The best insider tips to discover Crete

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and accordingly diverse. It has four main regions; Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lasithi, each with something unique to offer. Whether you’re looking for lazy nights in the old town of Chania or idyllic seclusion in Lasithi – here are our top tips for a Crete holiday.

Chania. Image: Getty

Chania – exciting nightlife & idyllic beaches

Chania offers numerous bars and restaurants, making it often popular with a younger crowd; however, it’s also an ideal place for those who simply enjoy a slice of comfortable city life alongside idyllic beaches. Good food, good drinks, good beaches – a combination that makes Chania and the surrounding area ideal for people who like to relax during the day, and party into the night. Don’t be put off thinking this is a tourist trap, plenty of locals also enjoy the area. If you’re looking to explore or embark on a day trip, hop in your car and take the scenic 1.5-hour drive from Chania to the beautiful Elafonissi beach.

Beach in Rethymno. Image: Getty

Impressive beaches in Rethymno

Rethymno is a port city and the third-largest city on the island. Here you will find numerous beautiful beaches, both in the north and in the south, so if laid-back relaxation is on the agenda, this is the place for you. On the secluded Preveli Beach, where the Kourtaliotis River flows into the Mediterranean, you’ll be surrounded by green nature and unbelievably shimmering turquoise waves. With a barren, but fascinating rock landscape in the background, the beach of Agios Pavlos awaits. With a little luck, you may even spot a few fish if you snorkel just off the shore in the clear water. Insider tip: take your flip-flops as the sand gets very hot in the midday sun.

View of the Knossos Palace in Heraklion. Image: Getty

Culture and history in the capital, Heraklion

The island capital Heraklion is the largest city in Crete, and here you’ll find everything you need for a perfect break. Shopping, culture, a lively marketplace – which exudes Mediterranean flair – numerous cafes, restaurants and bars. There is always plenty going on in Heraklion. If you’re without a car, you can take a bus from here to almost anywhere on the island making it a great base for your holiday. Heraklion is heavily populated so life goes by in full swing. Whether in museums, galleries or visiting the impressive ancient Knossos Palace – culture fans get their fill in Heraklion. In the surrounding area, there are countless smaller hotels and secluded spots where you can relax away from the hustle and bustle.

A stretch of coast in Lasithi. Image: Getty

Peace and seclusion in Lasithi

If you are simply looking for the ultimate relaxation lying under the hot Greek sun, then the easternmost part of Crete is the place for you. In Lasithi you will find small, idyllic fishing villages, (some larger holiday resorts) and some enchanting smaller villages, such as Sitia which is full of authentic charm. While strolling along the quiet and peaceful harbour promenade, lookout for a restaurant to dine at sunset. Enjoy a glass of ice-cold wine, before ordering a fresh Greek salad with the best local crumbling feta and a freshly caught grilled fish. As a highlight, we recommend taking a boat trip from Ierapetra to the small island of Chrysi where a little slice of paradise awaits in the form of crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches.

No matter which region in Crete you choose (or even take a road trip across the island), Greece’s largest island will cast its spell over you with its variety of sand and pebble beaches, breathtaking mountains, vibrant cities and idyllic villages.