Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and is widely regarded as a country within a country, not least by the Cretans who are welcoming and hospitable, and fiercely proud of their history, golden sandy beaches, azure Aegean waters and the fact that they enjoy the longest summer in Europe. Crete holidays are perfect for those who are looking for an idyllic island getaway fit for the gods.
Crete, the birthplace of the legendary Zeus, occupies the most southerly point in Europe offering everything for a perfect Mediterranean holiday: golden beaches, sparkling waters, stunning scenery, and a richly diverse culture shaped by centuries of history including the Minoans, the first civilisation in Europe, followed by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Turks. Four lofty mountain ranges, high enough to be snow-clad in winter, dominate the rolling foothills and broad coastal plains, and secluded villages nestle amongst vineyards, olive and citrus groves and green, fertile meadows. To the south, small fishing communities seek shelter beneath precipitous windswept cliffs, and the north boasts beaches, coves and a series of great bays decorated with ribbons of fine golden sand. With its varied terrain, from sparkling beaches to snow-topped mountains, there is a great wealth of things to do on Crete holidays.
The capital of the island, Heraklion is an exceptional city located by the sea and is home to the ancient site of Knossos which was once the centre of Minoan Crete. The city offers visitors an abundance of things to do in Crete from gorgeous beaches and fine dining, to museums and archaeological sites. The Historical Museum of Crete provides a fascinating narration of the island’s history and, the ancient Minoan town of Gournia and the Palace of Knossos are exceptional ancient ruins where the island’s civilization laid its foundations.
Sailing to Mochlos
Discover Crete’s hidden bays and beautiful beaches during a day out on a wooden sailing boat to the peaceful, laidback fishing community of Mochlos. In between sunbathing and assisting with setting the sails, a traditional lunch of Cretan specialities is served on board.
Samaria Gorge National Park
The national park of Samaria Gorge is a major tourist attraction and one of the top things to do in Crete. The gorge is nestled between the Lefka Ori (White Mountains) and is known to be one of Europe’s most scenic national parks. The gorge stretches 10 miles to the coastline and is excellent for hikers. There are plenty of bars and taverns on the beach front so you will have an excellent and picturesque location to refuel after your day. Visitors can catch a bus from Chania to the park.
Home to the oldest civilisation on European soil and undiscovered until the beginning of the 20th century, the Palace of Knossos is a labyrinthine ruin dating back nearly 4000 years. Further secrets of the advanced and highly cultured Minoans, including the legend of the Minotaur, are revealed at the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion.
Trips to Malia are one of the most popular things to do in Crete. To the east of Hersonissos, Malia boasts fantastic beaches but they do get fairly crowded so for somewhere more peaceful, head for the sand dunes to the east and visit the Palace of Malia. Open daily (except Mondays) this is the site of one of the four great Minoan palaces.
The rocky island of Spinalonga dominates the entrance to Elounda Bay. Its impressive 16th century fortifications were built by the Venetians in defence against the Turks, and at the beginning of the 20th century it was home to lepers. A visit today is a poignant reminder of those less enlightened times.
Arriving by boat into Santorini is one of the best holiday experiences. The coastline of this spectacular Cycladean Island plunges 900ft into the sea and its towering dusky precipes, bespeckled with white-washed houses and blue-domed churches, offer the most breathtaking views. There is an abundance of things to do in Santorini and this beautiful island is perfect for ambling around the quaint streets, or dining and relaxing by the sea.
Boat Trips & Excursions
There are numerous boat trips for discovering the spectacular coast, cultural excursions to remains of ancient civilisations, and for professional hikers, trek over to the Samaria Gorge for a great ramble down to the sea!