The largest island of our country is a real paradise! It combines wonderful, internationally recognized beaches, unique culture and history, unforgettable natural landscapes and unique cuisine.
The reasons to take a vacation there, not only this year but every year, are countless. We tried to gather the most important of them and we present them to you here!
We will visit the historical Knossos:
The most important monument of Minoan civilization is located 5 km southeast of the prefecture of Heraklion on the hill of Kefala and each year receives about 1,000,000 visitors from around the world. The opening hours of Knossos in the summer months are 08: 00-20: 00 daily and the entrance prices are at 16 euros the whole ticket and at 8 euros the reduced and gives you access to the Archaeological site of Knossos and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. If you do not have your own vehicle you can take the bus N. 2 "Knossos" from Heraklion.
The palace of Knossos extends over a large area of 22,000 sq.m. and was the most impressive Minoan monument of its time. Its history is long and most of us have only seen it in elementary school books. So this is the best opportunity to see all these great places up close. Enter the queen's apartment and admire the dolphin mural up close. This way you will remember all the stories you have heard, about the Labyrinth with the Minotaur and Daedalus with Icarus.
For its famous beaches:
Crete is famous all over the world for its wonderful beaches. Recently there was a tribute to Kommos beach on the "Forbes" website
Kommos beach is located in southern Crete and is very close to Matala and Phaistos. The beach is located in a protected archeological zone and does not have any special organization, as it does not have many restaurants and shops nearby. To get there, you will need to cross a distance of about 60 km from Heraklion. But the beach will reward you. It is big and its waters are always crystal clear. If it suits you, sit down to enjoy the enchanting sunset and the wonderful colors that the sky takes. If on the beach you see some pieces fenced with wire, know that these are places where loggerhead turtles lay their eggs to incubate in the sun. Finally, know that Kommos or at least its northern part is exclusively a nudist beach.
Other well-known beaches are located in Chania: Elafonissi also has its own distinction as it is the 11th beach in the list of the best beaches in the world. Characteristic of it, as in Balo, is this pink color of the sand that comes from broken shells that are mixed with the sand by the waves. “A Dream” is the word used by those who want to talk about this unique beach. To get there you will need to cover a distance of 75 km southwest of Chania. In essence, this is a small island located 200 meters away and in between are the shallow waters of the beach.
Balos is located in the southwestern part of Chania and at a distance of 55 km. You can get to this unique beach by car but there is a steep dirt road towards the end of the route and you will need to walk a part of the distance. It is easier for you to take the boat from Kissamos to Balos, which are very frequent. The fine sand and the clear shallow waters of Balos, together with the incomparable beauty of the landscape will be engraved in your memory.
Falasarna is the third most famous beach in the prefecture of Chania. It is an incredibly long beach with deep blue waters and fine golden sand. Its area often makes it look empty, although many locals and tourists frequent it every day. And this beach is located west of Chania at a distance of 55km.
To try genuine Cretan Cuisine:
Crete is famous for its dishes but also for the traditional Greek products it produces. Fine olive oil and olives, unique cheeses such as gruyere and xinomyzithra, unique nuts and of course a large production of fruits, vegetables and herbs.
The Cretan land also produces many kinds of herbs such as stamnagathi,purslane ,sow thistle and of course only there you can find fresh capers and kritamo. Many aromatic plants thrive in the area due to weather conditions such as oregano, thyme, chamomile and mint.
Cretan traditional foods that you should definitely try if you are on the island are of course the fried snails, the snails we all know. Try skioufihta, their handamade pasta, which are always made fresh and have a wonderful taste in their simplicity. Other well-known dishes are the Hanioti boureki, the wedding pilaf that you serve at weddings, fennel pie and much more. I guess you must have all tried dako salad so I do not recommend it.
Cretans eat more lamb and goat than pork and beef. And of course they drink a lot of raki, but a lot of raki! You too can feel like locals! Visit a traditional cafe in Chania and you will not miss! And try as much new things as you can.
To enjoy the unique natural landscape:
Green Crete has been characterized by many as an earthly paradise! While you are on the island, take your time to discover not only the coastal areas of the island but also the mountainous ones. Vai Palm Forest is a place that all nature lovers love! It is located at the eastern end of Crete, in the prefecture of Lassithi. The palm forest of Vai is a protected natural area, this is due to an endemic Cretan palm tree that dominates the forest. The ear forest is unique in all of Europe because it is the only area where this species of palm is found and in such a large area. If you go there, be sure to swim in the beautiful beach in front of the forest!
If nature fascinates you, go to the gorge of Samaria! It is located in the southern part of Chania, very close to Sfakia. It is the second largest gorge in Europe with a length of 16 km, in fact a gorge is a deep ravine in which we can walk. It has been a national park since 1962 and is one of the first to be declared in our country. Many tourists cross the entire gorge from Omalos to Agia Roumeli which ends, observing the species of birds and animals that live there. You may also see the well-known ibex.
To go on an excursion to Spinalonga and Gavdos:
From Sfakia and just an hour away by tourist boat is the southernmost point of Europe, namely Gavdos. The boat starts at 9:30 from Sfakia and returns to the port of Sfakia at around 19:00. It is a pristine island with crystal clear waters, wild but beautiful landscape and the most dreamy sunsets.
Take a short walk to the island and head to one of its beaches. The most famous are the beach of Ai Giannis, Sarakiniko and Tripiti.
The beach of Ai Giannis in Gavdos has previously occupied the 2nd place in the best beaches in the world, so you can imagine the unique beauty that it has. You can get there by bus from Karave, the port of Gavdos (which is one of the most famous beaches on the island), or on foot from Sarakiniko, but it will take you about an hour of walking in the heat. The beach is not organized so if you want to stay there for hours it is necessary to have your own umbrella.
If you are going to visit the island for only one day, that is, for six or seven hours, relaxing on a beach and taking a short walk are the only things you can do so do not stress and just enjoy the moments.
Another day trip you can do is to the island of Spinalonga. There is not much to see and do as the island is very small. It is worth going with a guide to learn a few things about its history.
Most excursions to Spinalonga start from Elounda, Agios Nikolaos or Plaka. The distance from everything is a maximum of 20 minutes and all organized excursions usually have a visit to the island of Kolokytha to bathe. To enter the Archaeological site of Spinalonga, which is also the 2nd most visited after Knossos, the entrance is at 8 euros.
These are the most important reasons to spend your vacation on this wonderful island. The beauties of the place and its history are unique. But the most unique thing in Crete are, the Cretans! They are very hospitable people and respect the tourists who come to see their home.
It is definitely an island that takes many days for you to explore and it definitely needs a means of transportation. If you want to stay for a few days in any cretan prefecture.