The largest of Greece’s islands is known for its sun-drenched beaches, but rich culture, ancient history, and a bounty of excellent food and wine make it a multi-faceted vacation destination.
Though you might spend most of your time on the beach (pack plenty of swimsuits!), the island is also home to plenty of hikes and sightseeing walks that keep you on your feet for hours, so make sure to focus on your footwear when it comes to your packing essentials.
1. Casual Dinners
Liviana Ruffled Gathered Silk Midi Dress
Genevieve Wood and Cane Clutch
2. Scenic Walks
Michael Kors Collection
Asymmetrical Oversized Shirtdress
Marcie Small Raffia Crossbody Basket Bag
1. Greek Whites
1. Sandcastle Building
2. Bathing Beauty
Don’t forget sneakers—Crete is home to beautiful gorges and scenic canyons. Attempting to explore them in flip flops would be a disaster.
Top 8 Must Have
Mini Diamond Evil Eye Stud Earring
Elio Off-the-Shoulder Cotton-Blend Poplin Dress
Ayurveda Vibes Printed Cotton-Voile Pareo
Sunwashed Plaid Tie Knot One Piece
Agua by Agua Bendita
Tulipan Pleated Cotton Crop Top
Ancient Greek Sandals
Stratigou Koraka 10, Agios Nikolaos
Kapetan Charalampi 6-8, Iraklio 712 02
Akti Enoseos 10, Chania 731 00
Akti Olountos, Schisma Elountas 720 53
The Perfect Day
You won’t want to miss Balos with its electric blue water and white sand. The best way to get there is by boat. Charter a private tour with SEAze The Day, which provides snorkel gear and a visit to the Balos Lagoon.
Stop for lunch at the waterfront Falassarna Tavern where you can order house specialties like Kakavia, a Cretan fish soup made with locally-caught fish and olive oil made on Island.
Next, visit Manousakis Winery and sit at a table outside on the terrace to sample organic wines made on Crete.
Visit Old Town Chania, which overlooks Old Venetian harbor, for a stroll, stopping into boutiques like Carmela Iatropoulou to peruse the selection of handmade jewelry and artwork.
Kids will love the fruit-topped pancakes at the seaside Mare Cafe, but don’t miss the traditional Cretan breakfast with homemade cheese pies and yogurt with honey and walnuts.
A two minute walk from breakfast, visit the Historical Museum of Crete to peer over a treasure trove of artifacts that showcase the island’s past between from the 4th century to WWII. Less than 15 minutes away by car, stop at the Palace of Knossos to explore the Bronze Age archaeological site that was once the center of Minoan civilization. After exploring, pause for lunch at Peskesi, a rustic taverna known for classic local dishes.
In the afternoon, take a drive along the island’s north coast to Marathi Beach, close to the city of Chania. Shallow water along with umbrellas and showers make this an ideal beach spot for families.
For dinner, Apostolis Restaurant is a lovely, kid-friendly spot where you can dine on fresh-caught fish from outdoor tables overlooking the sea.
Make the Domes of Elounda resort your homebase, where you can start your day at the SOMA Spa with a couples massage. The Elounda-based luxury property is situated on the coast, overlooking the castle on Spinalonga Isle.
Book a private boat excursion for the cushiest way to get to the tiny island. Once there, you can explore ruins, hidden coves, rocky shorelines, and deserted beaches.
For dinner, reserve a table at Kanali, the lantern-lit, open-air restaurant with views of the surrounding sea. Order plates of oysters and olive-oil drizzled grilled fish and glasses of wine. Afterward, head to nearby Isalos Elounda for dessert and creative cocktails, served seaside, of course.
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