With its friendly locals, picturesque mountain villages, delicious cuisine and fantastic Mediterranean climate. It’s not hard to see why Crete draws in thousands of tourists each year. The largest of the Greek islands, it is especially well known for its pristine beaches, making it a popular choice for beach lovers across the globe.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy a relaxing beach holiday, or you prefer a fun-packed active getaway, Crete’s beaches have something to suit everyone. So, if you’re thinking of taking advantage of a much-needed beach break this year, below you’ll discover some of the best beaches in Crete you’ll want to consider.
1. Agiofarago Beach, Heraklion
Approximately 80km from the centre of Heraklion lies the stunning Agiofarago beach. Only accessible via either a hike through a gorge or a boat trip, the beach is surrounded by dramatic vertical cliffs. The water here is typically calm, making it great for families. You can swim beneath the beautiful rocky arch found to the west of the beach.
If you want to explore the area, you’ll need to take your walking boots and hike up the cliffs. From the top, you’ll witness an extraordinary view, and if you travel a little further southeast, you’ll spot the breathtaking Vourvoulitis salty lake. This large sinkhole provides an undersea passage to the open sea. It is possible to swim down into the lake, though it isn’t advisable for the faint-hearted!
Being a pebble beach, Agiofarago Beach isn’t ideal for sunbathing. However, it does provide ideal spearfishing and snorkelling opportunities.
2. Váï, Lisithi
If you’re traveling to the Lisithi part of Crete, the Váï palm grove is definitely a spot you’ll want to visit. It’s one of the most popular beaches on the island, attracting thousands of tourists each year. The Blue Flag sandy beach is great for sun-worshippers, and it’s backed by a beautiful palm forest, covering around 250,000 square metres.
There is a car park behind the beach which you’ll need to pay for. As well as sunbathing, the beach also offers numerous family-friendly activities such as banana boats, wakeboarding and jet skiing. It is worth noting that if you plan to visit the beach in summer, it’s likely to be extremely busy. If you want to make the most of the scenery, you’ll want to head here out of peak tourist season.
3. Preveli, Rethymnon
Just 35km away from Rethymnon is the beautiful Preveli palm grove beach. Situated at the end of the Kourtaliotikos Gorge, the beach consists of both sand and pebbles. Thanks to the Theophrastus palm tree colony located on the banks of the stunning Grand River, the area benefits from a real tropical feel. The sandy beach can be found at the end of the river, and its waters are known for being very cool.
One of the beach’s most famous landmarks is its heart-shaped rock on the eastern side. This is more of a natural beach and doesn’t provide amenities such as umbrellas. The beach is considered one of the most beautiful in Crete, and its waters are usually calm, making it great for snorkelling.
4. Ammoudara Beach, Heraklion
The long, sweeping beach of Ammoudara is located just 1km from Heraklion centre. Featuring brownish sand, this popular beach attracts thousands of tourists each year. There is something to suit everyone, including organised areas which feature umbrellas, lifeguards, beach bars and showers.
What’s great about this beach is that it boasts both quiet and crowded areas. If you’re seeking a quieter beach getaway, head over to the west of the beach. There are a lot of activities on offer, with windsurfing being one of the most popular due to the strong breezes in the area.
5. Makrigialos Beach, Lisithi
Starting out as a small harbour, Makrigialos is one of the most popular beaches in the Lisithi region. Benefiting from stunning mountainous scenery and calm, shallow waters, it’s an especially good beach for families.
Commonly referred to by the locals as the Long Beach, it features soft, stunning golden sand and is well organised. There are numerous restaurants, umbrellas and water sports on offer. It’s a Blue Flag beach, which means it can get particularly crowded in the summer months. However, there are numerous other beaches nearby if you do find this one a little packed.