Crete’s hidden gems revealed

Balos Beach   Crete is famous for many things: the Palace of Knossos, the charming cities of Heraklion and Chania, the awe-inspiring Samaria Gorge – the list goes on and on. But rather than tell you about the famous sights of Crete, I want to share some of the hidden gems of this beautiful island. If you want to get to know Crete, you can book one of the Crete package holidays that so many families do each year. Or, you can pick a less-well-known spot and discover parts of the island that few have seen before! The choice is yours. Either way, the island of Crete will charm you like no other. I visited Crete in September 2019 and was spellbound by the scenery, the people, the cuisine and the culture. I uncovered some great places to visit, as well as some wonderful memories to take home, and I'm going to share them with you. While you're reading this blog post, imagine you're sat by a gorgeous beach with a glass of tsikoudia (raki) in hand, while a soft breeze keeps you cool. Heaven! Balos Beach Balos may not be the biggest-kept secret on Crete, but it's a difficult beach to reach! Tucked away in the north-west corner of the island, the easiest way to enjoy Balos is to take a boat trip, where you can explore the stunning lagoon at your leisure – boats leave from nearby Kissamos every day. Alternatively, you can drive, but finding a parking spot in summer isn't easy, and it's also a 20-minute walk from the car park. But however you get there, it's worth it! Balos Beach is picture-postcard perfect, and it's one of the finest beaches I've ever seen. Seitan Limania We're still in north-west Crete, but now we've headed east of Chania to Seitan Limania. This secret beach on the Akrotiri peninsula is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. Seitan Limania (also known as 'Stefanou' and 'Rizoskloko' by locals) is a narrow cove with cliffs either side. The water is as blue as can be, and there are no amenities here, so there's no choice but to lay back and take in the views. You may even find a few goats who are unfazed by humans and will keep you company! Hora Sfakion We're still in western Crete, but now we're on the south of the island for my next pick: Hora Sfakion. This quaint fishing village is one of the most laid-back spots in Crete, and life moves slowly here. The tranquillity is only broken by the occasional ferry laden with hikers from the nearby Samaria Gorge, but it's impossible not to relax here. There are a few tavernas where you can enjoy a refreshing bowlful of stamnankáthi (vegetables with olive oil and lemon) or some kalitsounia (fried cheese pastries). Margarites Village, CreteMargarites Village   Margarites Village Right in the centre of Crete lies Margarites, an unspoilt village that dates to the Venetian period, and is noted for its pottery. There are several pottery studios in the village, and they are the perfect place to pick up a wonderful memento of your Crete holiday. The pottery is a mixture of traditional pieces made with the local clay, and more modern, brightly coloured works. Margarites also has some charming cafés, too, so if you're looking for a beach-free day on your break, a visit to this gem in the heart of Crete is a great idea. I hope that I've got you excited about visiting Crete. This was my first time on this spectacular island, and I'm sure it won't be my last. There's nothing wrong with seeing all the well-known sights, but heading off the beaten track can reveal places and experiences that are equally fulfilling. I can't wait to return.   This article was written by Stuart Peskett on behalf of Holiday Hypermarket