Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and is widely regarded as a country within a country, not least by the Cretans who are welcoming and hospitable, and fiercely proud of their history, golden sandy beaches, azure Aegean waters and the fact that they enjoy the longest summer in Europe. Crete holidays are perfect for those who are looking for an idyllic island getaway fit for the gods.
Crete, the birthplace of the legendary Zeus, occupies the most southerly point in Europe offering everything for a perfect Mediterranean holiday: golden beaches, sparkling waters, stunning scenery, and a richly diverse culture shaped by centuries of history including the Minoans, the first civilisation in Europe, followed by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Turks. Four lofty mountain ranges, high enough to be snow-clad in winter, dominate the rolling foothills and broad coastal plains, and secluded villages nestle amongst vineyards, olive and citrus groves and green, fertile meadows. To the south, small fishing communities seek shelter beneath precipitous windswept cliffs, and the north boasts beaches, coves and a series of great bays decorated with ribbons of fine golden sand. With its varied terrain, from sparkling beaches to snow-topped mountains, there is a great wealth of things to do on Crete holidays.
One of the longest established resort areas in Crete, Agios Nikolaos enjoys an enviable setting within the breath-taking Bay of Mirabello. Just behind the town’s picturesque fishing harbour are the deep aquamarine waters of Lake Voulismeni, whose depths are according to legend, bottomless. Surrounded by steep cliffs and greenery, the lake is the focal point of the town. At Classic Collection Holidays we have a fantastic range of 5 star hotels in the resort to ensure constant luxury and quality on your holidays to Crete. A number of bars, restaurants and tavernas have also sprung up around the lake-shore, harbour and coastline. Five miles beyond Agios Nikolaos at the northern end of the Bay of Mirabello lies the resort of Elounda.
Home to some of Greece’s very best hotels, it boasts a large fishing harbour bordered by shops and tavernas, and the bay of sand and shingle beaches is well protected by the Spinalonga Peninsula and is a popular choice for watersports enthusiasts on Crete holidays. In the quiet coastal resort of Sissi, visitors can enjoy tranquil beaches and beautiful landscapes combined with a very hospitable traditional Cretan way of life. Hersonissos is one of the major resorts on the north coast. Just 27km to the east of Heraklion, it boasts a long coarse-sandy beach backed by a plethora of hotels, restaurants, tavernas, boutiques and jewellery shops, plus a lively nightlife in the height of summer. With our exclusive range of outstanding hotels across the island, there is a wonderful choice for accommodation on your luxury Crete holidays.
When to go
Lying further south than the northern-most parts of Africa, it’s no surprise that the summer lasts longer in Crete than in most corners of the Mediterranean. With longer summers and the temperature only dropping just below 20 degrees Celsius between December and March, holidays in Crete can be enjoyed all year round. In spring, pleasant daytime temperatures are ideal for exploration and, as the snow-capped peaks start to melt, the trickling waters bring a colourful carpet of blossoming wild flowers to the pastures. Hot, dry weather arrives from early June and by October the temperatures are milder with the odd short shower.
Taverna owners provide al fresco dining all through the summer and simply move the tables and chairs back inside for cooler evenings. But, of course, Greek cuisine is best enjoyed at an outdoor table with a view of the sparkling sea. Meze is a selection of traditional bite-sized nibbles, souvlaki, grilled skewers of lamb and pork, and paidakia, succulent chargrilled lamb chops. Pastitsio is a noodles, meat, tomato and cheese bake, kelftiko, pot-baked meat, and moussaka adds aubergine, potatoes and béchamel sauce to minced-meat. Ouzo, the aniseedflavoured spirit, is the preferred aperitif. Retsina, with its robust flavouring is the most popular wine, and Domaine Carras, Minos Palace and Boutari offer the palate a more subtle introduction to Greek and Cretan table wines.