Crete holidays have all the qualifications to take on the beach holiday job, and go above and beyond with an essay-long list of historic sites.
Nifty north coast
Crete’s top lip is the island’s go-to spot for sun-seekers. Visitors flock to the north, thanks to the bumper crop of beaches strung out like bunting along the coastline. The Heraklion area’s got lively Hersonissos in its armoury, while the Chania area scores perfect 10s in the relaxation stakes. Samaria Gorge tops the natural attractions in the island’s rural centre. And if you flip the page to the southern coast, you’ll find traditional villages in place of hotel-heavy towns.
The culture gauge is permanently whacked up to full in Crete. Ancient Greek attractions like the Palace of Knossos have stood the test of time, while the artefact-filled museums of Aghios Nikolaos celebrate the island’s rich history, and will make you think twice about pledging all your time to tanning. The full A to Z of historical sites is as long as your arm, and includes a Venetian island fortress, a peach-coloured monastery and the fountain-filled old town of Rethymnon.
Bevy of Blue Flags
Blue Flag beaches are blotted across the map like a used bingo card. It’s little surprise that most of them cuddle up to the north coast, with the areas of Chania and Aghios Nikolaos nosing ahead in the final tallies. Agia Marina and Nea Kydonia are a couple of the former’s prettiest picks, while the latter has three award-winning sweeps tucked into a sheltered bay. Agia Pelagia’s a little further from the typically trodden package holiday track, but the waterfront still dresses to impress.
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The Chania Area plays a strong hand in the beach game. It’s got more Blue Flags prodded into its sands than Santorini and Samos combined – with the sun-splashed total standing at 12. They start at low-key Platanias, and tick off the likes of Aghia Marina and Kalamaki as you follow the shoreline towards a mushroom-shaped peninsula. The peaceful curve of Stavros Beach is the last of the bunch, but it’s anything but least.
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.
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