Are you planning to visit Greece for your next holiday? Well, you should know that in addition to its most iconic destinations, such as the Cyclades Islands, Greece also has a wealth of cultural beauty. Villages with a millinery history, important archaeological sites, historical religious buildings and interesting museums. If we add to all this a unique natural environment and landscape, beaches with crystal clear water, unspoiled bays and hiking trails, it is easy to see that we are talking about Crete. If you are planning a trip to Crete and want to know what to see, this is the article for you.
Crete is a place destined to steal your heart, thanks to its infinite places to visit, where archaeological traces of the many civilisations that inhabited it over the centuries can still be seen… there is much more than just lazing by the sea. In fact, you can choose between trekking, mountain biking or a sailing experience, so you won’t get bored. To help you decide which location will be for your Cretan stay, let’s first take a look at the four main areas that compose it according to your interests:
Crete, the cradle of Minoan civilisation, lends itself well to the idea of spending a “cultural day”. Among the various destinations, you can stop at the city of Heraklion. The capital of the island, easily accessible by car from Chania in about 2 hours, is definitely worth a visit. The city centre is still protected by the Venetian walls and from there you can take a romantic stroll through the old harbour which is still dominated by the castle walls. Or you can visit the fantastic Archaeological Museum, which has been completely renovated and houses the most representative artefacts from all historical periods on the island of Crete. The uniqueness of the museum lies in the preservation of some exhibits related to Minoan art, unique in their kind. Not far from there you will find the Palace of Knossos (the ticket to the Museum of Heraklion costs €10 p.p and, for only € 6 more, you have the possibility to buy a single entrance to both the Museum and the Palace of Knossos…a real bargain!). Remember that Heraklion is not only synonymous with culture, since from its harbour there are also guided boat trips, which will allow you to visit the beauties along the coast, such as the nearby island of Dia.
You can’t say Greece without thinking of its crystal clear sea…if what you’re looking for on your Cretan holiday is sun and sea, then you’ve come to the right place. Crete is famous for its beautiful beaches, but not everyone knows that the most beautiful ones are concentrated in the province of Chania, a coastal town that bears a striking resemblance to Venice, due to the previous Venetian rule. Just 10 minutes from the city you will find endless beaches, clear waters and everything you need to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach, whether with family or a group of friends. Depending on your needs, I want to suggest three of the most popular destinations. For those who like to party and never miss out on the adrenaline rush of water sports, Agia Marina Beach is the perfect choice: this brown sandy beach is located west of Chania and stretches for more than 2 kilometres. It is particularly well known for the parties of the numerous beach clubs, where already in the afternoon you can stop for a drink, or have fun with one of the many water sports offered such as flyboarding, water skiing, or the inevitable banana boat. We continue with the Salos beach: it is mainly chosen by families for its tranquillity and for its clear, shallow waters which are less dangerous for the little ones. Here, too, there are plenty of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy local cuisine and you can also take advantage of the rental of umbrellas and sun loungers or free brach spots. Finally, if you are a lover of hidden and hard-to-reach beaches, you can’t miss the charming Seitan Limania Beach, also called “Devil’s Port”. The name is not accidental, in fact to reach it you have to follow steep and rocky paths (remember to wear suitable shoes) and the waters of the bay, seemingly calm, have currents that can become dangerous. In full wild style there are no bars or other facilities on this beach and, due to the difficulty of reaching it, it is only frequented by kids looking for tranquillity and places far from mass tourism.
Of the four areas that make up Crete, we now move on to Rethymno. With an access to the south coast, the small Rethymno encore-passes an old town and a new town, but what fascinates of this small town are without any doubt the characteristic Ottoman and Venetian alleys, in perfect Cretan style. Visiting the delightful town does not take more than a few hours. But it takes very little to be amazed at its typically Greek atmosphere. The first thing you’ll notice once you get there is the imposing Venetian Fortress (I don’t recommend going there during the hottest hours of the day, as there are few shaded areas). The Fortress is the most tangible testimony of Venice’s maritime power. Today there is not much left inside: some ruin and little else. But the structure still dominates the city and paying only € 4 you will have the chance to enjoy a beautiful view of the sea. Get lost in its narrow streets and reach other places of interest, such as the Neratze Mosque and the Venetian port.
We end our journey of the island of Crete by stopping at Lasithi, the easternmost of the prefectures of Crete, offers a spectacular panorama of endless beaches and fertile plains, where agriculture and livestock breeding represent the most important economic resource. There are many interesting things to see in Lasithi: the archaeological sites of Gournia and Zakros, Andron Diktaion, Dikti Mountain, Toplou Monastery and Spinalonga with its famous Venetian Castle. Before you leave, what you really can’t miss is the palm forest of Vai, unique in all of Greece.
Visiting all of Crete in one holiday is impossible, depending on the days you have available for your stay there, after reading my article, I hope you will find it easier to find the area that suits you.
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