Where are the best places for recreational holidays in Crete away from the crowds? We present Crete's hidden sights and cosy beaches away from mass tourism.
"Excuse me? Holiday in Crete? Certainly not! We don't fancy bed castles and a sardine feeling on the beach. And then those noisy children and party-hungry teenagers!"
This preconception of a holiday in Crete is also haunting your mind? Far from it! Because on the popular Greek holiday island there are still unspoilt spots where private rooms are rented on the sandy beach, only locals enjoy the freshly caught fish in the tavernas and even wild camping is allowed. We show you where!
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The tranquil village of Frangokastello in the southwest of Crete boasts an impressive fortress right on the beach. Despite the picturesque postcard motif and the extensive sand dunes, few Cretan holidaymakers stray to its beautiful coastline with Venetian flair.
Far away from mass tourism, the charming Lentas attracts visitors with its unshakeable tranquillity, cosiness and serenity. Freshly caught fish at sunset and guitar music around the campfire are the holiday highlights of this village of 250 people, where even wild camping on the beach is still allowed.
The southeast of Crete presents itself largely as a rather barren wasteland with brown rocky hills and sparse vegetation. In the midst of this solitude lies the monastery of Kapsa, about 40km from Ierapetra. The monastery is not only a green oasis for hikers, but also holds valuable art treasures and relics, including even a part of the cross of Jesus.
Three picturesque rocks divide the idyllic beach of Triopetra into two parts - they are also what gave the extensive sandy beach its name. Tavernas and guesthouses offer board and lodging, yet the beautiful beach is rarely crowded even in high season.
Tripiti Gorge and Tripiti Beach
Even though the Tripiti Gorge is the most visited gorge in Crete after the famous Samaria G orge, you will hardly find any crowds here. This is due to the fact that the gorge can be crossed completely by four-wheel drive vehicle and the visitors are thus quickly gone again.
You will also rarely meet other Crete holidaymakers in the idyllic pebble bay at its sea exit, especially outside the high season.
The tiny village of Lykos is located on the rugged south coast of Crete about 80km south of Chania. There are no hotels here, only a few tavernas rent out private rooms in complete seclusion. The beach of Lykos is rocky and therefore ideal for snorkellers, as hardly a boat disturbs the tranquillity of the sea in the crystal-clear water.
Sougia is similarly quiet as Lykos, but the village is somewhat larger. However, you won't find a bank or petrol station here. Here you will mainly meet individual travellers, backpackers and couples in love who want to enjoy their togetherness in peace.
On the extensive pebble beach, which doesn't get crowded even in high season, and in the surrounding hills, nothing is easier than that either. Another plus for independents: camping on the beach is allowed!
Xerokambos is one of the most secluded places in all of Crete. Its picturesque bay is 50km from the next larger settlement (Sitia) and delights beach holidaymakers with a magnificent sandy beach on the turquoise blue sea.
There are hardly any houses, not a single building directly on the beach - bathing and relaxing in complete solitude is the order of the day here.
Olive trees of Kavousi and Ano Vouves
Attention plant lovers! Near Kavousi in the east and near Ano Vouves in the west of Crete are probably the oldest olive trees in the world. Their mighty crowns and gnarled trunks are estimated to be an incredible 3,000 years old.
Despite this botanical peculiarity, the small villages are hardly visited; only in Ano Vouves do a few Cretan holidaymakers find their way to the olive museum.
Agia Galini has remained a quiet resort despite its picturesque beach location at the foot of the mighty Ida Mountains. Nevertheless, the once inconspicuous fishing village has certain tourist amenities to offer.
A variety of hiking trails start here, including the tour up Crete's highest mountain. Several beaches in the area offer perfect conditions for beach holidays in Crete and the hotels and tavernas range from inexpensive to upscale.