Crete is blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate and long hot summers ideal for lounging on the beach. The northern coast of Crete is home to the largest cities and most popular beach destinations on the island. This is where most visitors will arrive either by plane, in Chania or Heraklion, or by ferry. Whether you choose to base yourself on the west side, in Chania or head to Eastern Crete, towards Agios Nikolaos and Sitia, you will be spoilt for options. Overall, this is the part of the island that has seen the most developments. Here, we find well-organized and cosmopolitan beaches next to first-class hotels and resort complexes. For the most part, the beaches have been awarded the ‘Blue Flag’ status by the EC for their cleanliness and infrastructure. Thus you can expect a range of amenities and services on offer including lifeguard stations, showers and changing rooms as well as restaurants, cafes and water-sports.
In the prefecture of Chania, the world-renowned lagoon of Balos and nearby Falassarna, are on the wishlist of every visitor to the island with their idyllic turquoise waters and vast stretches of sand. Driving from west to east, the area between Chania and Rethymno is marked by countless bays, some of which provide shelter for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta Caretta). Visitors might be familiar with the popular spot of Hersonissos, near Heraklion, which attracts a younger crowd and boasts lively beach bars and frequent all-night-long parties. Further east, the coast around Agios Nikolaos with the charming beach of Elounda and the magnificent palm forest beach of Vai on the easternmost point, are two areas of incredible beauty that live up to the hype. At the same time, north Crete has plenty of secluded spots and quiet stretches of sand. Not far from Heraklion, you can find the charming fishing village of Lygaria with stunning turquoise waters and excellent food. Spilies is another beach unknown to most visitors, tucked between impressive rock formations with deep refreshing waters, not far from Rethymno.
In the following pages, you will find suggestions and information for a variety of beaches found on the north coast of Crete, from quiet and secluded coves to busy and lively locations.