As the largest and southern of the Greek islands Crete is a popular holiday destination for British holidaymakers. This fascinating island offers beautiful sandy beaches and pebble coves that will fill cameras with postcard-worthy photos. However, what you don’t hear very often is how the stunning island of Crete is so much more than just a beach holiday. That’s not to mention the 5,000 plus years of history, culture, and delicious mezzes on hand!
Crete subscribes to the bigger is better school of thought. Not only is it the largest of the Greek Islands, but it’s the 5th biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea – Corsica pips it to the 4th place post by just a few hundred acres.
The biggest of the Greek Islands, Crete certainly makes the most of its size. On the one hand, it lines up miles of beaches and a guidebook’s worth of sights. On the other, it has every type of holiday base going, from sleepy hillside villages to up-all-night party towns.
In the centre of Crete’s north coast is the Heraklion area. Here, you can choose from large and lively beach resorts like Hersonissos, Stalis and Malia, and traditional towns like Gouves and Piskopiano.
Crete also has several smaller islands just a ferry ride away that make for an excellent day trip. Take a boat from Lerapetra on the south coast to tiny Chrysi Island for a view of Crete you’ll never forget. Gavdos, also in the south, can be reached for the western town of Palaiochora.
Finally, Crete has a lion’s share of unspoilt scenery. You’ll get the best feel for what the island has to offer at Samaria Gorge, an hour’s drive from Chania. Stretching for 16 kilometres, it’s the longest in Europe.
Things to see & do
Like any Greek island, holidays in Crete start with the beaches and with waterbased activities such as windsurfing, water skiing, boat trips and scuba diving. Make the most of the rugged terrain and stunning scenery with walking, horse riding, cycling or a Jeep safari. Sample the local wines on a winetasting excursion. For culture, head for the Archaelogical Museum in Heraklion or visit the Minoan Palaces in Knossos and Phaesos. Theres plenty of retail therapy in the cities of Heraklion and Chania. Dont miss a trip to the spectacular Samaria Gorge, which cuts through the soaring White Mountains.
Nightlife on Crete is varied and depends greatly on the resort you choose to stay in. Malia, Hersonissos and Aghios Nikolaos offer bustling bars and late night clubs, with Malia being a particular hot spot for clubbing holidays. Heraklion and Chania are packed with cosmopolitan clubs, international DJs and trendy bars. Enjoy the quieter life with a meal in a taverna in quieter resorts like Gouves, Elounda or Sissi. Many hotels offer shows and entertainment in the evenings.
Food & Drinks
Greek cuisine is at its best when served on the terrace of a typical taverna and there are plenty of these on Crete. Enjoy all the Hellenic favourites, from Meze to Moussaka, made with delicious fresh vegetables, herbs and olive oil. Most hotels and resorts also offer an array of international cuisine, from Italian and Oriental to Indian and fast food. Larger resorts have Britishstyle pubs for those who like a familiar taste of home. All inclusive hotels offer great value for money and are ideal for those who like to eat at their hotel. Ouzo is the Greek national spirit, but dont miss a taste of the locallyproduced wine.