Splash around in the sapphire-blue Mediterranean waters that lap against one of Crete’s stunning beaches, or hike around the island’s craggy, rocky interior and visit a traditional mountain village. From the elegant Venetian mansions and intricate churches of Chania to the ancient Minoan ruins of the oldest city in Europe, Knossos, Crete has scores of fascinating stories to tell about the peoples who made this beautiful corner of the Mediterranean their home over the centuries. And for British travellers keen to discover it all, it’s now easier than ever to book cheap flights to Crete, with a range of low-cost carriers flying to the island’s airports.
The summer period is high season in Crete. This is when the weather on the island is at its best, bringing hot days, balmy nights and warm waters, along with larger crowds and more expensive accommodation. This is also the dearest time to fly to Crete; prices also usually spike around holiday periods. April and May are perfect if you want to go trekking and discover the mountains before the temperatures soar, and fares also tend to be lower during these months.
Thanks to Crete’s enduring popularity, numerous airlines operate routes to Heraklion and Chania, offering you a wide choice and excellent value if you book early enough. Direct services to Heraklion are offered by easyJet, Aegean Airlines and British Airways from London Gatwick. Thomson Airways flies from Stansted, and easyJet also offers services from London Luton, Edinburgh and Manchester. Flight time is around four hours from the capital. If you’re flying to Chania, Ryanair offers direct services from Stansted, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds/Bradford and East Midlands, though some routes are not operated during low season.
Heraklion’s airport, Nikos Kazantsakis International, is connected to the city centre by Bus 1, which costs around €2 and leaves the airport car park frequently. Taxis are plentiful, and the 15-minute trip to the centre will cost you around €15. Chania International Airport is similarly served, with the KTEL bus linking the airport with the city centre ten miles away, and costing €2.50. This service can be a little infrequent, however. Taxis into the city will set you back upwards of €20.
While it’s tempting to spend your Cretan holiday relaxing on a sun-kissed beach, if you choose to explore the island a little further you’ll be rewarded in spades. Fall under the spell of the magnificent Samaria Gorge when you venture into the White Mountains – this range takes its name from its majestic limestone summits, which change to snow-white in winter and spring. Afterwards, sip a glass of tsikoudia at a bar in Rethymno’s storied old town as you listen to the melodies of the Cretan lyre drift across the evening air. For some history, visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum’s massive collection of Minoan artefacts – a must-see before your trip to the mythological home of the Minotaur, Knossos.
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