Crete

Greece’s biggest island

Crete subscribes to the bigger is better school of thought. Not only is it the largest of the Greek Islands, but it’s the 5th biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea – Corsica pips it to the 4th place post by just a few hundred acres.

The full spectrum of beaches

Crete’s super-size means it’s got 650 miles of coastline to go around. The beaches in the Lassithi area, to the east of the island, are annexes to the cosmopolitan towns of Agios Nikolaos and Elounda. Here, sunbathers can mix stints on the sunbed with shopping sprees and long lunches in the squares. Further west, the Chania area teams Blue Flag beaches with an historical old town. The 12-kilometre-plus swathes of sand in the Rethymnon area are covered with the footprints of families, while the beaches in the Heraklion area are the staging areas and recovery spots for nights on the tiles.

Historical sights

Crete’s timeline stretches back more than 4,000 years. In fact, the island is credited with being the birthplace of modern civilisation. Evidence for this claim can be found at the Palace of Knossos, in the Heraklion area – the Minoans who lived here were some of the first people in the world to have fashions, parties and women’s rights.

Mountain scenery

Finally, Crete has a lion’s share of unspoilt scenery. You’ll get the best feel for what the island has to offer at Samaria Gorge, an hour’s drive from Chania. Stretching for 16 kilometres, it’s the longest in Europe.

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Heraklion Area

The Heraklion area’s bragging rights begin with its beaches. The stretches of sand in this central part of Crete’s north coast are impossible to pigeon hole – they range from the lively 18 to 30s hangouts in Malia to the rugged bays of the deserted island, Dia.

Chania Area

Set on Crete’s north coast, the Chania region knows how to score brownie points. For starters, it offers up more beaches than you can count on two hands. The stretches of sand range from the Blue Flag beauties in Agioi Apostoloi and Gerani to the chic bar-lined strip in Agia Marina.

Rethymnon Area

It’s the beaches that turn heads in the Rethymnon area. This part of north-east Crete has some of the best stretches of sand on the island. The main town beach is so long, you could run a half-marathon along its length. Most beaches come with the full list of facilities, too. There are tavernas by the shore, watersports in the sea, and sunloungers on the sand.

Elounda

Elounda is a seaside town on Crete’s northwestern coast. It’s an up-and-coming retreat that revolves around a colourful harbour and the main square just next door. The place is packed with authentic Greek tavernas and friendly bars – it also comes with a sandy beach that looks out to the intriguing Spinalonga Island. It’s quite a lively spot, but if you want more action there’s Agios Nikolaos just 15 minutes’ drive away.

Rethymnon

Rethymnon sits between Chania and Heraklion on Crete’s north coast. Thanks to the Ottomans and Venetians, its old town is a mix of mosques and Renaissance buildings, and there’s a huge fortress, too. But the seafood restaurants and lively bars ringing the harbour give the place a real modern buzz. And, the generous sandy beach rounds it all off nicely.

Aghios Nikolaos

Aghios Nikolaos is a picturesque port town on Mirabello Bay, in eastern Crete. It pairs cosmopolitan buzz with laid-back beach life, and though it’s become one of the island’s most popular destinations, it still packs plenty of old-school appeal.

Heraklion Area

The Heraklion area’s bragging rights begin with its beaches. The stretches of sand in this central part of Crete’s north coast are impossible to pigeon hole – they range from the lively 18 to 30s hangouts in Malia to the rugged bays of the deserted island, Dia.

Chania Area

Set on Crete’s north coast, the Chania region knows how to score brownie points. For starters, it offers up more beaches than you can count on two hands. The stretches of sand range from the Blue Flag beauties in Agioi Apostoloi and Gerani to the chic bar-lined strip in Agia Marina.

Rethymnon Area

It’s the beaches that turn heads in the Rethymnon area. This part of north-east Crete has some of the best stretches of sand on the island. The main town beach is so long, you could run a half-marathon along its length. Most beaches come with the full list of facilities, too. There are tavernas by the shore, watersports in the sea, and sunloungers on the sand.

Elounda

Elounda is a seaside town on Crete’s northwestern coast. It’s an up-and-coming retreat that revolves around a colourful harbour and the main square just next door. The place is packed with authentic Greek tavernas and friendly bars – it also comes with a sandy beach that looks out to the intriguing Spinalonga Island. It’s quite a lively spot, but if you want more action there’s Agios Nikolaos just 15 minutes’ drive away.

Rethymnon

Rethymnon sits between Chania and Heraklion on Crete’s north coast. Thanks to the Ottomans and Venetians, its old town is a mix of mosques and Renaissance buildings, and there’s a huge fortress, too. But the seafood restaurants and lively bars ringing the harbour give the place a real modern buzz. And, the generous sandy beach rounds it all off nicely.

Aghios Nikolaos

Aghios Nikolaos is a picturesque port town on Mirabello Bay, in eastern Crete. It pairs cosmopolitan buzz with laid-back beach life, and though it’s become one of the island’s most popular destinations, it still packs plenty of old-school appeal.

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