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Family Vacations in Greece - Discover Secret Places on Crete. Planning an authentic family vacation on Crete means enjoying the popular spots on the island and taking the roads less traveled allowing for discoveries along the way. Kids Love Greece Beach Fun on Crete

My name is Katerina Makatouni and by the name it is obvious I am Greek and Crete is the place of my childhood which makes me Cretan. My family and I live in the US and return to Crete every year for what is always an authentic family vacation. Because of my love for Greece and my firsthand knowledge that kids love Greece, I am sharing a few insider details about the secret side of Crete including Palekastro, Hiona, Loutro and Rodakino.

Here’s the scoop. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and also the most southerly. For decades it has been a popular family vacation destination among the British, Germans, Italians, French, and Scandinavians. For those who don’t want a family beach vacation in a popular tourist area Crete has many ‘authentic’ less developed areas, secret places which are popular with locals but much less known to holiday makers. Vacationing in one of these places is the best way to experience the real Crete and to create special memories with your kids.Hiona Beach Crete Secret Place Kids Love Greece
Beautiful beaches and fresh fish. Palekastro is a hamlet located in the far east of Crete and has a reputation for two things, namely its two beautiful nearby beaches, and fresh fish. The clear water beaches of Kouremenos and Hiona are only a few kilometres away making this tranquil part of Lassithi a popular holiday choice for locals. There are not many parts of the beaches with organized sun beds and umbrellas and trees lined up along the beach offer natural shade for free. Kouremenos is a great spot for wind surfing and there is still part of the beach which is not affected by the wind and thus can be always be enjoyed by families. Hiona beach cafe by the Sea on Crete

Eat by the sea. The famous taverna in Hiona which belongs to Amanaki family is in itself a local attraction. Locals come from all over the island to try the famous fish soup (the Greek version) or bouillabaisse (the French version). The owner is a spear fishing fanatic and ichthyologist and he sure knows a thing or two about fresh fish.  Moreover his wife, Maria, is the heart and soul of the taverna who makes everyone feel at home.
Where to stay: If you are looking for a beautiful location together with comfort then I suggest you stay at Palekastro Villas. This is a complex of three villas with a shared pool and many extra facilities in a quiet location surrounded by olive trees and only 500 metres from the beach of Hiona.

If you want to be by the sea you could choose the Glaros apartments which are located on the beach of Kouremenou. You won’t find the elegance and comfort of Palekastro Villas, but the family rooms are spacious. Note: The nearest city airport is Sitia, which unfortunately has limited flights. The next nearest airport is Heraklion. There are flights between Heraklion and Sitia with a local airline company called Skyexpress. If you decide to go by car from Heraklion the journey takes about 3 ½ hours, but it will be worth it.
No cars allowed in Loutro. About 70kms south of Chania and very close to Sfakia lies the quaint fishing village of Loutro.  God has been very generous with Loutro because apart from the incredible natural beauty, Loutro rarely experiences wind as it is lies in a small sheltered bay. 

Everything about Loutro is unique.  You won’t have to worry about your kids with traffic as there are no cars in Loutro. It is only accessible by boat (or a three-hour walk along the coast from Sfakia.). The ferry leaves from Sfakia and taxi boats are also available and the journey takes about 15 minutes and the water is a beautiful deep Aegean green/blue color. 

All pensions in Loutro are small and family owned with fairly basic facilities. Tavernas are quiet without loud crowds. The stony beach in front of the village is recommended but there are also several nearby beaches such as Glika Nera, Marmara, Timios Stavros and Perivolaki which are reached by boat or taxi boat. At Marmara beach you will have the opportunity to taste the authentic flavours of Sfakiani cuisine of Chrysostomos, one of the most famous chefs in the Chania region.

Walking is another reason to love Loutro as tracks at the back of the village lead to gorges and trails making it easy to discover the unique natural beauty of Crete.Car Free Seaside Village of Luotro on Crete Kids Love Greece
Where to stay: Hotel Daskaloyannis has spacious rooms for families. Note: Reservations for accommodation in Loutro should be made as early as possible as rooms are limited and Loutro is very popular with locals, especially at weekends during summer time. 

A Venetian castle on the beach.  South of Rethymnon you will find some of the most beautiful beaches of the island. One of my favorites is Rodakino (Peach), a place frequently visited by locals looking for tranquility, wonderful sea and good food.

Hotels in Rodakino are small but clean and just a stone’s throw away from the crystal clear waters of the Libyan Sea. Simplicity rules in Rodakino where hotels have limited amenities and lack sophisticated services.  A stay here may well provoke memories of childhood simplicity.  It is so laid back you don’t have to worry about what to wear - simply put your swimsuit on and go anywhere.  

The largest beach in Rodakino is Koraka which has pebbles and is more organized with umbrellas and sun beds.  However, our suggestion is Polirizos Beach which is 1-2kms to the west, as it is sandy with trees for shade. I advise you to rent a car for a few days because it is the easiest way to visit the beautiful beaches of the south region of Rethymno.

For a bit of entertainment, the seaside village of Plakias is a few kilometres to the east.  Though not overly developed, it is a bit more cosmopolitan with restaurants, bars and cafes. Plakias has an organized diving centre where older children may explore the wonderful Libyan Sea under the guidance of experienced instructors.

A visit to  Frangokastelo to the west of Rodakino is a must. There is a Venetian castle right on the beautiful sandy beach and it has a very interesting history about the Drosoulites - a ghost army seen occasionally at sunrise. 

Where to stay: The Hotel Polyrizos is the best you can find in the area of Rodakino. It is economical, clean, provides guests with a nice breakfast, and is just a few meters away from the beach.
Make it happen. For more authentic family vacation ideas in Greece the best source is

Editor’s Note: Two years ago I spent a weekend on Crete during the ‘off season’ during sweatshirt weather. It is a beautiful island with great food, lively music, pristine sea views from secret coves, ancient olive orchards, and a rich history of Minoans, Romans, and Venetians evidenced within the fabric of the culture. Perhaps the best part of the island is the hospitality offered by residents who I found to be eager to give directions and explain menu items. The real vacation bonus for families, life on Crete is directly connected to olives and residents of all ages (especially kids) love to share the luscious fruit and oh so tasty oil. The information found at Kids Love Greece is spot on and ideal for making a family vacation plan for Crete. 

Content and images provided by Katerina Makatouni one of the founding moms of a clever and authoritative website Additional comments by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Copyright 2015.

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