Best Beaches on Crete

Choosing the best beaches on Crete is an impossible job, as Greece's largest island has hundreds of them. Some are always incredibly busy, and you can't blame people for flocking to the beautiful settings of beaches like Vai and Elafonisi, on opposite corners of the island.

Elafonisi Beach

You can also find quiet coves and little beaches down tracks, which you can enjoy in solitude. You'll have to find those for yourself, though. Here we've listed our top ten personal favourite beaches, that are either extremely scenic or have some unusual feature about them. We list our top ten Crete beaches in alphabetical order.

Ayia Galini

The long strip of beach has more rocks than sand, but is pleasantly lined with tavernas. Although the town can get busy it is a real delight off-season.

Balos Beach

Balos Beach 

This beach by Balos Lagoon is one of the most photographed on the island. It's about 56 kms (35 miles) northwest of Chania and has soft white sand and a Caribbean feel to it.

Elafonisi Beach

Elafonísi

The vast beach here has even been called the best beach in Greece. It's usually busy but there's acres of space on its mix of pink and white sand. Lots of shallow waters too. It's in the southwest of the island, just over an hour's drive west of Palaiochora, and we rated Elafonisi as one of our Six Best Beaches in Greece.

Falassarna Beach

Falassarna

In the northwest corner of Crete, this soft sand beach has plenty of facilities including windsurfing in summer. It's actually made up of five different beaches, and has been voted the best beach on Crete and even one of the best in Europe.

Istro Beach

This long sandy beach is one of the best close to the town of Agios Nikolaos. It's usually busy but it's also big and has beautifully clear water. There are several other beaches nearby, both sand and pebble, so you can choose between them.

Matala Beach

Matala

Mátala’s fabulous beach is wide and curves around the bay with taverna balconies jutting over the sand and the town's caves to explore nearby.

Plakiás

Plakiás

With its long, wide beach backed by tamarisk trees, Plakiás is a terrific south coast retreat. A long curve of sand sweeps away at the eastern end of town, and there are more good beaches if you continue along the coast to the west.

Préveli Beach

Préveli Beach

This lovely sandy beach is near the monastery of the same name, at the foot of the Kourtaliotikos Gorge. Here a river flows into the sea, and the beach is backed by palm groves, giving it a tropical feel. Don't forget to dress respectably if you also plan to visit the monastery.

Rethymnon

Crete's third-largest town, Rethymnon, has one of the best long beaches on the north coast, running for several miles. There are numerous other beaches within easy reach, too, both east and west of the town. 

Vái Beach

Vái Beach

This stunning beach is backed by the biggest natural palm forest in the whole of Europe, which gives it a North African feel. It's easily the best beach in eastern Crete, and one of the best on the island.

Other Crete pages

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    Chania, in Western Crete

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    Crete

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  • Greece Travel Secrets visits the Crete Botanical Gardens near Chania and finds a wonderland of colourful plants, trees, and flowers filling a lovely valley.

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  • Greece Travel Secrets’ potted guide to Eastern Crete and why you should consider it for a holiday, including seeing Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Vai Beach and Zakros.

    Eastern Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets’ potted guide to Eastern Crete and why you should consider it for a holiday, including seeing Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Vai Beach and Zakros.

  • Driving on Crete is the best way to see Greece’s biggest island and here is our driving advice and some information about Greek driving regulations.

    Driving on Crete

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  • These shopping tips for Crete include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, icons, jewellery, leather, weavings, wood carvings, and food and drink.

    Shopping Tips for Crete

    These shopping tips for Crete include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, icons, jewellery, leather, weavings, wood carvings, and food and drink.

  • How to see eastern Crete in five days, with its beaches, Minoan palaces, timeless villages, unique churches and mountain and coastal scenery.

    Eastern Crete in Five Days

    How to see eastern Crete in five days, with its beaches, Minoan palaces, timeless villages, unique churches and mountain and coastal scenery.

  • Malia on the north coast of Crete is renowned for its nightlife and beaches but also has the Minoan Palace of Malia, one of Crete's many archaeological sites.

    Malia and its Minoan Palace on Crete

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  • Greece Travel Secrets page on  Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.

    Phaistos Minoan Palace on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets page on Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.

  • Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.

    Sir Arthur Evans, archaeologist at Knossos on Crete

    Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.

  • Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.

    Knossos

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  • What was daily life as a Minoan like on Crete, living in palaces like the ones at Knossos, Malia, Phaistos, and Zakros, and what were their religious beliefs?

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  • Is someone from Crete a Greek or a Cretan? They are both, of course, but most will tell you that they are Cretan first and Greek second.

    Greek or Cretan?

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  • Driving central Crete in three days gives you time to see the highlights including the Minoan palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the beaches and the Diktean Cave.

    Central Crete in Three Days

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  • Matala Beach on Crete is a guest blog for Greece Travel Secrets from the We Love Crete website, inviting you to Awaken Your Inner Hippy in Matala, Crete.

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  • Agios Nikolaos is a pretty and popular town on the north coast of Crete and this page on Greece Travel Secrets covers its history, museums and beaches.

    Agios Nikolaos

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  • Elounda on Crete's north coast is a popular holiday town with a pretty harbour, from where you can take day trips by boat to see the island of Spinalonga.

    Elounda and Spinalonga, setting for The Island by Victoria Hislop

    Elounda on Crete's north coast is a popular holiday town with a pretty harbour, from where you can take day trips by boat to see the island of Spinalonga.

  • Cretan music is part of the island’s soul and visitors will hear live music wherever they go, with several distinctive Cretan musical instruments and songs.

    Cretan Music

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  • Western Crete in five days allows time to visit Chania and Rethymnon, enjoy the beaches, hike the Samaria Gorge and see the monasteries at Arkadi and Preveli.

    Western Crete in Five Days

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  • Crete’s wildlife and landscape are two of the island’s attractions, including gorges for hiking, rare raptors like the lammergeier, wildcats and ancient trees.

    Crete’s Wildlife and Landscape

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  • Western Crete has some wonderful golden sand beaches as well as mountain villages, monasteries, caves, and archaeological sites to discover.

    Western Crete Beaches and Villages

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  • This drive along the west coast of Crete and inland from there will take a whole day and starts and ends in Kastélli Kissámou, west of Chania.

    West Coast of Crete Drive

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  • Greece Travel Secrets suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.

    Where to Stay in Eastern Crete

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