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Crete Hotels and Apartments
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Crete Holidays & Hotels
Hotels in Crete
A bewitching Greek isle of outstanding natural beauty, Crete has picture-perfect beaches and charming villages, with rugged gorges and a jawline of mountains to boot. Stay in self-contained villas, artsy boutique hotels, seafront resorts or historic townhouses – even within a traditional village.
Within less than 9,000km, Crete packs in holiday hotspots for all. Stay in dynamic, historic port city Heraklion, breezy beachy Elounda, melting-pot village Chania or the fishing village of Rethymnon. Families, adults and couples can all enjoy Crete on any budget. Experience luxury resorts with sparkling pools, landscaped grounds and brilliant spa facilities or cheaper resorts that will still meet all your holiday needs. Couples, in particular, will also enjoy the restored townhouses in Chania.
Where to stay
A legendary city of myth and Minoan might, Heraklion is the island’s capital and main entry point. The area has a bustling port and important ancient ruins, such as the palace of Knossos and Koules Fortress, as well as an archaeological museum to give you the lowdown on its past. Home to many noted Greek creatives over the years, it’s a bit bohemian, a vibe reflected in its vivacious cocktail bars and nightclubs.
Get a little taste of the old Crete on your holiday here, and the diverse influences felt across the Med. Crowded around the 14th-century Venetian harbour are restored Greek, Italian and Ottoman-style townhouses, threaded through with winding shop-lined streets. There are churches and museums to wander into, and plentiful terraces for a romantic rendezvous sipping a local Vidiano.
Roll up, roll up, Hersonissos, one of Crete’s most popular holiday resorts, has thrilling water parks, ravishing gorges, historic ruins, blissed-out beaches and even some dinosaurs (well, sort of). Ride horses in the sea, hop on a quad bike or watch elaborately costumed traditional Greek dance troupes as you snack on mezze. Star beach is the island’s star turn, with postcard-ready sands and fun-of-the-fair entertainment.
What to see
Hire a car to cruise along the dazzling coast. Crete’s scenery varies wildly throughout, from Samariá Gorge Natural Park in the west, and Avdou Valley in the south, to Elafonisi island’s Instagram-dream pink sands (which you can walk to when the water’s low enough); sacred Mount Ida in Rethymnon, to the rust-red sands of Matala. Of course, there are golden beaches aplenty, from Balos and Gramvousa on the island’s Western outcrop, to Vai in the restful east.
Tick off Heraklion’s palaces and fortresses, then head out to fortified isle Spinalonga. And, to see the birthplace of Greece’s OG god, explore Psychros Cave, where Zeus is believed to have been born. Heraklion’s Cretaquarium is a good introduction to the waterworld just off the coast, but there are several dive centres on the north and south coasts if you want a closer look, with watersports aplenty throughout. For kids, there’s the Dinosauria Park and Hersonissos’ Aquaworld, as well as Acqua Plus’s splashier attractions.
What to eat
Cretans have sought to revive traditional ingredients and methods in their cuisine. Accompanying excellent fish and tender grilled meats are hand-foraged herbs and plants native to the isle. Meals are, usually, polished off with a slug of Raki, a potent liqueur made with grape pressings. Wine and beer are reasonably priced throughout too.
Chania is ideal for romantic meals; dine amid history or pick up a picnic in the Market Hall and tuck into delicious fare by the harbour. Heraklion has restaurants to suit all tastes, too. Its seafood is divine (try 7 Thalasses) and restaurants often double up as bars. Elounda’s luxury hotels and local tavernas also serve up must-try dishes, such as grilled octopus and real taramasalata (that’s white, not pink).
You’ll have your pick of party spots during your Crete holiday. Clubs throw open their doors ‘till early morning in resorts such as Malia, Hersonissos and Stalis, Agia Galini and Plakias in Rethymnon, across to Elounda. Malia, in particular, is one of Europe’s biggest clubbing destinations, offering up all-night venues and famous boat parties.
Star Beach – a unique resort located in Hersonissos - is one of the top spots. Fun by day as an amusement park, after dark is no different; with foam parties, top DJs and the option to bungee jump. Palm Beach Club also has pools and podium dancers. In Malia, try the Camelot Castle Club for lively crowds and Reflex for throwback tunes.
You’ll likely return home from Crete with your suitcase stuffed with prettily embroidered textiles, bottles of olive oil, handmade bath products and other holiday mementos. Resorts and seaside towns will have touristy shops ready with all the inflatables and sandcastle-building kit you need; peripteros are bodegas with a wide range of things you’d think you didn’t need. Heraklion’s Talos Plaza is the largest shopping mall in Crete, and you’ll find brand-name stores throughout. For local tchotchkes, head to Chania.
Fast Facts about Crete
- Flight time: 5.5 hours from London
- Transfer time from Athens to Heraklion: One hour
- Time Zone: EET (+2 hours)
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Greek
- Average price of a domestic beer: €2–3
- Average price of a bottle of wine: €3–4
- Number of Brit tourists per year: around 2,700,000
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