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Activities for Children

Gavalochori is a good place to bring children on a vacation but not for the reasons you might think. It doesn’t have commercial activities in the area directed at children such as theme parks or similar kinds of manufactured and controlled experiences. What it does have is an environment in which children can create opportunities for play in a stimulating environment where you can be confident they will be safe. In Gavalochori, you are likely to see groups of children as young as five or six years old walking through the village together, talking and playing, often late at night, unaccompanied by adults. You can feel comfortable if your child wants to join such a group or maybe a spontaneous soccer game while you are shopping, exploring the Folklore Museum, or enjoying a meal and conversation in a taverna. If you want to provide your kids with more structured activities, you will have to go either to Chania (Χανιά) or Heraklion (Ηράκλειο).

So what are the options for having fun with children in and around Gavalochori?

Girl On Beach. Mike Baird, Flickr

Almyrida Beach
Almyrida Beach. UBenoît Prieur, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
Almyrida Beach
4 km away
Almyrida
kera beach
Kera Beach. Sonja Foss, Foundation for Gavalochori
Kera Beach
6 km away
Almyrida, Kalyves
kalyves beach
Harbor, Kalyves. Luka Tica, Foundation for Gavalochori
Kalyves and Kolatsos Beaches
8 km away
Kalyves
koutalas beach crete
Koutalas Beach. Benoît Prieur, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
Koutalas Beach
8 km away
Kokkino Chorio
Ompros Gialos Beach
Ompros Gialos Beach. Anthony Radich, Foundation for Gavalochori
Ompros Gialos Beach
9 km away
Kefalas
Episkopi Beach
Episkopi Beach. Terry Dorvinen, Foundation for Gavalochori
Episkopi Beach
25 km away
Episkopi
sfakia beach crete
Sfakia Beach. proGRAMSTATion, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons
Sfakia Beach
45 km away
Sfakia
ilingas
Ilingas Beach. ilingasmare.gr
Ilingas Beach
47.7 km away
Ilingas
glyka nera
Glyka Nera Beach. Maesi64, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
Glyka Nera Beach
54.3 km away
Glyka Nera
Marmara beach Crete
Marmara Beach. Maesi64, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
Marmara Beach
67.8 km away
Marmara
Loutro
Loutro Beach. Ellibah, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
Loutro Beach
69.5 km away
Loutro
Falasarna - Maurizio Ceol, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Falasarna Beach. Maurizio Ceol, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons
Falasarna Beach
77 km away
Falasarna
Balos Beach
Balos Beach. Simao Arinto, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
Balos Beach
77 km away
Balos
Elafonisi - C messier, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Elafonisi Beach. C messier, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
Elafonisi Beach
98 km away
Elafonisi

Beaches

First, of course, are the beaches, a favorite of just about any child. All of the beaches included in this website are suitable for children. Just don’t forget to apply sunscreen!

Koumos Stone Village

7 km from Gavalochori

The complex of structures that is the Koumos Stone Village, all handmade of stone by one person, Giorgos Havaledakis, sits on a hill above Kalyves (Καλύβες). Among the words that might be used to describe it are weird, charming, and whimsical. Although this ensemble of stonework could be considered “outsider art” and is not connected to any Cretan tradition, children will delight in exploring the grounds and discovering buildings such as a chapel and taverna made out of stone as well as hundreds of smaller stone creations, including tables, chairs, arches, sculptures, and chandeliers. The taverna offers classic Greek dishes when the kids are tired of exploring. The idea for the village began in 1990, when Giorgos’s wife suggested he might like to build a stone table in the garden. To get to the Koumos Stone Village, turn left on the road immediately after the SYN.KA store in Kalyves.

koumos stone village kalyves
Koumas Stone Village, Kalyves. Anthony Radich, Foundation for Gavalochori
playground almyrida crete
Playground Almyrida. Mediterranean Villas
Playground in Almyrida
4 km away
Almyrida
playground georgioupoli
Playground Georgioupoli. Benoît Prieur, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
Playground in Georgioupoli
12.8 km away
Georgioupoli
Playground in Episkopi
Playground, Episkopi Beach. Terry Dorvinen, Foundation for Gavalochori
Playground in Episkopi
25 km away
Episkopi

Playgrounds

If you are looking for your kids to work off some of their energy on playgrounds, you can find playground sets of various types and degrees of sophistication close to Gavalochori. Here are your closest options:

  • There is playground equipment across from the beach near the center of Almyrida (Αλμυρίδα).
  • The village of Georgioupoli (Γεωργιούπολη) has nice playground equipment next to exercise equipment between the main square and the beach.
  • You can find well-kept and fairly extensive playground equipment at the edge of the village of Litsarda (Λιτσάρδα). Look for a colorful fence surrounding the play area.
  • In Kalyves (Καλύβες), you can find a nice playground next to the Almy hotel and restaurant. This is a good place to enjoy a nice meal or a drink while your children play. Take the road heading west out of Kalyves toward Kalami. Turn right onto the road opposite the SYNKA store, and it will take you to Kolatsos Beach, where the hotel and taverna are located.
  • A very pleasant playground space for little children is Episkopi Beach (Παραλία Επισκοπής), 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Gavalochori. There is a broad sandy beach here with chairs and South Pacific-like umbrellas. One of the tavernas on this beach, Chrysos Asterias, has a grassy play area for kids next to the dining space with slides, rocking toys, playhouses, and a children’s pool.

Play Space in Vamos

6 km from Gavalochori

An option for kids is a weekly children’s play space in Vamos (Βάμος). To find it, you want to find the Church of Saint Nikolaos, which is the large church on the west side of Vamos. Take the perpendicular road across from the church until you see a small church on the left side of the road. Next to the church is a gold building with green shutters. This is the building you want. Inside is a large open space filled with things that will delight little kids (this is probably a place for kids younger than seven). Rugs dot the floor, and kids have at their disposal yoga balls, art supplies, net “cages” full of plastic balls, teddy bears, games, tiny sofas and tables, and, of course, other kids! The space is open year round on Fridays between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., although January and February tend to be quiet months, so the space may not be open as regularly during those months.

cultural center play space vamos
Play Space, Vamos. Luka Tica, Foundation for Gavalochori
Formula Mini Golf
Minigolf. Hilary Halliwell, Pexels
Minigolf Alaloum
34.4 km away
Platanias
Formula Mini Golf
Minigolf. Tyler Hendy, Pexels
Formula Mini Golf
40 km away
Platanias

Minigolf

A bit farther away (40 kilometers or 25 miles), in the village of Platanias (Πλατανιάς), which is west of Chania, are two play areas that many kids will find exciting. Formula Mini Golf has go carts, minigolf, air hockey, and other games and equipment for small children. Minigolf Alaloum has go carts, a shooting stall, a carousel, and other such games and activities.

Animal-Themed Parks

This website typically doesn’t feature sites as far away as Heraklion, which is a two-hour drive from Gavalochori, but many of the more structured tourist attractions designed for children are near there. If your kids are into animals, you have several options. The Amazonas Park is about 53 kilometers (33 miles) east of Heraklion near the village of Neapoli (Νεάπολη). A good place to spend about an hour, it is a privately funded animal park and rescue center focused on the conservation of endangered wildlife. Kids can pet animals; feed lemurs and monkeys; and see parrots, peacocks, toucans, tortoises, goats, and donkeys. Aquaworld Aquarium and Reptile Rescue Centre features sea life and reptiles from Crete and around the world. Located 27 kilometers (17 miles) from Heraklion, visitors not only can watch sea life in tanks and ponds but also can help feed them and handle snakes, tortoises, and lizards. Many of the animals you see here were rescued or injured and now have a permanent home in the center. Dinosauria Park offers children interaction with animals of a different kind—prehistoric dinosaurs. Although it will strike some as cheesy, children who are really into dinosaurs will undoubtedly enjoy the fossil replicas, huge animatronic dinosaurs, and the 5D and 7D cinemas showing various aspects of dinosaur life. You can find the park near the village of Gournes (Γούρνες), 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Heraklion.

Dinosauria Park
Dinosaur Park. Malopez 21, CC BY SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
Dinosauria Park
131 km away
Gournes
Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Centre
Aquarium, Heraklion. Myhersonissos, CC BY SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commonsς
Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Centre
141 km away
Chersonisos
Amazonas Park
Amazonas Park. Jebulon, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
Amazonas Park
167 km away
Neapoli
Star Beach Water Park
Water Park. Thomas Ricker, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons
Star Beach Water Park
143 km away
Chersonisos
watercity park water crete
Water Park, Kokkini Hani. Pkioupakis, CC BY SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
Watercity Water Park
129 km away
Kokkini Hani
water park slide
Water Park. David R. Tribble, CC BY SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons
Acqua Plus Water Park
140 km away
Chersonisos
Limnoupolis Aqua Creta Chania Crete
Water Park, Chania. Limnoupolis.gr
Aqua Creta Limnoupolis Water Park
34.4 km away
Chania

Water Parks

The closest water park to Gavalochori is the Aqua Creta Limnoupolis Water Park just outside of Chania. It has a large pool, water slides that offer varying degrees of fun and terror, a kids’ pool, a lazy river, and a restaurant and bar.

Water parks are available near Heraklion, too. The Acqua Plus Water Park is 30 kilometers (18 miles) east of Heraklion and 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the village of Chersonisos (Χερσόνησος). It has an adult section with extreme waterslides and games and a children’s section with milder slides and water games. Other amenities include a beach-volley court, a mini football (soccer) court, cafes, lockers, showers, and a fish spa. The Star Beach Water Park is east of the port of Chersonisos, 29 kilometers (18 miles) east of Heraklion. It is a large complex of swimming pools with water slides, fountains, swimming pools for babies, and a children’s playground so that children can have fun in a safe and controlled environment. Another water park east of Heraklion is the Watercity Water Park near the village of Kokkini Hani (Κοκκίνη Χάνι), 14 kilometers (9 miles) from Heraklion. It features pools for children with lifeguards, playgrounds in the water, a wave pool, a lazy river and a crazy river, and a wide variety of water games designed for families. A mini market, cafes, and changing rooms and showers are also on site.

Cultural Activities

For more culturally relevant attractions that will still appeal to children, check out the Cretan Olive Oil Farm near Agios Nikolaos (Άγιος Νικόλαος), 64 kilometers (40 miles) from Heraklion, which introduces visitors to the traditional Cretan way of life. You can take a guided tour around the farm or participate in a number of workshops on topics such as cheesemaking (where you can help milk and feed the goats), pottery, cooking lessons, and (for the adults) wine tasting. Another culturally relevant activity is the Labyrinth Theme Park close to Chersonisos, 25 kilometers (15 miles) east of Heraklion. This park was designed by a British architect famous for maze design, and the three-dimensional labyrinth is based on the myth of the Minotaur and features stairways, bridges, towers, and rooms. Other activities available at the park include horseback riding, archery, miniature golf, and a pottery workshop.

labyrinth
Labyrinth. Internet Archive Book Images, Wikimedia Commons
Labyrinth Theme Park
139 km away
Chersonisos
olive branch
Olive Tree. Luka Tica, Foundation for Gavalochori
Cretan Olive Oil Farm
177 km away
Agios Nikolaos
Lake Kournas Cretr
Lake Kournas, Georgioupoli. Y. Skoulas, GNTO.
Lake Kournas
20 km away
Georgioupoli
Image by Myhersonissos, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Cave, Skoteino. Myhersonissos, CC BY SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
Cave in Skoteino
139 km away
Skoteino

Nature-Based Attractions

Lake Kournas (Λίμνη Κουρνά) is a large lake fed by fresh waters that flow through groundwater and springs that are fed by snowmelt from the White Mountains. One of only a few freshwater lakes on Crete, it is home to many species of birds and aquatic plants, so kids might very well see geese and wild ducks, sweet water turtles, grey herons, green sandpipers, and kingfishers. At the lake, children can enjoy pedal boats, swimming, and perhaps a walk on the narrow path around the lake. Tavernas at the shoreline or above give many options when the little ones get hungry. Lake Kournas is 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Gavalochori.

Another natural attraction that will fascinate children is the cave of Skoteino, located 23 kilometers (14 miles) east of Heraklion and about one kilometer northwest of the village of Skoteino (Σκοτεινό). This cave was used for worship as early as 1900 BC, and several items from the late Minoan through the Roman periods have been found in it. The cave is easy to enter through steps, which open up into impressive clusters of stalagmites and stalactites. 

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