Crete Travel Information
Crete is the
biggest and most
southern of the Greek islands, there's so much to see and do. A
coastline that varies between spectacular backdrop of snow topped
mountains divided by green valleys.
quote on a holiday to Crete at Hessle Travel.
Crete Travel and Flight
As the most southerly of the Greek islands,
Crete lies in the south east Mediterranean, 322km off the north coast of
Africa. It is also the largest Greek island, with a size of 258km from east to west and
56km from north to south. Crete is a place of contrasting landscapes, with
tall rugged mountains, deep gorges, lush countryside and both rocky and
Most of the holiday
resorts are on the north coast served by 2 airports: Heraklion, 3km east
of the capital city of the same name, feeds the old-established resorts
in the east of the island like Aghios Nikolaos and Hersonissos; the
other, 9 miles east of the major town of Chania, serves the third of the
large towns, Rethymnon, as well as the host of newer, developing resorts
on the west half of the coast. A main highway links the major towns
along the north coast but roads inland are less good. Lots of beaches
offer good bathing, particularly in the north west and eat at Malia.
You'll find towns
and resorts offering everything from historical buildings to bustling
shops, tavernas, bars and nightlife.
The three perfect
bays of Hersonissos are pretty but can get busy, whilst the long sweep
of Chania Bay is the one if you think you might be tempted by
windsurfing or scuba diving.
Visit Knossos and
the remains of the palace of King Minos or put on your walking shoes for
a stroll down the Samaria Gorge.
Chania and Rethymnon
are both historical with lots of Turkish and Venetion influence.
Evenings can be as relaxed or as lively as you choose. Linger over
dinner as you watch the boats in the harbour or head for the exuberant
bars and nightclubs.
There are many charter flights to Crete with
various tour operators. To search for flights to Crete you can visit our
'Flights' page. If you are looking for an inclusive holiday
to Crete you can also search via Hessle Travel. Just visit our 'Holidays' page fill in our holiday search form.
Crete has some of the most fantastic natural
scenery in Greece, as well as the old towns of Chanis and central
Rethymnon. Home of the ancient Minoan civillisation, legendary
birthplace of Zeuz, and the home to the fabled Minotaur.
Crete is home of the Minotaur
Party the night away in Malia and
Hersonissos, or enjoy a harbour front cocktail in Chania Town. Whatever
you want, Crete can offer.
With the resorts of Rethymnon, Chania and
Heraklion to choose from, plus the traditional ceramics and resort
boutiques, shopholics will be more than happy.
Measuring 3.6km by 2km, Hersonissos is a real
mixed bag of a resort, comprising numerous villages and rural areas
lumped together with a substantial and busy town that forms the main
resort centre. The main town is basically a modern development and
although there are no tower blocks, its historic past – as evidenced by
a scattering of small ancient ruins – is largely lost from view.
Nowadays the focus is a substantial harbour
area with numerous bar/eateries on a busy raised waterfront stretching
along most of the resort's length; periodically there are steps down to
small unimpressive beaches. Just inland is the long, lively central
commercial area where a good selection of bars, shops, tour agencies,
restaurants and nightlife flanks the main road that continues to be busy
despite the addition of a bypass to take most heavy vehicles and some of
The town straggles east before virtually merging with the more focused
neighbouring resort of Stalis. The resort also encompasses the
traditional villages of Koutouloufari, Piskopiano and Old Hersonissos,
which sit 1.6km or so inland on the hillside overlooking the main town.
These are much quieter and more picturesque despite modest modern
development causing them to slowly merge and presumably one day become a
To the west of the main resort are large
areas of low hills and open farmland dotted with small tourist
accommodation blocks and several large hotels; beyond lies the more
substantial village of Analipsi. Most accommodation here is well-removed
from commercial amenities and local alternatives can be limited. These
more rural locations tend to have access to substantial though less
developed beaches – only those associated with larger hotels have more
On Crete's north coast, 27km east of
Heraklion and 37km north west of Aghios Nikolaos. 26km east of Heraklion
airport. On the northeast facing shore of a large bay,
stretching both sides of the busy main coast road and filling a narrow
coastal plain that rises to the foothills of the Dikti Mountains, where
several small villages overlook the resort.
To the west lies a
wider undulating agricultural area with small fields, polythene
greenhouses, olive groves, a scattering of tourist accommodation and the
large village of Analipsi. The resort's east fringes virtually run into
the neighbouring resort of Stalis.
A wide choice of apartments, from the
absolute basics to attractive modern developments, but all reflect the
simplicity characteristic of Greece. A good selection of hotels, from a
few small and homely places to large, dated bed and breakfast tourist
establishments and a handful of superior options offering varying
degrees of comfort and luxury.
What to Do
Daytime: topping up the tan by the pool or on
the shore; open-air museum of traditional Cretan life; full range of
water sports, from scuba diving to para-sailing; hill walking;
self-drive tours of local villages.
Nightlife: bars and restaurants
along the raised waterfront while the main road and side streets are
also busy with eateries, watering holes, games arcades and shops that
stay open until late at night; reasonable selection of nightclubs and
bars, some with live music, offer entertainment into the early hours and
There is a wide selection of middle range taverna
restaurants serving traditional fare, pizza and pasta dishes. Local and
international fast-food joints. Local fish is widely available, with a
couple of speciality restaurants.
Dining here tends to be
relaxed and casual, with formal dining limited to a few small a la carte
options in the larger hotels. Ethnic options include Chinese, Indian,
Mexican and Lebanese restaurants.
A good supply of supermarkets and bakeries. A
wide range of souvenir shops offer everything from tacky plastic
trinkets and T-shirts to quality locally produced crafts and artwork.
Locally made leather is good value, as is Cretan pottery and crochet
work. Numerous shops offer herbs, spices and foodstuffs produced and
gathered in the mountains.
Full day tour: boat trips including neighbouring
island of Santorini or Spinalonga Island; trips to archaeological sites,
including impressive Minoan palace at Knossos combined with Heraklion
Archaeological Museum; Lassithi Plateau, with its picturesque
Greek-style windmills and small traditional Cretan villages; general
tour of west end of island; jeep safaris; mountain-bike tours; water
parks; walking trips through Samaria Gorge could be a 2 day tour.
The town beaches of the main resort are small
and tend to get very crowded in high season, making the poolside a better
option for those staying in the main resort. The only reasonable central
option is slightly west of the harbour and a good trek from most
Farther west are decent sized, undeveloped
stretches of coarse sand, which, while serviceable, do not match the
stereotypical image of pristine tourist beaches; these tend to be more
appealing when adjacent to larger hotels, which provide loungers and sun
shades and frequently lifeguards.
Much of the
coastline is rocky, with sunbathers perched just above the water or on
tiny pockets of sand flanked by boulders; some of the sandy beaches have
a rocky sea entry. No development is allowed on beaches so amenities and
refreshments are provided by hotels and bars at the roadside
Frequent bus service along the main road
connects all the resorts along this stretch of coast with Heraklion and
Aghios Nikolaos; no connections from outlying areas to the main service.
A daytime minitrain makes circuits of the resort, taking in the hill
villages behind the resort, but it does not offer an efficient means of
Taxis are readily available and relatively
cheap. Car and (considerably more dangerous) motorbike or quad-bike hire
Who is it for?
Hersonissos is a mixed resort offering a catch-all holiday
cocktail and no particularly outstanding attributes. The main resort is
a busy town with an attractive waterfront and a healthy nightlife,
bringing young and more mature guests side by side. Less suited to beach
connoisseurs or those looking for a traditional town.
The outlying hill
villages and west coastal agricultural areas suit more independent
holidaymakers seeking a quieter, less commercial environment.
Predominant nationalities are German and Scandinavian and it is very
popular with Irish visitors
The resort of
Hersonissos offers fun to rival the rest of the Mediterranean, with its
attractive, small harbour and sets a fast pace with its many bars and
restaurants. The shingle beach in Hersonissos has both rocky and shady
Time from Crete Airport - Approx 1 hour
Measuring 3km from
east to west and 2km from north to south, and split by a busy main road,
the original old village of Malia lies inland to the south with the
sprawling, highly commercialised resort in the north, towards the beach.
choose to stay in the resort area, although there are a few traditional
pensions in the village. It's a tightly packed, 24-hr party town, with a
plethora of bars, restaurants, fast-food outlets and nightclubs. The
main "strip" is the best part of 1.6km, leading down from the main high
street to the sea front. Everything is in English.
Malia is on the north coast. 6.5km east of
Hersonissos8km west of Sissi. 32km east of Heraklion airport. On the coast with the main road running
through it; part of a sprawling holiday area that has grown to
incorporate the neighbouring resorts of Stalis and Hersonissos. Some
patches of undeveloped scrubland dotted around. Overlooked by the
impressive Dikti mountain range to the south.
Across the range from small, simple taverna
rooms to studio blocks, with most standards of hotel are represented in
What to Do
Daytime: beach, beach, beach!
seemingly endless supply of pubs, bars and discos along the "strip".
Numerous tavernas, bars and fast-food joints,
including McDonalds, as well as a handful of more upmarket restaurants;
there's even a couple of curry houses. The old village boasts a number
of quaint, attractive restaurants serving traditional Greek food.
Unlimited choice from cheap and cheerful
souvenirs to expensive ceramics and Cretan weaving. Range covers
boutiques, jewellery shops, more than enough minimarkets, food and
liquor stores, and ice-cream parlours.
Half day tour: ancient site of Palace of Malia;
Full day: Minoan Palace of Knossos; Heraklion
Archaeological Museum; Plateau of Lassithi; Aghios Nikolaos; Spinalonga
island; Sitia and Vai, a palm beach; water park at Anopolis; boat trips
1 or 2 days tour: Samaria Gorge.
Long, sandy but uninspiring beach packed with
sun umbrellas and loungers, and lined with hotels and bars, many playing
loud music. Swimming in the sea is safe but there is a strong undertow
during windy weather. Choice of water sports from jet-skiing,
water-skiing, paragliding, parascending and pedallos. No private beaches
– all open to the public.
Frequent bus services to Heraklion, Aghios
Nikolaos and other destinations. Local taxis are never a problem to get, as are car-hire
and bike-rental establishments.
Who is it
Young singles, couples, families – all
fun sun seekers who want a full-on party town at a value price. In high
season it appeals mainly to rowdy British youngsters – anyone over 22 is
likely to feel old.
You name it Malia
has it! Crowds flock to the endless bars and restaurants, and you'll be
spoilt for choice with the discos. The lively atmosphere and nightlife
lures young people to party until the early hours. Those who make it to
the beach can relax on the fine, golden sand with plenty of sunloungers
and parasols and a host of watersports.
Transfer Time from Crete Airport - Approx 1
A university town,
and the island's third largest, it is thought of locally as the
intellectual centre of Crete. A place fashioned by a history of
turbulent upheaval, it offers an interesting mixture of ancient and
modern, meeting the demands of today's tourism with charm and elegance.
The old town, measuring a compact 1.2km east to west and 0.8km north to
south, shows signs of its Venetian inheritance in its stone archways and
fountains but principally in the remains of an extensive 16th-century
fortress, which dominates the area and looks out over the bustling
waterfront with its palm-lined promenade and bright, multicoloured
There is also a
definite Eastern flavour – a legacy of the Turkish occupation of the
island – with 3 mosques, including the Neratzes Mosque with its towering
minaret, and the wooden Turkish balconies on many of the houses. Beyond
the centre, tourist development has extended along the coast on both
sides of the town, particularly to the east, where it has incorporated
smaller village resort areas.
About midway along Crete's north coast. 19km
east of Georgioupolis. 80km west of Heraklion and its airport. 40 miles
south east of Chania and its airport. Faces north on a promontory jutting into a
small bay. The fertile Amari Valley and Nida Plateau stretch out behind,
with olive groves, forests and agricultural plastic greenhouses, and the
town is bounded by the rocky mountains which characterise the region.
Very good choice of hotels are available in all
along with some holiday complexes and apartments.
What to Do
Daytime: beach- and water-based activities
including water-skiing, diving and windsurfing; exploring the town,
taking in the fortress, mosques, churches and archaeological museum. A
wine festival is held at the City Park every July.
selection of bars of which some have music, tavernas, discos and bouzouki
nightclubs, concentrated at the harbour and in the old town; cinemas.
Some good restaurants with excellent seafood around the harbour,
although they are not always cheap. Many local tavernas and
restaurants at the hotels serving traditional food.
A good selection of shops are in the old town including
food stores, leather and jewellery outlets, and local craft shops, all
crowded together on narrow streets; more modern outlets on the main high
street and in hotels. An open-air market on Mondays and Thursdays.
tour: 16th-century Arkadi Monastery;
hikes, biking and climbing in surrounding mountains; Cretan village
evenings; beach barbecues.
Full day tour: boat trips to Greek mainland and
various nearby islands; ancient Minoan palace of Knossos and Heraklion
archaeological museum; historic town/resort of Chania; Lassithi Plateau
with its traditional villages and windmills; east Crete including
picturesque resort of Aghios Nikolaos and island fortress of Spinalonga;
There are some long, curved stretches of good, wide sand and
some shingle, fronting the promenade and stretching for around 19km to
the east of town; said to be some of the best in Crete, bathing is good
and generally safe with most water sports available. Beaches have plenty
of loungers and parasols, and usually a public-access snack bar provided
by beachfront hotels and apartment blocks. A rocky coastline to the west
with some strong currents.
Lots of bus services to neighbouring
resorts, Chania, Heraklion and Aghios Nikolaos, which makes exploring
relatively simple. A minitrain runs around Platanes and town-centre
seafront areas. Ferries to mainland Greece and some smaller islands.
Many car-hire and bike-hire outlets.
Whos is it
Rethymnon has something for most visitors, whether seeking
history and culture, top-of-the-range luxury or basic accommodation and
the beach. A good base for exploring west Crete.
The harbour of
Rethymnon, the third largest town in Crete, is dominated by a mighty
17th century Venetion fortress. Beneath it, the atmospheric Old Town is
an appealing mix of tangled streets, elaborate fountains and delicate
minarets. A palm fringed promenade backs a marvellous beach of pale sand
and shingle which stretches for several kilometres.
Transfer Time from Crete Airport - Approx 1
hour 30 minutes
Measuring 3km east
to west and 1.5km north to south, Gouves (or Kato Gouves, as it is more
accurately known) is a friendly, relaxed resort with little going on,
which developed – and is still developing – purely for tourism. It
mainly comprises groups of accommodation set among rugged farmland, with
the holiday action mostly centred along one main street full of friendly
bar and taverna owners trying to reel you in. If you're looking for
culture, you won't find it here, although there are some pleasant walks
in open farmland just 2 minutes walk from the main strip. 3km inland lies
the original old village of Gouves with a church and a few restaurants
Gouves is on the north coast, 19km east of
Heraklion and the airport just off the national highway.
Surrounded by scrubland with impressive mountains climbing up behind.
Good mixture of most classes of hotel as well
as budget self catering options.
What to Do
Daytime: lazing by the pool or sunbathing on the beach;
Nightlife: a number of local tavernas and bars; hotel
A selection of tavernas and eateries
offering local cuisine; hotels for international menus.
Most hotels have shops, small supermarkets, some
boutiques and many souvenir establishments. Hersonissos offers greater
variety; Heraklion for the serious shopper.
Half day tour: archaeological museum in Heraklion
and Minoan Palace of Knossos; Malia and its archaeological sites.
day tour: boat trip to Santorini; Spinalonga Island; Lassithi Plateau; Aghios
Nikolaos; Chania with its magnificent Venetian architecture;
1 - 2 days tour: Samaria Gorge.
Gouves beaches have stretches of coarse sand with some rocky
areas. Most water-sports facilities are available at the hotels, along
with sunbeds and sun umbrellas for hire. No concessions on the beach
itself (it is illegal) but plenty of restaurants and bars in vicinity.
It is generally considered safe for swimming with lifeguards on some
A minitrain trundles around the resort.
Frequent bus service to Heraklion and Aghios Nikolaos. Local taxis are
always an option. Car
and bike hire available throughout resort.
Who is it
Couples and families of all ages and most
budgets. The nightlife isn't as lively as neighbouring resorts so head
elsewhere if you want to party into the small hours.
Gouves is the latest
up and coming resort in Crete and is the ideal choice for those seeking
a laid back, relaxed atmosphere or wanting a base for exploring the
contrasting regions of Crete. Its stretch of the coastline features a
long sandy beach which is ideal for families and tranquil rocky coves.
Transfer Time from Crete Airport - Approx 30
the Holiday Season
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