Crete Holidays

Almond trees and olive groves, tiny white chapels beyond glittering seas and whispers of an ancient Minoan civilization on holidays to Crete.

The scent of sage, thyme and rosemary fill the mountainous countryside; behind stone walls and palace-style resorts you’ll find luxurious spas; and, on an island famed for its dairy products, artisanal parlours are chock full of pistachio ice cream and lemon sorbet. We love holidays to Crete for the seaside tavernas dishing out fresh cheeses and Greek wines, the hotels which are home to infinity pools with out-of-this-world views, and those tiny coastal fishing villages where you can pick up local honey and home-pressed oils.

A big island full of bold colours, beautiful beaches and beguiling Greek legend, Crete holidays are as much about that deep blue sea as they are miniature Byzantine chapels housing frescoed ceilings and huge archaeological grids tracing the remains of an ancient Minoan empire. Cretan gorges feature sweet-scented valleys and sea green pools and end at the Aegean Sea while high plateaus put you among a party of white windmills with their sails turning in the breeze. If you’re looking for something off the charts, head southwards. Time it right and you can walk through shallow waters to the islet of Elafonisi to see those iconic pink and white sands.

If you fancy a taste of idyllic island life, give us a call and we’ll help craft your next adventure.

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Crete Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Crete

Blue Palace Elounda

Perhaps Crete’s most famous address, Blue Palace was reimagined for 2024 yet remains gloriously a...

Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas

Perched above a picturesque private cove, this luxury hideaway offers mesmerising views over the...

Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection

This recently renovated resort combines a unique design with an indulgent spa, magical views and...

Elounda Gulf Villas

Clinging to an emerald hillside, this collection of secluded pool villas and suites offers dreamy...

Agapi Beach Resort

Set on a private sandy beach, this lively resort offers an impressive array of activities, with a...

Domes Noruz Chania, Autograph Collection

This adults-only lifestyle resort brings a touch of contemporary indulgence to cultural Chania.

Grecotel Amirandes, Boutique Resort 

This decadent Minoan Palace-style resort is edged by a beautiful beach and show-stopping pool.

Grecotel LUXME White Palace, LUX ME Resort

Set on a sandy strip of Cretan coastline, this all-white, contemporary-design spot is an idyllic...

St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas

Set amid peaceful, leafy gardens, this sought-after spot overlooks one of Crete’s finest bays and...

Cretan Malia Park

Effortlessly cool without being contrived, this secluded beachside retreat exudes bohemian charm...

Domes Aulūs Elounda, Curio Collection by Hilton

An adults-only hideaway on the outskirts of upmarket Elounda with unbeatable island views.

Domes Zeen Chania, A Luxury Collection Resort, Crete

This peaceful and luxurious Cretan retreat puts a modern spin on rustic design and has a ‘living...

Grecotel Caramel, Boutique Resort

A beachfront hideaway with a dash of Cretan flair, Grecotel’s Caramel Boutique Resort has everyth...

Holidays in Crete

hotel
  • Crete
  • 5 Star

Perhaps Crete’s most famous address, Blue Palace was reimagined for 2024 yet remains gloriously and authentically Cretan.

From £1,559 p/p
hotel
  • Crete
  • 5 Star

Perched above a picturesque private cove, this luxury hideaway offers mesmerising views over the Mediterranean and a cool, sophisticated vibe.

From £1,371 p/p
hotel
  • Crete
  • 5 Star

This recently renovated resort combines a unique design with an indulgent spa, magical views and facilities for all ages.

From £1,315 p/p
hotel
  • Crete
  • 5 Star

Clinging to an emerald hillside, this collection of secluded pool villas and suites offers dreamy sea views at every turn.

From £1,134 p/p
hotel
  • Crete
  • 4.5 Star

Set on a private sandy beach, this lively resort offers an impressive array of activities, with an excellent culinary offering and regular live entertainment.

From £976 p/p
hotel
  • Crete
  • 5 Star

This adults-only lifestyle resort brings a touch of contemporary indulgence to cultural Chania.

From £1,193 p/p
hotel
  • Crete
  • 5 Star

This decadent Minoan Palace-style resort is edged by a beautiful beach and show-stopping pool.

From £1,128 p/p
hotel
  • Crete
  • 5 Star

Set on a sandy strip of Cretan coastline, this all-white, contemporary-design spot is an idyllic retreat for couples and families alike.

From £1,307 p/p
hotel
  • Crete
  • 5 Star

Set amid peaceful, leafy gardens, this sought-after spot overlooks one of Crete’s finest bays and makes an excellent base for exploring the island

From £1,270 p/p
hotel
  • Crete
  • 5 Star

Effortlessly cool without being contrived, this secluded beachside retreat exudes bohemian charm offering guests an authentic yet luxurious Cretan experience.

From £1,005 p/p

Historical Crete

Dive into Crete’s rich traditions and folklore on a trip that also introduces you to some of the island’s most striking scenery. The adventure kicks off in the charming village of Vrisses, with its backdrop of the White Mountains, where you’ll visit a family-run vineyard and learn about the wines as well as olive oil and other local products. Heading eastward through more enchanting settlements, you’ll reach Myriokefala, home to a picturesque monastery dating from the 11th century. The main draw is its ancient frescoes, only rediscovered recently during renovation work, though the cheese pies with honey from a nearby coffee shop – a local speciality – are also well worth investigating. Your next stop was one of western Crete’s most important cities during Roman times, before being destroyed in 828 AD. You’ll find traces of ancient Lappa in what is now the village of Argyroupolis, where you can enjoy lunch in one of the local taverns. On the return to Chania, there’s one last pause: the stunning Lake Kournas, in a beautiful setting backed by hills.

• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
Lunch and drinks are not included.

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The Olive & Wine Groves of Crete

Spend a relaxing day savouring the authentic flavours of Crete, from local wines to olive oil. You’ll begin with a pilgrimage to the cave of St John the Hermit in Marathokefala, a village near Kolymbari, where the saint is believed to have lived for three years and which houses a famous healing spring. Continuing through more sleepy villages, you’ll arrive at Vouves. You’ll stop here to have a look at one of the oldest olive trees in Crete, thought to be 3,000 years old, and drop in at the olive tree museum. The award-winning Anoskeli Olive Mill & Winery is the next destination on the itinerary, where you’ll learn about different types of olive oil and the various stages of its preparation before enjoying a guided tasting. From here, you’ll head to the winery for the second part of the tour, an in-depth discovery of the five Anoskeli wines made here, including a chance to taste them. To round off the day, you’ll halt at a tavern overlooking some olive groves, where you can opt to try some typical Cretan dishes or just sip a reviving coffee.

• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
Lunch, drinks and the entrance fee to Marathokefala cave are not included.

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Historical Rethymno

Rethymno is the focus of this enchanting day spent exploring Crete’s fascinating history and culture. Its well-preserved old town is like something from a fairytale, complete with an atmospheric old harbour lined with Venetian and Ottoman buildings, and a Venetial citadel from whose hilltop setting the views are a delight. Before you arrive, you’ll stop at Margarites, a village in the foothills of Mount Ida that’s known for its classic pottery, and in Rethymno itself, you’ll visit a bakery owned by one of the last traditional filo masters in Greece. Seeing the superfine pastry being made by hand is quite an experience, as is tasting some of the delicious sweetmeats made from it, such as baklava and kataifi. The final destination is Argiroupolis, a charming village now known for its springs and cascades, which in Roman times was the bustling city of Lappa.

• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
Lunch and entrance fees are not included.

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Discover Knossos

Immerse yourself in the world of the ancient Minoans on a private tour of some of their most important sites. The first of these is the palace of Knossos, the ceremonial and political hub of this extraordinarily advanced Bronze Age civilisation and an archaeological site well worth lingering over. From here, you’ll be whisked in your Land Rover along a dirt road flanked by pine forests towards the summit of Giouhtas, regarded by the Minoans as a sacred mountain and where, legend has it, Zeus is buried. Along the way, you’ll have time to search for aromatic herbs, catch a glimpse of the vultures that live here, and soak up the stunning views of the vine-clad valley of Archanes. After the culture and vultures come wine and food: a tasting and tour at a local winery followed by a delicious Cretan lunch at a local tavern. Refreshed, you’ll head back through vineyards and olive groves to Heraklion Archaeological Museum to marvel at the beautifully made artefacts created by the Minoans so long ago.

• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know Specialist guides are available at Knossos and Heraklion Archaeological Museum for an extra fee.

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The Landscapes Of Rethymno

If you love Rethymno’s small-town charm, you’ll be just as enchanted with the unspoiled countryside of its hinterland. It’s an area packed with fabulous scenery, glorious villages and other impressive sights that are just made for visiting in your own chauffeur-driven Land Rover. Among the many quaint villages that you’ll see en route is Giannoudi with its appealing Venetian-style architecture; Spili, whose famous lion-head fountain is fed by ice-cold water from mountain springs, and pretty Armeni, surrounded by olive, orange and avocado groves. Then there are the dramatic landscapes, from the wonderfully wild gorge of Prasses – home to rare vultures – and the equally ravishing gorge of Kourtaliotis to the picture-perfect beach at Preveli. Naturally, the day also includes a pause at a traditional tavern where you’ll have a chance to catch your breath over a lunch of Cretan cuisine at its most authentic and a glass or two of the local wine.

• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

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Discover Akrotiri & Chania

Spend a fascinating day soaking up the sights in Chania and the rugged Akrotiri peninsula. From the city’s bustling Souda port, you’ll make the short trip to the Suda Bay War Cemetary, set on a small plateau overlooking the sea. This poignant site is the last resting place of around 1,500 Commonwealth servicemen, most of whom lost their lives in the Battle of Crete in May 1941. From here, the route takes you inland to another supremely atmospheric spot, the monastery of Agia Triada Tsangarolon, built towards the end of the 17th century. It’s a tranquil and photogenic complex, with elegant Venetian-style architecture and courtyard gardens filled with bougainvillaea and oleander. Afterwards, you’ll return to Chania for the rest of the day, pausing to drink in the view across the city from the Venizelos graves, the burial place of one of Greece’s most significant politicians. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the beautiful Old Town and colourful local neighbourhoods, before finishing with dinner overlooking the historic Venetian harbour.

• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
The entrance fee at Agia Triada is not included.

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4x4 Exploration Of Western Crete

Pilot your own jeep on a fun-filled driving adventure through some of Crete’s most stunning landscapes. With your hands on the steering wheel, you’ll cruise through a lush, steep-sided gorge to the village of Therisso at the foot of Lefka Ori, or the White Mountains. After a short briefing from your guide, you’ll head off-road and upwards along dirt tracks towards the village of Lakki, the perfect spot to pause for iced coffee, a stroll around the quiet streets and photos of the fabulous views. After that, you’ll drive on to Nea Roumata for lunch in a traditional Cretan tavern, before tackling some tricky dirt roads on the way to the mountain village of Sempronas and then picturesque Palaia Roumata, where you’ll stop again for coffee, photos and view admiring. The road back to the start point passes through the stunning Mesavlia gorge, a superb finale to a thrilling day.

• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
You will need to bring your driving license.

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Crete Snorkelling Experience

The Chania area is blessed with some of the island’s best beaches, and those warm, crystal-clear turquoise waters make this an excellent destination for a relaxed snorkelling adventure as well. Your day begins at a dive centre where you’ll be kitted out with a shortie wetsuit, fins, mask and snorkel and given some handy tips on making the most of your time in the water. Then it’s time to hop on a speedy RHIB – as in rigid-hull inflatable boat – for a 20-or-so-minute zip across the waves to your first guided snorkelling session. With superb visibility, you have a good chance of seeing starfish, sponges, crabs and an array of fish, and maybe even glimpsing an octopus. After a reviving snack, you’ll be off to the second, equally breathtaking snorkelling site for the day, where you’ll have another opportunity to discover the marine life of the Mediterranean.

• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
You’ll need to be able to swim, but otherwise the trip is suitable for all.

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Get to know Crete and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.

Capital
TIME DIFFERENCE

GMT+2

CURRENCY

Euro

FLYING TIME TO DESTINATION

4 hours

RELIGION

Christianity (majority Greek Orthodox)

LANGUAGE

Greek

Where is Crete?
The largest island in Greece and the fifth largest in Europe, Crete is in the southern part of the Aegean Sea and is known for its high mountainous landscape and lengthy stretch of coastline.

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Beaches
Crete’s soul-stirring beaches are the kind you crave when escapism calls. Craggy cliffsides back white-gold sands and warm Mediterranean waters dazzle in every shade of blue. The island’s Instagrammable coastline is undeniably photogenic, except the pictures don’t do it justice. There’s a beach for every vibe. You have cool cosmopolitan strips, family-friendly Blue Flag bays, secluded slow-paced shores, and crowd-free coves overlooking the isle of Spinalonga. Some of our handpicked resorts here have their own private beach, and many have spectacular beachfront settings and far-reaching sea views.

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History
There are dozens of Minoan sites to visit in Crete, but just outside of Heraklion is the most renowned, Knossos. This colossal Bronze Age site is thought to be Europe’s oldest city and is one of Crete’s most popular attractions. The Throne Room is a must. It gets very busy in the summer and you can expect to devote around three hours to exploring. For fortress walls, a labyrinth of medieval lanes and Venetian architecture we recommend visiting Chania and Rethymno, and for monasteries and medieval churches, visit the 13th-Century church of Panagia Kera just outside of Agios Nikolaos and the fortified monastery of Toploú just east of Sitía

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Getting around
Public transport is by bus only on the island of Crete and while there is a fairly extensive network and schedule, we do recommend hiring a car if you want the freedom and convenience of exploring at your own pace. Distances are not long between many of the major attractions, but roads tend to be narrow and winding as you head toward the mountains so it’s advisable to bear this in mind when factoring driving routes and itinerary times.

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Food & drink
Olive oil, cheeses, honey and herbs are staples on the island. With over 60 olive trees per inhabitant, you’re guaranteed a taste of that spectacular Mediterranean diet. While you won’t find Michelin-Starred dining, you will discover the freshest seafood and fish and the most succulent fruit and vegetables. Expect garlic dips, Greek salads, baked feta cheese and plenty of souvlaki skewers. Dine in tiny romantic courtyards, lively seaside tavernas and on beachfront terraces. Taste those famous locally distilled spirits made from grape pressings, eat copious amounts of ice cream and make sure to feast on fresh fish straight from the fisherman’s boat.

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May - Oct

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Our experts have curated a wide range of handpicked Crete offers to make your next holiday extra special. Make the most of great-value savings, exclusive upgrades and bespoke touches. 

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