Crete can always be described only with a superlative degree: the tenderest sea, the most anсient ruins, the most photogenic streets. Whatever you do on this beautiful Greek island, you will be fine. Of all the ideas about an interesting holiday on sunny Crete, see the 12 most interesting ones.
- Look at kissing of the three seas
Photos of Balos Bay do not convey any fraction of the beauty that you can see with your own eyes. At the merging place of the Cretan, Mediterranean and Ionian seas, clean water shimmers in dozen of shades, and a shallow sea bottom is covered with pink sand.
Rent a car and get to the Balos Bay. The dusty road winds about a meter from the edge of the cliff, but it’s a triviality compared to the delightful view of the sparkling sea. Join a sea excursion from the town of Kissamos to admire the bay from another angle. At first the boat will approach the island of Imeri Gramvousa where Cretan pirates were in hiding two hundred years ago. At the very top of the island there are ruins of an ancient fortress. It’s worth to rise to them, at least, for the sake of making stunning pictures. Very soon you will be able to swim in water of the lagoon: it lasts only half an hour to reach Balos beach on a ship from Gramvousa.
- Twist the wheel of history
Ruins of Knossos Palace are more than four thousand years old. This monument of Minoan culture is next to Heraklion, the capital of Crete. At first glance, the palace looks like a pile of stones and brightly colored new buildings all at once, covering an area like two football fields, but the myths of Ancient Greece will come to life before your eyes with a bit of imagination. You see here prince Glaucus falling into a tall amphora with honey, and there’s the horned Minotaur wandering through the corridors of its labyrinth.
After a walk through the palace, take a look at the archeological museum of Heraklion. Originals of ancient Greek frescoes, ritual axes called Labryses are kept here as well as the famous Phaistos Disk, over whose stamped symbols linguists of the whole world are still puzzling. If you are interested in history, this museum has every chance to become your favorite: where else can you see so many Minoan relics live and not in pages of a school textbook?
- Confess your love to Chania
Whatever the skeptics claim, love at first sight exists. The picturesque town of Chania in the north-west of Crete will conquer your heart once and for all. Trust it: hide the map in your backpack and get lost in the labyrinth of the Old Quarter, where little multi-colored houses cuddle together with their rough walls. If you are hungry, its narrow streets lead you to a cozy café with lacy tablecloths and a delicious coffee-frappe.
After a light lunch, take a walk along the old embankment where snow-white yachts sway on the waves, and visit the Maritime Museum. There are there models of ancient ships. At the end of the pier, there is a long stone spit, along which you can walk to the Venetian lighthouse. They can bee seen on every second postcard from Chania.
- Challenge the Samaria Gorge
Beauty of the Samaria gorge (the longest in Europe) is impressing. From May to October you can go down to it if you have sturdy shoes and a grain of courage. Don’t be scared by a distance of some 10 miles: picturesque landscapes and mountain air having strong scents of pine needles, all it’s worth worn soles. First the rout passes through a staircase cut in the rocks, and then – along the bottom of the gorge between steep slopes. Approximately in the middle of the road you will see the abandoned village of Samaria, where mountain goats kri-kri are now in charge. Here it’s good to pause and gain strength before your hit the most beautiful stretch of the 13 feet wide gorge. On this segment of route, thousand-feet-high rocks almost close up above your head: you will always stop for the sake of photos.
Leaving the Samaria gorge, you will see the sparkling Libyan Sea, to which your feet will run themselves, despite the fatigue. After bathing, have a dinner in the local village of Agia Roumeli. The family tavern Rousios is famous for its Greek salad, and at the Artemis restaurant the meze is really delicious.
- Find a Cretan beach to your liking
If someone will open a branch of paradise on Earth, then it will be done on the beach of Elafonissi: there are there azure sea and soft pink sand along the surf line. In some places here, water is knee-deep or even ankle-deep somewhere: it warmed quickly, so you can enjoy all the day a hot bath under blue sky.
Beautiful Elafonissi is the hallmark of Crete, but there are less popular, though not less remarkable beaches on the island. For example, the secluded Filaki beach, where one bathes naked. It adjoins the only Cretan hotel for nudists. If you want romance, go to the wild but incredibly beautiful Stefanou beach in Shaitan Limani Bay (a Turkish name, meaning devil’s harbor), hidden in a narrow picturesque bay on the east of the Akrotiri peninsula. It’s not easy to get here, but an extreme descent along the boulders is worth swimming in a turquoise sea with a view on steep cliffs.
If you are looking for the perfect place for windsurfing in Crete, this is the beach of Kouremenos in Lasithi, where the wind blows always, and with children it’s best to rest on the family beach of Agia Marina in the Gulf of Chania on the Aegean coast or in the village of Makri-Yalos on the coast of the Lybian Sea. The both beaches are sandy, thanks to the flat bottom, the dipping into the sea is slowly, and seawater is warm and transparent.
Our newspaper repeatedly wrote about beaches of Crete: see numbers 6 (12) and 1 (15), 2017. Read these articles in the archives of the newspaper: http://thenewcrete.ru/?loc=Archive.
- Discover the secret behind the birth of Zeus
Almost every cave in Crete has its beautiful history. For those who grew up on myths and legends of ancient Greece, one of the strongest impressions of the trip will be a descent into the Dikteon cave where stone candles “flow” from the vaults. The ancient Cretans believed that it was the place where the goddess Rhea gave birth to Zeus, after fleeing from angry husband. During the excavations in the cave, archeologists found not rattles of the little Thunderer, but statuettes of Zeus: they were worshiped from time immemorial.
The Ideon cave on the slop of Mount Ida also claims the right to be called the cradle of Zeus, and the Mount is the highest on the island. It isn’t as impressive as the Dikteon one. On the other hand, is it really so important when clouds swim over your road, and you can touch them? But above and beyond that, being at Ida’s top is like having the whole of Crete in the palm of your hand.
- Take a ride on a catamaran
Come to the shore of the freshwater lake Kournas, hidden in a hollow between picturesque mountains. That’s where nature has not spared colors! It’s great to swim and ride on a catamaran, and to enjoy then a Sphakian honey pie on its shore. Usually it is eaten up to the last crumb, but you can leave a little for the local looters – geese and ducks, walking dignifiedly along the shore.
If you decide to go there, don’t miss nearby the romantic tiny white chapel of St. Nicolas. It’s built directly on a rock rising from the sea, and a stone trail, on which crabs like to bask, leads to it.
- Recharge yourself with vital energy
Residents of Crete are very sensitive to faith question, so it’s not surprising that the island is dotted with monasteries and tiny cells cut down in the rocks. Each place is famous for something of its own – whether it’s a healing icon or a waterfall in the neighborhood. For those who believe in miracles, it’s worth visiting the ancient Paliani monastery. According to a legend, a miraculous icon which only a righteous man or children can see is hidden there in a myrtle tree. But who is without sin: if the icon is invisible to you, just touch the trunk to feel a rush of vital energy.
Stillness and tranquility can be found in the monastery of the Holy Trinity, surrounded by cypress groves and vineyards. After resting your soul, visit the museum of icons and taste olive oil produced by monks.
- Find yourself on a mysterious island
The tiny Cretan island of Spinalonga has a rich past, allowing to film series no worse than the “Game of Thrones”. Choose only a matter: an ancient acropolis that has gone to the bottom of the sea, an impregnable Venetian fortress or a refuge island, to which lepers were taken.
If you want to feel the ambience of Spinalonga beforehand, go previously through the pages of “The Island” written by Victoria Hislop.
After your walk around the ruins of Spinalonga, climb to the very top: from there your will have a phenomenal view of Mirabello Bay and a neighboring island with its wild beach. Then return to Crete. In the fishing village of Plaka they roast tenderest ribs of lamb in the evening. Like at grandmother’s house, it’s nice and cozy in the family tavern Maria, and the island of Spinalonga looks especially picturesque from the summer terrace of the restaurant “Spinalonga”. Plaka is quiet, and no one can even imagine that the luxurious resort of Elounda with its bustling life is only five kilometers away.
- Taste a snail plate
The Cretan cuisine is full of temptations. On the list “To try at any cost”, the first item is grape snails, generously fattened with flour and pasta. Cretans fry them in olive oil with rosemary and greens or seasonal vegetables. If you like cheese, you will miss then for a long time the baked grilled saganaki, salted kefalotiri and myzithra – the filling for branded Cretan patties of Kalitsounia. They use cheeses for desserts: for example, all known feta is served with slices of watermelon, and honey with nuts are added to the myzithra.
Snails, Greek salad, stifado, cheeses and desserts taste much better with a glass of Cretan wine. It’s preferable to try the latter at local wineries – Douloufakis and Lyrarakis farmlands, producing grapes, are 15 minutes drive from Heraklion.
- Beach dance floors
Two resort towns, Malia and Chersonissos, are fighting for the title of the night capital of Crete. In both of them the quantity of bars and clubs exceeds all reasonable limits: get ready for a fancy and stag vacation. If you want to see prim Britons being fired up, go to Malia. A good evening here begins with a glass of beer in the indie-town Squeeze and continues at the Reflex bar, where guests dance to the hits of the 80’s on the bar counter. Closer to midnight, the youth draw together on the embankment, sparkling with neon signs of the clubs Candy, Apollo and Camelot Castle.
Delicious cocktails are mixed in the bar Down Town and in another one with the descriptive name “You Only Live Once”, where label-free people hag out. At midnight, go to the Starbeach club or to the Palm Beach, where the famous outdoor parties boom.
- Feel spirit of freedom with the hippies
There are no five-star hotels and no expensive restaurants in the seaside village of Matala but is a beautiful bay, framed by rocks with caves, hollowed out in the Neolithic. Wander through the narrow caves, where hippies dried clothes and wrote songs in the 60’s. One can see traces of their fun living: bright graffiti left on the walls there and colorful hermits weaving friendship bracelets on the beach outside. If you miss spirit of freedom, come here at the end of June for the annual Matala Beach Festival of hippies.
The hippies stayed in a picturesque place, named Vai, where a palm grove rustles behind the edge of fine beach sand. There isn’t any camper now; and from an observation deck on the cliff, all the same beauty is in open view of the lagoon and a beautiful beach in the neighborhood, where you can sunbathe all alone.
Information from www.skyscanner.ru/news