Crystal-clear waters and miles of sandy beaches combined with the atmosphere, culture and cuisine makes the Greek island of Crete the perfect holiday destination.
Crete is the largest and most populated of the Greek islands and is the fifth largest in the Mediterranean Sea. There are many towns and villages to explore as well as harbours, mountainous scenery and fresh food packed with flavour to enjoy.
The island has so much to offer, you are guaranteed to have the most amazing time soaking up the sun and culture alike. The stunning landscape and rich diversity of the island means it is truly one of the most outstanding destinations in Greece which attracts visitors from across the world.
If you decide to spend your holiday in Crete, be sure to visit the beautiful villages dotted around the island. Filled with character, stunning architecture and colourful gardens, you are bound to be impressed by everything you see.
The village of Elounda is a picture-perfect fishing village on Crete’s eastern coast, just a short distance from the resorts of Aghios, Nikolaos, Hersonnisos, Malia and Heraklion.
Fishing boats bob up and down as the water gently laps the harbour providing you with the most tranquil setting to enjoy a leisurely stroll in the sunshine.
The village square contains a small selection of restaurants, bars and tavernas which provide the ideal pit stop to enjoy an ice-cold drink or a tasty tapas lunch.
Anne from Wambui’s Diaries told us why she loves visiting Elounda: “The village is located in a very impressive, relaxing and peaceful area. It also has fabulous views and a lot of activities to venture into while on the island of Crete. These include swimming, sailing, rock climbing, and even diving. The village is located near the town of Agios Nikolaos which has three faces to the sea: The Lake Voulismeni and port, Kitroplatia Beach and the marina.”
We also asked Anne why she considers Crete to be the perfect holiday destination: “This Greek island really does have it all; from the remnants of brilliant civilizations, sunny beaches and impressive mountain capes, to steep gorges, delightful climate and buzzing nightlife. Without a doubt, Crete should be on your bucket list.”
The village of Agioi Deka, which means Ten Saints, can be found in the Heraklion region Crete and is steeped in history. The name was derived from the ten Cretan men who were killed by the Romans in AD250 because of their religious beliefs. Their tombs are in the village as well as a church dedicated in their honour.
Agioi Deka is situated on the north side of the Messara Plain, near the ancient Roman town of Gortyn. If you decide to venture to this part of the island you will be greeted by friendly locals and you will find plenty of tavernas and shops.
While Agioi Deka isn’t a stereotypical holidaymaker hotspot, it is a glorious hidden gem of a village which boasts unique character and charm.
Whilst not technically a village, we felt Chania Town deserved a mention in this article because of its beautiful Venetian harbour, traditional tavernas and eateries which serve up the very best locally landed seafood.
The town is the oldest, yet second largest on the island and is packed full of history and culture. Chania incorporates the old and new town which offers visitors the best of both worlds. The modern side of the town is picturesque and lively and the old town oozes Greek character.
The Venetian port sits in the heart of the old town and incorporates traditional alleyways and winding streets which adds to its unique charm. A landmark you simply must visit is the 16th-Century Venetian lighthouse which is located at the far end of the pier at the entrance of Chania Port.
The lighthouse doesn’t operate anymore and visitors cannot venture inside the building itself, but you can walk up to the famous landmark which will provide you with gorgeous views of the harbour; don’t forget your camera!
Rhian Westbury told us all about the charm of Chania and why Crete Holidays are the perfect fit for couples, families and solo travellers: “The town is gorgeous and is full of restaurants serving fresh, locally caught seafood. Chania is a great location as it is close to the airport and there’s a big bus terminal that can take you pretty much anywhere on the island.
“Generally, Crete is a great place to visit as it is a small island so you can explore a lot in a short space of time. There are a lot of activities to do if you want to take part, but there are also many beaches if all you want to do is relax."
The village of Sfakia is located on the south coast of Chania and is known as Chora Sfakion. The village is a hub for flora and fauna and is, therefore, the perfect place for nature lovers.
Sfakia has a more rugged appearance thanks to its mountainous landscape which is in perfect contrast to the sparkling waters of the sea.
You won’t be disappointed if you visit Sfakia because you can admire the beautiful views from a waterside restaurant or cafe, or simply relax and unwind on one of the many beaches. Vrisi Beach (otherwise known as Fountain Beach) can be found on the west side of the village and is considered the main beach in the area.
After indulging in a relaxing day, listening to the gentle waves rolling over the shoreline, consider looking further afield to the Gorge of Samaria which can be found just outside the village. The gorge is just one of many that can be found in Crete and is one of the places you must visit to really experience the raw beauty of the island.
The gorge was declared a National Park in 1962 due to it being a place where Kerikeri (Cretan goats) live, if you’re lucky, you may even spot one on your hike. Legend has it, that there is a cave where the Greek God Zeus was born. There is a long and short route for your hike, but no matter which you embark on, remember to take plenty of water to stay hydrated. The flowers blossom during April and May, so you will be treated to a colourful landscape between the hairpin bends of the passageways and rugged cliff edges.
The quiet fishing village of Sissi is a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of the town of Malia. Once you have reached the harbour of Sissi, a beautiful Mediterranean landscape awaits; with the perfect balance of sea and mountains to the traditional and laid-back village where time stands still.
The picturesque and humble village suits all tastes; visitors can either unwind at the port side or wander around the quaint streets to take in all that this beautiful village has to offer. Sissi is located east of Heraklion and boasts a few tavernas which line the historic harbour and is an excellent choice for a slow-paced holiday. Enjoy Meze dishes washed down with the locals’ speciality drink, Raki is the perfect way to end your day while admiring the picture postcard delights of this beautiful village.
Crete has the longest summers in Greece, so you can expect glorious sunshine to soothe your soul as you explore and enjoy everything the island has to offer.
Koutouloufari is a charming Cretan village with approx. 600 inhabitants nestled in between the resorts of Hersonissos and Stalis. It is set back from the busier coastal resorts which allows for stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and towards the sea.
With its narrow paved streets and old Cretan houses, the village attracts those who want to be within easy reach of all the action but also enjoy some quiet relaxation in peaceful surroundings amongst the olive groves.
The village is located in a region which stretches from Heraklion to Aghios Nikolaos and boasts numerous beaches, attractions, sights and activities and is also conveniently close to interesting archaeological sites such as Knossos and Malia. If you prefer a quiet environment with traditional flavours and lovely views of the Sea of Crete - then the Esperides Crete Resort in the village is a great base to explore the east side of Crete.