Say hello to Greece's biggest island offering, where supersized shores are jam-packed with beaches, cities, natural delights and historical sights, wherever you choose to stay! From romantic retreats in Elounda to family-focused fun in Rethymno, you can't go wrong with a holiday in Crete.
Sitting pretty in the south of the Aegean Sea, Crete is a firm believer that 'variety is the spice of life'. Doling out dazzlingly diverse landscapes by the bucket load, narrowing down where to stay can be a challenge with so much choice. That's why we're on hand with the inside scoop on Crete's best and most beloved resorts...
When it comes to luxurious Greek getaways, Elounda knows a thing or two about romantic retreats. Still a relatively fresh face on Crete's holiday scene, the prestigious resort is tucked away on the north east coast of the island. Sprinkled with sand and shingle stretches, fishing harbours, brightly coloured boats and shimmering sapphire sea views – its relaxed pace of life is just what the doctor ordered. Peace and tranquillity take precedence here, as do the finer things in life, so it's no surprise that couples gravitate to the gorgeous spot.
Even the most dedicated sand-seeker needs a break from the beach sometimes, and as luck would have it, the most visited site in all of Crete – Spinalonga Island – is virtually on your doorstep! Lying at the mouth of Elounda's natural port, this one-time military stronghold also doubled as a leper colony until 1957. Now reduced to crumbling remains, set sail across the magnificent Mirabello Gulf and explore the island for yourself. Be sure to swing by the Venetian fortress, which dominates the rocky islet and serves up spectacular views – especially at sunset.
Just east of Elounda, near the iconic windmills that accessorise the peninsula of Spinalonga, you'll find the sleeping sunken city of Olous. Hailing from the Mionian age, the ancient ruins are now submerged underwater and make for a fascinating place to go for a walk. On a calm day, you'll be able to trace the outlines of the old city with the help of weathered walls that poke out from the sea.
If you've whet your appetite for historical treasures, then set your sights slightly further afield to the Palace of Malia. Safely on dry land, you'll be able to wander around the once magnificent Mionian masterpiece, which dates all the way back from 1450 BC! Covering a whopping 7,500 square metres, the archaeological site boasts a central court, loggia theatre, royal quarters and a whole host of other once-impressive buildings.
Have your holiday cake and eat it at the delightfully decedant Domes of Elounda. Overflowing with first-class facilities and perfectly positioned just outside of the main town, it's an idyllic place to lose yourselves in luxury. Complete with on-site bars and restaurants, a private beach and fully equipped gym and spa – you never need to leave the resort! Drift deep into holiday bliss as you watch the glistening bay of Elounda from your private infinity pool and make the most of uninterrupted peace and quiet. Whether you're looking to celebrate a special anniversary, you're honeymooning or you simply just want to treat yourselves – the Domes of Elounda are hard to top.
Regular chart topper on any 'best Crete resort' list, Chania has no trouble turning heads with its travel brochure good looks. Nestled into the island's northwest coast, it's surrounded itself with a bevy of Blue Flags and chic seaside hotspots. Holidaymakers beeline for Chania's biscuity beaches, plus the 'Pinterest favourites' that lie slightly further afield – Elafonissi and Balos. Like all good resorts, there's plenty more where that came from. Whether you're after a base for sightseeing opportunities along the west coast, or you're simply smitten with strolling through the old town, you can't go wrong with a stay in one of our villas in Chania.
Chania's old town is certainly easy on the eye. Renowned for its effortless elegance and fairy tale scenes, 'pretty as a picture' doesn't even begin to do it justice. Culture vultures will love the jumble of buildings pulled together by a maze of cobbled streets, culminating in one of Crete's most charming harbours. Temples, theatres, mosques, Hammams and a whole host of historical buildings give Chania its unique character – not to mention its iconic lighthouse.
A regular west coast wonder, Chania is perfectly positioned for excursions and sightseeing. Samaria Gorge, Frangokastello Fortress, Falassarna ancient city, Lake Kournas and a handful of traditional villages are all within driving distance of the resort. Plus you can easily pay Rethymno a visit too!
Like most Greek islands, holidaymakers flock to Crete's extensive coastline for sun, sand and splash - and Chania's breathtaking beaches are no exception. If you're in the market for something extra special, you won't do better than the two exotic pockets of paradise that lie along the west. Ribbons of soft, pink-tinged sands have put Elafonissi on the beach travel map, while Balos' lagoonal waters are pure turquoise bliss. Both pop up on bucket lists just as often as Caribbean beaches, so these Cretan shores find themselves in good company…
If you're a sucker for a sunset, then be sure to Grace this villa with your presence! Set on a cliffside overlooking the azure Aegean Sea, this luxury home from home is kitted out with every kind of amenity going. Perfect for families or large groups, there's a private pool, gym, sauna and cinema room to keep everyone entertained. As well as numerous outdoor seating and dining areas to make the most of the balmy Cretan climate.
Crete comes kitted out with a handful of big-name resorts and celebrated cities. Leading the way is the harbour town or Rethymno, nested on the island's northern shores halfway between Heraklion and Chania. Its centralised location means it's perfectly positioned for day trips further afield, although leaving its string of sandy beaches proves impossible for a lot of travellers – and who can blame them? Covered in the footprints of families and couples alike, Rethymno's main bay stretches out for a staggering 13km. Clearly sticking to Crete's philosophy of 'bigger the better', these silky sands are some of the island's finest.
Rethymno is overflowing with crumbling ruins, ancient artefacts and an old quarter that will have you swooning in seconds. Celebrated as one of the best preserved medieval cities in Greece, a keen eye will recognise the romantic Venetian architecture that gives the town its postcard appeal. Sprinkled with candy-coloured architecture, Juliette balconies and all manner of mosques and churches – the pretty pathways are just waiting to be explored. You might have come for the beaches, but be sure to dedicate some time to the dreamy town itself.
One of the big players on any Crete holiday itinerary, Samaria Gorge is well deserving of its stellar reputation. You'll need a full day for this one, but the drive alone is worth the effort. The journey will set you back a little over an hour and a half, although it won't feel that way as you marvel at the magnificent White Mountains and forest-carpeted countryside! One of Crete's most iconic natural wonders, a trek through the national park will take you over rocks, rivers and fresh-water springs for a total of 16km – all the while being surrounded by soaring cliffs.
Villa Artist is the perfect place for a family to relax and unwind together. Located just 15 minutes from Rethymno's historical heart, you'll find it hard to beat this villa when it comes to views! Featuring a whole host of family-friendly facilities, the kids will love the games room and newly built 10m-long swimming pool.
From action-packed adventures to culture vulture antics in Crete's charming cities, there's countless ways to spend your days on Greece's largest island…
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