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Best Places To Stay In Greece: Crete Holiday Guide

      Welcome to the No.1 website for renting 5 Star villas in Crete. It's fitting the birthplace of modern culture is now one of the most popular island destinations in the Med.

     Whether you want lazy days in the sun, hedonistic nightlife, first-class historical sights or active treks through mountainous landscape, Crete has plenty to offer. Read on for the best things to do, places to stay, restaurants, nightclubs and more for a Greek holiday to remember.

     Greece's biggest, most popular isle, sits in the most southerly position at the base of the Mediterranean. Boasting 650 miles of some of the best beaches in Greece, Crete is the place to come for soft golden sands, fascinating world history, buzzing ancient towns and breathtaking views in every direction.

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John Paul Donnelly

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Why choose Crete?

      Inhabited for over 4000 years, Crete is the land where so many myths and legends began. Once famous for creating the lifestyle of pleasures we enjoy so much today, the world-famous ruins scattered amongst Crete's streets and hillsides tell the story of its evolution into one of the most influential locations in modern history.

      Tree-covered hills and rugged peaks dotted with over 25 species of wild orchids, cedar trees, deep gorges and quiet villages give way to rocky coves twinned with endless amber coastline sprinkled here and there with palm trees, caves and quiet bays.

      The tick-list of picturesque scenery is accompanied by lively cosmopolitan cities serving delicious fresh food and local wine.

      For things to do, there's every end of the spectrum here. From reflective hilltop retreats to hideaway beaches, mountainous hikes, stunning luxury Crete villas and pulsating nightlife, you'll find all you need to keep you fully entertained.

      Take a tranquil island cruise through the waters or uncover endless ancient ruins, forts, harbours towns pretty with Venetian architecture and palaces famous around the globe. Revel in watersports, dreamy beaches and endless shopping with top bars, nightclubs and restaurants to enjoy as evening falls.

     Whatever you want to do on your Mediterranean getaway, Crete has it in spades.

Browse Private Crete Villas With A Pool

Best things to do in Crete

     With spectacular coastline to uncover as well as archaeological sites, historic towns and tours of every kind, there's an enormous variety of things to do in Crete. Here's our top picks of the best things to do in Crete.

Best things to do in Crete:

Best beaches:

     Crete has four distinct regions that each offer something different and the beaches in each area tell the same story. In Lassithi, to the east of the island, you'll find pretty beaches close to ancient harbour towns busy with shops and alfresco dining.

Vai Palm Beach

      Lassithi's most famous beach is Vai Palm Beach (or Finikodasos Beach), a dazzling beach setting where aqua-blue sea and golden sands are edged by a magnificent backdrop of natural palm forest. Voulisma Beach, Istro Beach, Erimoupolis Beach and Agios Panteleimonas Beach are other top Lassithi beaches you'll want to visit, each boasts glassy turquoise waters topped by beautiful soft sand.

Kouremenos Beach

     For surfing head to Kouremenos Beach where you'll find winds perfect for surfing and wind surfing.

Rethymno's beaches:

     14th century Rethymno is one of the best preserved towns in Crete with remarkable Renaissance architecture on display at every turn. Rethymno's beaches are quieter with long stretches of sand, excellent facilities and lots of watersports.

     The family-friendly resort delivers over 12km of well-kept coastline bordered by beachside tavernas, perfect for enjoying souvlaki and local wine as the sun goes down.


      In the west, Chania has some of the best examples of Venetian and Ottoman architecture on the island. Its Turkish and Italian influences from the past can be found throughout the impressive city and its charming Venetian harbour.

     Chania's blue flag beaches, lagoons and bays are romantic locations far from the bustling city. Surrounded by rugged hilltops sprinkled with gorges and villages, Chania's beaches are some of the most photographed spots on the island.

Elafonisi Beach

     Be sure to put Elafonisi Beach at the top of your list. Voted the second best beach in Europe, Elafonisi's transparent aqua-blue waters and white – pink sand are as stunning as they sound. Balos Lagoon, Seitan Limania and Kedrodasos Beach make for close rivals whilst surfer's favourite, Falassarna Beach is a top choice for dramatic sunsets by the water's edge.

     For top historical sites and the best clubbing in Crete, Heraklion's beaches in the south are the perfect place to dance till the sun comes up with the waters of the Med at your feet.

Best local attractions:

      Beyond its picturesque beaches, there's lots more to do and see in Crete. From natural wonders to historical sights and cultural delights, here's the best things to do whilst on holiday in Crete.

      Crete's ruins make it possible to chart the course of history from the Stone Age to the Minoans, Byzantines, Romans and more. Whatever your level of interest in the past, you'll be sure to find the sheer number of sights and quality of history on display in Crete something to admire.

Palace of Knossos

     Crete's premier ruin is the Palace of Knossos. Dating back to the Bronze Age, the palace was the epicentre of the significant Minoan city of Knossos which is thought to be Europe's oldest city.

     The Palace of Knossos is referenced many times in Ancient Greek mythology and the labyrinth referred to in Theseus and the Minotaur is said to be amongst the palace ruins. Other sights at the Palace of Knossos include world-famous frescoes, beautifully restored to show how the city's citizens lived as well statues, huge columns, original walls and more. Visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in town first.

Heraklion museum

      The Heraklion museum is a world authority on Ancient Minoan history so you'll find out about the palace, its inhabitants and citizens before you visit the palace ruins. With thousands of artefacts in its collection, covering a 5,500 year history of Ancient Greece, Heraklion Museum is not to be missed.

Samaria Gorge

     Crete's mountainous landscape hides many deep gorges and crevices between its peaks. The greatest of these is 300m high Samaria Gorge. A favourite spot for hikers, Samaria Gorge is a great way to uncover Crete's diverse landscape

     Beginning in the White Mountains, the 16km downhill trek through Samaria National Park takes in beautiful coastline, forests, ridges, ancient churches and villages, as the many narrow pathways finally finish at the Libyan Sea.

Other ways to explore Crete's fascinating terrain include: jeep tours, quad bike treks, boat cruises, village tours, olive oil experiences, horse riding, watersports, wine tours, hiking, caving, cycling and lots more.

Spinalonga Island

      Of the many islands to visit in the waters around Crete, Spinalonga Island is the most popular. The island's position on the north east of Crete, made it a frequent target for invasions so you'll find Venetian and Ottoman forts on the island as well as a museum, ancient churches and an old town to explore.

     In its latter years, Spinalonga was a leper colony so there's plenty to learn about this pretty island as well as scenic views out to sea and back to Crete to enjoy.

Best nightlife on the Island of Crete

     Whether it's a lively taverna with live music and lots of local wine, a chilled out cocktail bar by the harbour or a club hidden amongst the city's ancient walls, it's easy to find entertainment when evening falls in Crete. However, for all-out clubbing, Heraklion is the place to go.


     Malia, Stalis and Elounda in Heraklion are the island's most popular clubbing hotspots. Here you'll find top Crete clubs such as: Mylos, Apollo – one of Crete's biggest clubs, Cameo for wild throwback parties and Palm Beach Club for partying by the water's edge.

Best restaurants:

     Crete's cuisine is fresh, local and authentic. That means you'll find yourself happening upon delicious little tavernas and restaurants in both the towns and hills, serving mostly home-cooked meals with rustic presentation and flavours good enough to grace the tables of any fine restaurant.

     Here and there, there are creative variations but most remain loyal to traditional favourites, such as: handmade kebabs, stews, meat dishes, salads and pastas.

Top restaurants

     Top restaurants in Crete include: Chrisostomos, Salis Restaurant, Taverna Kritiki, Tholos Restaurant, Lemonokpos, Piperia, Dounias, Pelagos and Agrego Farm.

Best places to stay in Crete, Greece

     Attracting couples, groups and families to its shores, you'll find a fantastic range of luxury villas for rent in Crete with private pools and top facilities. From luxury villas for rent in the hills where you can drink in breathtaking scenery to plush party villas and luxurious beachfront villas with ocean views, we have something to suit every need.

     Browse our top picks of the best places to stay in Crete today.

Discover more top luxury villas in Crete for rent or call us to discuss the best holiday villas in Greece to suit you and your family.

Crete, Greek Holidays: Why go?

Find out more about the top local attractions in Crete:

Best airport for travel to Crete:

     The best airports for Crete are Heraklion International Airport and Chania International Airport.

When is the best time to visit Crete?

     Although winters in Crete are mild, the best times to visit Crete are between mid-May and October. You'll have maximum sunshine, warm seas and the lowest chance of rain.

     Between November and March, temperatures hover around 16 -14 °C. Then from May to September temperatures remain around 25 -30 °C, dropping to around 23°C in October.

Crete Temperature Chart

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Our Story

In 2005, John Paul Donnelly, began his luxury villa journey. He spent three years building resorts and holiday apartments in Alanya, Turkey, along with his brother, Joe. The concept was to create the most luxurious villas on the Turkish coastline and provide clients, along with their family and friends, the opportunity to enjoy exclusive holidays together.

By 2008, after the successful development of 3 resorts, JP had well and truly fallen into the world of villa rentals. With a portfolio of 6 villas and a desire to explore new places, he decided it was time to take the villa rental business outside of Turkey. He wanted to give his clients access to beautiful holiday rentals in destinations across the globe.

The expanding villa rental company was rebranded in 2011 to 5 Star Villa Holidays, and today 5 Star Villa Holidays offers over 10,000 luxury villas around the world.

JP and his partner, Helena are currently travelling the globe, devoted to hand selecting the best villas and property management companies, and giving them their stamp of approval! 5 Star Villa Holidays' ambition goes beyond being an ordinary holiday rental company. It is a marketplace for luxurious and exclusive villas around the world.

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