Useful hints and travel information for a Crete holiday

Crete is a very special Greek island. Its mere size sets it apart from the other Greek islands, from East to West it measures ca. 340km or 212 miles and Crete also has two international airports, one in Heraklion and one on Chania.
Due to its size, Crete can cater for a variety of tastes. For those who are interested in culture and ancient history, there is Knossos, the famous ruins of King Minos’s palace with the labyrinth that according to Greek mythology was the prison of the Minotaur, until the monster was killed by Theseus with the help of Ariadne who fancied the Athenian prince. There are plenty of sandy beaches for sun-worshippers in Crete. Zorba the Greek is, of course, a fictitious character in Nikos Kazantzakis’s novel that was brought to life by Anthony Quinn, but who can listen to Theodorakis’s bouzouki music without thinking of Zorba? For those who like to party all night there are the large tourist centres in the eastern part of Crete, e.g. Agios Nikolaos, Malia and Chersonisos.

The region around Hania in the western part of Crete is much quieter, and so is the southern part of this multifaceted Greek island. Lovers of nature can enjoy the famous palm forest or go on safari trips to the mountains - the so-called “White Mountains” (Lefka Ori) can still be snow-capped in early summer. The fertile plateau of Lasithi is definitely worth a visit, not forgetting the dramatic Samaria gorge and the cave where according to Greek mythology Zeus was born and suckled by Altheia the goat – possibilities are endless on the beautiful Greek island of Crete.

Pictures from Crete

Villages of Crete

Agia Galini

Agia Galini has become one of the most popular holiday destinations on the island of Crete. And this is for a very good reason, as this remarkable village is situated in the foothills of the Psiloritis Mountains, with a breathtaking view of the coast, hiking tracks through green areas and lovely little guesthouses, all of this just waiting for visitors. An ideal holiday for the whole family promising variety, expectation and a very special holiday feel. 
Agia Galini owes its popularity with hikers mainly to the fact that there is such a variety of options. Colour-coded tracks indicate how far and how difficult the chosen route will be. Daytrips or rock climbing adventures are available too. Bike trips are equally popular, as they are above all suitable for a family break with children. The town centre is enchanting with its narrow lanes, colourful houses and flower pots on the window sills. Agia Galini’s coastline is very impressive. The small jetty of the local harbour is lined with taverns. As swimming is prohibited here, a narrow, 800 yards long track leads down to the family beach. Between Agia Galini and the beach there is a small riverbed, with a beautiful, nostalgic bridge leading across it. There are also many other attractions in Agia Galini, for instance famous monasteries, excavation sites and valuable icons and frescoes.

Agia Marina

The beautiful coastal resort of Agia Marina is situated in the west of Crete, only about 8 kilometres away from the well-known town of Chania. Most hotels in this region can be found directly by the side of the road. In recent years Agia Marina has gradually merged with the neighbouring town of Plantanias. There are many leisure possibilities available for young and old, fantastic beaches, breath-taking hiking trails and countless sites to visit. One thing is guaranteed, you will never be bored in Agia Marina, as this holiday resort is perfect for the entire family.
It is above all due to its amazing beaches that Agia Marina is so popular with holiday-makers. Here you can walk for hours along the lovely sandy beaches. In the centre charming street cafes, numerous boutiques, shops selling leather items and restaurants are waiting for the custom of holiday-makers. There are also places to hire surf boards, motor-boats, banana boats etc., so there is plenty of activity for those who don’t just want to relax. The coastal resort of Agia Marina is also renowned for its exciting night-life. Apart from enjoying the beach, you can go sightseeing and visit the monastery Moni Gonias in Kolimbari and the historic town of Chania. Those who are interested in the local history of Chania should visit the Nautical Museum and the Archaeological Museum, both very popular tourist attractions.

Agios Nikolaos

Nowadays there are approximately 12,000 people living in the Cretan town of Agios Nikolaos. The holiday resort is situated in the well-known bay of Mirabello, about 47 kilometres east of Heraklion. The town is called after the small church of Agios Nikolaos, dating back to the 10th century and definitely worth a visit. 40 years of tourism have made the former fishing village one of the most popular holiday resorts on Crete, with numerous well-known hotels such as the Minos Beach Hotel and the St. Nicholas Bay Hotel.
Agios Nikolaos has a lot to offer: the harbour is always worth a visit, with a beautiful view from the rocks; the theatre by the lake, the open-air cinema, discos and bars take care of tourist entertainment.

Bali

In the north of the Greek Island of Crete lies the coastal resort of Bali between the towns of Rethymnon and Heraklion. The beautiful resort boasts fantastic sandy beaches and is framed by steeply rising rocks. There are various hotels and apartments along the road that winds its way up into the mountains, and there are some around the little harbour too. The view of the bay is absolutely stunning. Holiday-makers who consider booking an all-inclusive holiday in Bali, should perhaps re-consider, as they would miss the chance of sampling local specialties in the little restaurants in town. Bali’s sandy beaches are located in the region of the little harbour and offer a variety of entertainment possibilities such as water-skiing, canoeing and surfing. There is a regular bus service to other parts of the island of Crete for those who want to go sight-seeing as well.

Chania

In the north-west of the Greek Island of Crete lies the beautiful town of Chania. Sometimes referred to as the jewel of the island, Chania has grown into a lively harbour town with approximately 60,000 inhabitants. There is the old town with a spectacular harbour and the new town of Chania with a pedestrian precinct and shops. Its multi-cultural and cosmopolitan philosophy attracts holiday-makers from all over the world. The emblem of the town is the Faro, Chania’s beautiful lighthouse. The town offers its visitors the skilfully combined elements of relaxation, adventure and discovery of numerous cultural treasures; there are architectural and historic monuments like monasteries and churches, for instance, all of them well worth a visit. Chania’s maze of narrow lanes is very popular with tourists, and the taverns around the Venetian harbour are famous for serving delicious Greek food.

Chersonisos

Chersonisos is situated in the north-west of the Greek Island of Crete, about 26 kilometres east of the island’s capital of Heraklion. Chersonisos, Malia, Gouves and Stalis are all part of the biggest tourist region on Crete with a selection of outstanding hotels. In a region of beautiful mountain villages, holiday-makers can make their choice between accommodations ranging from luxury hotels to small guesthouses. For those who are interested in history, Chersonisos dates back to 1700 BC and there are daily guided tours to historic monuments, monasteries and museums. Its extensive beaches with red or white sand or pebbles are ideal for long walks, and there are romantic little sandy bays as well. There is a wide range of leisure activities, and plenty of cafes, bars, taverns and restaurants to recover from them. Chersonisos is a holiday resort that has something for everybody.

Georgioupolis

The Greek town of Georgioupolis is the biggest tourist resort in the north-west of Crete and is very popular due to its 10 kilometres of sandy beach. A lot of hotels have been built along the coastal road, but the town also has a traditional village centre with fragrant eucalyptus trees providing shade from the sun. There is a variety of leisure possibilities including walks through undisturbed nature, sightseeing trips or romantic evening strolls along the beach. About 6 kilometres from the coast a big freshwater lake is to be found. Lake Kournas is 60 metres deep and has a diameter of 1.5 kilometres. There are numerous taverns at the lake and a café with a unique panoramic view of the mountains and the sea.

Gouves

Gouves is situated about 18 kilometres east of the capital of Crete, and has a comprehensive tourist infrastructure. There are quite a few 4-star or 5-star hotels in Gouves, and the surrounding countryside is flat and offers a variety of beautiful hiking trails. Near the endless beach, the “Cretaquarium” can be found, the biggest collection of Mediterranean sea-creatures within the whole of the Mediterranean region. Gouves also offers a varied choice of watersport options, daytrips to places of interest, museums etc. It is the perfect holiday resort to relax and enjoy.

Heraklion

The capital of the Greek Island of Crete is just the place for a family holiday. Heraklion has a population of approximately 200,000 and is one of the biggest tourist regions of the island. It is an interesting town with a lot of history, beautiful houses and many hotels, guesthouses, apartment complexes and holiday villas. It is impossible to get bored when you are on holiday in Heraklion. The pedestrian precinct has numerous shops, souvenir shops, romantic little cafes and restaurants. A variety of bars and discos takes care of holiday-makers in search of nightlife, and cultured people just have to see the archaeological museum of Heraklion.

Kolymbari

The Greek village of Kolymbari is situated on the thinly populated peninsula of Rodopou, approximately 22 kilometres from Chania. With 1300 inhabitants, Kolymbari is one of the quietest villages on Crete and attracts holiday-makers who try to escape from the pressures of everyday life. The surrounding area is characterized by olive groves, and the award-winning olive oil from this region is exported to all European countries. Countless walking trails through unspoilt nature and clean pebble beaches, a little harbour and a big one, a small marina with bars and restaurants – all these attractions are for people who love a quiet and peaceful holiday.

Malia

Malia is a picturesque little town on the north coast of Crete. Situated in the oldest tourist region, it extends over an area of 80 hectares and includes the spectacular Minoan palace complex dating back to 1900 BC. In its heyday, Malia had two busy harbours. Nowadays the town is a well-established tourist centre with a comprehensive infrastructure. For young people there are numerous clubs and bars offering evening entertainment and the kind of nightlife that many of them expect from a beach and party holiday. Most hotels have their own swimming-pool for holiday-makers of all ages, usually frequented by families with children who play in the water all day. Quad bike and motorbike excursions are popular with tourists who want to visit the sights around Malia.

Mochlos

On the north-east coast of Crete lies the small and sedate fishing village of Mochlos. It is an idyllic place away from the hustle and bustle of the big tourist centres, with small bays and many archaeological sites dating back to Minoan and Roman times. It is the ideal place for all those who are looking for a quiet and relaxing holiday resort. Mochlos has many traditional fish tavernas with fresh fish on the daily menu. Just off the coast there is a little island called Mochlos as well, close enough for those who want to swim across and explore it. Accommodation in Mochlos is on a small scale like anything else, with comfortable holiday houses and various guesthouses.

Plakias

The picturesque resort of Plakias has just over 300 inhabitants. Situated on the south coast of Crete, Plakias is surrounded by lush green hills next to the Kourtaliotiko gorge. The main attraction of the village is the extensive beach and a number of romantic little bays. The Kotsifos River dries out during the summer and allows tourists to walk through its bed from Plakias to Myrthios. The necropole of Armeni, the biggest burial chamber on Crete, is near Plakias as well and visiting it is an unforgettable experience.

Platanias

The coastal resort of Platanias is only 10 kilometres from Chania, and has practically merged with the neighbouring resort of Agia Marina. The sandy beach has been awarded the blue flag, testifying impeccable water quality. There are numerous hotels along the coastal road, as well as cafes, taverns, bars and restaurants, all affording a stunning view of the blue sea. There is a comprehensive leisure program too, with the waterpark of Limoupolis only half an hour’s car journey away, offering the most amazing water-slides you have ever queued for. For the adults, there are discos and bars for an exciting night-life.

Rethymnon

After Chania and Heraklion, Rethymnon is the third biggest town of the Greek Island of Crete. Holiday-makers can enjoy the beaches, the beautiful surrounding countryside and a truly historic town. Rethymnon has a lot of Renaissance style buildings, remnants from Venetian rule, and still celebrates the Renaissance Festival in the summer, with theatre, dancing or music performances in the Erofili theatre which is situated on the hill of the fortress. For holiday-makers who visit Rethymnon in the winter, there is the special treat of a delightful carnival festival, with Carnival Parades, games and street performances. For those who want more than just a beach holiday, Greek food and shopping trips, Rethymnon offers so much more.

Sitia

The town of Sitia has a population of approximately 9000 and is situated in the north-east of the island of Crete. Although Sitia has a small airport, it is not a busy tourist centre. It has a beautiful marina with a lot of taverns offering traditional Greek food. The archaeological museum is a must for those who are interested in Minoan history. Sitia’s most popular attraction for holiday-makers of all ages is the long sandy beach and the beautiful bay the town is situated in, with lines of houses built into the hill like rows of an amphitheatre.

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