If ever there was a search for the holiday destination that has it all, Crete would surely come high on the list. This dreamy Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea boasts the perfect combination of modern life and a culture that incorporates traditions dating back to ancient times. With so much to see and do on Crete, it can be tricky to know where to stay. Thanks to its diversity, choosing the perfect location for a holiday in Crete, this island can offer all types of holiday for all kinds of traveller.
Photo courtesy of Theophilos Papadopoulos
Crete’s stunning beaches offer endless opportunity to swim and frolic in the warm Mediterranean waters. Devoted sun worshippers should check out the northern coastline, as this is where the most beautiful beaches are located. Wherever you travel, there are friendly and spirited locals keen to share their culture, often in the form of delectable local cuisine. Partygoers should head down to the Iraklio region while city folk will love Rethymno and Chania – modern-day metropolises with ancient lifeblood.
The city of Rethymno is an excellent choice for a quieter holiday in Crete. Located on the north coast, it is steeped in history with a beautiful Venetian harbour and narrow streets bursting with character. There are remnants of ancient culture at every turn and the city is home to a number of museums as well as the longest stretch of sandy beach on the island. For an alternative city break, Chania is a great location that also acts as a base for excursions out into the wilderness. There are echoes of the ancient Minoan civilisation in every corner of the city, particularly in the Old Town with its countless examples of Ottoman and Byzantine architecture alongside restored Venetian mansions that house elegant and mystical restaurants, cafes and hotels. This beautiful city boasts an exciting atmosphere within which to explore the modern Greek society amongst the ruins of a civilisation that ruled more than 4000 years ago.
The Great Outdoors
Photo courtesy of Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho
For those who fancy an outdoor adventure, the White Mountains are the perfect place to holiday in Crete, situated just 40 kilometres away from Chania to the west of the island. Indulge in the best that Crete has to offer on the drive up into the mountains, along twisting roads past olive groves and citrus trees, dazzling canyons, picturesque villages and mountain vistas, in a landscape that becomes inexplicably more beautiful the further you venture.
The White Mountains offer a range of guided or solo hiking experiences as well as fantastic climbing opportunities. The terrain is rough, but hikers will be rewarded with stunning vistas of the desert-style plains and green landscapes, and may well pass by Cretan shepherds and their flock. The green paradise that is the 1200-metre high Omalos Plateau is a standout feature of a mountain hike, while the Samaria Gorge is home to rugged mountains and an array of wildlife and birdlife, surrounded by forests filled with cypress and pine trees that show just why it gained national park status. The restored village of Samaria can be found around halfway along the 11-mile walk and represents a real treasure of ancient Cretan architecture. For an alternative rural adventure, head down to the southern coast of the island where there are traditional villages and many hidden delights.
The Best of Everything
When it comes down to it, the one thing that every luxury traveller is searching for is the ideal hotel that has everything you could dream of with rest, relaxation and a great location from which to explore the best of your surroundings. The Elounda resort is located on the north coast of the island within easy reach of all the best that Crete has to offer. The Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel offers the ultimate romantic break with a private atmosphere and extravagant suites, while the Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort is perfect for families, with its friendly and relaxed atmosphere, spacious accommodation and childcare facilities. The Elounda Mare is a great all-rounder and ideal for groups of friends with its relaxed and friendly atmosphere and plentiful activities.
All of the hotels within the resort have access to the world-famous Six Senses spa, traditional Turkish hammam, private beaches, a gym and cinema for the best in relaxation, while there are entertainment opportunities abound with cookery classes, an extensive golf course, a game of tennis or perhaps an afternoon spent wine tasting. There’s also the chance to spend the day at sea on a private cruise, sailboat or even by going for a scuba dive – one of the many water sports the Elounda resort has to offer.