The largest of the Greek islands, Crete’s size is more representative of a small country than a standalone island. Its charismatic culture and beautiful scenery provide the ideal backdrop to get up close and personal with the island’s historic tales and laidback way of life, which is exactly what Cretan holidays are all about. What’s more, the island's diverse nature makes it an idyllic destination for beach bums, history hunters and intrepid explorers alike. Beaches With sandy beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, broken up by secret coves and olive groves, Crete’s pretty plateau lends itself flawlessly to family getaways and romantic retreats. For a wilder beach, try the hidden gem that is Stefanou Beach north of Chania. Also be sure to experience the pink sands of Elafonisi Beach in the southwest. The island is even home to Vai – Europe’s only palm-tree forest beach. Culture History fans may want to make a beeline for the award-winning Knossos Museum and get drawn in by the remains of the Minoan Empire, while Greek mythologists may be more interested in a date with Lassithi Plateau, believed to be the birthplace of Zeus. Meanwhile, much of modern-day culture centres around the Greek Orthodox church, which plays a huge part in locals’ lives and is the reason for many of the island’s religious festivals and celebrations. Food & Drink Island holidays are all about tucking into fresh fish and Greek salads, complete with olives and feta cheese. Meat eaters will love dining out on loukanika (Greek sausages) and moussaka, while the classic Meze options, full of dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with rice), plus taramasalata and tzatziki are not to be missed. Local delicacies include mini cheese pies known as Kalitsounia, along with Dakos – rustic bread with a meze of tomatoes, feta, herbs and olives piled on top. To wash it down, try a shot of the local Raki if you’re feeling brave. NightlifeCrete holidays are renowned for their party scene, with resorts like Aghios Nikalos and Hersonissos topping the charts thanks to their energetic nightlife. Of course, Malia serves as the clubbing capital of the island, with parties until sunrise and famous DJs taking to the main strip. Elsewhere, expect late night Greek tavernas, bustling bars and plenty of atmospheric jaunts for a more chilled-out evening. Important InformationFlight Time: 4hrTime Difference: +2hrCurrency: Euro Official Language: Greek
Sharing climate zones with North Africa and the Mediterranean, Crete has a varied weather forecast. Crete holidays boast the balmiest climate compared to anywhere else in Greece, with temperatures during summer hovering around the high 20s (°C). The mountains tend to be cooler, as do the northern areas of the island as these make up part of the Mediterranean climate, whilst the south and east of the island is more representative of the African atmosphere.
Things To Do on Crete Holidays
Visit Spinalonga Although Crete holidays place you on the largest of the Greek islands, there are plenty of smaller islands peppered off the coast that are worth a visit too. A short boat ride away, the fortress island of Spinalonga carries a turbulent past, including serving as a leper colony during the 20th century. But don’t be put off by tales of tragedy – there is much history to be discovered here. Hike to the Balos Lagoon If it’s stunning views you’re after, this is one to tick off the bucket list. With parking available nearby, the beach trail leading down offers a viewpoint to the lagoon below that is postcard picture-worthy. You’ll be greeted with aquamarine waters, white sands, rugged scenery and – if you plan your hike to avoid the crowds – you can enjoy it all for yourself! The lagoon offers warm and shallow waters, while swimming further out gets you to deeper waters ideal for snorkelling. Palace of Knossos Known as Europe’s oldest city, this Bronze Age archaeological site can be found within easy reach of Heraklion. The palace was part of the Minoan civilization back in the 2nd century B.C. and was one of the grandest architectural feats of even our time. The complex was restored in the 1900s and is open to tourists today, so you can appreciate the labyrinthine splendour of the site. Explore Loutro For a break from the beaches and tours, head to Chania’s secluded southernmost village of Loutro. Exuding Greek charm, its quaint streets offer peaceful relief from the hustle and bustle of the island’s larger cities. This is largely owed to its lack of vehicles as the village can only be reached by boat or on foot. Simply peruse the cobbled streets, gaze at the whitewashed houses and drink in its air of tranquillity. There’s also a delightful crescent-shaped bay where you can laze the day away.