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Crete - Mythological intrigue meets modern vitality

One of the Greek Island’s most famous villa holiday destinations, Crete essentially caters for every taste. Yet while its better-known resorts are equipped for tourism and busy nightlife, vast areas remain beautifully untouched. Cosmopolitan cities, historical sites and - of course - idyllic Greek beaches are just some of the many reasons holidaymakers fall in love with the island. And who can blame them? With villas set near quiet coves, secluded beaches and mountain villages steeped in traditional Greek life, the charms of Crete might be second to none.

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Domes of Elounda

Ideally situated on the outskirts of the prestigous resort of Elounda, famed for its luxurious hotels, the Domes of Elounda experience is the latest resort to hit the region. Nestled on a amphitheatrically built beautiful stretch of sun-drenched coastline, this attractive resort affords stunning views over the gulf of Elounda across to the UNESCO protected islet of Spinalonga. With its choice of bars and restaurants, numerous recreational facilities, kids club, pools, and private beach, this resort really offers the perfect holiday escape. A fully equipped gym and spa provides resort guests the chance to completely unwind. The use of innovative architecture is a particularly striking feature of this resort, including domes and pyramidal roofs, and colours chosen specifically to reflect the Mediterranean culture.

  • 45mins fromHeraklion

Elounda

Situated on the north east coast of the island, Elounda is said to be one of the most famous cosmopolitan locations in the entire Aegean Sea, acclaimed for it's high standard of accommodation set in amazing natural enviroment. Located on the edge of a large lagoon with sand and shingle beaches, the resort enjoys a good selection of tavernas, shops and cafes some of which can be found along the sea front. There is also plenty of Greek culture and history to be discovered, including the ancient city of Olous that used to stand where Elounda lies today. Various ruins can still be found around the resort, however most of the city ruins are now underwater. Situated at the entrance of Elounda Bay is the well known island of Spinalonga, which houses one of the strongest fortresses in Crete, which can be seen on boat trips.

  • 45mins fromHeraklion

Agios Nikolaos

Set on the north west coast of the island beside the waters of the Mirabello Gulf, the cosmopolitan resort of Agios Nikolaos enjoys a wonderful variety of attractions. These include a beautiful lake with an open air theatre, as well as a wide selection of shops, tavernas, restaurants and museums, and a fabulous marina. The beaches that surround the resort, including Almyros, Ammoudara, Havania and Ammoudi to name but a few, have all been awarded a Blue Flag. This friendly, welcoming resort really does have something to suit everyone.

  • 50mins fromHeraklion

Prines

The pretty little countryside village of Prines is set amid tranquil olive grove surroundings. The ideal location for an authentic Greek holiday, this traditional village is conveniently located close to Rethymno, and a wonderful variety of small bays and coves are also nearby.

  • 1hr 10mins fromChania

Agia Triada

This pretty little countryside village is located to the east of Rethymno and sits within beautiful rural surroundings of vast citrus orchards and wonderful lush olive groves. Just five minutes drive from the coast and 15 minutes drive from Rethymno, this area provides a good location for those wishing to explore this fascinating area of Crete.

  • 1hr fromHeraklion

Asteri

Neighbouring the village of Pangalahori, Asteri is set in a quiet countryside location with a small café situated in it’s centre. The larger resort of Rethymno with its harbour and range of amenities can be reached within a 15 minute drive.

  • 1hr fromChania

Chania

One of the prettiest towns in Crete, Chania offers breathtaking views including the dramatic backdrop of snow-capped mountains overlooking the old Venetian houses around the harbour. Chania bay has long, sweeping sand and shingle beaches that offer a variety of watersports. The historic, bustling town centre is a labyrinth of narrow streets, ancient churches, mosques and fortresses - as well as a huge selection of fantastic eateries and lively evening entertainment.

  • 25mins fromChania

Kalami

This traditional and unspoilt village overlooks Souda Bay from its prime cliff top position. A small sandy beach is within walking distance, providing the ideal setting to watch the passing ships in the late afternoon sun, whilst the popular, picturesque resort of Chania is just 10 kilometres away, offering a wider range of amenities.

  • 30mins fromChania

Platanias

Located only a few kilometres from the main town of Chania, the small but lively resort of Platanias offers something for everyone to have a fantastic holiday experience, from great sandy beaches, to a wonderful array of tavernas, bars and cafes. A good public transportation service runs through the resort into the charming town centre of Chania; here you can explore the towns beautiful history and local cultures, along with experiencing the funky, chic bars around the harbour.

  • 45mins fromChania

Horafakia Kafkala

The quaint unspolit area of Horafakia Kafala is nestled on a coastal headland to the north west of Chania town and offers a truely Cretian experience. This beautiful area enjoys a rugged coastline with several lovely sandy coves - the nearby village of Stavros enjoys several local amenities including a few tavernas, cafe/bars and a mini-market. The charming historic town of Chania can be reached within a twenty minute drive, where you find an abundance of tavernas, chic bars and a multiude of shops - designer to local craft - along with a wonderful selection of historical interest, from the delightful castle and harbour in town's centre to ancient Minoan settlements on the outskirts - a town offering something for everyone.

  • 20mins fromChania

Loutra

This small pretty countryside village is just a 15 minute drive west of Rethymno, set a few kilometres inland from the coast. Surrounded by an abundance of peaceful olive and citrus groves, Loutra is located close to several other small villages including Adele, Pangalohori and Agia Triada.

  • 1hr fromHeraklion

Pigi

Set in the countryside just one kilometre from the sea and 10 minutes drive from Rethymno, Pigi is a small village surrounded by citrus groves and olive orchards. The bustling resort of Platanias can be found within a 10 minute drive, offering a variety of tavernas, shops, bars and cafés.

  • 1hr fromChania

Plaka

The enchanting village offers a small selection of tavernas, bars and mini markets. The ideal place to get a taste of the traditional Greek Lifestyle. Set on the cliff top above the quaint fishing harbour of Almyrida our villas offer distant views of Souda Bay and out across the Aegean Sea.

  • 45mins fromChania

Prinos

Prinos is a small, quaint village set in the countryside back from the North coast of the island. Although the facilities here are limited you are within a twenty minute drive of the bustling town of Rethymno and only 2km from the nearest beach.

  • 1hr fromHeraklion

Rethymno

The picturesque harbour town of Rethymno is located just an hours drive from Crete’s cosmopolitan capital Heraklion. This quaint town attracts locals and visitors alike to its choice of excellent waterside tavernas. The endless beach at this pretty resort is perfect for families, with its gently shelving sand and palm-lined promenade. The old town, marked by the ancient fortress, old harbour, winding paved streets, fish restaurants, cafés and bars is perfect for a leisurely stroll.

  • 1hr fromChania

Roumeli

This pretty little countryside village boasts dramatic views across the neighbouring countryside to distant mountain ranges. A small selection of amenities can be found within a 10 minute drive scattered around the countryside. This area is ideal for those wishing to enjoy the tranquillity and great views of the countryside.

  • 1hr fromHeraklion

Stalos

A delightful selection of tavernas, bars and shops are on offer in this small, bustling resort, which retains its traditional Greek charm and peaceful atmosphere. The island of Theodorou is just a short distance out to sea from Stalos’ long sandy beach, and can easily be reached by hire boat.

  • 30mins fromChania

Achlades

Achlades is a beautiful countryside retreat offering a real feel of peace and tranquillity, whilst being only 25 minutes drive away from the sophistication and excitement of Rethymno town. Achlades is renowned for its thousands of acres of manicured olive groves and is the perfect place to unwind and experience true Cretan living. The village offers a small local typical Cretan taverna, whilst the coastal village of Panormos, found within a 10 minute drive, provides a selection of amenities with local tavernas, mini-markets and some café/bars.

  • 1hr fromHeraklion

Adelianos Kambos

Adelianos Kambos is small suburb of Rethymno, situated within a 10 minute drive east of the historic towns centre. The old national highway - that leads into Rethymno town - splits the resort, with many 4 and 5 star hotels on the beach side of the road and the shops, restaurants and bars on the other side. The further you walk in the direction of Rethymno, the more bustling the resort becomes. Several pathways, from the old national road, lead to the beautiful long sandy beach, which is great for any beach lovers.

  • 1hr fromChania

Ancient Eleftherna

Ancient Eleftherna is a wonderful historic and charming village, situated at the north western foothills of Mount Idi, and well known for the archaeological site. Here in this quaint and quiet village you will find a traditional taverna, some traditional greek cafes and a basic mini market. This great location is perfect for exploring Rethymno, Panarmo and the surrounding smaller villages, such as Agia Triada, Pigi and Loutra, which are all in easy reach via car, with Rethymno being found within a 25 minute drive away.

  • 1hr 5mins fromHeraklion

Armeni

This quaint Greek village offers a great location set in beautiful countryside surroundings and is only a 15 minute drive south from the town of Rethymno. Armeni boasts a friendly Greek community with many of the village attending a charming church set behind the village. The village benefits from a small selection of amenities set along the road which leads down to Rethymno which includes several tavernas, a mini-market and a petrol station.

  • 1hr 10mins fromChania

Gerani

The delightful resort Gerani is situated 15 kilometres to the west of Chania, and is made up of two areas, the 'main resort', on the coast, and the old village, "Palio Gerani", which is nestled just to the south of the main resort, about 1 kilometre away. The main resort of Gerani offers a good selection of tavernas, shops, mini-markets and café/bars dotted along the main road running through the resort, with the beach being found 200-300 metres from the main road. Whilst, Palio Gerani, offers a very sleepy, little village ambience, with a few local amenities, including a little mini-market and a café/bar. The area of Gerani provides an excellent base to explore the wonders of the western side of Crete, including the beautiful and historic town of Chania being found within a 15 minute drive away.

  • 35mins fromChania

Imbros

This quaint traditional village is nestled in the mountainous centre of the island, approximately halfway between the north and south coasts. Surrounded by awe-inspiring mountain ranges, this typical, charming village is ideal for those wishing to get away from it all and experience the traditional side of Crete. A few local amenities can be found scattered around Imbros and the neighbouring village of Sfakia, whilst the wonderful sandy beaches of the south coast can be reached within a 30 minute drive.

  • 1hr 40mins fromHeraklion

Maleme

Maleme is a quiet tourist village sandwiched between the rolling green hills and the sea. Just sixteen kilometers from the historic old town of Chania and only a few minutes from the lively seaside resort of Platanias, Maleme is a great all-round family destination. The village itself has a modest selection of traditional tavernas, modern restaurants, shops and mini-markets whilst the long pebbled beach provides the perfect place for long days in the sun. Maleme is also well known for its old airport, fully operational during the Second World War, it is now unused and a popular historic attraction.

  • 45mins fromChania

Marathi

This quaint, little resort is nestled close to the entrance of Souda Bay and boasts a fabulous unspoilt sea front location. Several small, beautiful sandy beaches and rocky coves make up Marathi's coastline, whilst a handful of popular local tavernas can be found just set back from the waters edge. With the wonders of Chania town being found within a 25 minute drive, Marathi offers an idyllic location for those wishing to get away from it all.

  • 15mins fromChania

Your Crete Villa holiday

Outdoors pursuits in Crete Image

Outdoors pursuits in Crete

There are countless things to do and see in Crete. Walks, climbs, drives and rides take you across striking plateaux, dramatic mountains and stunning seascapes. When you choose a villa holiday on this Greek Island, you can discover local customs and traditions, try new sports or simply soak up the stunning natural environment and its amazing views from snow-capped mountains to glistening bays. Swimming, watersports, fishing, diving and snorkelling are in abundance around Crete’s coastline. Climbing and caving are also a popular way to explore the island’s world-famous local gorges.

Hints of history in Crete Image

Hints of history in Crete

Crete is home to many architectural and historical jewels. From ancient labyrinthine ruins and scenic routes well-trodden by legends, you’ll be instantly transported back to the Minoan culture that flourished on this Greek Island thousands of years ago. Roman, Venetian and Turkish rule have also left their mark on Crete with cobbled alleys, monasteries, old fortresses, mosques and harbours. Multiple museums offer a fascinating insight into its long and colourful past, as well as Crete’s many cultural traditions still practised in villages to this day.

On the beach in Crete Image

On the beach in Crete

You’ll find an endless number of beautiful sand and coloured pebble beaches bordering Crete’s coastline - many awarded with the Blue Flag for cleanliness and safety and ideal for a family holiday.

Pretty secluded coves lapped by clear warm seas are dotted across Crete; while the larger and busier villa holiday resorts and bays offer waterfront bars, tavernas and every day amenities ideal for families. The island also provides practical seaside facilities, including sun umbrellas – as well as lifeguards in peak season to watch over visitors on the beach and in the water.

Retail therapy in Crete Image

Retail therapy in Crete

Shopping on Crete is an experience not to be missed! A wide range of small village shops and markets sell local produce and beautifully-crafted leather, copper, bronze, terracotta and wooden items. Explore the bigger towns on your villa holiday, where the streets are lined with chic boutiques offering the latest trends in clothing, shoes, and beauty items. With everything from top designer labels to original jewellery pieces, folk art and olive oil (Crete’s is rated one of the best in the world) – you’ll find great gifts, holiday essentials and luxury items at competitive prices.

Weather Guide

For the Crete holiday season.

Average monthly temperature and rainfall for the Crete holiday season

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Not to be missed...

  • Visit King Minas’ Palace at Knossos to see where Theseus made his way through the labyrinth to slay the legendary half-man, half-bull monster - The Minotaur.
  • Visit Chania Town on the west coast, known as the prettiest town on the island for its combination of natural beauty and variety of archaeological and historical sights.
  • Join in the celebrations at the Rethymno Wine Festival in late July and witness spectacular Greek dancing and free-flowing wine.
  • Visit the delightful, cosmopolitian town of Agios Nikolaos in the est of the island, exploring the pretty harbour and experiencing the great cuisine and shops on offer.
  • Go hiking and take in the breathtaking scenery at Samaria Gorge - the longest in Europe. It’s a long, hard day’s walk – not for the faint hearted - but well worth the effort. A further 50 gorges are waiting to be discovered - some much easier to traverse than others – so seek advice before you go.

Villas with Air Conditioning

64 villas found in Crete (10 shown)
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Villas with Great Views

38 villas found in Crete (10 shown)
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Villas in the Heart of the Action

5 villas found in Crete
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Villas with Wi-Fi

64 villas found in Crete (10 shown)
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Villas with Games Facilities

31 villas found in Crete (10 shown)
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Crete reviews verified by reevooReevoo

Sights / Places to go
8.8
Night life
7.8
Overall rating
9.0
Scores 9.0 out of 10 based on 201 reviews
Reviews and scores from the last 12 months.
Views and opinions in these reviews are solely of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of James Villa Holidays (JVH). JVH provides no assurances regarding the accuracy of the information and cannot accept liability for complaints, loss or damage resulting from the article. It does not form part of the contract made when a holiday is booked with JVH and the information provided is not intended to be a rider or replacement to the booking conditions. Reference to the service or product of a third party, is not an endorsement or recommendation and JVH accepts no liability as a result of complaints, loss or damage arising from their use.
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