On holidays to Gouves you can kick back on Blue Flag beaches overlooked by a traditional hilltop village. Plus, you’re near all the major attractions of northern Crete.
A town of two halves
When you go to Gouves, you actually get two places for the price of one. The old village of Pano Gouves, with its whitewashed houses and churches, is built into the side of Mount Ederi. Then, at the bottom of the hill, there’s the seaside town of Kato Gouves, where you’ll find the bars, restaurants and hotels. It’s all just 25 minutes from Crete’s capital Heraklion, and 15 minutes from the island’s biggest resort, Hersonissos.
Blue Flag beach
Colourful umbrellas cover every inch of sand at the main beach in Kato Gouves. The shoreline shelves gently into the sea, but there can be strong undercurrents – look out for the flags if you want to have a dip. You can also take to the water in a pedalo, canoe or banana boat, or try paragliding or scuba diving. Cafés and beach bars are on hand when hunger pangs strike.
The old village of Pano Gouves is just two kilometres up the hill from Kato Gouves. You can stop off for Greek coffee at a traditional kafeneia – coffee house – in the village square, before exploring the higgledy-piggledy streets of ruined and restored houses, and tiny whitewashed orthodox churches. It’s the perfect place to get a taste of old-style Greece – and there are some impressive views of the seafront below.
Heraklion on the doorstep
From here it’s less than half an hour’s drive to the island’s capital, with its designer boutiques, Venetian port and walled old city. Must-sees in this bustling town include the archeological museum, which is bursting with ancient Minoan relics, and the magnificent, partially restored Palace of Knossos. When you’re done sightseeing, you can stop off for a coffee and a bougatsa – vanilla cream pie – in one of the cafés at Lion Square.
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