From turquoise tides and pink-sand beaches, to ancient ruins, windmills and hillside villages – the magic of Crete is waiting to be discovered.
Dreaming of Greece? Prepare to fall in love with white-washed homes and history-steeped architecture framed by sapphire seas and striking sunsets, rugged hillsides lined with olive groves and a multitude of islands begging to be explored. One place you simply can’t miss? Crete: a Mediterranean marvel with something for all.
Gorgeous weather, pristine sands and turquoise tides are the obvious drawcards, but there's more to this island oasis than beachside bliss. Be spellbound by the pink sands of enchanting Elafonisi, discover the archaeological treasures of the Minoans, savour traditional mouthwatering Cretan cuisine and indulge in five-star resort luxury.
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Boasting rugged coastlines and picture-perfect beaches, Crete is a visual feast. At Elafonisi, gaze over otherworldly pink sands and serene, blue-green waters, or venture out from the shore to snorkel in search of sea turtles and other marine life. For mesmerising scenery that will stay with you forever, take in jaw-dropping vistas as you wade the warm shallows of Balos Lagoon on the northwest tip of the island. Adventure seekers can navigate the rocky hiking trails of Samaria Gorge in Samaria National Park, observe the breathtakingly steep walls of the Iron Gates and keep watch for fleet-footed kri-kri, a wild goat found only in Greece.
Delve into fascinating archaeological sites such as the Palace of Knossos, a colossal Minoan ruin known for advanced construction, undecipherable writing and its connection to the Labyrinth of Greek mythology. While there is no Minotaur or Icarus to be seen, this is a must-see attraction for history buffs.
Next, hop over to beautiful Spinaloga, an arid island visible from the shores of Mirabello Bay. Explore the relics of this prized 16th-century Venetian fortress and learn of its captivating yet tumultuous past. To experience Crete's present, head to the fishing village of Plaka to see how the locals live.
Prepare your palate for gastronomic greatness (and generous amounts of olive oil) as you visit rustic open-air tavernas and dine on locally sourced Cretan cuisine. Feast on abundant fruits and vegetables, fresh seafood delivered from hook to grill, or lamb sauteed in olive oil and oregano. Discover specialties such as bruschetta-style Dakos – olive-oil-soaked barley rusks topped with chopped tomatoes and sprinkled mild myzithra – a soft goat or sheep cheese. Finish your meal with Loukoumades (Greek doughnuts) drizzled with honey or a glass of Raki (a potent grape brandy) before continuing your crossing of Crete.
Crete is known for opulent oceanside escapes, and with a score of luxurious accommodation to choose from, you’re sure to enjoy a stay to remember. If you’re dreaming of a romantic retreat, the beachfront Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa offers picturesque views of Elounda's quaint Plaka village. Bask in the sun by your private pool or the split-level infinity pool while enjoying enviable views of Spinalonga and Mirabello Bay. Five-star The Royal Blue near Rethymno boasts modern design and a man-made marina showcasing an endless horizon of azure seas. Take your pick from a plethora of swimming pools or retreat to the indulgent Pure Blue Spa and be transported to your own version of Mediterranean Eden.
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For more Greece inspiration, read An Epic Guide to the Best Greek Islands.