Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands and is at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea. Its full of history with Minoan palaces, Venetian towns, Medieval Castles, Ottoman mosques and Byzantine monasteries. But if you want to just fly and flop on a beach there are plenty of those too. If you are a walker the Samaria Gorge in the West of Crete is a challenging 16km hike that people come from all over the world to do (Open May to October, closed if raining) Resorts in the west of the Island tend to be quieter while those in the East are busier with Malia being especially lively. Aghios Nikolas is great if you want a buzzy atmosphere and busy harbour or nearby upmarket Elounda where there are some seriously exclusive hotels. A great resort if you like “Quiet but things to do” is Koutouloufari. This small resort is based around a traditional village. There is an old village square where they have regular live music and traditional dancing usually on a Monday and Saturday. Be sure to visit Restaurant Patriko – we couldn’t fault it.

Hersonissos is a lively, cosmopolitan resort. Days are spent on the sand and shingle beach and at night in the bars and nightclubs. There is a range of tavernas, fast food emporiums, restaurants, café bars and shops, plus a nearby waterpark. The resort is centrally located, making it an ideal choice for exploring the island. The road west takes you to Gouves, the capital city of Heraklion, Rethymnon and Chania, then to the east are Malia and Agios Nikolaos, and small roads cross the island leading through the mountains to the south coast. Hersonissos is a great choice for a fun and lively holiday with plenty to keep you entertained.

Sissi is situated between the resorts of Malia and Milatos and is perfect for a quiet and relaxing scenic holiday. This small fishing village consists of a small variety of shops and restaurants and nightlife is low key. There is a sand and shingle beach with beach bars and cafes where you can spend the day relaxing or you can explore Crete by perhaps hiring a car or bicycle. The resort of Aghios Nikolaos is only 30 minutes away where you will find more amenities and activities. Sissi remains an unspoilt and un-commercialised resort.

The fun and lively resort of Malia is situated on Crete’s north coast and is very popular with young and lively people looking for a non-stop partying holiday. Malia offers unlimited nightlife, very late nights and cheap places to eat. The nightlife consists of dozens of bars, clubs, pubs and cocktail bars most of which are situated along the main stretch. Other bars can be found along the beach front which are always busy and provide lots entertainment. Malia is also a great resort for sports enthusiasts as volleyball and football tournaments are regularly organised and watersports include jet skiing, waterskiing, paragliding and par-ascending all provided at the beach front. Malia has a wide selection of restaurants including snack bars, fast food outlets, curry houses and Greek restaurants and there is also a great choice of souvenir shops, supermarkets and traditional Greek shops. Malia holidays are a great choice for those seeking sun, fun, sightseeing and sports in one easy location.

Insider tip

Vai beach in Northeast Crete is a curve of golden sand backed by Europe's largest natural palm grove. For the exotic Caribbean vibe – this is where Mars's Bounty bar advert was filmed in the 1970s.

Events and festivals

Rethymnon always seems to have some event taking place – from the Carnival in March, followed by Easter, and Renaissance Festival in July/August. Even when there is nothing on make sure to visit and enjoy the Folk bars or just wander the back streets to enjoy a typical Cretan evening.

Popular things to do and see and unmissable experiences

If you have read the book “The Island” you will be familiar with Spinalonga. This small Island just off the north coast of Crete was until recently a leper colony. Those diagnosed with leprosy were sent there to live out there days – but they trained and became Doctors and Lawyers and ran a successful community. An excursion here is both humbling and emotional but ultimately incredibly uplifting. If you can get the boat from Plaka as this will give you longer on the Island. If history and Greek Myths are your thing then the Palace iof Minos at Knossos makes for a brilliant excursion. The superb guides bring the stories and history to life expertly mixing myth and fact. It’s a large site that has been restored so you really can lose yourself and imagine how it must have been to watch the enemy hordes coming over the mountains. Gripping stuff! For a more fun day out try the Water Park at Hersonissos – if you book an Excursion and book in advance it saves you queuing at the gate.

Climate

Mild in spring and autumn with hot summers

Other information

  • Best time of year to travel: Although Crete has mild winters the best time to travel is April to October
  • Currency: Euro
  • Flight time from UK: 4.5 Hours
  • Visa and passport information: N/A
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