Charm and Beauty in Crete 2017 / 2018
If you’re craving some serious sunshine, sand and sea, stop delaying and begin packing your swimsuits and flip flops for a fun-filled Crete holiday. Crete is the largest and most southern of the Greek Islands and is a popular all inclusive holiday destination for British holidaymakers.
Brimming with majestic mountains, gorges to hike, plains to see and curving coastlines to drive - there’s a plethora of things to do in Crete to get your teeth into. That’s not to mention the 5,000-plus years of history, culture, and delicious mezzes on hand, all rewarding experiences of holidays to Crete.
Top resorts include Aghios Nikolaos, which lies east of Heraklion. A seaside town with a difference, this hilltop resort is a sprawling beauty overlooking the fantastic Mirabello Bay. Rethymnon is located between Heraklion and Chania and offers a mega 12km of beach, a beautiful old town and lots of history. Last but not least is the popular Gouves, home to the beachy Kato Gouves and Pano Gouves, a resort of two halves!
Most popular hotels in Crete
Stella Palace Resort
Mitsis Laguna Resort
Kiani Beach Resort
Blue Bay Resort & Spa Hotel
Aghia Pelagia, Crete
Mitsis Rinela Beach
Kokkini Hani, Crete
Stella Island Luxury resort and Spa
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Greek
- Time Zone: GMT +2
- Average flight time: 4h 0m
When to go
(°C) Avg. High Temp
Visit Crete and marvel at the rich history the island has to offer. Enjoy the wealth of cultural and historical sites or go for a drive through one of the coastal Greek Island towns.
Whether you're visiting Rethymnon, with its old town and beach prowess, the ever popular Aghios Nikolaos, or the quiet Agia Pelagia, Crete holidays have tonnes to offer. Other top resorts include Gouves, with its bustling Kato Gouves beach; Stalis, which is located between Malia and Herssonissos and is home to a huge, sandy beach and the rising star, Elounda, which offers 2 Blue Flag beaches and a peacefull setting.
Take a step back in time and marvel at local artefacts in the many museums that are dotted across the island, discover paradise for yourself around Crete’s coastlines or simply marvel at the realm of food, nightlife and natural beauty on offer. Crete is the ultimate destination in Greece for those who want to sample Greek history in picturesque surroundings.
Wine and Dine
When it comes to food and drink you will be spoilt for choice in Crete. Try some Greek meatballs at one of Rethymnon's top restaurants. Or, if you want to taste the very best in Greek seafood, you can sample some squid in Heraklion.
For those who enjoy simple, rustic food, Crete is a goldmine of idyllic little taverna and Cretan cuisine. One of the best spots to enjoy tradtional tavernas is Elounda. Only in recent years as Elounda begun to attract more and more tourists, so has retained its original charm. With dishes made using traditional techniques and only the freshest local ingredients, Crete is a triumph in both taste and gastro-authenticity.
For those who want to enjoy a drink or two, Malia is full of bars and nightclubs where visitors can let their hair down and enjoy the local drink of choice, Ouzo. Hersonissos also has its fair share of bars.
For families, the Acqua Park Plus in Hersonissos is full of flumes, chutes and pools for all the family to enjoy. Considered Crete’s best waterpark, the popular spot and has a huge choice slides and water features to choose from. The water park ensures a full day of fun for children and adults alike. Booking yourself into an all inclusive hotel in Hersonissos is a good place to start.
With the immense amount of beaches to choose from, there's no shortage of daytrips across Crete. We recommend checking out the Chania area on the west coast, which has lots of Blue Flag beaches to discover. Other popular beach spots to check out include Gouves, which is quiet and ideal for families; a brand new contender, Elounda, offers 2 Blue Flag beaches and a charming town, and Stalis, which has gradual slopes into the sea and soft, sandy beaches.
History and culture are perfect for dragging the kids around, and to show them a bit of the ancient history on Crete you should check out Reythmnon. Who doesn't love an old Venetian castle? The fortress of Rethymnon will please the kids.
Action and Adventure
Crete attractions are ideal for lovers of the outdoors, and the Samaria Gorge National Park in particular is a must-see. It is one of the longest gorges in Europe and is located in the magnificent White Mountains, at an altitude of 1250km! The White Mountains themselves are an ideal area for hiking and canyoning, as well as plenty of majestic peaks that make ideal photo opportunities. Wildlife lovers will find plenty of things to do in Crete. Take to the peaks on foot and keep your eyes peeled for birds of prey, including the elusive Golden Eagle. Crete’s rich and diverse geography means there are plenty of activities and thrill seeking opportunities for adventure lovers to choose from.
Life's a Beach
The resort area of Aghios Nikolaos boasts the lovely Almyros Beach, about a 10 minute drive from Elounda, and it has clear waters and perfect sands. Aghios Nikolaos also overlooks the lovely Mirabello Bay, but Aghios Nikolaos may feel less Cretan because of its resort style.
The ancient town of Rethymnon boasts fantastic history, but after a day of wandering around all those ruins, you can still retreat to Rethymnon Beach for a spot of sunbathing. Rethymnon Beach is located directly in the middle of town, and stretches for an incredible 12km.
Gouves, just a short distance from Heraklion, is home to a main beach at Kato Gouves. This Blue Flag beach is lined with a promenade, bars and restaurants. Just a short way up the coast is the traditional village of Pano Gouves.
On the north coast, not far from Herssonissos and Malia, you'll find Stalis, a quiet, beautiful resort which boasts a charming Blue Flag beach. The beach at Stalis is one of the most popular beaches on Crete, so get there early!
From the breath-taking beaches of Elafonissi in the west, to the stunning waves and palm trees of Vai in the east, Crete holidays offer more than enough beaches for a perfect Greek beach hop. The island is also full of beautiful Venetian towns and picturesque villages like Sissi, and an equal proportion of stunning, winding roads that lead you to unexpected ancient sites or tavernas full of delicious, authentic food.
The range of things to do in Crete during the evenings is vast. Local hotspot Malia is a stomping ground for those who want to party and let their hair down. Widely considered one of Europe’s biggest party destinations, Malia regularly draws in party-loving tourists from Europe and the rest of the globe. The Candy Club is one of Malia’s most famous hotspots and is renowned for its sound system and light shows.
For cocktails, Babylon is the place to go, with extensive carefully crafted cocktails and some of the best DJs Crete has to offer, this is a popular choice for those hitting Malia. For dance music lovers, Factory Night Club plays a mixture of house music, old-school and retro classics. For those who want to chill out and enjoy a little piece of home, the White Lion Pub in Hersonissos sells traditional English ales and offers a more laidback vibe.
For something more laidback, like a casual drink overlooking a beautiful bay, top resorts include Aghios Nikolaos, Rethymnon and Chania.
The range of things to do in Crete makes it a fantastic choice for adventurous couples who want an adrenalin-packed holiday to remember. There are many adventure excursions available for thrill-seeking couples, while the scenic White Mountains are a popular destination for those who want to experience the great Greek outdoors.
A romantic all inclusive hotel can be found in one of the quieter resort areas, perhaps it's worth checking out the charming Elounda? Another good place to start looking would be the Chania area, around Aghios Nikolaos or the quiet Agia Pelagia. The city of Chania and its harbour look magical in the evening light, and the lighthouse at sunset provides a romantic feeling that couples won’t shake. Aghios Nikolaos sits snugly next to a romantic lake where you can enjoy meals and drinks, then hit the town in the evening. Agia Pelagia is ideal for a couple looking for romantic seclusion.
Crete holidays provide a wealth of destinations ideal for a romantic getaway.
The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is home to some of ancient Greece’s oldest artefacts. With fascinating items on offer from the Minoan civilisation, including art, sculptures, pottery and mural designs, there’s plenty to marvel at. These artefacts date back to the time of the mythical King Minos, who stories say was the ruler of the island and son of Zeus and Europa. The Knossos Palace ruins are another must-see for those who enjoy ancient culture and are evidence of Greece’s ancient civilisation, which existed around the same time as the Ancient Egyptians. Discovered in the early 1900s, the Knossos Palace ruins are impressive and give a modern day insight into the Minoan civilisation and its rich history.
Heraklion is full of winding cobblestone streets that will keep shoppers occupied for days, while Sitia, a quieter option, is worth the drive for its sandy stretch of beach that lasts for kilometres and its archaeological sites situated in the surrounding hills.
For something livelier, descend on the resorts of Stalis and take your pick from the tavernas, modern restaurants, pubs and clubs that line their streets. From a quiet evening in a traditional restaurant to dancing all night in one of the clubs, whatever you decide, holidays to Crete continue long into the night.