June – August
LCY → HER
Freedom of movement
Crete is largest of the Greek Islands meaning it possesses 1,046 kilometres (650 miles) of beaches waiting for you to enjoy on Crete holidays. On the east of the island are the beaches of the Lassithi area, which link to the cosmopolitan towns of Elounda and Agios Nikolaos. Here, you can mix time spent on the sand with shopping and long lazy lunches in the squares. West, in the Chania area teams you can find Blue Flagged beaches and a historic old town. More than 12 kilometre (7.5 mile) stretches of beach are on offer in the Rethymnon, while the swathes of sand in the Heraklion area are perfect for pre-partying and recovering from a big night out on holidays in Crete.
Crete’s history dates back more than 4,000 years and some credit the island as being modern civilisation’s birthplace. They cite the Palace of Knossos, in Heraklion and the Minoan civilisation as evidence.
Finally, Crete has wealth of stunning scenery. The best of it can be found in the Samaria Gorge, an hour or so drive from Chania at 16 kilometres (10 miles), it is the longest gorge in Europe.
Crete has possibly the longest summer in the entire Mediterranean. The island sits over two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African, making the climate in Crete mostly temperate. While winter is mild, snow can fall on the mountains between November and May. During Crete’s summer, average temperatures sit in the high 20s to low 30s degrees Celsius (mid 80s to mid 90s Fahrenheit), with maximums reaching the high 30s-mid 40s (90s to 100s Fahrenheit). Planning your holidays to Crete notice that most rain on the island falls in late autumn and winter between November and March.
The Chania region on Crete’s north coast knows how to impress. For a start there’s the multitude of beaches. They range from the Blue Flag beauties to be found in Agioi Apostoloi and Gerani to the chic bar-lined strip in Agia Marina.
It’s a similar story in the Heraklion area which also possesses brag-worthy beaches for relaxing on Crete holidays. The beaches in this part of Crete’s north coast are impossible to categorise and range from the rugged of coves of the deserted island of Dia to the bustling 18 to 30s hangouts found in Malia.
The Rethymnon area in north-east Crete has some of the best beaches on the island. The main town’s beach is long enough to stage a half-marathon. Almost all of the area’s stretches of sand have good infrastructure, too. There are tavernas right on the waterfront and plenty of water sports on offer for active holidays in Crete.
Set in the east of Crete the Lassithi area, this part of the island has an aristocratic air about it. It replaces the rustic villages and rugged coastlines found with cosmopolitan and sophisticated harbour towns and well equipped beach resorts.
Aside from lazing in the sun or engaging in water sports on Crete holidays this island is so steeped in history that it is almost impossible to avoid.
There are some 12 archeologically excavated Minoan towns and palace complexes on Crete. The most well-known is Knossos, 10 kilometres (3 miles) from Iraklio. This is despite a controversial 1920s restoration by Arthur Evans and Piet de Jong which left much of the ruins repainted in garish colours. The Knossos Palace is a must-see on holidays to Crete.
A more authentic set of ruins can be seen at Phaistos and Agia Triada, about a 45-minute drive south-west of Iraklio.
Iraklio’s excellent Archaeological Museum, artifacts gleaned from the island’s archeological sites such as cult figurines, murals, jewellery, and pottery.
The Samarian Gorge should be on your “must-do” list for Crete holidays. At 16 kilometres (10 miles) it is said to be Europe’s longest gorge, begins in an alpine forest and gradually narrowing to about 3 metres (10 feet) wide loomed over by 300 metre (1,000 feet) cliffs.
For fun for the whole family, Crete has three waterparks: Limnoupolis near Hania , WaterCity near Iraklio and Acquaplus at Hersonissos.
Hike the “Gorge of the Dead” at Kato Zakros, which features a beach and yet another Minoan palace ruin.