Crete is a magical quilt of splendid beaches, ancient treasures and landscapes encompassing vibrant cities and dreamy villages, where locals will share with you their traditions, wonderful cuisine and generous spirit.
Crete is in many respects the culmination of the Greek experience. Nature here has been as prolific as Picasso in his prime. There’s something undeniably artistic in the way the landscape unfolds, from the sun-drenched beaches in the north to rugged canyons spilling into a cove-riddled and cliff-studded south coast. In between, valleys cradle moody villages, and round-shouldered hills are the overture to often snow-dabbed mountains. Take it all in on a driving tour or venture outdoors and trek through Europe’s longest gorge, hike to the cave where Zeus was born, cycle among orchards on the Lasithi Plateau or simply plant your footprints on a sandy beach.
Culture, Cuisine & Character
In the end, though, it's humans not bricks and mortar – that create the most vivid memories. Crete's spirited people champion their unique culture and customs, and time-honoured traditions remain a dynamic part of the island's soul. Meeting regular folk gossiping in kafeneia (coffee houses), preparing their Easter feast, tending to their sheep or celebrating during their many festivals is what makes a visit to Crete so special. And if you're a traveller on the gourmet trail, you'll delight in the distinctive farm-fresh and organic cuisine served in tavernas across the island. In fact, the Cretan diet is among the healthiest in the world. Be sure to pair your meal with an excellent local wine and, to cap it off, a fiery shot of raki.
Rich Historical Tapestry
Crete's natural beauty is equalled only by the richness of its history. The island is the birthplace of the first advanced society on European soil, the Minoans, who ruled over much of the Aegean some 4000 years ago. You'll find vestiges of this mysterious civilisation all over, including the famous Palace of Knossos. At the crossroads of three continents, Crete has been coveted and occupied by consecutive invaders. History imbues the air in the old towns of Chania and Rethmynon, where labyrinth lanes laid out by the Venetians are lorded over by mighty fortresses, and where gorgeously restored Renaissance mansions rub rafters with mosques and Turkish bathhouses. Hundreds of chapels, churches and monasteries.
Resorts in Crete
Chania is the capital city, a place where different civilizations have flourished throughout the centuries. Wandering around the Old Town's maze-like alleys with the beautiful Venetian mansions, the fountains and the elaborate churches will help you discover well-preserved historical monuments.
The city of Chania is built on the area of Minoan Kidonia. It was the former capital city of Crete(from 1847 until 1972). Nowadays, it is the second largest city of Crete after Heraklion, the capital city.
Chania includes the old and new city. It is one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities in Greece and for style and food lovers. It's a paradise!
Get familiar with the city of Chania by wandering around in it's streets, visiting its museums and admiring the different architectural styles presenting the historical route of the city.
After Arabs and Byzantines it was conquered by Venetians in 1252 and was given to Turks in 1669, later it was annexed to the rest of the Greek State on December 1913 under the administration of Eleftherios Venizelos and King Konstantinos the 1st. The old town is an integral settlement with visible boundaries set by the Venetian walls surrounding it.
Chania has daily boat connection from Souda port to Piraeus port. Chania is also connected to Athens by flights which you can take from Akrotiri airport 15 km to Athens.
The old town is built around the Venetian port and is also a relatively integral area where Venetian buildings and later Turkish elements compose a unique architectural style. Due to the historic centre of Chania with its Venetian walls defining the borders between the old and new city and its ramparts, the city has been pronounced as preserved. It consists of five connected districts surrounding the Venetian port.
Its design was made by Venetian engineer Michelle Sammichelli. The Lighthouse is located at the end of the rock protecting the port from the north. It was built in 1570 by the Venetians and reconstructed in 1830 by the Egyptians and from there on preserves its current state.
Agia Marina is one of the main tourist resorts in the region of Chania. Chania is only 10 km away along the coastal road and there are plenty of regular buses from Chania.
Agia Marina caters mainly for the package holiday market and lacks a Cretan atmosphere. The road which passes right in the centre of Agia Marina can be busy but the old part of the village located on a hill still retains some charm.
The long sandy beach is a little exposed to north winds (beware of currents that can be strong) and has good facilities and water sports. There are several pleasant beach bars and small tavernas with sea view.
Good nightlife options and even more in its neighbour Platanias which is only a short walk away.
If you want easy access to other places on the north coast (and especially Chania), a good sandy beach and do not mind tourist resorts Agia Marina can be a good choice.
The region of Heraklion Crete gets very popular in summer as this is the main transportation hub to Crete. In fact, many charter flights from abroad and ferries arrive in Heraklion Town, carrying millions of visitors. Holidays in Heraklion combine amazing beach resorts with visit to historical sites. The northern side of the region is very developed with tourist facilities, especially the beach places close to Heraklion Town. The southern side is more secluded and receives fewer visitors but it has famous places, like Matala.
In the region of Heraklion, you can find some of the most luxurious hotels in Crete. Ammoudara, Hersonissos, Gouves and Kokkini Hani have large spa resorts next to small studios. Malia and Hersonissos are tourist hot spots with intense nightlife for the younger crowds. More secluded and traditional accommodation are found in the southern side, including Matala, Tymbaki and other beaches. Heraklion Town offers impressive five star hotels and spa resorts, but also smaller boutique hotels.
Apart from relaxing in the amazing beach resorts, do not miss a visit to the archaeological sites of the region: the Minoan Palaces of Knossos and Phaestos, the Caves of Matala, the Medieval Castles, the Byzantine monasteries and the ancient sites. Many festivals and panigiria are organized in summer in various villages and attending such a festival is a nice experience of local tradition.
Located between the popular regions of Heraklion and Chania, Rethymnon Crete keeps a lower profile in tourist development. Apart from some beaches in the northern side, the rest of the region remains off the beaten track even in high season. As it is not as popular as Chania and Heraklion, the region of Rethymnon has more quiet and relaxing places.
Rethymnon is a region with authentic beauty and relaxing atmosphere. Like in the rest of the island, the villages of Rethymnon keep their traditional beauty. Walk around the Old Town and explore the stone paths, the elegant mansions, the lovely arches and certainly the Venetian port. This is the most popular spot of the Town, lined up by delicious restaurants and nice cafeterias. Above the town, there is a strong Medieval castle called Fortezza.
The northern and southern coasts are dotted with fabulous beaches. Bali, Panormos and Adelianos Kampos on the northern side get pretty popular in summer, while Plakias and Agia Galini are the most tourist places in the southern side. The inland of the prefecture has traditional villages, impressive gorges and historical monasteries, such as Preveli and Arkadi. In these villages, visitors will frequently listen to authentic Greek music. Have a look in our guide of Rethymno Crete and find all the useful information about your Rethymnon holidays. Due to its central location, visitors can easily make trips to the other prefectures of Crete: Chania, Heraklion and Lassithi.
Hersonissos is a small coastal town located 26 km from the city of Heraklion . It is one of the touristiest resorts of Crete Island and attract thousand of visitors. It attracts mostly younger tourists as the area is reputed for it nightlife. Hersonissos offers many beaches. Some are fully organised with many facilities. The area proposes a large range of hotels and other accommodation but also many restaurants.
This is one of the most famous, popular tourist resorts in Crete. It lies 28 km east of Heraklion Town. It is a busy resort offering all kind of facilities and accommodations to the thousands of visitors arriving every year. It has a long golden sandy beach which extends over many kilometres and also some palm trees and crystalline azure waters. Hersonissos also has a very interesting aquarium.
This wonderful sandy beach lies 16 km east of Heraklion town. It is awarded by the EU Blue Flag for its clean golden sand,its crystalline waters and fine facilities. A great variety of modern amenities are available in the wider region of Kato Gouves, right behind the beach. Various bars and clubs are found.
Ammoudara is a long beach which starts 1km west of the center of Heraklion and reaches the mouth of the river Almyros, 7km on the west. Ammoudara is today a suburb of Heraklion, with thousands of visitors every year, mainly because of the vast beach.
The beach of Amoudara is a long beach with fine brownish sand. It is so long that there are options for everyone’s preferences, from those who like crowded places to those who want to stay secluded. Along the coast there are organized beaches with sunbeds, umbrellas, beach bars, lifeguard, showers, changing rooms, water sports and whatever you can imagine. Ammoudara is well known to windsurfers, due to the intense winds all year round. At night, the center of Ammoudara (6km west of Heraklion) bustles with life as the area is full of choices for entertainment.
How To Get There
Flights to Crete are available from the following UK and Scotland airports:
Aberdeen, Belfast, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster, Durham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich,
The majority of flights depart on Sundays or Tuesdays and the flight time is approximately 4 hours. Daily flights to Crete are available from Athens airport.
Perfect Blue Holidays offer a full travel service including flights, car hire and private taxi transfers as well as apartments, hotels and villas on an accommodation-only basis.