Bewitching Beaches

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

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

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.

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

Xerokambos Find solitude and natural beauty along the dozen or so beaches stretching 4.5km in this remote southeastern region.

Chrissi Island Count shades of blue and green as you contemplate the shimmering waters lapping Chrissi (aka Gaïdouronisi Island).

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

Falasarna Enjoy the waves, then watch the sun slip from pink to gold on this long, sandy ribbon.

Enchanting Villages

Kritsa Clinging to the Dikti mountains, Kritsa offers fine shopping, an atmospheric old town and a church with amazing Byzantine frescoes.

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.

Myrthios On clear days 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 a 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.

Ergospasio Savour meat slow-cooked in an antichristo grill at this elegant waterfront lair in a former carob factory.

Ancient Sites

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

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

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

Ancient Lato This fortified Dorian hilltop city-state is one of the best preserved non-Minoan ancient sites and enjoys a stunning setting.

Kato Zakros Trek Zakros Gorge past Minoan burial caves to reach the ruins of the small coastal Zakros Palace.

Armeni Late Minoan cemetery set in a beautiful oak forest with 231 tombs carved into the rock.

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

Museums

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

Maritime Museum of Crete Sail into local nautical history from the Bronze Age to today, with major stops in Venetian times and WWII.

Lychnostatis Open Air Museum Time-travel to a traditional Cretan village.

Hania Archaeological Museum Minoan sarcophagi, a marble sculpture of Hadrian and miniature clay bulls, arranged against the backdrop of a gorgeous Venetian church.

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

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

Historical Museum of Crete An insightful whirlwind tour of Crete's often turbulent past.

Outdoor Adventures

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

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

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

Kapetaniana Fire up the adrenaline 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.

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