Holidays to Crete go big on the best of Greece – proper beach life, top-tier tavernas and ancient history like it was never taught in school.

Up north

Crete’s a real sun catcher, with the north counting a load of beaches along its coast. The Heraklion area’s a buzzing centre for history, shopping and foodie finds and has the lively Hersonissos to show for its sands. Chania takes it more chill. It’s the second-largest city on the island, and has more of a Venetian vibe with a wowing waterfront and Blue Flag beaches. From here, you can also head inland to see Samaria Gorge – a protected biodiversity site with heaps of walking trails.

Ancient sites

Put your pen and paper away – you’re surrounded by real-life history here. Ancient Greek attractions like the Palace of Knossos are meant to be explored – its associated with myths like the labyrinth and the minotaur. Then the artefact-filled museums of Aghios Nikolaos add in some extra detail and will make you think twice about pledging all your time to tanning. You’ve also got a Venetian island fortress, a peach-coloured monastery and the fountain-filled old town of Rethymnon to get through.

Waving the Blue Flags

It's no surprise that the north bags some of the most Blue Flag titles around this island. Areas like Chania and Aghios Nikolaos are the go-to for beach days. Agia Marina and Nea Kydonia are a couple of Chania’s prettiest picks, or Agia Pelagia’s a little further from the typically trodden holiday track, but the waterfront’s definitely worthy of your attention.

At a Glance

  • Go off-piste and explore the Samaria Gorge
  • Check out Lassithi’s Blue Flag beaches
  • Visit the Palace of Knossos

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