Crete Destination Guide

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and the 2nd largest island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (after Cyprus). Heraklion is the largest city and capital of Crete with other principal cities being Chania, Rethymno, Aghios Nikolaos, Sitia and Lerapetra. With 650 miles of amazing coastline, long stretches of sandy beaches, crystal clear azure waters, dramatic mountain ranges and tiny traditional villages, it is no wonder that this beautiful island attracts so many tourists throughout the year. Whether you are looking for great beaches, some quiet rest and relaxation, a romantic break inspired by myths and legends or some culture, Crete has it all.

This diverse island has a resort to suit everyone, with beautiful sandy beaches, narrow village streets to explore, restaurants, family-run tavernas, bars, shops and open-air nightclubs.

Crete is home to four different areas; Heraklion, Lasithi, West Chania and East Chania.

Heraklion is located in the north of the island and is the most popular tourist destination due to its long sandy beaches, variety of accommodation, eateries and bars. This well developed area includes Hersonissos (15 miles from Heraklion and home to Crete's only 18-hole golf course), Gouves (11 miles east of Heraklion), Kokino Hani (7 miles from Heraklion), Fodele (west of Heraklion) and Koutouloufari on the slopes of Mount Pyrgias.

West Chania is located in the eastern corner of the island and is much less developed and more peaceful than Heraklion. The area includes the small modern resort of Gerani, the uncrowded Maleme, the small peaceful Tavronitis and the small fishing village of Kolimbari which is well known for its fish tavernas.

East Chania is home to the popular tourist resort of Aghios Nikolaos and the smaller resorts of Amoudara (2 miles from Aghios Nikolaos), Istron with its unspoilt beaches, the traditional Cretan village of Kalo Chorio and the relaxed town of Lerapetra with its long seafront promenade and two stretches of blue flag status beach.

Lasithi , on the north coast of Crete, has many beaches, perfect waters and resorts ranging from lively to peaceful havens. Resorts here include Almirida which has blue flag beaches and is perfect for laid-back holidays, the biggest resort in the area Platanias (6 miles west of the town of Chania) and the beautiful quaint village of Kalives which still retains its Cretan character.

The summer sunshine, crystal clear warm waters and beautiful beaches are perfect for water sports including scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, parasailing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, banana boat rides and pedalos. Away from the beaches visitors can explore the island on horseback; riding along deserted beaches, past quaint unspoilt villages and through vineyards and olive groves. Riders can follow the trails, hidden paths and ancient donkey routes to see the best of Crete. Others may wish to explore the island on foot, bicycle or by road. Spring is an excellent time for hiking and rambling along the trails and ancient paths which will lead you along the coastline and through the stunning countryside. For lovers of history and culture, Crete is steeped in ancient history and mythology. Known as the birthplace of Zeus, the island is home to many archaeological sites such as the Minoan Palaces of Knossos and Phaestos, Malia, Zakros and Gortyn. The island has many museums, a visit to the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion which offers an insight into the islands past is a must.

Crete has one of the best climates in Europe, with temperatures peaking in July and August, dropping just a few degrees in May, June and September and still remaining warm in April and October. Average temperatures during the summer season range from 29C to 30C in the daytime and around the 24C mark at night. The remaining months of the year are much cooler, especially in the mountains and the north of the island.