The biggest of the Greek Islands, Crete certainly makes the most of its size. On the one hand, it lines up miles of beaches and a guidebook’s worth of sights. On the other, it has every type of holiday base going, from sleepy hillside villages to up-all-night party towns.

Lassithi area

In the northeast of the island, there’s the region of Lassithi. The big name here is Aghios Nikolaos. It fans out around a lake and comes with a generous helping of tavernas and shops. There are Blue Flag beaches on the doorstep, too.

Heraklion area

In the centre of Crete’s north coast is the Heraklion area. Here, you can choose from large and lively beach resorts like Hersonissos, Stalis and Malia, and traditional towns like Gouves and Piskopiano.

Rethymnon area

Head west for about 80 kilometres and you’ll hit the Rethymnon area. The town of Rethymnon itself offers a big sandy beach, a lovely harbour and a healthy dose of restaurants and bars. And not far from here is the fishing town of Panormo, whose calling cards are a pretty beach and a couple of seafood restaurants.

Chania area

Drive west for another hour or so and you reach the Chania area. Resorts here include Gerani and Maleme, as well as Chania itself, with its old town and Medieval harbour.

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Heraklion Area

Whoever said less is more had never been to the Heraklion area. In these parts, more is more. The region’s beaches are case and point. They come in all shapes and sizes, from busy bands of sand like the ones in Hersonissos and Kokkini Hani, to quiet, family-focused stretches, like Agia Pelagia’s.

Chania Area

A patch of land on Crete’s north coast, the Chania area certainly scores brownie points when it comes to beaches. The region offers up more sandy stretches than you can count on two hands, from the Blue Flag beauties in Agioi Apostoloi and Gerani, to the chic bar-lined strip in Agia Marina.

Rethymnon Area

This part of northeast Crete is home to some of the best beaches on the island. And you only need to look as far Rethymnon town for evidence – it’s bookended by two beaches, which are both more than 7 kilometres long.

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Top 5 resorts in Crete

Top 5 hotels in Crete

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