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Crete is the biggest of the Ionian Islands, and is blessed with mile upon mile of some of the most stunning beaches in the whole Mediterranean. If you are a sun worshipper, it’s hard to think of a better destination to visit this spring or summer.

The long, golden beaches on the eastern Lassithi part of the island are essentially annexed to the diverse towns of Elounda and Agios Nikolaos.

Here it is possible to mix sunbathing sessions with long lunches in the shady squares and enjoyable shopping excursions. To the west you will discover the beautiful Chania area which has gorgeous beaches that sit a short way from the fascinating Old Town. For truly family friendly beaches, head to Rethymnon, while party animals should make tracks for Heraklion - the capital - which is a cosmopolitan town that offers some great night life.

Crete’s history stretches back over four millennia. The island is often cited as the location of the true birthplace of modern civilisation. This claim is well supported with evidence on the island - including the wonderful ruins of the Palace of Knossos. The early Minoans who resided here were leaders in such areas as women’s rights, entertaining and fashion.

Crete has surely some of the most stunning, unspoilt scenery in the world and to get a snapshot of this, simply head to the famous Samaria Gorge.

Running for sixteen kilometres, it is the longest in Europe by some way.

For the combination of great beaches and some epic nightlife, your best bet is probably the area that surrounds Heraklion. Malia in particular is famed for its crazy antics as the sun goes down, but it also boasts a great beach and plenty of good value accommodation and is absolutely ideal for groups of younger visitors.

If you fancy visiting the north coast, consider staying in the Chania region. This is the place to find a whole plethora of award winning beaches from sedate sheltered coved to the cool strip in Agia Marina with its many bars.

If you crave beaches so long that they almost defy description, there is only one destination to consider: the Rethymnon area. Located on the north-east of the island, this stretch has some of the most impressive beaches on the whole of Corfu, and plenty of great family friendly facilities including friendly family run tavernas, great water sports tuition and hire shops and masses of comfy sun loungers.

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