A place of 2 parts

Gouves is actually 2 places for the price of 1. Built into the side of Mount Ederi is the old village of Pano Gouves, with its whitewashed houses and churches. Then, at the bottom of the hill, there’s the seaside town of Kato Gouves, where you’ll find the bars, restaurants and hotels. It’s all just 25 minutes from Crete’s capital Heraklion, and 15 minutes from the island’s biggest resort, Hersonissos.

Blue Flag beach

Colourful umbrellas cover every inch of sand at the main beach at Kato Gouves. The shoreline shelves gently into the sea, but there can be strong undercurrents – look out for the flags if you want to have a dip. You can also take to the waters in a pedalo, canoe or banana boat, or try paragliding or scuba diving. Cafés and beach bars are on hand when hunger pangs strike.

Traditional village

The old village of Pano Gouves is just 2 kilometres up the hill from Kato Gouves. You can stop off for Greek coffee at a traditional kafenia – coffee house – in the village square, then explore higgledy-piggledy streets of ruined and restored houses, and tiny whitewashed orthodox churches. It’s the perfect place to get a taste of old-style Greece – and there are some impressive views of the seafront below from up here.

Heraklion on the doorstep

From here it’s less than half an hour’s drive to the island’s capital, with its designer boutiques, Venetian port and walled old city. Must-sees in this bustling town include the archeological museum which is bursting with ancient Minoan relics, and the magnificent, partially restored Palace of Knossos. When you’re done sightseeing, you can stop off for a coffee and a bougatsa – vanilla cream pie – in one of the cafés at Lion Square.

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