Find your new favourite destination with these 10 holiday swaps

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Apparently, lots of people fall into a pattern – and stick to it. For us, it was Mousses Crèche and Kids’ Club on the island of Lefkada, an island tied to the west coast of the Greek mainland by a floating bridge and just down a bit from Corfu. Possibly you have never heard of it; equally, you may have been ordering mojitos from Pantazis and windsurfing off the southern tip for years. In either case, it’s irrelevant. The time must come to cut the apron strings, take a deep breath and head off somewhere else entirely. 

Almost 200 miles south of Athens lies Crete; over 3,000 square miles in size, with a 650-mile coastline and, by some margin, the largest of all the Greek islands. Yes, yes, I know – I said somewhere else entirely, but forgive me. Though every self-respecting Cretan will tell you all Greek islands are unique, in the same breath they will point out that Crete is more unique than all the other 6,000 put together. And if that sounds like a feeble attempt to justify a less-than-adventurous spirit, you will have to take it up with the locals.

There were raised eyebrows from the youngest (and most sceptical) member of the family when, emerging from our plane and having gulped barely a few lungfuls of hot Mediterranean air, we were corralled into a densely packed corner of Chania Airport for Covid testing. Good idea, slightly nervous and chaotic execution. But half an hour later, we fairly skipped out to our hire car and set off for the first stop on our Cretan odyssey – the Kissamos Estate, a cluster of eight villas in the far west, perched on a hillside overlooking the headland that points to Balos Bay and Gramvousa island. Met by Vasilis and the kind of enthusiastic welcome that no British hotelier would ever give, we took in our new surroundings and shared that knowing look that says, “We’re on holiday!” and usually results in an ill-advised bomb into the pool.

The next 16 days were, well, glorious. And humbling, in as much as we did no more than faintly scratch the surface of a destination that has an embarrassment of riches to offer. Week one, we took in the extraordinary sunsets at Falasarna   Beach, made a boat trip to Balos Bay and indulged in plenty of relaxing family time by the pool. Week two, we moved a little further east, much closer to Chania, for seven nights at Villa Vereniki in the hills above Almyrida. And we concluded our stay with three nights in Loutro, which I’ll come to in a minute. 

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