Gouves is a small resort on the northern coast of Crete that offers sandy beaches, crystal clear seas and plenty of traditional Greek charm. There are lots of water sports available on the beaches, and the little town has a great choice of shops, restaurants and cafés. You can explore the old village, Pano Gouves, which offers wonderful views over the coastline, or head to big, buzzy Hersonissos (15 minutes away by car) if you want some shopping and nightlife. There are water parks and an aquarium nearby for kids, and the island capital of Heraklion has boutiques and cafés, along with a clutch of excellent museums. Just south of Heraklion is the magnificent archaeological site at Knossos, once the largest Minoan city on Crete.
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Gouves is a pretty, seaside resort overlooking a string of beaches and coves on the northern coast of Crete. It’s a tranquil spot, surrounded by citrus groves and orchards, but the big buzzy resort of Hersonissos is just a 15-minute drive away if you want to get your shopping and nightlife fix. Like many Cretan coastal villages, Gouves is divided into two parts: Pano Gouves is the old village, set on a hilltop just inland, while Kato Gouves (‘lower Gouves’) is the newer part of town that has grown up along the beaches. By the sea, you’ll find a good choice of restaurants and shops, and there are lots of options for water sports along the beaches. The old village is very charming, and offers wonderful views over the coast.
Gouves may be small, but it has a surprisingly good choice of places to eat and drink, many of them located right on the beach. Lots of them are traditional, family-run tavernas, which pride themselves on using home-grown produce on their menus. You’ll find plenty of places to try delicious Cretan dishes, from beautifully fresh seafood to local lamb stews. The refreshing Greek salads, topped with local mizithra cheese, are a great showcase for the abundant fresh produce on Crete. To wash it all down, you can enjoy some excellent Cretan wine, which has been produced on the island for centuries.
Gouves, with its sandy beaches, water sports and laid-back charm, is a great place for a family holiday. You’ve got all the tranquillity of an authentic Greek village, but the attractions of bustling Hersonissos, Crete’s biggest resort, are just 15 minutes away by car. Kids will enjoy the water parks in Hersonissos and Heraklion, which both also offer a host of boat excursions. There are plenty of water sports available, and older kids might be interested in learning to dive or wind-surf. There’s an aquarium nearby in Gournes and an aquarium and reptile rescue centre in nearby Hersonissos, where they can hold the reptiles and see rescued turtles. They may also enjoy a visit to Knossos, where the legendary Minotaur once roamed the labyrinth beneath the palace, according to Greek myth.
Gouves offers a surprisingly wide range of water sports, despite its diminutive size! You can rent out kayaks or paddle boards to explore the coastline at leisure, or hire a jet ski if you want to skim across the waves. There’s even a parasailing centre if you’re into more extreme sports! You’ll find even more aquatic activities in the big resort of Hersonissos, just a 15-minute drive away. Crete is an outstanding hiking destination, and there are some beautiful hikes just inland, including some which loop around the old village of Panos Gouves. There are plenty more demanding hikes higher up in the mountains, or you could even walk the famous Samaria Gorge.
There are several beaches in Gouves, which is one of a string of small seaside villages along this stretch of Crete’s northern coastline. You can take your pick among sandy beaches with plenty of facilities, such as sun beds and parasols for rent, or choose a rocky cove if you’re looking for peace and seclusion. The waters here are generally calm and shallow, ideal for young children, protected from the wind by breakers in the sea. You can enjoy a host of water sports here, whether you want to mess about on a banana boat or take wind-surfing lessons. And there are plenty of places to eat and drink, many right on the beach.
The nightlife in Gouves is as laid-back as the town itself. Sit out on the terrace of one of the cafés or restaurants and enjoy a few drinks as the sun goes down. The waterfront area livens up in the summer months, and some of the restaurants might offer live traditional music or other special events. If you want some serious nightlife action, the big, buzzy resort of Hersonissos is just a 15-minute drive away. It’s got a huge choice of bars and clubs where you can party all night! If you’re sightseeing in Heraklion, the island capital, you could stick around in the evenings to enjoy its varied nightlife, among the best on Crete.
Gouves is perfect for a romantic holiday if you’re looking for peace, relaxation and oodles of laid-back Cretan charm. The little town has a string of beaches, including some secluded little coves if you want to escape the crowds, and offers a range of water sports, from jet skis to paddle boarding. There are several atmospheric tavernas where you can enjoy romantic dinners, perhaps to the accompaniment of some traditional Cretan folk music. If you want nightlife and shopping, Hersonissos – the largest resort on Crete – is just a 15-minute drive away. And if you prefer beautiful landscapes and utter tranquillity, you could drive up to the Lassithi Plateau, where you’ll find picture-postcard villages and whitewashed windmills.
Gouves makes a great base for exploring some of Crete’s most fascinating cultural attractions. Biggest of these is undoubtedly Knossos, once the largest Minoan city on Crete and now its most important archaeological site. It was here, according to Greek myth, that the Minotaur roamed a labyrinth beneath the palace, until it was killed by Theseus. Most of the island’s most important archaeological finds are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, the vibrant capital of Crete. It’s a modern, bustling city that preserves some historic monuments including a Venetian fortress, and has a host of fascinating museums. You can also seek out the Dikteon Cave, believed to be the birthplace of Zeus, near the village of Psychro on the Lassithi Plateau.