Thanks to their turquoise seas, snowy white beaches and welcoming locals, the Greek islands have been one of European timeshare owners’ favourite sun spots for decades now. But with so many groups of Greek islands to choose from, which do you go for?
Of all the Greek islands, Crete is one of the perennial favourites, and also one of the most stunningly beautiful. It also happens to be the largest of the Greek islands, with a wonderful spring and autumn climate and a huge diversity of landscapes – and last but not least, there’s always plenty to do for culture lovers.
Fancy a trip? Crete ticks so many boxes, so here’s our pick of things to do on this family-friendly island.
Makrigialos (south-east Crete)
Where to eat: Spilia tou Drakou There are plenty of pretty tavernas lining the harbor, but head 3km out of the village to the “Dragon’s Cave” for some spectacular sunset views. As soon as the sun sets, the cave is spectacularly illuminated – perfect for enjoying the delicious traditional Cretan food.
Don’t miss: Get off the beaten track and see if there are any boat trips are running to the island of Koufonissi. The island is now abandoned, but it used to be one of the sources of the shellfish that provided purple dye to Roman emperors. There are also fantastic beaches for sun worshippers to enjoy.
Elounda (North West)
Where to eat: Foodies will love this area, which has plenty of restaurants and food to enjoy. We love heading to Kantoyni, a traditional taverna with fantastic views, friendly service, and local food.
Don’t miss: Hop on a boat to the island of Spinalonga to visit its atmospheric, winding streets and see the setting for Victoria Hislop’s famous novel, The Island. The Venetians built a fortress here in 1579 and the island was later used as a leper colony in the 20th century.
Where to eat: Koudoumalos, based on the winding mountain roads between Neapoli and Plaka. Tuck into some local wine and deliciously hearty portions of grilled meat, stews and local products including delicious goat and sheep’s cheeses.
Don’t miss: The Lasithi plateau is surrounded by sweeping high mountains from which you can still see the white-sailed windmills that were dotted across the land (there used to 10,000 of them). It’s also worth exploring the Diktaean Cave near the village of Psychro, the reputed birth place of Zeus.
Where to eat: Head to Elia & Diosmos for incredibly reasonable prices, or check out the “Olive & Mint” in the village of Skalani just to the south of Heraklion for some contemporary Cretan cooking. The ingredients are all sourced locally and the food has won several awards.
Don’t miss Knossos was once the heart of the Minoan kingdom, and the rocks still seem to be haunted by the ghosts of the minotaur and his labyrinth.
Where to eat: Blue House is a pretty taverna based by the water’s edge – the perfect place to spend the evening once the crowds have melted away.
Don’t miss: Samariá is Europe’s longest gorge based just along the coast. Although it can be fairly crowded, it’s worth seeing. If you’re feeling a touch more adventurous, try walking up Aradaina gorge, then head to the lovely pebble beach of Marmara.