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.
Take time out to explore the ruins of the Palace of Knossos and visit the cave thought to be the birthplace of Zeus. 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 northeast 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 enjoys a wonderfully scenic location facing Spinalonga Island. Achieving the balance between authentic and modern, upscale Elounda has grown over the years 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 high-end hotels. The snorkelling here is particularly good, and there’s also a variety of watersports to choose from.