The fine golden sand beaches along Karteros Bay are the reason why this resort came to be in the first place. The main beach at Karteros comes with all the necessary amnesties for holidays to Greece, including sun loungers and umbrellas, as well as beach bars just behind the shores.
The shallow waters here have few rocks underneath the surface, which makes them safe for swimming, and Karteros is known for getting its fair share of wind, so water sports are duly encouraged.
Further up the bay and adjacent to the airport is a patch of land called Florida, where the beaches see calmer days, as there aren’t many bars or beds, though there’s plenty of room to stretch out. On the eastern side of Karteros is the beach of Xenia, where you’ll find a handful of beach eats and plenty of people enjoying them.
When it comes to activities in Karteros, much of your holiday will be spent lounging along the beach and taking leisurely dips in the sea. Outside of this, there’s a limited amount of things to do, mainly involving exploring the local history.
East of Xenia beach is a hill known as Paleohora, where archaeologists have discovered the ruins of the ancient town Amnissos. Here, you’ll see Minoan temples and buildings circa 1600 BC, and the Minoan Villa of the Lillies, whose walls are decked with floral frescoes. But there aren’t any Minoan ruins in the area quite like the Palace of Knossos, which is just a short bus ride away in Heraklion.
If you’re walking along the beach and see a few horses glide by, don’t be surprised. The Ippikos Riding Club is nearby, and offers horseback riding excursions for beginners and well-versed riders. But if you want to be doing the hard work yourself, there’s the Karteros Gorge, a 12-kilometre hiking trail through shady woods and winding streams.
Dining in Heraklion and Kokkini Hani
The vast majority of restaurants in the area are in nearby resorts of Heraklion and Kokkini Hani. There, you’ll find an incredible range of family-run tavernas boasting authentic Greek food, plus other Mediterranean favourites like wood-fired pizzas and fresh seafood dishes. But if you aren’t up for the brief trek into Karteros’ neighbouring city, you should be set with the restaurants and buffet options in your hotel.
The same goes for nightlife in Karteros – as well as the quiet bars along the coast, many hotels will offer bars and subdued nights outdoors. Or you can pick up your own bottle of speciality Cretan wine and take it to the shores for a relaxing evening on the sand. If dancefloors and ritzy cocktail spots are more your speed, the clubs and bars at Heraklion cover this.
Quiet hotels and villas
Karteros is home to a set of small hotels and villas, many of which are within eyesight of the beach. A few are located near Heraklion Airport, making them convenient stopovers if you’re looking to explore more parts of Crete, or those calling Karteros home for the week.
Each hotel offers a list of its own, unique amenities – from pools to spa treatments, gyms to evening entertainment – though you’ll most likely always find breakfast or a restaurant on-site.
Only a stone’s throw from Crete‘s capital city, Heraklion, you can get there from Karteros in 10 minutes by car. Hiring a car will allow you to drift between the two towns freely, or you can use the bus service, which only costs a few euros per ride.
In terms of history, Karteros is the little brother to Heraklion, a town packed with Minoan ruins and museums detailing their storied pasts. There’s the Palace of Knossos, a Bronze Age city considered to be the oldest in Europe, plus the town’s Venetian harbour and fortress, towering cathedrals and domed churches. To keep things present, there are also an amazing – and delicious – array of wineries to tour, plus an extra set of beaches to mix up your sunbathing scenery.