I recommend visiting the Greek Islands by sea, sailing them. And when exploring the beauty of Crete plenty of sailing opportunities exist, but I learned it would take you the better part of a week to sail around Crete itself. It’s big.
Crete, Greece’s Big Island
Crete is the biggest Greek Island and 5th largest in the Mediterranean Sea at 160 miles wide. Visitors don’t just get from one side to the other quickly, well nothing happens quickly in Greece, (a main reason to visit), but travelers can use the efficient bus system or even plan a road trip across Crete.
Although it’s easy to just enjoy a seaside resort for week, especially when the views of the sea and long beach days can be coupled with some fine Greek cuisine, the island offers much more. Crete has an incredible history, a strong culture, and numerous breath-taking natural settings.
Minoan Civilization at Knossos Palace
Crete is the home of the Minoan civilization. Widely regarded as the oldest in Europe, the society is also believed (by many) to be the civilization described in the story of Atlantis. And just outside the capital city of Crete, Heraklion, visitors find the main and most significant ruins on the island – Knossos Palace.
With only a six Euro entry fee, visitors can walk through the palace legend holds as the very home of Greek mythology’s minotaur. Although many of the original artifacts are at the local museum in Heraklion, a walk through the labyrinth designed grounds gives an impressive glance into an impressive civilization.
To truly appreciate the grounds, definitely consider a tour guide at 10 euro per person (group price). It made a big difference when learning about Minoan culture. The original one-hour tour lasted close to three and probably would have been even longer if the grounds didn’t close at sunset.
The Culture of Crete in Malia
A coastal town in the municipality of Hersonissos, Malia, is a great way to “escape” the capital city (or any resort) to experience the culture and cuisine of Crete. The small streets, allow travelers to get lost among the old churches, small squares and local cafes. Also, don’t be surprised to see people sitting outside chatting the local gossip and young children playing freely in the squares either.
On my visit, the old town’s main square was filled with traditional dancing, live music, raki samples and a vibrant cafe scene enough to the delight the senses of taste, smell, sound and sight.
Gorgeous Crete, the Beauty of the Greek Gorges
It is easy to pinpoint the beautiful beaches along the countless miles of coastline Crete offers. Gorgeous. But visitors can find multiple gorges on Crete available for day hikes too.
The most famous, Samaria Gorge, will take the entire day and is closed during certain times of the year (winter) and for weather (rain), but another gorge, Imbros allows visitors to hike all year and only takes 2-3 hours. Some people even say it is more impressive.
Park the car at the start of the trail in Imbros at a Tavern and then hike down. When you finish you arrive to a place with a few taverns too. Enter one, order a thirst quenching Mythos beer (optional) and then negotiate (5+ euro pp.) “taxi” (more likely a pick-up truck) back to Imbros. A bit adventurous and trusting, but definitely something I plan to do the next time I visit Crete (and its something you’ll see on Trip Advisor)
Stay adventurous, Craig
This post was done in partnership with Enterprise Rent-a-Car but all opinions are my own