When school holidays come around, they offer the perfect opportunity to spend some quality family time together, as well as give mum and dad a chance to soak up some sunshine and enjoy an evening together once the kids have hit the hay after an exhausting day of fun in the sun. Choosing a holiday destination is often the hardest part of planning the perfect family getaway. You need something that offers something for everyone – no matter the age. Well, I think I’ve found the ideal place. Koutouloufari on the Greek island of Crete is a picturesque village bursting with attractions that are sure to please young and old.
I’ve chosen a couple of my favourite must-visit attractions that are guaranteed to keep everyone entertained.
Lychnostatis Open Air Museum
This interactive museum is the perfect way to immerse yourself in Cretan life, taking you and the kids back in time to traditional life here in this pretty village. There’s plenty to see to warrant a half day trip, so remember to take plenty of water and sunscreen to keep yourselves comfortable in the Mediterranean sun.
Step Back in Time
The museum is located on the Bay of Malia with spectacular views of the sea that provide a relaxing backdrop as you wander amongst the exhibits discovering more about the community’s history. Boys and girls alike can let their imaginations run wild as they explore the traditional buildings like the farmers and merchants houses and the distillery. Both children and adults can learn about the process of wine and olive oil making as you visit the traditional presses, then play a game of ‘guess the plant’ in the herb garden where a vast array of herbs are grown. The best part of the museum is the hands-on approach, which encourages children to feel, pick up and taste all the natural products, such as fruit and herbs.
Life Action Entertainment
For some entertainment, take a seat in the auditorium for a lively show relating what life was like on the island years ago. If you’re lucky, there may be a cultural event showing at the open-air theatre – always a crowd pleaser!
If they’re still full of beans, take the kids for a walk back along the coast from the museum, which is only half an hour from the edge of the harbour and the Roman Fountain. This will take you past the Star Beach Water Park so it’s an excellent opportunity to check it out for another day.
Top tip: there are wonderful guided tours available in English, and if you enjoyed yourselves enough to return for a second visit then you’ll receive one free of charge!
Aquaworld Aquarium and Reptile Rescue Centre
Now you’ve got to know a bit about the people of the place, take yourselves to this popular tourist attraction to discover the reptiles and underwater creatures of the island. The aquarium and reptile rescue centre located to the west of Chersonissos Port village is a fond favourite amongst visitors of all ages, due to its variety of water and reptile life. You can easily spend a couple of hours watching these fascinating creatures.
Founded by Scot John McLaren, the creatures housed here are mostly animals that have been freed from captivity or abandoned as pets. The colourful sea life, snakes, lizards and turtles are mostly those that can be found in the Cretan countryside, demonstrating the biodiversity of the island.
Whether you’re 6 or 60 years old, there’s nothing but awe and amazement to been experienced in this wonderful animal sanctuary.
Where to Stay
Sundance Apartments and Suites – A great option for families who like choice, as it’s set just 900 yards from the beach and boasts two freshwater swimming pools, meaning that beach or pool days are easy to organise. Arranging a day out is simple thanks to the friendly reception staff who can help you organise a variety of excursions, such as a day at the water park.
The fun-filled resort of Hersonissos is visible down the hill from the sun-trapping rooms, which provide access to a kitchenette where you can cook basic meals – a wonderful addition for when only tomato pasta will do. For something different, the hotel runs weekly BBQ nights, offers a terraced cafe and there’s a lovely selection of restaurants and taverns nearby.
Astra Village Apartments – A wonderful budget option, the Astra Apartments are centrally located and are full of facilities that will help you keep everyone entertained. There are two outdoor pools to choose from, plus an 18-hole mini golf course complete with a seating area that offers drinks and ice cream. Arranging a group competition is a great way to spend the afternoon! You’ll also find a games room, a playground, library and TV lounge ideal for mini movie night.
All rooms enjoy beautiful views of the Aegean Sea, Mount Harakas or the lush gardens. They also provide guests with a TV, kettle and fridge, so you can store any essentials.
Galaxy Villas – Towards the higher end of the budget, these superior villas offer family-friendly tranquillity with airy accommodation in a modern style that pays homage to traditional Greek homes. The villas are warm and contemporary, set in beautiful natural surroundings of luscious gardens, olive trees and local flowers.
On-site you’ll find a bar and peaceful pool, as well as a children’s pool. Choose from indoor or outdoor dining, or enjoy a picnic in the picnic area and vegetable garden where the whole family can taste some of the delicious local produce grown on-site.
How to Get There
The easiest option is to catch a direct flight from the UK to Heraklion on Crete. There are over twenty flights a week with a number of budget airline, and with journey time totalling 3 hours 45 minutes, getting to your summer holiday started is a breeze. To make it even simpler, I’d recommend pre-booking an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct for when you land. They’ll fetch you right outside the terminal and get you to your accommodation in a quick half an hour’s drive, giving you one less thing to think about.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is the leading provider of airport transfers throughout Europe and North Africa. We’ve been helping families organise their holidays for years, and with our experienced drivers, we guarantee excellent customer service and hassle-free travel.