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Crete

AVERAGE CUSTOMER SAVING£380

Crete Holidays

One of the most popular Greek islands to visit on holiday, Crete has earned its reputation as a beach paradise with gorgeous shores, mountain landscapes and wild nightlife. If that's not enough, the food is phenomenal and there's temple-loads of history here too - after all, this is the fabled birthplace of Zeus.

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A versatile island

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands at 160 miles wide. It's also the most southerly, found on the cusp of the North African and Mediterranean climate zones, which means that here, summer is almost always in full swing.

Carved with mountain ranges and lined with miles of beaches, Crete is an incredibly versatile island. Many of the resorts are gathered along the coast but you'll also find noteworthy spots tucked inland amid groves of olive trees.

Party-goers head to the neon-lit dancefloors of Malia while adventurers scale gorges in the White Mountains. History buffs marvel at the sites from ancient mythology and sunbathers are quite content lounging along the coast to the faint tune of wine glasses clinking from nearby tavernas.

Crete is well-equipped for holidays of any speed and price range – there are All Inclusive hotels, private villas and family-run apartments in virtually every resort. Each town highlights a different facet of the peaceful Cretan lifestyle, so it's easy to find one that appeals to your holiday vibes.

Where to stay in Crete

Aghios Nikolaos
Aghios NikolaosView on Map

This historic town has been built on the remains of ancient buildings and fascinating ruins. There's an unending amount of history to discover here, including a historic church built in the 10th century and an archaeological museum. Aghios Nikolaos is also home to three seafronts with exceptional diving schools.

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Amoudara
AmoudaraView on Map

The modern resort of Amoudara is close to the capital Heraklion and airport. Almost five kilometres of sand gave Amoudara its name, which translates as 'Big Sand' and it's backed by a busy promenade offering lots to do. Or close by are Knossos Palace, the Almyros Gorge and Water City waterpark..

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Chania
ChaniaView on Map

Holidays in Chania bring you afternoons along the busy harbour, strolling through the market stalls and lounging on the beach beneath a thatched umbrella. While nights are cocktail-filled and dance-heavy. It's the second biggest town in Crete, and has the swoon-worthy amenities to show for it.

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Elounda
EloundaView on Map

With luxury accommodation and a Blue Flag award-winning beach, it's no wonder Elounda is the chosen holiday venue among the rich and famous. It's also a history buff's paradise, with the sunken ruins of an ancient city and easy access to the uninhabited island of Spinalonga, with a mysterious past.

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Gouves
GouvesView on Map

Gouves is a coastal resort that offers the best of both worlds. Here, you'll get a vibrant waterfront laced with watersports, tavernas and hotels, and an inland village tucked into a hillside that takes life down a notch. So you can switch between banana boats and lazy coffees.

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Hersonissos
HersonissosView on Map

As Malia's neighbour and partner in crime, Hersonissos adds another nightlife hotspot to Crete's north coast. Home to three sand beaches, some of the best high-end shopping on the island, two waterparks and a theme park, it offers bags of fun in the sun.

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Stalis
StalisView on Map

Stalis is wedged so closely between Malia and Hersonissos, the three towns almost meld into one. It's home to its own taverna-lined beach, extending for more than six kilometres. Stalis is the shy little sister to its nightlife-savvy neighbours, so staying here means you're never far from the action.

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Quick Tips

  • Greek Orthodox
  • Euro
  • Greek
  • Approx 600,000
  • GMT +2

Beach vistas

Do a panoramic sweep of your surroundings in Crete, and, more often than not, you'll find am arcing coast on one side and a green, hilly landscape on the other. The beaches are the main hubs of activity for most resorts, as they're usually treated to beach bars and tavernas, rows of sunbeds and umbrellas and water sports whirring out on the waves. And with warm temperatures throughout the year, there's never a bad time to enjoy the great outdoors on cheap holidays to Crete.

Many of the resorts offer diving centres for budding snorkellers, as well as windsurfing and paragliding equipment, banana boats and pedalos available to rent onshore. Resorts like Hersonissos and Chania even have their own water parks, so even if you're planning your holidays in Crete All Inclusive there are still a few things to do that might lure you away from your hotel.

The mountain ranges towering across Crete are havens for outdoorsy types. They're often reachable via short car trips into the hills, as well as off-roading excursions. Carved with gorges and walking trails, the mountains are a top spot for hikes whose incredible views stretch for miles.

Sites of mythical proportions

Having been around for a few thousand years, Crete has racked up a serious amount of history. It's also the backdrop of many Greek myths, as it's rumoured to be the birthplace of Zeus. Over the years, Crete has swapped ruling hands a number of times, which means its architecture is a comprehensive timeline of the island's evolution.

Crete was once the centre of the ancient Minoan civilisation, thought to be brought down by a volcanic eruption. Nowadays, the Minoan buildings are in ruins, but you can still wander through the crumbling streets in archaeological sites like the Palace of Knossos, where the Minotaur was said to have lived, or the palace in Malia.

The Ottoman and Venetian empires left their marks on Crete in the form of towering mosques, Venetian harbours and lighthouses. Bigger resorts like Rethymnon and Chania are famed for their vibrant harbours, as well as centuries-old fortresses keeping a close watch on the towns from above.

Cretan cuisine

The island is treated to the same Mediterranean flavours as traditional Greek cuisine, but with its own Cretan twist. Crete is known for its use of fresh vegetables, seafood and slow-cooked meats that make for memorable meals. To top it off, you'll almost always see complimentary dessert and a shot glass of raki – the local liquor – materialise at your table once you've finished your mains.

If you're along the coast, you're pretty much guaranteed to find a range of restaurants gathered by the waterfront, though more traditional, family-run spots are usually tucked up into town or the hillsides. You'll primarily find Greek eats in most resorts, though larger towns see hundreds and hundreds of dining options, including international bites.

Wild Malia nights

For the most part, Cretan holidays take things slow by the beach with quiet cocktails at local bars, or Greek nights featuring plate smashing and live music are a staple at traditional tavernas. But with every rule, there are a few exceptions – in this case, they're party spots known as Malia and Hersonissos.

Known for its thriving nightlife scene, Malia attracts young party types. Beach Road is the resort's centre of attention, lined with clubs, bars and pubs, not to mention takeaway spots for cheeky, late-night eats.

The town's main strip is the scene of all-night dance binges and cocktails underneath neon lights – you'll even find a club that's open 24 hours. Hersonissos offers much of the same, plus the Star Beach Club, a boisterous coastal spot that throws some pretty wild beach parties.

Market stalls and high end shopping

Retail opportunities come in all shapes and sizes in Crete. The smaller resorts have quirky souvenir shops and supermarkets while the larger ones often feature high end brands and local markets. Crete is known for its homemade olive oil and honey, both of which can be picked up from shops across the island.

Hersonissos is the island's high-end hotspot, with a number of well-known brands gathering along the waterfront. Chania, on the other hand, is home to the Mercato Agora di Chania, a massive market whose stalls sell everything from jewellery and souvenirs to fresh produce.