Amoudara literally translates from Greek to mean ‘Big Sand’ and with just under five kilometres of sand, the beach – on your last minute holidays to Crete – will seem never ending. Amoudara’s beautiful beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status for their cleanliness and facilities.
The water gently slopes into the sea for paddling, and there are lots of water sports centres offering hire and lessons. The sea breezes that cool Crete’s sizzling summer temperatures also mean conditions are particularly good for windsurfing. Even if you’re not taking part, the sails across the water give a colourful outlook.
While you’re on the beach or dunes look out for the pretty white flowers called ‘Lily of the Beach’ – a protected species native to Crete.
Pick up some gifts
Wander along Amoudara’s promenade and through its side streets and you’ll come across lots of little shops selling souvenirs, Greek speciality food and drinks as well as individual clothes and jewellery boutiques.
With Heraklion so close, you could always hop on a bus and be there in 15 minutes to sample its high-street names and market selling local goods, as well as Greek designer boutiques in the Liberty Square area.
Enjoy your evenings
Most restaurants in Amoudara serve traditional Greek fare but many have international bites available on their menus. One of the most distinctive places to eat is Petousis taverna, which has traditional stone Cretan architecture, including a windmill. Great for all the family, there is a large play area for kids and even a terrarium containing a crocodile.
Amoudara also has a good number of bars but remains a relatively quiet place to while away your nights. Heraklion is the place to go to enjoy late-night venues playing Greek pop and mainstream music. Or it’s a little further to Hersonissos and Malia for big nights out.
The busy city of Heraklion is not just a prime spot for shopping and nights out, as you can partake in a cultured day out just by walking through its old town. It has an original Venetian quarter, including its picturesque Venetian Harbour and defences date from the 13th century. The archaeological and naval museums and Historical Archives of Crete are excellent resources to help you learn about the history of the city and island.
Heraklion’s Summer Arts Festival might draw you in with plays, concerts and traditional events across the city, many of which have free entry. It’s also easy to use Heraklion as a transport hub to get to the rest of the island.
You’re so close to the famous Knossos Palace from Amoudara, it’d be rude not to go. Crete’s most popular tourist attraction is where European civilisation began with the Minoan people and is set in a beautiful spot ideal for a picnic. Many Greek myths surround the site including the labyrinth here was where King Minos imprisoned the Minotaur.
Another way to keep the kids amused for the day is visiting Water City. This large waterpark is about half an hour away by car and has lots of childrens’ zones as well as more intense slides.
You have plenty of options to be at one with nature in Crete. A 10-minute drive will take you to the Almyros Gorge, an area of amazing natural beauty with lush vegetation and waterfalls. It also has the ruins of a 14th century monastery.
Elsewhere, horse-lovers can enjoy a coastline hack along the beach of Karteros and the nearby gorge, which starts from Karteros’ Equestrian Centre – The Riding Academy of Crete.