A whole country in one island

Renowned for its incredible music, spectacular food and impossibly beautiful landscapes, Crete is perhaps the most magical of all the Greek islands – and your Crete holidays can take it all in with ease. Divided into four distinct regions – Chania, Rethymon, Iraklio (Heraklion) and Lasithi, Crete is blessed with a mystical scenery and dynamic local culture. You’ll find a vibrant countryside dotted with picturesque villages, giant mountains looming skyward and stone gorges cutting through the land.

The 1,000-kilometre coastline features blue lagoons, swaying palm trees and pink sand beaches – while the cities, particularly Chania and Iraklio, have a distinct cosmopolitan flair and boast fantastic museums, nightlife, restaurants and hotels. History is alive and well on holidays to Crete. You’ll find traces of ancient civilisations, relics from the Ottoman and Venetian occupations, and Byzantine-era buildings. And while there’s a millennia’s worth of heritage to explore, Crete also has a vibrant, contemporary local culture that’s evident across the island. Food, drinking, and socialising are all huge parts of Cretan life. You can have some of the best nights of your life here – chatting with locals, joining the traditional dances and eating sun-warmed figs, grilled lamb chops and crunchy rusks of carob bread – all washed down with bottles of local wine and raki.

Three tips for a top trip

Hop on the bus
Travel like a local. Crete has a very decent and affordable network of buses that will zip you from one end of the island to the other.
Take your time
With so much to see, you’ll be tempted to squeeze everything into one trip. Instead, focus on exploring one or two regions in-depth for more fulfilling Crete holidays.
Follow the music
Cretans are known for their parties. Called ‘glendis’, they’re advertised on posters and include dinner, dancing and music in a village square. Don’t be shy – join in the fun!

Best attractions to see in Crete

Elafonisi Beach

Featuring pink sands and impossibly calm turquoise lagoons shielded by curving sand bars, the gorgeous Elafonisi Beach looks like something airlifted out of the Caribbean.

Palace of Knossos

The sprawling, ancient Minoan capital is Crete’s most important archeological site and is rumoured to be Europe’s oldest city. Built in 1700 BC, it features restored frescoes and crumbling palaces.

Samaria Gorge

The 16-kilometre hike through Europe’s longest gorge will take you into forests and past villages, between cliffs and over rivers, before ending up at the sea.

Your Crete questions, answered

Cretans are renowned for their hospitality and deep humanity. They are incredibly proud of their culture and will undertake every effort to make you feel at home.

Crete has a vibrant crafts culture, and your purchases will support local artisans. Consider picking up a pair of leather boots, engraved knives or pretty weavings.

It’s worth visiting during the shoulder seasons (April-June and September-October). The crowds have thinned out, but the weather is still warm enough for swimming.