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Crete for Kids: 5 family-friendly excursions in Crete, Greece

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Crete for Kids: 5 family-friendly excursions in Crete, Greece

Written by
Sarah O'Neill
September 2017

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Five family-friendly excursions sure to delight your little darlings in and around Georgioupolis, Crete.

What makes a destination child friendly? Entertainment for one: kids love action, adventure, something to arouse their curiosity and challenge their senses. Short distances are ideal for minimising the synchronised shouts of “Are we there yet?” Above all, as a mum, dad, granny or grandpa, you can only really relax when you know that your kids are safe, happy, and having fun.

The Corissia Hotels and Resort on the Greek island of Crete is a secluded, family-friendly resort with a wide variety of daytrip destinations just around the corner, guaranteed to delight your little darlings without spending hours on the road.

The island of Crete, with its world-renowned hospitality and traditional values, has long been regarded as one of the most popular and safest destinations for family holidays. Here, we’ve selected our top five child-friendly excursions in and around Georgioupolis, Crete.

1. Swing into the Saddle
Horse riding for all ages and stages in Georgioupolis

Zoraïda's Horse Riding is one of only two riding schools on Crete which offers treks and horse riding for holidaymakers, and the great news is it’s situated only a few hundred metres from the Corissia Hotel and Resort, close to the leafy eucalyptus avenue leading out of town.

Among their 20 well-loved horses are some little Shetland ponies, perfect for short legs and first-time riders. The riding centre runs special introductory programmes for beginners, using horses with a very mild temperament and plenty of patience for the novice rider. Your child will be kitted out with a riding helmet and led by an experienced trainer, walking alongside the horse at a gentle pace. Once you or your child feel confident in the saddle, the gates are opened and it’s time to go for a short ride, again led by the experienced and steady hand of your guide.

More experienced riders can choose between half-day and full day treks, multi-day rides, or simply a 2-hour gallop along the gorgeous golden beach of Georgioupolis at sunset. There is even the opportunity to take your horse for a swim! Whatever your riding level or experience, Zoraïda's Horse Riding offers the whole family a fantastic day out right on your doorstep.

2. Aquatic Fun atop the Waves
Kayak the stunning coast and waterways of Georgioupolis

The gorgeous seas that surround the island of Crete are simply too tantalising to ignore. Take your kids to the seaside village of Georgioupolis, and they are sure to plunge straight into the waves.

But there is also plenty of fun to be had floating on top of the water. Take a short stroll to the harbour on the north-western corner of town, cross the bridge towards Kalivaki beach, and you will find a small pedalo rental shop called “Turtle River” pedal boats.

The river in question is the River Almyros, which forms a vital wetland just a short paddle inland, home to a vibrant variety of bird species and aquatic life. The amazing, verdant scenery here is of great ecological importance and home to the rare, diamondback terrapins which lend their name to the aptly described “Turtle River”.

If your family is feeling more adventurous, they can venture out on the waves of the open sea itself on a kayak tour along the beach from Georgioupolis to the neighbouring village of Petres. The direction of travel is determined by the weather.

This trip can vary from a relaxing sea kayaking voyage to a challenging adventure depending on the weather conditions, and is adaptable for both beginners and experienced paddlers.

The trip can be divided into shorter sections for beginners, and in fine weather the first 15 km are ideal for novices, offering superb paddling conditions against the breathtaking backdrop of the White Mountains.

Experienced paddlers are advised to take the full, 25 km daytrip when the wind is up, creating thrilling waves in the shallow seas and exhilarating surf. Even in these conditions, the trip is safe for the whole family, as it takes place in shallow waters, close to the long sandy beach of Georgioupolis.

3. Ancient Sites for Young Imaginations
Inspire your kids with the ancient culture of Crete

You don’t have to be a history major or as old as the stones themselves to appreciate the mystery and magnetism of Crete’s ancient culture. Over 5,000 years ago, the first great European civilisation of the Minoans was flourishing on Crete, building the continent’s first palaces, theatres and indoor plumbing.

Your family can marvel at these Minoan engineering skills only a 30-minute drive from Georgioupolis, at the ancient city of Aptera. The once vibrant city is like an ancient adventure park for your little archaeologists. Nothing is cordoned off, nothing is behind glass, so your kids can venture to touch the ancient stonework, wander through tombs and temples, sit on the seats spectators once used over 4,000 years ago, and put on their own performances in an ancient amphitheatre.

A small museum provides background information about the city’s history and archaeologists’ findings. You can visit these ancient remains between 8:30 am and 3 pm any day of the week except Monday.

Your kids are never too young to soak up the culture and feel the pulse of the Cretan lifestyle, so be sure to take them on a daytrip to the nearby cities of Chania and Rethymnon. Georgioupolis is conveniently located between both of these Venetian harbour towns. Children will love the Venetian shipyards in Chania, which line its charming historic harbour, and can even enjoy a ride out to sea on a glass-bottomed boat or semi-submersible. The covered market or “Agora” of Chania is also a symphony for the senses, and a fantastic place for your kids to choose their souvenirs of the trip.

Rethymnon will transport you and your family back in time with its historic Venetian fortress, the “Fortezza”, and fascinating Arkadi monastery. The winding streets of the old town offer shade from the midday sun and ensnare the imagination with vivid colours and sumptuous smells. If your children are still buzzing with energy, rent a bike and cycle along the 4 km of beachfront, stopping off for a refreshing dip whenever you get out of puff.

4. Spot the Terrapins on Lake Kournas
The only natural freshwater lake on Crete

You don’t even need to hop in the car to travel up to Lake Kournas from Georgioupolis. The road up the mountains is only about 4 km long, ideal if you have energetic youngsters who need to burn off some steam on an early morning hike. For little legs, a colourful miniature train regularly runs the route back and forth in the summer. Kids and adults alike can enjoy this entertaining alternative to the short drive in the car.

The lake itself is stunning. It is the only natural freshwater lake in Crete, with crystal-clear, almost turquoise shores and an azure blue interior, nestled against the mountains with sweeping views over the valley below.

A variety of cafés and tavernas are scattered at regular intervals along the lake’s eastern shores, offering breathtaking views from their terraces, and a shady respite from the midday sun. The kids are sure, however, to head straight for the water, where several jetties await with a colourful variety of pedal boats.

Parents will be delighted with these family-friendly, bright contraptions which can serve between 2 and 7 passengers each, and some of which come equipped with a sunshade to protect from the dazzling Mediterranean sun. Life jackets are supplied, and recommended, as the lake can be up to 22.5 metres deep in places.

Adding to the adventure are a rare species of diamondback terrapin, living close to the lakeshore. Little explorers can hunt for these amazing creatures, which often only show themselves to those who wait. Allow your boat to drift along the shoreline by the mountainside, and keep your eyes open for a small head bobbing above the water like driftwood, or even nests with baby terrapins in amongst the entangled roots on the shore.

The lake is also home to other beautiful, unusual flora and fauna, including dragonflies, water snakes, eels, and countless species of bird, and yes, the kids can even feed the ducks.

On your way back to Georgioupolis, be sure so stop by the pottery workshop run by the Tsakalakis family on the main street in Kournas village. Most of the vases, jugs and amphorae sold here are now produced in Chania, but this family business is one of the few souvenir shops to still produce their own ceramics by hand.

5. Beaches Galore!
Safe, shallow waters in Georgioupolis and beyond

Crete is a beach-lover’s paradise, and with sheltered shores and soft, golden sands that slip gently into a shallow sea, the beach at Georgioupolis right on your hotel doorstep is ideal for little waders and stronger swimmers alike.

Corissia provides shaded deckchairs for all hotel guests, with a waiter service and clean shower and toilet facilities at the restaurant and pool bar, so that everything you need for a day on the beach is within easy reach.

The village marks the beginning of the longest sandy beach on the island. Take a walk along miles of soft sands, or ensconce yourself by the shore, arming the kids with a bucket and spade, snorkel set, or pool toys, all of which can be purchased at the local stores in the village.

Our tip for visiting a pebble beach with kids is to bring a digger toy or loader truck. Fishing nets are ideal for rock pools, whilst, spade in hand, small beach rivers can offer hours of fun creating dams and water channels.

To ensure your children enjoy themselves safely, be sure to tie any inflatable pool toys firmly to the shore with a guideline. In windy conditions, save the lilo for the nearby swimming pool, where an unexpected breeze can’t whisk it away!

The Chania province that Georgioupolis calls home is proud of its plethora of dream beaches which can be reached by car, boat, or simply rolling up your trousers and wading! Visit the pink crushed coral sands of Elafonissi, the sparkling tropical lagoon of Balos, or the sunset-soaked shores of Falassarna. Our in-depth Crete Travel Guide has information on them all.

Written by Sarah O'Neill

A passionate traveller, linguist and writer, Sarah has visited over 20 countries around the globe. She loves immersing herself in new cultures, learning the language, and getting to know the local people.

Would you like to be an author at Moments of Inspiration?
Do you have an original idea for a guest blog post or interest to write regularly as an author for us? Send us your article or simply contact us at:

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