An affordable taste of paradise in the Greek Islands
Direct flights from London to Crete’s capital, Heraklion, take just under four hours, giving you enough time to watch a movie on board and switch into holiday mode.
For a low-key break in an authentic village, head to the hills and soak up the sun along the golden sands of Sissi located close to the capital. Enjoy picturesque coastal walks, get a taste for the local cuisine in traditional tavernas or explore the surrounding historic areas via regular local buses.
Along the northern coast sits the charming seaside town of Rethymnon. Packed with Ottoman and Venetian architecture, the town blends the old world with modern life. You’ll also find a whole range of beaches from secluded coves to bustling promenades.
Far enough from the all-night parties to enjoy peace and tranquility, but close enough to join the fray if you wish, Koutouloufari is another wonderful hilltop retreat. With cobbled streets and spectacular views along the coast, days spent in this traditional Greek village are slow-paced. Watch the world go by in the main square with a cup of coffee from a family-run taverna, take a stroll down the hill to the busier resort and beaches of Hersonissos or hire a bike and explore the breathtaking countryside.
Crete boasts warm weather from as early as mid-May through to October. If you’re not restricted by school holidays, some of the best deals can be found outside of July and August – Crete’s high season – and you’ll escape the crowds, too.
Cheap days out in Crete
Located a 20-minute walk from the beach and 200 metres above sea level, plenty of relaxing days can be had exploring the historic area around Koutouloufari. Enjoy a leisurely morning soaking up the sun in the ambient village before heading down to Hersonissos, where you’ll be met with plenty of watersports along the golden coastline and affordable tavernas serving tasty treats. Famed for its nightlife scene, Malia is a short bus ride away, so you can easily wander the pretty streets and explore the island’s third largest Minoan Palace.
The most popular activity in laid-back Sissos is taking leisurely strolls along the coast, but plenty of activities are on offer for more tailored excitement. Try your hand at a round of mini golf, snorkel around the nearby coves or take advantage of the regular bus service to nearby resorts, including the vibrant capital.
If you tire of lounging in the sun, Rethymnon is the place to go. Explore the historic streets and architecture of the old town, hike through local gorges amid Crete’s incredible countryside, search for treasures to take home at the weekly markets or simply relax along the harbour.
Other popular holidays in Crete
Far too many fantastic resorts exist on this magical island to list, but if you’re looking for a resort with a little more buzz, try the popular resort of Chania or the vibrant Malia. The gorgeous little town of Bali is another mentionable spot boasting pristine beaches and cosy tavernas. If you’re still looking for inspiration, check out our comprehensive travel guide to Crete, and our list of affordable hotel options below.
If you're craving a full-on getaway, this hillside retreat could be your ticket. With a sunny terrace and two outdoor pools overlooking the spectacular coast, stock up on provisions at the hotel's mini-mart or enjoy authentic Cretian cuisine in the rustic on-site restaurant. Regular buses stop outside the hotel to take you to the centre of Rethymnon, where you'll find a glorious sandy beach and an array of restaurants and bars. The famous Camari Gorge is just 200 metres from the hotel, so you can explore the legendary caves and transparent ocean.