Bewitching Beaches

Balos Go tropical on this incredibly photogenic lagoon-like sandy beach.

Elafonisi Pink sands and warm waters extending across shallow isles make this Crete’s most magical beach.

Gavdos Island The southernmost spot in Europe gives a sense of happy isolation outside busy August.

Vaï Watch out for falling dates as you revel in Europe’s largest natural palm forest.

Preveli Beach Crete’s ‘other’ famous palm beach at the confluence of river and sea amid cave-combed cliffs.

Falasarna Take in splendid sunsets and waves on this long, sandy ribbon.

Agios Pavlos For crowd-free tanning, head to the massive sand dunes spilling into this isolated southern-coast beach.

Gaïdouronisi (Hrysi Island) Count shades of blue and green as you contemplate the shimmering waters lapping this island.

Spinalonga Island Absorb the island’s poignant, powerful history, even among summertime crowds.

Enchanting Villages

There’s no simpler pleasure than strolling a charismatic village with time-worn lanes and churches, anchored by a square where locals gather to gossip.

Hora Sfakion This whimsical southern port boasts larger-than-life characters and a long, colourful history.

Argyroupoli Devour trout while surrounded by rushing natural springs in this ancient mountain village.

Mohlos Minoan antiquity meets seashore vibes and some of Crete’s best tavernas.

Kritsa In the heart of the mountains, Kritsa offers fine craftwork and an atmospheric old town.

Myrthios See if you can spot Africa from this whitewashed village high above the Libyan Sea.

Amari In the heart of pastoral Amari Valley, and dotted with Byzantine churches.

Theriso Recharge your batteries at this historically significant mountain village in thick forest south of Hania.

Food & Drink

Iraklio Wine Country Sample fine vintages on a tasting tour of Crete’s largest wine-growing region.

Agreco Farm Visit a showcase of traditional, organic farming at this enchantingly located farm.

Maroulas Cretan hillsides are redolent with sage, thyme and other herbs. Learn their medicinal purposes at an herb shop in Maroulas.

Thalassino Ageri Watch the sun set while dining on Crete’s most expertly prepared seafood.

Taverna Iliomanolis The village taverna, one of the delights of travelling through Crete, is a must.

Brink’s Brewery The only brewery in Crete, and a good one at that.

Art & Archeology

Knossos Crete’s marquee Minoan site; ideally paired with Heraklion Archaeological Museum.

Malia Spectacular Minoan palace complex on the northern coast, with excavations still ongoing.

Kato Zakros Hike the Valley of the Dead along ancient burial sites to reach the ruins of Minoan Zakros Palace.

Polyrrinia This Dorian stronghold offers spectacular sea and mountain views from its Acropolis.

Late Minoan Cemetery of Armeni Beautiful oak forest with 231 tombs carved into the rock between 1300 and 1150 BC.

Phaestos Second most important Minoan complex after Knossos, with awe-inspiring panoramas of Messara Plain and Mt Psiloritis.

Museums

Heraklion Archaeological Museum A must for every visitor to Crete: the island’s top collection of Minoan and other artefacts.

Nikos Kazantzakis Museum Discover what the famous Cretan writer was up to when not writing Zorba the Greek.

Lychnostatis Museum Time travel to a traditional Cretan village.

Museum of Cretan Ethnology Fascinating immersion into centuries of Cretan daily life.

Ierapetra Archaeological Museum Marvel at a marble Persephone and abstract images on ancient coffins.

Outdoor Adventures

Mt Psiloritis For the ultimate fitness fix, climb Crete’s highest peak and escape the summer heat.

Lasithi Plateau Strap on your helmet and cycle among orchards, fields and windmills.

Kapetaniana Fire up the adrenalin as you rock climb around the cliffs and clefts with expert guides.

Palekastro Catch Crete’s wildest winds at Kouremenos Beach, the island’s top windsurfing venue.

Aradena Gorge Trek to the Libyan Sea through this serene and spectacular cousin of Samaria Gorge.

Falasarna Crash headlong into the breakers rolling in from the open Med at this pristine beach.