Crete Holiday Overview
No overview of Crete is complete without dwelling on its cultural wonders, stunning geography and perfect climate. From small, quaint towns to enchanting beaches there are endless wonders to discover. This detailed paged will help you build an itinerary.
Crete, an island of the Minoan civilisation, has everything to offer visitors; mountains, crystal clear seas, blue flag beaches, historical towns, traditional villages and an abundance of locally grown produce.
A quote from the authoress Victoria Hislop, taken from "The Greek Reporter", on being made an honorary Greek citizen - "I have travelled to every continent in the world, but there is nowhere else that has the aesthetics of Greece. The sky here has a unique translucence, the sea is especially blue, the stars are brighter and the landscape is dramatic, particularly on Crete where I have my house."
Why not experience the magic of the island yourself? You can find information on every aspect of a holiday in Crete below.
What is the climate like in Crete?
Crete is the most southerly Greek island with a very agreeable climate. The tourist season usually starts around April and lasts until the end of October. The spring (April) is one of the best times to visit for hiking and to see the beautiful wild flowers.
In early summer (May and June) the temperatures start to climb steadily to an average in the mid 20's. This is an excellent time to visit if you don't have to keep to school holiday dates as the climate is very pleasant and there are few crowds.
July and August are the busiest (and hottest) months with tourists from all over Europe choosing Crete for their holiday destination. The north westerly winds usually moderate the temperatures but it's best to make sure your holiday accommodation offers shelter from the hot sun. It goes without saying that the sea will be warm and perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
September is still high season with warm, sunny days and an average sea temperature of around 24 degrees. The season draws to a close in October but this is a perfect month for visiting the island as the sea is still warm for swimming and activities such as hiking and visiting the archaeological sites can be undertaken in pleasant temperatures. Visiting at this time of year also means you will be able to take advantage of our low occupancy discount rates, so you get more for you money when staying in Crete, take a look here for more information!
How big is Crete?
Crete consists of 8,336km2 of beautiful beach, quaint towns, white mountains and land. It is 160 miles long and 35 miles wide so is the largest of the Greek islands.
What is the food like in Crete?
Locally grown produce is of an extremely high quality due to the climate and eating out at one of the many tavernas is likely to be high on your list of things to do during your stay.
If you're happy to eat the local Greek cuisine (which most people are) you won't find it's expensive because the island is self sufficient in a diverse range of foods including olives (and olive oil), fresh fruits (mainly grapes, tomatoes, citrus fruits, tangerines, melons, water melons, kiwis, avocados and bananas), fresh horticultural products (mainly cucumbers, potatoes, aubergines, peppers and beans), meat (mainly lamb, rabbit and chicken) and fish, honey and herbs.
Locally produced wine is also, these days, very good as is the raki (tsikoudia). Take a look at this handy blog for more information on Cretan cuisine and where to find the best restaurants!
Popular Trips and Excursions
With so much natural beauty to enjoy in North West Crete, a day trip or excursion is one of the best ways to explore beyond the local area of your villa. From ancient archeological sites and museums to fantastic family waterparks, segway tours of Chania town and of course - the breath taking Samaria Gorge - there are enough things to do in Crete to fill a whole year, let alone a holiday!
What is transport like?
Unless you have rented a car or a method of private transport, buses are the only form of public transport in Crete with the main bus company being KTEL. There are three bus stations in Crete, based in Chania, Rethymno and Lassithi. Fares are fairly reasonable and the buses themselves a regular within the main resorts.
However, if you are staying in a slightly more rural area, car hire is highly recommended and will allow you much more freedom when travelling to other resorts and tourist attractions. There are many places in which to hire cars in Crete, and for Crete Escapes customers we have negotiated favourable rates with a number of car hire companies. Take a look here for more information.
Where are the best beaches in Crete?
From the exquisite white and pink sands of Elafonissi (which could rival any Caribbean alternative) to the safe and gently sloping beach at Almyrida, a wonderful beach is not hard to find in North West Crete - no matter where your chosen villa is located. Considering that many of our villas have magnificent sea views, it's easy to see why finding the perfect spot of sand on which to lie your towel is a simple task.
Discover more about the fabulous beaches of North West Crete and if a sea view is at the top of your priority list, browse our top pick of villas with a sea view here.
Crete is renowned for its clean, crystal clear sea making the island a perfect destination for lovers of water sports, snorkellers and families with young children. Considering the average sea temperature is still at 24 degrees in September, Crete remains one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe for a late summer break. Take a look here to get to know more about the beaches of West Crete.
Is Crete expensive?
Crete isn’t a particularly expensive place to visit on holiday, however prices for things like tourist attractions, day trips and in some cases restaurants will vary depending on when you visit.
Due to it being a fairly large island with a favourable climate, Crete is in a lot of cases quite self-sufficient. The ability to grow and produce most of its own food wine and preserves means that food produce in Crete is relatively cheap and guaranteed to be fresh!
Depending on where you are looking to stay, accommodation can be on the more expensive side of things simply because Crete is such a desirable place to stay. However, there are plenty options available including a number of stunning villas. We offer low occupancy discount rates and favourable payment terms for all of our villas if you are looking for a low-cost holiday!
Crete lies at the point where the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa meet; it is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean with an area of 8,300 square kilometres.
Crete is a large island stretching about 250 kms from west to east. It is not far from north to south but the mountainous terrain means most journeys from the north to the south coast will involve a picturesque journey across the mountains.
Crete is divided into four areas known as prefectures. From west to east they are: Chania, Rethymnon, Iraklio and Lassithi. All of our villas and houses are in the Chania area.
Where is the best shopping in Crete?
Trinket hunters will not be disappointed by the wide array of goods available to buy in this regioin. Nor will foodies, who are keen to bring home local produce such as olive oil, honey or organic beauty products. However, the level of choice will largely be determined by where you choose to visit.
Many of the local towns in North West Crete offer a small selection of shops selling charming hand made jewellery, arts and crafts, attractive clothing and of course the obligatory seaside items like snorkles, lilos, beach wear and so on.
For a richer shopping experience, it would be best to venture into the beautiful and bustling Chania Town where a smorgasboard of delights can be found in the form of clothes, handbags, beauty products, hand made bowls and so on. For those wishing to base themselves around Almyrida (and neighbouring villages of Kokkino Chorio, Plaka and Kalives) it is very easy to reach Chania Town either by car (roughly 40 minutes) or a local bus service.
How long should I spend in Crete?
Depending on where you’re staying and what you are looking to do in Crete you could spend anything from 3 days to 3 weeks on the island! As the largest of the Greek islands there is more to explore and do than some of the others. We would recommend staying for 1 week – 2 weeks so you can really take in all of the Cretan wonders while still having time to relax and enjoy the tranquil parts of the island without feeling rushed.
It is definitely best to have an idea of the things you want to do and see before you come so you can make the best use of your time in Crete. If you’re struggling to think of things to do to fill your time take a look at these top 5 Crete attractions!
Crete for Couples
Crystal clear sea, breath taking sunsets and excellent cuisine, what could be more perfect for a romantic break away with your loved one?
Crete provides an idyllic location for budding romances and old flames alike. Chania Town’s romantic scenery and quaint tavernas provide a picturesque experience where you can enjoy a candle lit evening with great wine and exquisite food.
Likewise, the beaches at Chania and Almyrida are wonderful for sunset evening walks, long days at the beach or even a romantic picnic to finish off your holiday.
Crete for Families
Trying to find a holiday location that is suitable for the whole family can be a challenge. However, with all Crete has to provide including beaches, water sports, historic architecture and of course the gorgeous weather, there really is something for everyone.
The wonderful blue flag beaches provide a safe place for little ones to explore while parents and guardians have space to relax and take in the stunning scenery. Crete’s mountainous terrain there is also plenty of opportunity to wear the little ones out, so you can have a peaceful and relaxing evening sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine.
We have a wide range of family friendly villas available, all of which provide the perfect home away from home that you and the kids won’t want to leave! Take a look here at our villas for families.
Villas in Crete
With so much to see and do in Crete it can be a daunting task to select the most appropriate location for your villa holiday. From sleepy villages to bustling seaside resorts, our villas are located across a wide range of areas in North West Crete to ensure that holidaymakers can find the perfect retreat.
Things to pack for your holiday to Crete
The stress of exceeding your baggage allowance is always present when going on holiday but it can also be difficult to know what to pack. Here are a few essentials we recommend to bring/leave at home when travelling to Crete:
Always pack you own sun cream: Crete is blessed with some of the best weather of the Mediterranean so ensuring you are protected from getting burnt is crucial. However, buying sun cream in Crete itself can be very expensive so we would always advise bringing it with you to avoid unnecessary expenditure.
No need for a coat: Crete’s good weather is one of the main reasons it is such a popular holiday destination. There is no need to bring big bulky clothes and instead we would recommend packing lighter cardigans and t shirts except at the very beginning or end of the season when a light jacket might be needed.
If you’re staying with us, there’s no need to pack beach towels! Many of our villas include beach towels so you can save precious luggage space for more of the real essentials!