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.

Some other Crete pages

  • Crete

    Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.

  • Zacharioudakis Winery

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.

  • Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.

  • The Icon Painter

    Icon painting is a centuries-old tradition in Crete and the rest of Greece, and Greece Travel Secrets meets a modern-day icon painter in Elounda on Crete.

  • The Herb Man of Kouses

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.

  • The Cretan Diet

    Studies have shown the Cretan Diet as one of the healthiest in the world, involving lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and moderate amounts of wine.

  • Stilianou Winery near Knossos

    The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.

  • The Snails House on Crete

    The Snails House in Plouti near Phaistos in southern Crete serves the Cretan delicacy of snails, cooked in several different ways.

  • 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.

  • Samaria Gorge

    The Samaria Gorge is one the longest gorges in Europe and doing the hike is one of the best and most popular things to do on Crete.

  • Rethymnon in Western Crete

    Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,

  • 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.

  • Paleohora and the South-West Coast

    The area east from Paleohora along the south-west coast of Crete includes resorts like Agia Galini, gorges like the Imbros Gorge and quieter towns like Sfakia.

  • Our Hire Car in Crete

    The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.

  • Matala Beach

    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.

  • Margarites

    Margarites is known on Crete for its pottery, with ceramics shops and workshops lining the streets of this charming small town not far from Rethymnon.

  • Manousakis Wine Tasting

    We visit and tour the Manousakis Winery on Crete with a wine-tasting and a chance to buy their tsikoudia, sea salt, olive oil and other goodies.

  • Malia and its Minoan Palace on Crete

    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.

  • Maleme and the German War Cemetery on Crete

    Maleme near Chania is where the people who died during the battle of Crete are buried, in the German War Cemetery with the Commonwealth War Cemetery nearby.

  • Making Rakomelo on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets visits Crete and learns about making rakomelo from Jorgos Kourmoulis in Agouseliana.

  • Lonely Planet Crete

    Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.

  • Knossos

    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.

  • Irakleio

    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.

  • How to Make Petimezi

    How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge

    Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by Greece Travel Secrets.

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