The largest Greek island with a population of more than 600,000. Who would expect we end up finding a safe haven there? Getting lost in between the mountain roads (do you know Crete is quite mountainous?!) and small non-touristic villages! As Crete is the 5th largest island in the Mediterranean you can still find many places off beaten path… 3 days on the island suddenly turned into one of my favorite trips ever…
You know how much I try to avoid visiting the same places twice, right?! – There are way too many destinations on my ever-increasing travel bucket list. And yet I loved my trip to Crete so much – it would be one of the first places I´d visit again. Especially, cause we had only 3 days on the island and there were so many places we simply couldn´t include to our route.
To start with, Crete has a very special place in the Greek Mythology: an island was a birth place to the King of the Gods – the almighty Zeus. Moreover, Crete has significant ancient ruins, as it was the center of the Minoan civilization (dating back to 2700 B.C.) This article from National Geographic will give you some highlights of Minoan Crete.
Our stay choice was the worst in terms of sightseeing – too far away from everything. And yet, I couldn’t help it but wonder – was this the main reason we loved Crete so much? Traveling around the island (which is obviously VERY touristic) made me realize that the reason our experience felt so authentic – was living in a very quiet rural area.
I normally don’t mention the places we stay in, unless I fall in love. Well, this was the case – note it: Yannis Retreat in Kato Zakros. The owners were very friendly and left us a welcome basket with local seasonal products. Whole retreat had around 6-7 houses, each one with a small kitchen(+fridge), bathroom, balcony-terrace. The territory was full of plants, fruit trees, hammocks and greek decorations. A beach (with no sand though) was within 5 min walking distance. There were several very local restaurants on the coast: all of them had deckchairs. So when you order a lunch – you´d be offered to use those for free all day long. Not to mention lunch would hardly cost us more than 35-40 euros (for 2), including fresh fish (different every day, depending on what the fishermen brought), homemade wine, local fruits and salad… everything homemade and delicious. I need to stop here, cause I seriously can go into details for hours… The main thought of this paragraph: Yannis Retreat was just perfect in every way.
My Crete Must See Places
Heraklion is one of these big touristic island capitals I normally try to avoid. However, I give this place a credit for the Archaeological Museum and the Old Port area.
Views from Herbs Garden RestaurantHeraklion Archaeological Museum
2. Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos is such a lovely little town, mainly because of its picturesque Lake Voulismeni – a small lagoon in the heart of the city, used as a small harbor for the fishing boats. Here, we had a lovely lunch with views and did some souvenir shopping.
I haven’t seen that many palms together since the Palm Grove (Palmeral) of Elche. Some claim the famous Bounty advert was filmed here. Not sure about that – I’ve heard of at least 4 perfect beach locations where it was filmed. But who cares?! – Vai Beach looks like the place from Bounty advert – it´s all that matters. A huge palm forest near it is quite impressive. You could also buy some local bananas – the tastiest I´e ever had, by the way. Sorry to state obvious – you must go earlier in the morning, after 11 a.m the Vai Beach gets too crowded. For the record, we were one of the first cars to arrive and in an hour the parking was complete. Not quite a Bounty place… so we didn’t stay there long. But it´s definitely worth a visit.
Next time on Crete I´d love to visit more of the Minoan sites, Samarian Gorge, Rethymnon, Chania, Spinalonga fortress and Dikteon Cave. Can´t wait to travel back one day.
Views on the roadHave you ever been to Crete? Any other Greek Island you liked?
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