I went to Crete for my most recent family holiday. The weather was beautiful but incredibly hot. I was really looking forward to this trip because I have a lot of interest in Greek (and Roman) mythology. Crete did not disappoint when it came to historical places of significance that had links to mythology, and I have included some below.
We stayed in Crete for two weeks up in the mountains and hills of the island, in Axos, in a villa which was part of a twin complex called Oros Villas. It was such a beautiful place to stay and was very traditionally designed and decorated. As a family of four we stayed in one of the villas and there was a different family in the one next door. However, you can rent them both if you are visiting Crete with a bigger party. It is also incredibly secluded right on a hilltop with beautiful views and a private shared pool. The villas themselves are close to a local town/big village where there is a church, a few walking routes, restaurants, a supermarket selling typical produce as well as Greek cheeses and meats and a convenience store, where you can buy products for the bathroom and kitchen.
The Palace of Knossos (pictured below) is the biggest Bronze Age architectural site in Crete. The site contains many original ruins as well as some recreations, and was the site of the first Neolithic settlement in Crete. It was so amazing to walk around the old palace and be able to see the beautiful pieces of art and scenery. All around the site, there are various information boards where you can learn about the different areas. Near the entrance of the site, there are so many little trinket shops where you can buy Grecian themed products and decorations for your home. About a 20 minute drive away, is the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, where you can learn even more about the palace as well as other aspects of Grecian history and culture.
There are some notable beaches on and around the island which are well worth a visit. These include Balos beach, Elafonisi, Gramvousa, Vai beach and Chrysi beach.
Other places of interest include Lake Kournas (pictured below), which is the only freshwater lake in Crete with bright turquoise waters where you can rent a little pedal boat and glide serenely on the water (avoiding the ducks), as well as various monasteries including the Eastern Orthodox Arkadi Monastery (pictured below), with its gorgeous gardens and nearby restaurant and shop, the Agia Triada Monastery, and the Chrysoskalitissa Monastery, situated on a cliff with gorgeous sea views.
I absolutely love visiting waterfalls, lakes and places where the water is beautifully turquoise. Two places in particular which are unforgettable are the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, with beautiful views, caves and natural springs, and the Cave of Zeus, named after the Greek God and is said to be his birthplace.
I also found that being up in the hills and mountains was just as good as relaxing on the beach in the hot sun. The views you get looking down on the island through the sunset are some of the best I have ever seen. If you’re lucky, you might also get the chance to see some beautiful birds flying over the hills whilst sitting out and having a drink at a local restaurant. It really helped that our villa was situated in the hills and there were little walks available to various small towns and villages – each one with different restaurants, trinket shops and beautiful terraced houses.
Crete was a truly stunning island. It had the perfect mix of history, current culture, beaches, cliffs and mountains as well as having enough shops and restaurants and things to do. I missed a few things off my list when I went last year and I do hope to return and tick them off.
It is honestly the most perfect place for any kind of holiday and has lots of different things to do and see to suit everyone.
- General information about Crete (TripAdvisor): Crete Information TripAdvisor
- General information about Crete (Wikipedia): Crete Information Wikipedia
- Oros Villas (Booking.com): Oros Villas, Booking.com
- Palace of Knossos TripAdvisor: Palace of Knossos TripAdvisor
- Palace of Knossos Wikipedia: Palace of Knossos Wikipedia
- Heraklion Archaeological Museum TripAdvisor: Heraklion Museum TripAdvisor
- Balos beach TripAdvisor: Balos Beach TripAdvisor
- Elafonissi TripAdvisor: Elafonissi TripAdvisor
- Gramvousa TripAdvisor: Gramvousa TripAdvisor
- Vai beach TripAdvisor: Vai Beach TripAdvisor
- Chrysi beach TripAdvisor: Chrysi Beach TripAdvisor
- Lake Kournas TripAdvisor: Lake Kournas TripAdvisor
- Arkadi Monastery TripAdvisor: Arkadi Monastery TripAdvisor
- Arkadi Monastery Wikipedia: Arkadi Monastery Wikipedia
- Agia Triada Monastery TripAdvisor: Agia Triada TripAdvisor
- Agia Triada Monastery Wikipedia: Agia Triada Wikipedia
- Chrysoskalitissa Monastery TripAdvisor: Chrysoskalitissa Monastery TripAdvisor
- Kourtaliotiko Gorge TripAdvisor: Kourtaliotiko Gorge TripAdvisor
- Cave of Zeus TripAdvisor: Cave of Zeus TripAdvisor
Previous blog post: https://ariaesmeralda.com/2018/07/05/travel-diary-lisbon-portual-april-2017/