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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in Central Crete including hotels in Matala, Ayia Galini, and Zaros.
Greece Travel Secrets eats at Vegera in Zaros and finds a cheap but wonderful feast of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes cooked daily with fresh local food.
This Rouvas Gorge walk starts and ends in Zaros in southern Crete and should take three to four hours with a distance of eight kilometres or five miles.
Keramos Studios in Zaros on Crete is an inexpensive two-star hotel/guesthouse with one of the best breakfasts on the island using food from the family’s farm.
The Greece Travel Secrets guide to Zaros in Central Crete, including what to do, where to stay, and where to eat.
Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete has four ENUESCO sites, which are Sitia, Psiloritis, Asterousia, and the Gorge of Samaria.
The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.
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.
Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.
The best things to do on Crete and top things to see include the Samaria Gorge, the Minoan Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the towns of Chania and Rethymnon.
Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.
Greece Travel Secrets suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.
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.
How to see eastern Crete in five days, with its beaches, Minoan palaces, timeless villages, unique churches and mountain and coastal scenery.
Greece Travel Secrets discovers Sitia, the main town in eastern Crete, with its relaxing waterfront, inexpensive hotels, good food, and nearby ancient sites.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Eastern Crete including restaurants and tavernas in Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, and Kato Zakros.
Greece Travel Secrets visits Visual Arts Crete who offer accommodation and run art courses at their home and studio in the village of Kastellos near Rethymnon.
Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Crete Botanical Gardens near Chania and finds a wonderland of colourful plants, trees, and flowers filling a lovely valley.
Crete's capital and largest city is Irakleio, also called Iraklion or Heraklion, a large and busy place with good restaurants, museums and historical buildings.
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.
These shopping tips for Crete include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, icons, jewellery, leather, weavings, wood carvings, and food and drink.
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