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The 10 Best Beaches in Crete

Preveli beach, Crete.
Preveli beach, Crete. Credit: Ma Rui/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Crete is the largest island in Greece, and its coastline of 1,046 km, or 650 miles, makes for some extraordinary beaches.

Holidaymakers who have already discovered this island treasure come back year after year to visit old favorites and discover new hidden gems.

With sand, surf and sun for party-goers, sun worshippers, surfers and solitude-seekers, Crete has a diverse spectrum of sun-soaked strands to offer everyone their own slice of paradise. With crystal clear waters and sand in a variety of hues, Crete’s beaches are unforgettable.

The top 10 best beaches in Crete

1. Elafonissi Beach in Chania

Elafonissi beach, Crete
Elafonissi Beach on the Greek island of Crete. Credit: Urbamaker/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This is the beach that you want to go to if you are into sparkling water and beautiful pink sand—and, frankly, who isn’t? Located on the southwestern side of Crete, the beach has both soft white and pink sand, and the coast is lined with cedar trees. Sunbeds and umbrellas are available on part of the beach.

2. Balos Beach in Chania

Bay of Balos, Crete.
Bay of Balos, Crete. Credit: Moonik/CC BY-SA 3.0

Located on the northwestern side of Crete, this beach gives you a view of the sea and a Greek island with a Venetian castle on top. There are many ways that you can reach this beach—either by car or by excursion boat from Chania Town and Kissamos.

3. Matala Beach in Heraklion

Matala Beach, Heraklion
Matala Beach, Heraklion. Credit: Rudi Heim/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Once known as a popular hippie destination in the ’60s and ’70s, this beach is now a popular family destination. Surrounded by caves that beg to be explored, there is much to discover and enjoy at this sandy beach!

4. Vai Beach in Lassithi

Vai Beach, Crete.
Vai Beach, Crete, Greece. Credit: Nick Papakyriazis/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Why not go to a beach surrounded by the largest palm tree forest in Europe while on Crete? This beach is surrounded by over 5,000 trees and has crystal-clear, blue water. It was once a free camping site but camping has been prohibited in recent years. Polynesian-style palm-frond sun shades dot this lovely beach.

5. Falassarna Beach in Chania

Falassarna beach, Crete
Falassarna Beach, Crete. Credit: Tracy Lee/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Another beach on the west side of the Greek island near Kissamos, this beach offers many organized facilities and activities which makes it an ideal place for families.

Above the beach, which has sparkling light blue water, you can visit the archaeological site of ancient Falassarna.  There are also many activities, such as windsurfing, which you can access from a windsurfing station at the beach during the summer months.

6. Plakias Beach in Rethymno

Plakias beach, Crete.
Plakias Beach, Crete. Credit: pyramis/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Want to get away from it all? This beach is the perfect escape, as it has a mellow atmosphere and is located just in front of the village. Umbrellas and sunbeds are available on part of the beach, or you can bring your own and enjoy this sandy piece of heaven.

7. Istro Beach in Lassithi

Istro beach
Istro Beach, credit: lentina_x/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While visiting the east of the region of Lassithi, check out this beach located near the town of Agios Nikolaos. The large beach has golden sand and turquoise water—not to mention sunbeds and umbrellas for rent as well.

8. Preveli Beach in Rethymno

Preveli beach
Preveli Beach, Crete. Credit: G · RTM/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

This beach, located on the south side of the prefecture of Rethymno, has a river which meets the sea, forming a freshwater pond as it meets the sand. Preveli is a lovely beach surrounded by mountains, and with palm trees growing near the river. It has no organized facilities so bring your own towels and umbrellas and dive in!

9. Rodakino Beach in Rethymno

Koraka Beach
Korakas Beach. Credit: johan wieland/CC BY-ND 2.0

This uncrowded beach is located on the southern side of Rethymno near the village of Plakias. It is a wide sand and pebble beach, and has some sunbeds for rent at its eastern end. There are also some seaside tavernas and apartments near the beach.

10. Tymbaki Beach in Heraklion

Tymbaki beach
Tymbaki Beach, Heraklion, Crete. Credit: Olaf Tausch/CC BY 3.0

This sand and pebble beach is also known as Kokkinos Pyros. You can spend the entire day at this beach! It is complete with an organized section in case you want to rent sunbeds and umbrellas, and there are also a few seaside tavernas serving up scrumptious local dishes!

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