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Crete Holidays

The largest, most southern and perhaps the most versatile of the Greek Islands, Crete holidays are hugely popular with tourists for a reason. With looming mountains, glorious beaches and a wild nightlife, somewhere on this multipurpose island will be the holiday you want.

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An ideal Mediterranean island

At 160 miles wide, Crete has dozens of resorts worthy of your time. Mediterranean beaches, olive groves and daring caves are the ground work which made this island a beauty to visit. The towns, food and history helped the Greeks turn Crete into a tourism hotspot. If you're in need of a cheap holiday in a phenomenal climate, this place is for you.

The majority of resorts on this island offer perfect beach settings but some are also found within the Cretan mountains. A lot of resorts allow visitors to let loose here with some offering an exciting range of nightlife while others simply let you relax by the setting sun.

This versatile island offers attractions for all ages and interests. Young singles will head for the nightlife in Malia, families can enjoy the waterparks of Hersonissos and couples can tour the historic and often romantic scenery of several peaceful resorts.

Where to stay in Crete

Aghios Nikolaos
Aghios NikolaosView on Map

Aghios Nikolaos is a surprisingly cosmopolitan resort that displays beautiful waterside surroundings by the ocean and the lake.

Lake Voulismeni is a perfectly round body of water that is worthy of the Greek mythology associated with it. It shines under the sun in the day and reflects the array of terrific nightspots placed right by it at night.

Across the coastline of Aghios Nikolaos is a great collection of small beaches and coves which provide a wonderful choice for tourists when it comes to where they should sunbathe. There is also the presence of historical attractions to visit and appreciate.

EloundaView on Map

Elounda is a former fishing village that now acts as the base for an educational holiday spent underneath a terrific climate.

Right by the town there are two areas that were crucial parts of Crete's history. The sunken city of Olous now lies off the coast and is still visible to snorkelers and scuba divers. The island of Spinalonga is a fascinating site that was used as a leper colony until 1957. An ancient fortress still stands here too from centuries ago.

With beaches, a harbour and a laidback nightlife, a holiday to Elounda is the stress relieving getaway you've been craving.

HersonissosView on Map

With two waterparks, a great activity park, an aquarium and a massive selection of water sports, Hersonissos is one of Crete's most exciting resorts.

All of this is supported by a great collection of beaches and a promenade lined with shops, bars and restaurants. It's a well serviced coastline where you can spend all day and night. The evenings can get very excitable with a good choice of bars, lounges and nightclubs. Some of the best venues are also found by the beach so a party down here offers a true holiday night out.

This is a vibrant resort with something for everyone.

Lyttos Beach
Lyttos BeachView on Map

This coastal hotel resort is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet getaway in the Mediterranean sunshine. The Sensatori Resort Crete is your accommodation based right by this location's wonderfully scenic beach.

The hotel complex offers a great array of activities, facilities and restaurants as well as a summer programme filled with nightly entertainment.

Lyttos Beach is not far from Hersonissos so it is easy to pop over to this resort and enjoy all of the benefits that this resort offers too.

MaliaView on Map

The party capital of Crete is a fantastic destination for party animals who want to stay up, drink and dance all night long. The main strip is a lively hub of activity and excitement at all hours of the day and it leads out towards one of six terrific beaches.

There are a total of 5km of sand to lay down on in Malia with the majority of the space well served by nearby beach bars and restaurants.

Behind the mayhem there is a much softer side to Malia that is almost forgotten about. The old town is where locals live and serve the traditional Greek cuisine you'd expect from a traditional Mediterranean resort.


Quick Tips

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

Perfectly smooth sands

The island sits on the cusp of North Africa and the Mediterranean, making Crete ideal for a great beach holiday. European Blue Flags can be seen flying over many shores in Crete and this flag symbolises an areas safety and cleanliness. Many beaches offer terrific water sports off the coast as well as plenty of sunloungers and parasols as they are prepared an influx of tourists.

Most of the beach resorts have the serene sight of the Mediterranean Sea in one direction and monstrous mountain ranges in the other. Close to many resorts or via short drives inland, there is an abundance of ways to explore the rocky area. Hiking trails and vehicle tours can take you through the vast terrain and take you to places of Greek mythology folklore.

Birthplace of Zeuss

Though Crete is known to us as a great tourist destination, it has a prominent role in Greek history. In terms of the origins of the island, it is said that Zeuss was born and raised in the mountains here while other Greek gods have left their mark across Crete too. Lake Voulismeni is an attractive lake in the resort of Aghios Nikolaos where Athena is said to have bathed.

Across the years there has been Ottoman and Venetian occupations of the island and there are still structures, fortresses and ruins to explore that were built during this time. A large highlight of this is the 16th century Fortezza that stands proudly over the town of Rethymnon.

Malia’s bright lights at night

With some notable exceptions, Crete is largely a peaceful place to enjoy slow sunshine getaways by the beach. The biggest exceptions to this rule come in the form of Malia and Hersonissos on the northern coast that offer great choices of daytime and night time attractions.

Hersonissos is home to the Star Beach Waterpark, an exciting day out that mixes manmade slides with a natural beach, the Acqua Plus Waterpark, another location to enjoy a wet and wild day out in the sun with a great selection of slides and pools, and the Labyrinth Theme Park that offers a massive variety of games and activities.

Malia is the place to go for serious clubbers and party animals. The main strip in this resort is lined with dozens of excitable pubs, bars and clubs where the music and drinks flow until the sun rises. There is even a 24 hour bar where you can keep the party going as long as you want.

Cretan food

To service all taste buds and to appease the many tourists that visit here, there is far more to sample than just Greek and Mediterranean food. There are a number of international flavours to try in the busier resorts but it is the local food that most people come to try.

Greek salads and meats are available and Crete offers its own unique dishes to accompany the Mediterranean flavour. A dakos salad is a great starter to a meal while apaki pork meat is a common main meal to fill you up. Many tavernas offer their meals with a complimentary shot of tsikoudia, commonly known as raki.

Shopping for mementos

The larger resorts are the place to go for retail opportunities while the smaller, more peaceful resorts are content to provide a simple selection of souvenir shops.

Hersonissos is home to a number of distinctly Greek souvenir shops but there are also designer brands to be found on the beach front and inside the mall. Malia has its own shopping street that has a large selection of home produced items which are ideal for gifts. Rethymnon and Aghios Nikolaos also provide great shopping opportunities around their streets.

Getting there

There are two airports in Crete, one in the north eastern region of Sitia and the other in the central Heraklion. The majority of holidays will see you fly into Heraklion and from there the transfers vary depending on your resort.

Some resorts like Gouves take just 15 minutes to reach while others like Elounda can take up to an hour.

When travelling around the island there is plenty of car hire companies if you'd like to move around freely while the cheaper option is to take the public bus service that runs through the major resorts and towns of the island.