With a tapestry of castaway beaches, dreamy villages and bewitching scenery, Crete, Greece’s largest island has everything you could wish for. But, natural beauty and unspoilt charm aren’t its only draws. The birthplace of Zeus has an incredible history, showcased in world-famous archaeological sites and in museums stuffed with antiquities. There are wildlife-rich gorges to roam on foot and hidden churches, tiny hamlets and secluded beaches to be discovered by bike. Then out on the water, boats carry snorkellers and swimmers to idyllic coves and bays.
Crete’s inclusiveness is favoured by many. But if your one of the rare few yet to visit – whatcha’ waiting for?
We’ve figured out the best way to spend a week in Crete, and now we’re spilling the beans. Broken down to suit ages, tastes (with heaps of variety), our week itinerary will ensure your Cretan holiday goes off without a hitch. Opa!
Get to Know the Area…
Best Beaches in Crete…
- The island of Elafonissi is a protected nature reserve, so loungers – of which there are many – are restricted to the beach opposite, but you can walk over to the island through the shallow lagoon waters for a peaceful wander away from the crowds.
- In the region of Lassithi (north-east), is a magical beach called Vai. What sets it apart from the rest is that it’s surrounded by a palm tree forest. In fact, the biggest in Europe. It’s one of the islands largest attractions, so you can imagine that it gets pretty crowded during high season. But don’t let that put you off, the soft supple sand and vibrant blue water aren’t to be missed. In the past, the beach was a free camping site, but it’s now prohibited.
- Calling all windsurfers and enthusiasts alike. Koureménos Beach is all yours for the taking. It’s a given that the beach is known for its interchangeable winds, but you can also expect a pretty fine sand-and-pebbly beach. If you decide to bring family/ friends that aren’t so keen on less than calm waters, don’t worry, they can find a cosy spot by one of the tavernas.
- Family-friendly Hotels in Chania has everything you need for a quiet beach break. Sunloungers in abundance, a flurry of beach bars and meanwhile, for your little ones, a few shallow pools where they can happily splash around. And as for you, well you can finally let your hair down, without a single care in the world. Total bliss.
Things to See and Do
- Loutro is a typical Cretan fishing village. It has a small beach, a pretty bay and a string of traditional tavernas. So what makes it a must-see? Well, there are no roads and no cars. If you want to see Loutro, the only way in is on the ferry. The lack of access has prevented any mass tourism, so there are no huge hotels or crowded restaurants. Days here are all about relaxing countryside walks and quiet time on the beach.
- If you’re in Crete for the Carnival of Rethymno then you’re in for a treat. Unlike your typical perceptions of carnival, this one involves the people of Rethymno coming together to celebrate better days. It’s an experience nobody should miss, full of floats, fun and good energy.
- For the go-getters that want to see the sights, there’s nothing better than to hike the so-called ‘Gorge of the Dead’ (Nekron Canyon). Going up takes about one and a half hours and just over an hour to get back down. The views are spellbinding and going on a hike gives a different perspective on Crete. Once you’re done, you can indulge in a cooling swim and some lunch at the taverna.
- Only so much of Crete’s breathtaking landscape can be uncovered on foot or by car. Experience the full power of its beauty by mountain bike with the team at Cycling Creta. All abilities are warmly welcomed on this one-of-a-kind adventure.
- If there is one thing kids love more than being on holiday, it’s being at a waterpark, so combining the two is always a winner. Acqua Plus has been open for two decades and was the first waterpark to use wristbands for unlimited sliding, so it’s safe to say it knows a thing or two about adrenaline-fuelled days out. Age isn’t a factor here, the water park has two sections, one for adults with extreme slides, the other for kids. Your whole clan is more than welcome at Acqua Plus.
- Once their interest for all things aquatic has been piqued, have a fun family day out at the Cretaquarium. The huge shark tank is awe-inspiring and the cool interior is also a welcome break from the afternoon sun.
- Another activity you can do with budding adventurers is to explore Dikteon Cave. According to folklore, Zeus was born and raised here – making it one of the most (if not most) important cave in Greece.
- Escape rooms are all the craze at the moment. And it looks like it’s here to stay. In Crete, the best one can be found at Heraklion’s Escape Rooms. In case you’re new to the craze, you and your family will have to have your wits about you to get out of the locked room. You’re guaranteed a barrel of laughs!
Food & Drink
- For a trendy bite to eat with an incredible view of Chania’s Venetian Harbour, check out Salis. Try their chic take on traditional, farm-to-table Cretan fare.
- Seasonally-inspired cooking dominates the menu Gramvousa, which overlooks the sea in the pretty village of Kaliviani. Dishes include lots of local favourites and are fiercely loyal to classic Cretan cooking, so much so that some of the recipes date back as far as the 18th century. The restaurant itself is very much a product of the present day, with charming service, a lively atmosphere and a relaxing al fresco setting beneath the trees.
- We already know that France is the gastronomical home to escargot, but snails are also widely loved in Crete. In fact, many families will integrate them into their weekly meals. So it’s only fitting that the small village of Vlaheronitisa holds a snail soiree where travellers far and wide can enjoy them on the first Saturday of August. They’re prepared in a variety of ways, sauteed in butter, fried – you name it, they do it. The snail party goes on until sundown and when you pair that with the local ‘raki’ you won’t want the party to end.
Where to Stay
Villa Venus, Villa Elounda Megali, Villa Zorba, Villa Barozzi, Villa Agapios, Villa Orpheus
If you’re looking for more villa inspiration dive into our Cretan villas that have all been chosen for their picturesque locations and quirky features.