to do in Crete with kids see here.
5 day Itinerary
Day 1- Settle in and relaaaaax!
Spend time at your hotel and familarise yourself with the local area. In the evening stroll down to Hersonissos Port, and visit one of the restaurants along the seafront. We loved Akrogiali- which had delicious seafood, vegetarian options and grilled meats. ( Don’t forget your mosquito spray for the evening.)
Day 2 Beach Time!
Choose one of the beaches to visit. There are 16 to choose from. Karteros, Tobruk, Arina ( Municipal .beach), Vathianos Kampos, Kokkini Hani, Gournes, Gouves, Apolselemis, Analipsi, Anissara (blue flag) Sarantaris (Municipal beach), Hersonissos, Stalida, Klotsani, Malia and Potamos ( Municipal beach and blue flag)
We visited Potamos and enjoyed the little taverna Kalyba across the road. A beautiful, tranquil spot. Sunbeds and umbrellas are available to hire, plus there are trees providing shade too.
After lunch, head back to your hotel, enjoy a siesta and then an early evening promenade along the shops on the main strip.
Day 3- Water fun!
Choose a Water Park to visit.There are several to choose from, including Star Beach, Acqua Plus and Water City. Do check if they open on rainy days before you go. Prices range from free entry at Star Beach ( €8 fee for all day use of the adult slides, but the lazy river, pools and children’s area are all free) to €15.72/€22.95 at Water City to €17/€27 for Acqua Plus.
In the evening enjoy a stroll to Piskopiano and Koutouloufari – beautiful traditional Cretan Villages, where you can savour delicious Cretan food and browse around some lovely shops selling local handicrafts ( try the olive oil based soaps).
Day 4- Roaaaaaarrr
Visit the Dinosauria Park which is open from 10am. My five-year-old and two-year-old enjoyed this immensely. The Dinosauria Park is in Gournes and a great way to spend a couple of hours in Crete. My two were enthralled by the fossils in the Dino Museum where you begin your journey, and the ‘time machine’ tunnel through to the park. The park is easily accessible by stroller with smooth pathways. Wandering past some of the dinosaur models sets off an interactive mechanism so they roar and move, which resulted in squeals of delight! At a couple of stages along the walk, there are some well covered ‘archeological dig sites’ where intrepid young archeologists can use the provided brushes and spades to discover their own dinosaur fossils. Both are sheltered from the sun, and shaded benches for grown-ups are also provided – so you can relax and watch your little ones play.
Entrance Fee: Adults €10 Children (4-12) €8 Under 4’s FREE
In the afternoon, relax back at your pool or visit another beach!
Day 5 – Get Lost!
The Labyrinth Theme Park is inspired by the Minoan culture of Crete, including the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur and the Trojan Horse. Situated in the hills in Hersonissos, the park has something for children of all ages. We told my eldest about the myth of the Minotaur before we went, so she had some idea, but the actual maze helped put things into perspective. It was a lot of fun working as a family, trying to figure our way out! After the maze, we discovered numerous other activities. Some were free to explore like the traditional Cretan maze, model Cretan village, and the mini petting farm. For a small charge, there is also mini golf which is completely accessible and stroller friendly too. The park even provides putters for children under the age of 6- so everyone can join in. A further activity you can enjoy is pottery making – a hands-on session where you can make your own pot to take home to decorate. Other major activities include the new Trojan Horse laser game. The structure is ginormous and can be seen from quite a distance! It proved a good talking point to explain the myth of the Trojan Horse too.
Finally, the park has an escape room called Escape Atlantis. Various clues are hidden within the first room with Medusa inside which then lead you through a small door to the main room. The room is atmospheric with sand, shells, treasure boxes, mood lighting and looked a lot of fun. We didn’t try it but looked inside and next time I’m in Crete we all agreed we would give it a go! I think teenagers would love the challenge of solving the riddles and puzzles and it would be a fun family affair.
7 day Itinerary
For the first 5 days, follow the above.
Day 6 – Visit the Gods
Drive into the hills and explore the scenery, visit the birth place of Zeus. A little drive further brings you to Lassithi and the Homo Sapiens Museum. The view, even on a rainy day is breathtaking.On the way back down from the hills, visit Mochos for lunch, which has a picturesque village square full of restaurants. We visited the restaurant Lithos
Nikos, the owner, cooks beautiful, authentic Cretan dishes. We devoured them almost as soon as they were delivered to our table- so all I have is a photo of dessert! Well worth a visit if you are in the area!
Day 7 – Visit Knossos Palace
Although Knossos Palace is not in the municipality of Hersonnisos, it is within easy reach ( 25 minutes drive) and one of the biggest attractions on the island. This ancient Minoan Palace was the seat of King Minos and the basis of the myth of the Minotaur. Although our two year old couldn’t understand its significance our 5-year-old, was excited to imagine and walk where the King lived. Wondering around these huge ruins, and ancient corridors, you can see how one could have easily have got lost. It really has a complex layout!
You will be pretty hot and tired after a visit here, so spend the afternoon by the pool – go-on you deserve it!
10 day Itinerary
Follow the above for the first 8 days
Day 8 – Get educated!
You can explore traditional Cretan life in the open air Lychnostatis Museum. It’s a very hands-on museum and children are welcome to interact with many of the artefacts. Sitting right on the Bay of Malia, you can enjoy lovely views out to sea as you explore the museum. It is closed on Saturdays and closes daily at 2pm.
There are steps into some of the traditional houses and building, so be prepared to leave your stroller at the bottom. My girls were fascinated by the shepherd’s hut, a traditional home, with an old style crib in the bedroom. A huge hit was the old school room complete with bell and cane. Of course, I had to pretend to be a very strict teacher! The carob machinery was popular too – because the girls could touch the button. Interactive exhibitions always make a lasting and more interesting impression.
CretAquarium is an important aquarium for the area as it provides research and expertise in the species and ecosystems of the Mediterranean. The staff are passionate about the care and research and do not allow any mammals to be resident there. Sea turtles are not usually there permanently – but are temporarily hosted after injuries and then set free. However, two ended up staying for their own survival (one kept coming in after eating plastic six times!) It is a great place to explore the underwater world or to escape the heat of the day, let little ones wonder at the colourful sights or even escape a rare rainy day.
Walking through the atmospheric corridors ( perfect for strollers and any little ones wanting a nap on the go) we enjoyed the calming effect of the jelly-fish and anemones.
Day 10 – Your choice!
No doubt you’ll need to pack, spend some time back in the pool or perhaps if you have a later flight, you can visit another Water Park or even the Aquaworld Aquarium and Reptile World Centre – where children can hold some animals too.
Do let me know if you found this itinerary useful!
Disclosure: We were given free entry for many of the above attractions, but as always my opinions and words remain my own.
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