650 miles of coastline, dramatic mountainous landscapes and 4,000 years of history – a holiday to Crete offers something to suit every taste.
Biggest Greek island
The largest of the Greek Isles, Crete is also the fifth biggest island in the entire Mediterranean. And, it barely misses out on being the fourth largest -- an honour that belongs to Corsica – by only a few acres. So, there’s plenty of ground to cover and so much to see on Crete – including miles of sandy beaches, dramatic mountain scenery and tonnes of historical sites, such as the ruins of the Palace at Knossos.
A Beach for everyone
With its 650 miles of coastline, it’s no wonder that Crete features a spectrum of beaches that virtually guarantees something to suit every taste. For instance, the swathes of sand in Heraklion are well-suited to those who like to party the night away and like to retire to the beach for a day of rest and getting ready for another evening ahead. The 12-kilometre-plus stretches of sand in Rethymnon, on the other hand, provide the perfect playgrounds for families. And, the beaches in Lassithi – near to the sophisticated towns of Agios Nikolaos and Elounda – are favourites with a set who likes to mix their sunbathing with shopping in chic boutiques and luxurious lunches in the square. Finally, Chania boasts several Blue Flag beaches, interspersed with a charming old town.
With a history that dates back about 4,000 years, it’s no wonder that Crete features many ancient sites to visit. Some people even believe that western civilisation, itself, began in Crete. A claim that you can explore by visiting the ruins of the Palace of Knossos where you can check out evidence of the advanced Minoan culture.
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You’ll find the Heraklion area on Crete’s north coast. The city itself is Crete’s capital, and it’s packed with giveaways that Heraklion was once under Venetian rule, like the city-centre Lions Square – the statue-featuring fountain gives it its name. Aghios Minas Cathedral’s another pic-friendly place. The Heraklion area’s got its own international airport, too. It’s named after Nikos Kazantzakis, a famous Greek author who was born in the city. By night, bar-spangled spots like Hersonissos have you covered, and the bright lights of Malia are 30 minutes away by taxi.
Open countryside, hilltop villages, beaches – the Rethymnon area’s got the lot. Most of the action’s strapped to the north coast, where big and little towns cosy up to Blue Flag beaches. There are nearly 20 of them in total, so expert-approved sunbathing’s a cinch. Further inland, the bumpy landscape's spotted with traditional must-sees, like the wine-making village of Archanes and the picturesque Arkadi Monastery.
Set on Crete’s east coast, Lassithi has its fingers in more than one pie. For starters, the region has some really lively beaches. In Agios Nikolaos and Elounda, for example, the stretches of sand are metres away from the town centres, so you can go from beach to bar to shop in a matter of minutes.
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