The largest Greek island will surprise you with its diversity and many attractions. Long stretches of lonely beaches, water activities, wonderous archaeological sites and the mountainous backcountry. With two international airports on the island and plenty of airlines flying directly from the UK, Crete is the perfect getaway for a beach holiday. Add the fantastic food and friendly locals, and you have your perfect holiday package. Hotels and resorts cater to every budget, and you will be happy to hear that an amazing sandy beach will never be far, no matter where you stay on the island. So, pack your sun cream, sun dress and swimwear and enjoy endless summer!
Balos beach – the hidden gem
Let‘s start this overview of the best beaches in Crete off with a blast. Balos beach is located in the top north-west corner of this beautiful island and looks like a dream come true. It‘s about an hour west of Chania, and getting to this paradisiacal beach is a small adventure in itself, as it can only be reached by dirt road. After paying a small entrance fee, you will have to park your car about two kilometres away from the beach, but some friendly donkeys will help you out and give you a lift if you don‘t want to hike down to the beach for 20 minutes. This will be especially useful if you want to bring water toys, umbrellas or snacks and drinks. On the way down, you will pass some amazing viewpoints, and because it‘s your holiday, why not get a refreshment at the beach offering amazing ocean views.
Preveli beach – more than just a beach
If you‘re looking for a unique beach experience, head to the south of the island. While it was known as a hippie beach in the 60s and 70s, Preveli beach now awaits families and couples alike with fantastic scenery. It‘s also known as Palm Beach because the river that flows into the ocean across the beach is lined with palm trees. But there is more! The gorge of the same name, Prevalis Gorge, offers amazing views that you can see from lookout points near the parking area. A car is essential to visit this area, so why not include a few more sights in your day on the south coast? Apart from the beach, you can visit nearby Preveli Monastery, an olive grove, and there are even a few short hiking trails if you have time to spare. Just like many of the Greek islands, Crete is a wonderful destination for beaches, history and culture alike.
Elafonisi beach – two for the price of one
With this beach, you get two amazing beaches in one as it features a main beach and a lagoon-type island. Located in the south-west of Crete, it‘s also famous for its pink sand. Elafonisi beach can be comfortably reached by car, with parking, restrooms and restaurants all within easy reach. This paradisiacal beach will leave you speechless. Not only the crystal-clear water seems to come straight from a postcard. The white sandy beach and lagoon make this one of the major natural attractions on the island. There is a kitesurf centre if you want to see the lagoon from the water, or you and your little ones can splash around the shallow water, relax or build sandcastles. You can even take a short hike around the island but remember to bring plenty of water, as the trail is exposed to the sun. Quite understandably, this beach is becoming more and more popular by the minute, so make sure to come early or travel in the off- season. Even in autumn, the Mediterranean Sea is still warm enough for a swim and the sun will make you reminiscent of the short British summer.
Agios Nikolaos – the town with several beaches
Agios Nikolaos is a wonderful town in the east of Crete and can be considered more of a resort area. While this town offers all amenities for a holiday in Crete, such as a choice of restaurants, beach tavernas, pharmacies and supermarkets, you also have a variety of beaches to visit in the surroundings. There’s of course also a range of hotels with all-inclusive deals, infinity pools and everything else the heart of a holidayer desires. The main beach is located centrally within walking distance from the centre and boasts clear water and clean sand. Further north and south, away from the centre, you will find more quiet beaches with rockier surfaces or pebbles. Water shoes will be your friends here, so put them on and enjoy the waves, go for a swim or just enjoy the Greek sunshine.
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Heraklion, Chania & Rethymnon
These three main cities in Crete are all located along the north coast of the island. While these cities are worth a visit if you like historic sites, such as the Venetian harbour in Chania, staying on the north coast also means that there‘s always a great beach nearby. The north coast has been developed for tourism for a long time, meaning that hotels like most of the TUI BLUE hotels, restaurants and more all cater to a variety of holiday guests. Golden Beach west of Chania looks true to its name featuring golden, almost orange sand that is a fantastic contrast to the blue ocean. Rethymnon’s beaches are a bit rougher and rockier, so beach shoes will come in handy but the beaches in this area make up for it with their quieter and more relaxed feel. Finally, the beaches east of Heraklion are actually close to the airport, so apart from feeling the sand below your feet and going for a refreshing swim, you get to see planes land and take off and make up tales about where they might be headed. But for now, there is no need for you to fantasise about anywhere more beautiful than the island of Crete!
Which of these 5 best beaches in Crete do you want to visit first? No matter if you prefer hidden beaches, lagoons, water sports or city beaches, Crete has it all! The largest Greek island has plenty of beaches to go around, so pick your favourite, bring your beach bag, and you‘re all set for a fantastic holiday!