“With miles of sandy beaches, a scenic interior and an encyclopedic offering of myths and legends, Crete really makes the most of its size.”
As the largest of the Greek Islands, Crete subscribes to the ‘bigger is better’ school of thought. Its size means it’s got 650 miles of coast to go round, and every stretch of shoreline is different. The beaches in Malia are the lively hangouts of the 18 to 30s crowd. The 12-kilometre swathe of sand in Rethymnon is covered with the footprints of families. And the beaches near Aghios Nikolaos take a something-for-everyone approach, offering watersports and harbour-side restaurants.
Crete’s got more history than many of its neighbours, too. The island’s timeline stretches back more than 4,000 years. In fact, Crete is credited with being the birthplace of modern civilisation. Evidence for this claim can be found at The Palace of Knossos – the Minoans who lived here were some of the first people in the world to have fashions, parties and women’s rights.
Finally, Crete has a lion’s share of unspoilt scenery. Soaring mountains, deep gorges and mirror-like lakes are all part of the island’s complexion. You’ll get the best feel for what the island has to offer at Samaria Gorge. Stretching for 16 kilometres, it’s the longest in Europe.
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Resorts in Crete include Aghia Marina, Crete, Aghios Nikolaos, Almyrida, Chania, Elounda, Georgioupolis, Gerani, Gournes, Gouves, Heraklion, Hersonissos, Horafakia, Istron And Kalo Chorio, Kalives, Kamilari, Kamisiana, Kissamos, Kokkini Hani, Kolymbari, Koutouloufari, Lyttos Beach, Maleme, Malia, Nea Kydonia, Piskopiano Village, Platanias, Prina, Rethymnon and Stalis.
Looking for holidays in Greece? Our Greece holiday destinations include Corfu, Crete, Halkidiki, Kefalonia, Kos, Lefkas, Meganissi, Parga, Paxos, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, Skiathos, Skopelos, Thassos and Zante.
When it comes to beaches, Crete has the cream of the crop. Huge swathes of divinely soft sand. Small coves lined with smooth warm pebbles. All lapped by super warm seas throughout the summer. And you can pick a beach to match your mood. Want it busy, booming and covered with eye candy? Malia Beach is the place to go. Not only is there fine golden sand that stretches for miles, but it’s packed with funky bars and bronzed twenty-somethings. If you’re after something a bit more family-focused, you’re really spoiled for choice. Try the three pebbly shores at Aghios Nikolaos, which are equipped with bathing platforms and watersports. Or the tot-friendly Rethymnon Beach and Sun Beach, where they’ve thought of everything you could possibly need as you relax on their gorgeous sandy shores. For the sunbathing connoisseur, the fairy tale beach at Elafonisi is a must – pink sand, emerald seas and a coral reef lagoon. The ever popular Vai Beach near Aghios Nikolaos is a winner with everyone – palm groves, sandy shore and warm waters. No wonder it’s consistently in Greece’s top ten sun spots. If you feel the need to escape the hoards for a day, hop in a hire car and head along the coast. While the beaches on the northeast coast have become fully fledged holiday havens, the rest of Crete still has little gems of coastline tucked away. Pack your parasol, a picnic and your iPod and go find your slice of paradise.
Think Greek Islands. Think shopping. What comes to mind? Leather, ceramics and miniature donkeys, right? Well, here’s a tip – don’t judge Crete by any other island’s standards. We are, after all, talking about the largest island in Greece. It doesn’t need tourism to keep it ticking over, so you’ll find more than just seaside stalls here. Ok, there’s lots of leather and ceramics, but it’s all top notch. Try Chania’s Leather Lane to grab a bargain bag, or its mix of arty shops for some studio ceramics. Then there’s Krista - a hillside village outside of Agios Nikolaos, famed purely for its handicrafts. Agios Nikolaos gives you ample opportunities to stretch those purse strings in its chic boutiques, and Rethymnon has all the shops you’d expect in a big town. But the real Cretan buys are culinary. Pots of honey. Sachets of red saffron. And of course, the cheeses. Or perhaps you’ve been inspired by the fabulous Minoan jewellery? Whatever you decide to treat yourself to, Heraklion’s Central Market will probably have it. It's open daily for food, clothes, gold and souvenirs.