Little sandy coves
Gournes is treated to a rocky coastline cut with sandy patches. It’s here where you’ll find rows of sunbeds and umbrellas, as well as banana boats and pedalos for hire. Behind is a bar – and restaurant -lined promenade mixing up drinks for nearby sunbathers.
The Crete Aquarium
Little in size though it may be, Gournes is home to one of the island’s biggest headliners – the Crete Aquarium. It’s home to more than 200 species of aquatic life, including sharks, octopi, crustaceans, turtles and a whole rainbow of fish that swim overhead in awe-inspiring tanks. A visit through these glass-lined tunnels are enough to fill more than one day of your holiday.
Gournes is paved with sandy walkways that make travelling to and from nearby towns a piece of cake. It’s sandwiched between Gouves and Kokkini Hani, two vibrant seaside towns that’ll help keep your holiday in northern Crete varied and action-packed.
Gouves is split into two distinct areas – the coast, lined with waterfront bars and restaurants, and the rural village tucked up into the hills. The latter is where you’ll find the Skotino Caves, which winds 160 metres into the earth. It’s one of the biggest caves in Crete, and is thought to be a former shrine.
Kokkini Hani is your go-to spot for handmade goods at local shops, traditional nights at Greek tavernas and even more beaches to lay your towel on.
The restaurants in Gournes are delightfully Greek. Some are steeped in a green, garden landscape while others are along the seaside. Either way, stints here will simply involve you, a plate of oven-cooked lamb and some seriously gorgeous scenery. Sometimes you’ll even have live entertainment brought to you by local musicians.
The vast majority of your after-hours Greece holiday activities in Gournes are spent at tavernas that transform into nightlife spots come sundown. Bright lights and loud music won’t keep you up at night, but a glass of local ouzo might. The Golden Bay Hotel offers a more lively night-time experience if you’re up for a spirited quiz or game of bingo – they even do cocktail nights and karaoke fetes.
Kato Gouves – Gouves’ beachier half – is where the action is in this little town, with waterfront bars and pubs. Kokkini Hani keeps things laid-back with a popular whisky bar and coastal nights sipping cocktails to the tune of local music.
As the capital of Crete, Heraklion understandably comes ready with a slew of activities that holidaygoers’ dreams are made of – and it’s just a 20-minute drive from Gournes.
With the sweeping Minoan Palace of Knossos, scenic harbour and cuisine from just about everywhere you can imagine, Heraklion has earned its status as a holiday hotspot. And if you aren’t up for hiring a car, not to worry – there’s a bus that’ll get you there in just a little bit longer than driving yourself would.
Heraklion has been around for a pretty long time – and by pretty long, we mean, it’s ancient. As a result, it’s racked up quite a story and has no problem showing it off in archaeological and natural history museums, not to mention the sites where history itself was made.
And because the town is so big, it’s incredibly well-connected, making it a great jumping off point for area attractions like the stunningly-huge Samaria Gorge and the scenic, pinprick of an island Spinalonga.