Crete is an unusual place. There are over 300 beaches on approximately 1,000 kilometers of the island's coastline, with over a quarter of them receiving the Blue Flag award every year.
It is in Crete that there are places such as Balos and Elafonissi, which for many years have been ranked high in various rankings of the best beaches in the world and Europe. These two beautiful and unique places shaped by nature are undoubtedly most frequently mentioned after the holidays by most tourists.
However, apart from Balos and Elafonissi in Crete, there are many other unusual and unique beaches. Sometimes they are hidden so that only a few know about them. These are often surprising places. Beaches with emerald transparent water, which are located at the ends of the ravines. Sometimes, these are places that can only be reached on foot or by boat. Of course, there are also many quite ordinary beaches, which simply serve the residents of the surrounding towns for a place of relaxation or just a break from the everyday tourist hustle and bustle.
From all these places we have chosen twenty most-known, popular and for some reason exceptional beaches. Some of these places are generally recognized hits, but some are our personal choice, beaches which for some reason we deemed worthy to be included on this list. The following list is a subjective ranking that we have prepared for you as part of our website. We have added a short description to each place, a few photos and a table with an approximate distance from the most important cities of Crete. We do not exclude that this list may change in the future. Each year, we try to discover the next "own" places, which we consider worth recommending. Perhaps some of them will appear in this statement.
Balos is a business card of Crete. The picturesque landscape is eagerly used in folders advertising not only Crete but also Greece. Both Balos and Gramovus are areas of special beauty that are protected under the European Natura 2000 program.
This year Balos again appeared in the ranking carried out by the Tripadvisor portal, this time taking the 8th place in the classification of the best beaches in Europe. This place is located on the north-western edge of the island. When planning a trip to this beach you need to take into account the distance that separates your hotel from Balos. You can come here either by ferry or by car. If you do not know which mode of transport to choose, read the following article.
Elafonisi is undoubtedly another tourist hit, which also appears not only on commemorative photographs, but also ranks high in the world (11th) and European (2nd place) Tripadvisor rankings. Pink sand, shallow water and warm water with amazing shades cause that in the high season more and more people appear here. Fortunately, thanks to the fact that this beach is much more extensive than the previously described Balos, all those who are willing are still here. Elafonisi is also a beach located on the literal edge of Crete, so we advise you to count the kilometers that will come to you. By warning the questions, we immediately warn you that there are no bigger hotels nearby and a limited number of private apartments is the only offer of accommodation available in this place.
One of the two routes leading to this place leads partly to the coast. Although some people remember it with a thrill, we do not see anything terrible in it. It is winding, quite narrow, but also very picturesque.
This beach in the '70s was made famous by the coconut Bounty bars, whose advertising was allegedly shot in this place. Although on Vai there are no coconut palms, only dates, but the makers of the movie dealt with this "imperfection" of Vai.
In the high season, this real paradise beach is visited every day by crowds of people who want to see their own palm forest, which grows a few meters from the sea. The best panorama of this beach is from the viewpoint located on the nearby rocks. Unfortunately, even when viewed from this place, Vai pledges a bit losing its beauty. This beach is located on the far east end of Crete, so when planning a trip to this place, it is worth combining the sunbathing together with the visit of the nearby monastery Moni Toplou and the ruins of ancient Itanos.
Preveli is another beach with a palm forest. A few years ago, the palm trees growing on the banks of the Megapotamos River burned in a violent fire. Fortunately, however, nature quickly recovered from this disaster. At the moment, those dramatic moments are reminiscent only of the palm trees that have already been scorched. In addition to the palm forest, the characteristic feature of Preveli is the bend of the Megapotamos River, which flows into the sea at this point. The most beautiful view of the beach, river and forest is from above, from a stone path. This beach has a gray pebble beach, very typical for the southern coast. Preveli is one of those places where there is no direct access. The car park from the beach is divided by a large section of a walking trail along steep stone steps. Unfortunately, such a location of the beach means that on the way back you will find arduous climbing. If you decide to come here, it is also worth visiting the monastery of Preveli located nearby.
In 2002, Falasarna won the title of the best beach in Greece. This distinction was by no means accidental, because this place is truly unique by Crete standards. The long and, above all, wide, sandy beach stands out against the background of mostly small, usually pebble beaches available in Crete. Only a few places can be found on the whole island, which in terms of size would be able to compete with Falasarna in terms of size. In the near distance from the beach there are also the remains of the ancient Falasarna, the former port. So let's take the opportunity and look at it too.
The uniqueness of this place is determined not only by the sand and a gentle, sandy descent into the sea, but also by the characteristic Venetian fortress located right on the beach. Although, of course, it is safe to say that the perfect sand and stone-free bathing resort is an exceptional set of features that would make this beach even without this historic building on this list.
An additional advantage of this place are also located somewhat in the background of the mountain. That's why we think that with this beach, the view is definitely better when we look towards it.
Near the beach there are a dozen or so guesthouses that provide quite a good base. If, however, someone planned a longer stay here, it is worth to book places well in advance. Free rooms disappear almost like proverbial fresh rolls, and people who come here often belong to the group of regulars of this place.
Frangokastello for independent and motorized tourists is a nice base for hiking trips around the surrounding trails and ravines.
Seitan Limania located on the Akrotiri peninsula is a small, picturesque bay with fantastic azure water. At the height of the season, the beach, which is modest in size, fills up very quickly.
The popularity of this place increases year by year, more and more people commute here despite the distant location. And to think that supposedly the popularity of Satan's Ports began with photographs thrown into the internet by a careless photographer ;-) If anyone would also like to find out what "satanic" of Seitan Limania is all you need to know that both the asphalt road leading here and the descent to the beach, they are very steep. Especially be careful when going down the rocks. Sharp edges and a difficult path were the cause of more than one accident.
The name of this beach is derived from three characteristic rocks emerging from the sea. These rocks are the end of a small peninsula, which divides Triopetra into two separate parts. The western part is a very large, magnificent and extremely picturesque beach. The eastern part called Μικρή Τριόπετρα (Little Triopetra), as the name suggests, is small compared to its western neighbor. It is more intimate.
In addition to the picturesque and insane view of the surrounding mountains, the advantage of both beaches is the lack of major hotels in the area. Only private pensions are available nearby. Lack of hotels and mass tourism means that this place is accessible only to individual tourists. Even in the high season, you'll find a place for free rest here. If you decide to spend more time here, the additional advantage of this place, which is worth using, are taverns located in the vicinity of the beach. They offer excellent dishes typical of Cretan cuisine.
About half a kilometer from the monastery of Chrysoskalitissa (Golden Step) is a beautiful small beach, whose charm gives its full name. The beach, swimming pool and their surroundings resemble a literally white lake located on the blue sea. A small circular cove with emerald water showered with white sand, surrounded by sharp black rocks. It is a very picturesque landscape, which you can not fail to admire.
In addition, the region of this beach, due to Phoenix theofrasti palms growing on this area, is a Natura 2000 protected area. Exactly the same spots can be found on Vai or Preveli. In fact, we have long been hesitating whether or not to post Aspri Limni in this ranking for fear that she will not share the fate of Seitan Limania in the future. Aspri Limni is a small, almost private paradise without the tourist industry present on the neighboring Elafonisi. We hope that despite being on the list, it will remain so.
The picturesque Agiofarago beach is located at the mouth of a not too long gorge of the same name. On both sides are surrounded by quite high rocks, which with a little effort you can climb. We assure you that it is worth doing, because from here you have the most beautiful view of the beach and the bay.
Beaming in this place is a nice relax after passing the ravine itself. Although a large piece of the beach needs to be reached, it is not completely isolated, contrary to appearances, and the number of people here may be a bit surprised. Not all of them are tourists, because Agiofarago is also popular among young local Cretans. In the final part of the ravine you can also come across a wild campsite, whose residents are also regulars of this beach.
Although the beach stretching between the towns of Kalamaki-Kommos is about 2.5 km long, it is only a fragment of a nearly ten-kilometer-long sandy beach at the mouth of the Messara valley. If someone likes long walks along the seashore, here is where to go ;-)
However, length is not the only advantages of this beach. This insanely picturesque place on the one hand deigns us with a view of the characteristic rock at Matala, and on the other at the Psiloritis massif with the highest mountain of Crete. In addition, at the turn of May and June, Caretta caretta turtles nest their nests every year. Going in the direction of Kommos, you will easily notice metal cages marking the nests deployed by Archelon .
However, there are no ideals - there are often strong winds blowing in the north-east direction. They evoke high and quite unpleasant waves steeply breaking at the edge. During periods of such weather, walking along the sea and bathing is very difficult. The kitesurf fans who often appear in this place are very eager to enjoy such strong winds and high waves.
Less than 3 kilometers from the palm beach of Vai, there are ruins of the old town of Itanos, where three nice beaches called Erimoupolis are located. Unlike their well-known neighbors, they do not attract crowds and are wild beaches. There are, in principle, either accidental stray tourists or excavation enthusiasts. It is worth to combine sightseeing of the nearby archaeological site with sunbathing. Additional attractions are found underwater, because part of the ancient Itanos is now sunken and is a habitat for marine animals and plants. Thanks to this place is also a paradise for diving enthusiasts.
The small peninsula Grammeno located near the town of Gialos hides in its area two quite large beaches. The stony Alonaki has not stolen our hearts, but the sandy Grammeno located at the entrance of the small bay of Chouma has been one of our favorites for several years. Golden sand, gentle descent to the sea, the azure color of the water meant that whenever we can, we look here for 2-3 hours. Location away from popular tourist centers means that it is not a crowded place. This beach also looks beautiful from a distance. Driving along the road towards the east, you can see a narrow strip of land with golden sand breaking into the blue and azure sea.
Vienna is a small beach located on the E4 route between Krios and Elafonissi. There would be nothing extraordinary about it if it was not for being in the place of the ancient city of Vienna. Its remains in the form of marble columns, tombs and earthenware can be found both on the beach and underwater. Relaxing here after passing the trail, it is impossible not to think about the generations that this city has built. The location of the Vienna beach along the walking trail means that only those who pass the E4 route reach here.
The east coast of Crete is far away from popular tourist centers. At the moment, there are no hotel complexes yet, and organized optional trips only go to Vai. Only a few individual tourists come to the area of Zakros and the surrounding area. It is in this area that there is a charming and intimate beach in Xerokambos. She's on our list just because she's far away from her. There is no high and low season here, it is calm and maybe even boring. This does not mean, however, that the beach is uninteresting. On the contrary, turquoise water is a beautiful contrast to the surrounding bare and steep rocks, golden sand and few vegetation.
This small beach located at a partially closed bay has been associated with the film Zorba the Greek for over fifty years. It is in this area that the famous scenes of dancing Anthony Quinn were filmed. Stavros still has taverns to remember those times, and older residents still remember the film crew.
Although the town itself over the years, which has passed since the end of the pictures, has changed completely but the characteristic view of the nearby hill remains unchanged. Stavros has been consciously using his legend for some time. At the entrance to the beach, tourists welcome a sizable photo of Anthony Quinn. For this legend, it is worth coming here, and the beach itself will meet the requirements of picky people.
The beach in Matala is located at the foot of a characteristic rock. It is she who is the showcase of this place and makes it unique. Numerous ancient Roman tombs are hollowed out in the rock, which in the seventies of the twentieth century were adapted to their needs by hippies. The climate of the old mecca "children of flowers" has come alive for several years thanks to the well-known Matala Beach Festival organized at the end of June. For one weekend there are crowds of fans of music and entertainment, and the atmosphere of concerts organized under the famous rock is reminiscent of old times.
Glyka Nera is one of the most spectacularly located beaches of Crete. Located at the foot of a majestic, steep hill, several hundred meters high, it is one of the better places for peaceful rest. Szpaler characteristic of tamarisks growing along the coast provides a bit of shade and at the same time is the hallmark of this place. On Glyka Nera there are underground streams, whose water flows into the sea. This means that, apart from the crystalline clarity of water, even at the peak of holiday heat, the bathing beach is characterized by a relatively low sea temperature. You can only walk or get a rented boat, because the beach is located between Loutro and Chora Sfakion. The seclusion of this place means that Glyka Nera is also one of the naturist favorite beaches.
Red Beach, or rather Kokkini Ammos, is a half-beach that is also particularly liked by naturists. The characteristic sand with a red hue looks most beautiful during sunsets, when the light additionally emphasizes the color of rocks and sand. That's why we recommend this time of day to visit this place, especially if you do not plan to sunbathe, just want to take a look at the famous Red Beach. In order to get here, you have to pass some steep trail that starts in neighboring Matala. Of course, for a few euros you can also rent a boat, which in a few minutes you will get to Red Beach. We, however, think that for a view from the top of the cliff it is worth a little tormenting and come here on foot.
The last beach in our ranking is unusual, because it is the only one in this ranking located at the freshwater lake. The beautiful and deep (45 m) Kournas lake picturesquely contrasts with the White Mountains range, at the foot of which is located. The almost alpine landscape attracts more and more tourists here, and in the vicinity of the lake over several years it has swarmed with taverns, souvenir shops and water bike rentals. When choosing this place, it is worth remembering that Kournas is protected under the Natura 2000 program. While swimming around a lake with a bicycle, you can meet freshwater turtles with a bit of luck.
A lot of people who are going to Crete for the first time are asking us what to see. Limited time of stay and car rental as well as a finite amount of funds that you want to spend on sightseeing cause that among the many interesting places offered by the island you have to choose only the most important ones. So we decided to create our peculiar must-see, or list of places we like the most known and most popular among tourists.
One of the flagship paintings associated with Crete is the characteristic frame of the Balos lagoon and the flat Tigani peninsula in the background. The picturesque nature of this place attracts crowds of enthusiastic tourists every year, and the beach itself has been systematically occupying very high places in the world and European beach rankings for a long time.