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Crete: the Unknown Hotspots

Crete is widely known for its bustling tourist resorts, but there are lots of lesser-known areas of this Greek island worth exploring for a holiday that goes beyond the beaten track. Find out more about holidays to Crete if you want to whet your appetite for the place.

Here is a short guide to some of the less popular yet equally attractive areas of Crete.

Far from the brash coastal resorts, the inland hills of Crete now offer the chance for an eco-friendly holiday option. Some small villages there have opened their rural cottage doors to allow tourists to stay and help out with some (optional) therapeutic manual labour on their farms.

Due to its location between steep, rocky mountains and the sea, Loutro is only accessible by foot or ferry, making it a quiet haven away from some of the busier tourist locations in Crete.

In this small fishing village, there is little more to do than enjoy the sun and sea, or sip on a cold beer in one of the few taverns. But you can take a walk to nearby ruins, or hire a canoe for a bit of nautical exploration.

Agia Pelagia
This is a small fishing village about 20 miles northwest of Crete’s capital Heraklion. Here, away from the stress of more populated resorts, you can find secluded sandy beaches but still a decent amount of tourist facilities.

Regional attractions include the Heraklion Museum of Natural History and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, along with seaside bars and restaurants.

Paleochora is a great hub for a more exploratory Crete holiday. This tranquil harbour town offers an outdoor cinema in the summer, dolphin spotting tours and picturesque walks.

The eastern rocky beach has a good selection of restaurants and bars where you can sample some authentic Cretan cuisine or listen to traditional music. The town itself has a good selection of shops, which enjoy a traditionally long afternoon closing for siesta, but are open until late.

Gouves is home to a very crowded tourist resort, but the village itself is far from the crowds and has a number of undiscovered gems. Within a short distance are two enchanting cave systems, Skotino and Eileithyia, and the picturesque monastery of St John.

Besides the busy resort and sandy beaches, you can also find a few traditional villages and archaeological sites, including the Minoan villa of Kokkíni Háni.

Despite its superb beaches, Palekastro in the eastern Lasithi Prefecture is remarkably unspoiled by tourism. In this small village of about 1,300 inhabitants you can enjoy water sports as well as its peculiar archaeological sites and folklore museum.

There are plenty of taverns and restaurants where you can sample local dishes and fresh fish, as well as a few bars and a nightclub for more nocturnal activities.

It can be easy to end up fighting for sunbeds or sharing the sea with a thousand other tourists when visiting Crete. Hopefully these alternative locales will offer a more authentic Cretan holiday experience, away from the crowds.

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