Discover idyllic beaches and ancient civilisations
The largest of the Mediterranean islands, Crete is steeped in history, myth and legend. Its stunning mountain ranges are dotted with caves and sliced by dramatic gorges, and its rugged interior is blanketed in olive groves and wild flowers. In contrast the north coast is fringed by wonderful sandy beaches while breathtaking drives along the gloriously undeveloped rugged south coast lead to an unspoilt paradise of pretty isolated coves.
Best time to visit Crete
• The climate is fundamentally Mediterranean with long hot sunny days often from April through to the end of September, and pleasant, warm evenings
• The water is warm until mid-November, however, the rainy season begins mid-October.
Crete holiday highlights
Around an hour west of Heraklion, picturesque Agios Nikolaos (affectionately known as ‘Ag Nik’) hosts a bustling small harbour, a lovely lake with lakeside cafés, tavernas and restaurants, and coves with pebble beaches. The small village of Plaka sits opposite the fascinating island of Spinalonga on Crete’s north-east coast. Its main street is lined with shops, restaurants and cafés, but it retains a quiet, peaceful atmosphere, where everything still feels ‘local’ and evening entertainment is traditional.
Neighbouring Elounda has a wonderfully scenic location facing Spinalonga Island. Achieving the balance between authentic and modern, upscale Elounda has grown over the years from a small fishing village into a large and lively town, with a vibrant main square facing the natural lagoon harbour, a man-made sandy beach and a superb offering of upmarket hotels. The snorkelling here is particularly good, and there’s also a variety of watersports to choose from.
In the island's north-west, vibrant Chania is Crete’s second largest city. It might not have a well-known beach scene, but it bursts with history and heritage and has long been popular with culture seekers. And there are some fabulous beaches and high-end bars here, too.