Travel Guide to Crete: sunny summer destination

by Ted Valentin, Boutique Hotel Expert
Crete is the largest island in Greece, and it is known for its rich history, tastes of fresh olives, vineyard hills, and thousand kilometers of azur coastline.

Heraklio Town is the best place to start your love story with Crete's ancient architecture, tiny streets, and history. Even if you are not an archeology fan, I suggest checking out one of the most famous historical sights of Crete and one of the most significant archaeological ruins of Europe - the Minoan Palace of Knossos, which is about 11 km from Heraklion. That place is equally impressive as the Parthenon in Athens and guarantees great photos from vacation. This place is linked to the legacy of the Minotaur, Diadalos, and Ikaros. Visiting Knossos should be combined with Heraklion's archaeological museum and its mind-blowing Minoan artifact collection.

If you are questioning where it is best to stay overnight in Heraklion, there are many cool boutique hotels with character. Take a look at Artion Boutique by Enorme, Kipos Boutique Suites, and DOM Boutique Hotel. My personal favorite is Diamond Executive Suite with an outdoor plunge pool and sea view in Castello Infinity Suites - Adults Only, located a bit outside the city in the coastline village of Agia Pelagia.

Like any other city on the island, Heraklion might be called a destination for foodies, and it is also the most important wine region of Crete. The best part is that most local wineries are open to tourists.

On the other hand, Chania Town is another worth-visiting city surrounded by vineyards and charming villages. Chania has lovely architecture and a relaxing vibe, so it might be smart to grab freshly squeezed orange juice, start exploring the Venetian ruins area, and take the view from the minaret-style lighthouse.

If you want to taste some local wine and mouthwatering culinary delights, go directly to Manousakis Winery in the authentic village of Vatólakkos, not far from Chania.

Chania has plenty of small cute boutique hotels like Sette Venti Boutique Hoteland Aisha Petite Suites, but it also has some cool hotels with impressive pools. I recommend checking the central hotel Monastery Estate Venetian Harbor or more secluded and remote luxury hotels like Epavli Boutique Hotel or Koukounari luxury villa for those who like to spend time by the pool.

After exploring all the must-see sights and charming streets in the Old Town of Chania, we recommend renting a car and driving to the beaches. The closest (just one hour's drive from Chania) and one of the most impressive beaches is Balos Beach, located on the Gramvousa Peninsula.

However, my personal favorites are two pretty exotic beaches:

My first choice is pink-sanded Elafonisi Beach. This pink beach with shallow azure waters is just about 70 km south of Chania, and it is the absolute highlight on the coastline. The perfectly pink swathes of sand are made up of crushed shells.

Second is Europe's largest date palm tree grove lying behind the picturesque beach of Vai. This a-la tropical beach has a peaceful location in a well-protected bay from winds and sea currents. Despite the tranquility and one-of-a-kind views, the beach has showers, lifeguards, and beach bars.

However, there is also a great place for water sports lovers. Elounda Gulf on the northeast coast is calm and has all possible water activities, from wakeboarding and snorkeling to trick skiing. The hotels in Eloúnda are beautiful and usually expensive. Take a pick at highly-rated hotels in Elounda, like Blue Palace Elounda, a Luxury Collection Resort, and Elounda Mare Relais & Châteaux Hotel.