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Holidays in Crete
Crete has much more besides beaches. For a start, 4,000 years of civilisation have left a legacy of world-class archaeological sites. There's a vast array of interesting day and nights out, whether by hire car or on one of the organised excursions. Experience the hospitality and tradition of the locals, who’ll always give you tips on the best beaches and picturesque villages to head to.
Best time to visit is from May to mid-June and mid-September and October
The primary airport, Heraklion Airport (HER) (also known as “Nikos Kazantzakis”), is located just outside the island’s capital. You can also fly to Loannis Daskalogiannis airport (CHQ), situated just 14km from the southern city of Chania.
Indulge in moon-white beaches, pristine waters and Greek mythology by booking your Thomas Cook holiday to Crete.
Laganas, Malia, Kavos, Elounda, Stoupa, Arillas, Kassiopi, Roda, Sidari, Aghios Nikolaos, Heraklion, Rethymnon, Stalis, Katelios, Sami, Skala, Kefalos, Lefkas, Petra, Lindos, Pefkos, Rhodes Town, Santorini, Skiathos, Alykanas, Kalamaki, Laganas, Corfu, Crete, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Kos, Lefkas, Lesbos, Rhodes, Santorini, Skiathos, Zante
Elounda is a cosmopolitan, beachfront resort located on the east coast. Head here for some celeb-spotting and seaside exploration: its countless hidden coves and underwater city of Olous are the best place to start from. Also located in the east, you’ll find the small village of Sissi. Enjoy serene, romantic walks next to its harbour and indulge in its fish tavernas. Not far from Sissi is fun-packed Malia. Join top music names on its Strip by night followed by maxing out your adrenaline levels by the beach. From jet-skis and giant-trampolines to go-karting and seafront parties, Malia keeps the fun going past sunrise.
Discover some of the oldest and most impressively preserved remains of Greece’s ancient world, with a visit to the Palace of Faistos. For a taste of Crete’s “hippie history” stroll around the cave homes carved into Matala Beach’s towering rocks before dipping underwater for a fantastic Roman-era treasure hunt. Take a break from your journey into Crete’s rich history with some sun-soaking on its exotic beaches. And when you get hungry, join the friendly locals in the seaside tavernas: they’ll always welcome you with a glass (or two) of ice-cold raki.
South-west of Crete’s capital town, you’ll find the gigantic man-made caves sheltering Matala Beach’s golden sands. Inhabited by “flower children” from all over the world in the 60s and 70s and dating back to the Roman times, these aren’t the only archaeological treasure you’ll discover here. Put on your snorkels and explore the fantastic Roman-era remains found underwater too! Head north-east from here for a visit to Crete’s best place for mythology-lovers: the Palace of Knossos - or the palace of the Minotaur, according to Greek mythology. Stroll around the remains of royal underground rooms, intricate pillars and colourful wall paintings, taking you back to 1400 BC.
Head to the southern tip and soak up the sun on Elafonisi Beach’s pink sands. Drenched by the Libyan Sea’s warm, shallow waters, its soft beach got its peculiar colour from thousands of years of corals crumbling naturally into sand-like grains. Known as the “Greek Caribbean”, the transparent waters here are definitely worth the sunny drive up and downhill. If you find yourself on the northern tip, don’t miss out on visiting Crete’s number one attraction: Vai’s Blue Flag beach. Shaded by Europe’s largest natural palm-tree forest, its golden sands offer another exotic beach spot, complete with windsurfing and group scuba diving.
Crete is known for using fresh, local produce in their delicious island delicacies: Pure olive oil, sweet-vine tomatoes and a hint of garlic make up the base for most of these. Cretan Plaki, freshly caught fish baked with tomatoes and a lemony parsley sauce is a classic speciality. Shrimp saganaki (hot shrimps baked in cheese) is best enjoyed with a glass of the grappa-like Cretan raki. Try the traditional crunchy filo parcels - tyropites - bursting with chunks of feta cheese and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Or, the Sfakianopita, a crepe-like, pan-fried pie filled with creamy Myzithra cheese and served with a spoonful of pure Cretan thyme honey.
The Irida Apartments are conveniently located on a hill overlooking Malia Bay in Crete. This is a great complex for couples and families looking for warm hospitality and accessibility to the beach in a quiet and peaceful neighbourhood. There are 22 tastefully furnished apartments surrounded by lovely gardens. Guests of the Irida Apartments can discover marvellous beaches and explore delightful little villages with a variety of restaurants and bars and relax in front of the most beautiful sunsets nature has to offer.
For a memorable holiday in Crete this hotel makes the grade! Heraklion Airport is 30 km from the hotel.
Local Tips: Located just 200m from the beach.
Be kind to your budget with a stay at the Irida Hotel Apartments.
Food, drink and entertainment: Cafeteria and bar. Occasional BBQ and Pasta nights held at extra charge.
Additional: Reception services from 8 am to 2 am guests arriving outside these times should provide arrival time in 'Special Requests' to ensure staff are on hand to check them in on arrival, housekeeping, and private car parking facilities. WiFi internet (free of charge) in all areas. Internet corner available at extra charge.
What is included?
The SENTIDO Pearl Beach Hotel rests on the golden sandy beach at the end of the popular Rethymno beach promenade just 2,2 km from the bustling town of Rethymnon on the island paradise of Crete. Sharing the resort with the 5 Star SENTIDO Aegean Pearl, this 4 Star hotel is a vacation paradise for couples and families with 150 comfortable double and single guestrooms spread over 4 buildings. SENTIDO Pearl Beach boasts a host of amenities and plenty of sports nearby and recreational activities onsite.
Getting to the hotel: Heraklion Airport is 72 km and to Chania Airport is 65 km from the SENTIDO Pearl Beach.
Local tips: Rethymnon still maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with its buildings dating from the 16th century, arched doorways, stone staircases, Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains, small Venetian harbour and narrow streets.
Food, drink and entertainment: The SENTIDO Pearl Beach Hotel has the Restaurant for the half board and All Inclusive guests. (All meals are served in buffet style), the Bar near the pool area, a friendly lounge and a snack. Entertainment includes folklore evenings, dance evenings to a live music or D.J. music, entertainment shows, magician night and more! Please note that a dress code exists for dinner. Beach/Swim wear is not acceptable.
Sports, games and activities: SENTIDO Pearl Beach boasts a host of amenities and plenty of sports nearby and recreational activities onsite. Wireless internet connection in public areas and in the rooms. One adult swimming pool, sun terrace, free sun beds and umbrellas, one children's pool, table tennis, billiard and a wide variety of water sports nearby, Wellness Centre (shared with the filial Hotel Aegean Pearl), with warm water therapy pool, fully equipped gym, Finish sauna, large Jacuzzi hot tub, marble steam bath, and massage with beauty treatments (some services with charge). There is a water sports school on the nearest beach offers windsurfing, catamaran sailing, pedaloes and wet bikes, and the Diving Centre offers courses and equipment hire for all grades of underwater diving.
Additional: WiFi internet connection available in lobby and pool areas and in the rooms. Room Service, Car Hire, 24 hour reception, Currency Exchange, Tour Desk, Ticket Service, Luggage Storage, Babysitting, Laundry, Dry Cleaning, Ironing Servivces, Business Cenre, Phone/Fax, Free Parking, On-site shops and In room safety box.
What is included?
The Elounda Vista Villas is located on a hillside overlooking the Gulf of Elounda, in the prefecture of Lassithi, on the new belt highway connecting Agios Nikolaos to Elounda on the island paradise of Crete. The complex has 8 luxury villas in different architectural styles and boasting modern amenities. Guests to the Elounda Vista Villas can discover marvellous beaches and sleepy villages along with a wide array of shops, restaurants, traditional tavernas and "ouzerias" and attractions in nearby Agios Nikolaos town just 5 km from the hotel.
Getting to the hotel: Heraklion International Airport is 60 km from the hotel.
Local Tips: Famous attractions include the archaeological sites at Knossos, Phaistos, Gortys. However, many other places, such as the Venetian castle in Rethymno, the Samaria Gorge and many other minor gorges (Agia Irini, Aradena, etc), are also of interest.
Dining: Elounda Vista Villas are booked as Self-Catering villas accommodation. Nearby Agios Nikolaos offers a big variety of dining and entertainment options for every taste.
Activities: The villas have a swimming pool in the centre of the complex with a panoramic view over the gulf of Elounda. Visitors can take a swim in the beach of Elounda, which is organized to satisfy most of the visitors' needs.
Additional: The Hotel offers three different parking spaces for the convenience of clients.
What is included?
Scenery lovers: Spinalonga - cruise to this famous island and discover the village ruins before sailing away to enjoy a sumptuous barbecue.
Adventurers: Land Rover Safari off-road adventure - pass by rugged mountains, historical sites and remote villages.
History fans: Travel back into the Bronze Age at the ancient palace of Knossos.
Language: The language spoken in Crete is Greek.
Currency: The currency used in Crete is Euro (€).
Local time: Crete is 2 hours ahead of GMT/UK time.
Fly to: The primary airport, Heraklion Airport (HER) (also known as “Nikos Kazantzakis”), is located just outside the island’s capital. You can also fly to Loannis Daskalogiannis airport (CHQ), situated just 14km from the southern city of Chania.
Flight time from UK: 4 hours
Tourist Information: Further Crete tourist information can be found at www.incrediblecrete.com
Visa & Health: Before you travel, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice-greece for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to Crete.
Temperatures: Up to the high 30s (°C) from April to August in the coastal areas.
Best time to visit Crete: From May to mid-June and mid-September and October
Weather in Crete varies from part to part. Its coastal resorts enjoy scorching temperatures, and can even hit the low 40s (°C) in the southern part of the island. The hot desert winds blowing in from North Africa give an exotic feel to the most southern parts. In contrast, the mountainous, central region enjoys cooler temperatures in summer averaging the mid-to high 20s (°C). Winters are snowy on the peaks of Crete’s long, mountainous backbone (Psiloritis) but always mild on the coastal areas.
By hire car: Being the largest out of all the Greek islands, the best way to get across the vast distances in Crete is by hire car.
By bus:Crete’s local bus services are efficient and run throughout the day to and from the capital and biggest cities to all the resorts, beaches and archaeological sites.
By boat - Why not hop on a boat tour from Chania to the unspoiled islet of Gramvousa and the luminous waters of Balos lagoon?
Bands on the beach: Matala Beach Festival (end of June) is one summer event not be missed. With famous bands performing underneath Matala’s old hippie caves, thousands of visitors arrive here every year to revive the spirit of the flower children.
Folklore: For a taste of traditional Cretan live music, head to Rethymno, Crete’s summer hub for music and folklore tradition.