With so many Greek islands to choose from, it can sometimes be difficult to decide which one to head for – but you can't go wrong with Crete, regularly topping the lists of the best island destination in Greece.
Crete offers spectacular mountain ranges, palm forests and inviting beaches. Minoan temples, Venetian fortresses and Byzantine monasteries lay hidden among this natural splendour.
What’s more with three international airports on the island there’s no shortage of great flight deals to get you there cheaply.
April through to October is the main season for visiting Crete, although the climate is ideal for visiting throughout most of the year. During this time the cheapest flights can be found in April, and the temperature will be above a balmy 20°C.
Beyond this from late October until April is when you'll find the cheapest flights to Crete. You’ll also avoid the summer crowds and enjoy perfect weather for hiking and exploring the island. The temperatures do drop as winter settles in, although you shouldn't feel the cold too much except for first thing in the morning and late at night. With low-priced airfares and uncrowded resorts Crete is an ideal destination for some winter sun.
The best way to find the cheapest flights is to book your plane tickets to Crete as early as possible. But there are always a few simple tricks you can use whenever you search with Expedia to find cheaper airfares.
By clicking on ‘Show flexible dates’ you can quickly see if flights to Crete are cheaper on days close to those you have searched for. It’s amazing what a difference in price just a day or two either side of your preferred date can make.
With three international airports serving Crete it’s also worthwhile checking to see if flights are cheaper to an alternative location on the island. Similarly, if you are travelling from London, you can select ‘All London airports’ to increase the flight options available to you and, if you are flying from outside the capital, by clicking on ‘Nearby airports’ you can explore your options from other convenient points of departure.
Direct flights to Heraklion or Chania are widely available from London, Manchester, Doncaster, Leeds, Bristol, Nottingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow and Belfast.
Here are some sample flight times:
Crete is home to three international airports: Heraklion, Chania and Sitia. Heraklion and Chania are the main airports and it is at one of these that you are most likely to touch down at.
Heraklion sits on Crete’s northern coast, so it is ideal for those looking to party in Malia, live the good life in the upmarket Lassithi area or head for the eastern resort of Elounda.
Chania is still on the northern coast, but far closer to the western tip, offering the ideal point of entry for Rethymnon, the beaches of Aghia Marina or the stunning Gerani that nestles at the foot of the White Mountains.
Cheap Flights to Crete are easy to find if you’re travelling in season. Some of the carriers offering direct services include:
Crete’s bus network makes getting around the island a breeze, taxi prices are fairly reasonable and car hire rates are very attractive indeed.
It is possible to get to the beach resorts using Crete’s KTEL or Minoan Lines bus routes – but you will have to change buses in Heraklion or Chania city centre. Having said that the buses are all comfortable, air-conditioned, reliable and very cheap.
There are two major bus stations in Heraklion, each serving different resorts in Crete, so do your homework before arrival to ensure you head for the right terminal.
Taxi costs are significantly more, but much more convenient. A typical price for the drive to your resort will be around €60 – Crete is a fairly large island.
With more than 750 miles of attractive coastline, Crete combines dramatic mountains with deep rocky gorges and blissful golden sand beaches.
Here are just a few of the attractions you won’t want to miss.
Get active hiking through the Samaria Gorge, just outside the mountain village of Omalos. The gorge descends 1,250 meters to arrive at the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli on Crete's south coast.
The mysterious Minoans may have suddenly disappeared from history but they left behind an impressive treasure trove of archaeological remains. Knossos, near Heraklion, is where the legendary King Minos watched bull-leaping in the courtyard.
Situated midway between Chania and Heraklion, Rethymnon's delightful old town is characterised by the stunning Venetian-era buildings, many of which now serve as the boutique hotels, shops and tavernas that line its long, narrow, sandy beach. Head off into the mountains to discover rural villages and some excellent agritourism centres.
Tourists from the UK will not need a visa to visit Crete for stays of up to 90 days.