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Graceful Gournes holidays 2019 / 2020

Gournes is a tiny, sleepy resort on the beautiful northern coast of Crete, about 10 miles east of the island capital of Heraklion. It has a sandy beach, and you’ll find more beaches in the neighbouring resorts of Kokkini Hani and Gouves. There is a sprinkling of taverns and cafés in Gournes, with plenty more in the adjoining resorts. Gournes is home to an excellent aquarium, and there are lots of water sports and other activities available in the area. If you’re looking for shops and nightlife, then you could head to Hersonissos, which is the largest resort on the island. The vibrant modern capital, Heraklion, also makes for a great day trip, with lots of historic sights, along with shops, bars and restaurants. And if you want to escape the crowds, explore the Lassithi Plateau, high in the hills, to discover picture-postcard villages and windmills.

Top attractions

Top attractions

If you want perfect peace and quiet, sleepy little Gournes is a great option. This seaside resort on the northern coast of Crete has lots of sandy beaches, and a smattering of traditional cafés and tavernas. It’s just a 10-minute drive to Hersonissos, the biggest resort on Crete, which has shops, bars, nightlife and a water park to keep the kids happy. If you’re looking for a taste of authentic Crete, head up to the beautifully preserved little villages and windmills on the Lassithi Plateau, which sits at an altitude of 800 metres. You could also visit the handsome island capital of Heraklion, which has lots of nightlife, or head to the remarkable archaeological site of Knossos, where the terrifying Minotaur roamed the labyrinth in Greek myth.

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Eating out

Eating out

Gournes is a small and sleepy resort, but you’ll find a decent choice of restaurants and cafés in the area. Many of them are delightfully old-fashioned Greek tavernas, run by local families who use their own produce – such as olives and cheeses  – in their cuisine. It’s a great place to tuck into traditional Cretan dishes, which range from beautifully fresh seafood to lamb braised with wild greens and lemon. You could also try snails, a local delicacy! Crete has an abundance of fresh produce, and you’ll find lots of vegetables dishes, including, of course, the famous Greek salads, which come topped with local mizithra cheese.

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Families

Families

Sleepy little Gournes is an ideal place for a quiet family holiday with plenty of sun, sea and sand. The beaches are great for kids, with shallow waters, protected from the winds by a series of breakers. There are lots of facilities, including sun loungers and parasols for rent, and the restaurants and cafés are always delighted to cater to children. Kids will also enjoy the aquarium in Gournes, with another aquarium and reptile rescue centre in nearby Hersonissos, where they can hold the snakes and lizards, as well as the labyrinth adventure park, which is based on the Greek myth of the minotaur. You can see the ruins of the ancient palace where the minotaur is said to have roamed in Knossos, among the most spectacular ancient sites on Crete, which is located just south of Heraklion.

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Action & Adventure

Action & Adventure

Little Gournes is very small, but it does have sandy beaches where you can swim and paddle. The village nudges right up against the larger resorts of Kokkini Hani and Gouves, where you’ll find a host of water sports available. You can rent out jet skis, mess about on pedaloes, or even go parasailing if you really want to get that adrenaline flowing. There are even more aquatic activities available in nearby Hersonissos, the biggest resort on Crete. Inland, you can go climbing, canyoning or take off-road Jeep safaris in the mountains. Or enjoy one of the island’s amazing hiking routes, such as the famous hike through the Samaria Gorge.

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Beaches

Beaches

Little Gournes is a quiet little town, strung out among citrus groves and orchards on the northern coast of Crete. It’s a sleepy spot, ideal if you’re looking for complete relaxation. The main beach is a mixture of sand and pebbles, and there are sun loungers and parasols for rent, plus a choice of cafés and restaurants within a short walk. The wind can pick up along this stretch of coast, but the waters are sheltered by breakers, so you’ll find the conditions are usually fine for even the youngest kids. Gournes sits between the villages Kokkini Hani and Gouves, each of which have more beaches.

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Nightlife

Nightlife

Gournes is a quiet, family-friendly village, and the nightlife consists mainly of relaxed taverns and cafés where you can enjoy drinks out on the terrace on walm summer nights. You’ll find a few more options in the adjoining villages of Kokkini Hani and Gouves, which are a little larger, but for serious nightlife you’ll need to hit Hersonissos. This is the largest resort on the island, and has a fantastic array of places to party, whether you want to hang out in a stylish cocktail bar or dance the night away at a club. Heraklion, the island capital, is also a fantastic nightlife hub, with loads of places to eat, drink and have fun, if you want to let your hair down!

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Couples

Couples

If you want to escape the crowds and soak up the sun in perfect peace, then Gournes is an ideal destination for a tranquil and romantic holiday. The little beaches are rarely crowded, if you simply want to bask in the sun, and you will find plenty of charming and old-fashioned Greek tavernas for romantic dining. You could drive up to the Lassithi Plateau, high in the hills, where the picturesque villages and windmills provide the perfect backdrop for romance. If you want some shopping and bright lights, you could make for the big, bustling resort of Hersonissos, or the modern Cretan capital of Heraklion.

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Culture

Culture

There are all kinds of cultural sights within easy reach of Gournes. Knossos, the most important archaeological site on Crete, is situated just south of Heraklion. The capital of Minoan Crete, Knossos has a prominent place in Greek myths: the palace was where the Minotaur, half-bull and half-human, was slain by Theseus in the underground labyrinth. Other mythical sites within easy reach include the Dikteon Cave, believed to have been the birthplace of the god Zeus, which is located near the village of Psychro on the beautiful Lassithi Plateau. Heraklion, the capital of Crete, is a modern city, but preserves some historic sights, and contains a handful of excellent museums.

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