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Captivating Crete: how to plan the perfect Cretan escape

Many dream to escape to the stunning island and beautiful island of Crete and experience first-hand what living like a Greek god may feel like. Steeped in natural beauty and history, it is a destination you must add to your bucket list! Of course, there are an abundance of luxury hotels in Crete, from quaint boutique hotels, to all inclusive five-star resorts. It can be hard to know where to go and what hotel to choose. Let us help! We'll introduce you to some of the best locations around the island to experience the most authentic Crete, including paradisiacal beaches and rugged mountains. The four main prefectures are Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Lasithi. In the west, Chania boasts a beautiful Old Town, over to the northern coast, Rethymno has a charming Venetian Harbor and a lighthouse that dates to the 1830s. A little further along, is Heraklion, the Cretan capital and home to the grand Palace of Knossos. Lastly, Lasithi is the eastern region, whose capital is the very enchanting town of Agios Nikolaos.

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What to do in Crete? Cities not to be missed!

If you don't know where to go in Crete, then this list of cities not to be missed should help.

 

Héraklion

 

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Capital of Crete, Heraklion is often the first port of call considered when deciding to visit Crete. Located on the northern coast, the city is also the busiest port of the island. At the heart of the Minoan civilisation, you will find many historical sites. From the Venetian port, whose entrance is guarded by the fortress of Kuli, which was completed in the 16th century, you can admire the impressive Venetian basins. A walk on the city walls will allow you to enjoy a breathtaking view. The Archaeological Museum of Haklion offers an overview of Minoan history. Afterwards, you can visit one of the nearby beaches, such as Ammoudara. Finally, take advantage of the wide range of dining and entertainment options to prolong the pleasures.

 

Chania 

Chania, is the capital of the region of the same name. Considered one of the most beautiful in Crete, it has many surprises in store for you. It is not surprising that many civilizations have succeeded one another here. Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Venetians, Ottomans… All of them have been charmed by Chania, and have left their traces here, for our great pleasure. When you visit, start by going to the old town. You will find yourself in the middle of Venetian and Classical houses, fortifications and traces of the Turkish occupation. Its narrow streets will finally lead you to the lighthouse of the Old Venetian Port of Chania, the city's unmissable attraction. In fact, a trip to the former capital of Crete is a journey back in time.

 

Agios Nikolaos

Calm out of season and much busier in the summer, there are many reasons why Agios Nikolaos appeals. Firstly, the town allows you to combine amazing beaches in Crete and excursions of all kinds. Located in the Gulf of Mirabello, you will be in the heart of incredible landscapes, among the most beautiful in the island. After a stroll around its charming harbour, you can head for Lake Voulismeni. Once there, you can enjoy a nice lunch on the terrace or a drink in the pleasant surroundings. Afterwards, take a stroll around the typical shops to stock up on souvenirs. Finally, take advantage of the many excursions, often offered by hotels or tourist offices, to discover the surrounding area. The church of Panagia Kera, the ruins of Gournes or why not the fourth of our cities: Schisma Eloundas!

 

Eloundas

A few kilometres north of Agios Nikolaos, Eloundas offers easy access to Spinalonga. After a fifteen-minute boat ride, you will arrive on this land which will surprise you with its history. It was first a Venetian fortress, one of the most imposing in Crete, before becoming a place of isolation for people suffering from leprosy. Once your visit is over, head back to the town of Eloundas to treat yourself to a luxury stay in Crete. Indeed, this is where some of the finest addresses, not in Greece but in the world, can be found. Dive into the waters around the city to see the rich underwater wildlife. Finally, stroll the streets of the town, take a shopping break, then enjoy the setting with a drink on the terrace before spending a night on the beach at the Elounda Beach Crete.

 

Rethimno


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Capital of one of the four counties of the island, Rethimno is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Crete. Its old town, surrounded by the Fortezza, is a veritable labyrinth full of surprises. Once you have climbed the fortifications built by the Venetians, you can enjoy the unique view of the sea. In the old town, you will also find charming Venetian and Turkish houses, mosques, churches, and all this heritage testifying to the passage of these two civilizations in the city. Then stroll through the narrow streets towards the small port where the colourful boats are lined up. A trip to Rethimno is also an opportunity to stroll along the beautiful beaches of Crete. The beach of Adelianos Kampos, for example, is ideal for those wishing to alternate between lazing around and water sports.

 

What to do in Crete? The sites not to be missed!

To visit Crete properly, it is impossible to miss certain sites. Whether they are natural or historical, trust us, the following are worth the trip!

 

Knossos in Crete

Near Heraklion, Knossos in Crete is a must-see stop. The oldest city in Greece is known for its various ruins. The first are those of a palace built around 1900 BC. They are said to have been destroyed 200 years later by an earthquake. The next ones are those of a palace destroyed by the Santorini volcano and a fire. The last ruins are those of the palace of Minos, of the first houses, of the more modest dwellings of the people and of the cemeteries. To come here is also to face one of the major discoveries in the knowledge of the Minoan civilisation. So don't be surprised if you feel the mystical atmosphere of the place. After all, this is the lair of the Minotaur, the half-man, half-bull monster, and the place that is said to have given rise to the myth of the labyrinth!

 

The Samaria Gorge in Crete

If the purpose of your visit to Crete was to discover the incredible nature of the island, then the Samaria Gorge in Crete is simply a must-see. Natural and wild, they require only four to seven hours of intensive walking to be surveyed in their entirety. To get there, first reach the village of Omalos. This is where you will find the starting point for the descent. On the 16 km of the trail you will come across a surprising fauna, a particularly rich flora (there are 450 plant and animal species), you will pass by the ancient village of Samaria and other abandoned villages, you will enjoy breaks in the forest, you will have a drink and you will be able to enjoy the view; In short, you will enjoy a unique and unforgettable hike. Please note that the Samaria Gorge is only open during the summer season, i.e. from May to October.

 

The archaeological site of Phaistos

Phaistos is located on a hill, north-east of Matala. Here you will find one of the oldest Minoan palaces, the second largest after Knossos in Crete. After its construction around 1900 BC, it was destroyed by the same earthquake as Knossos in 1700 BC. Since this palace has not been rebuilt, you will see some particularly interesting ruins. However, another palace was built to replace it. Most of the reconstructed buildings you will visit belong to this palace. It is worth noting that for 17 centuries Phaistos was a city that radiated out to the whole of Crete.

 

Superb beaches in Crete: Sitia & the palm grove of Vai

Located in the regional district of Lassithi, Sita is a town in eastern Crete. Known for its sunny weather, sandy beaches and the sea, which makes you want to dive in, it also offers the opportunity to enjoy many attractions in the surroundings. Take for example the direction of the palm grove of Vai. Covering an area of about 200 hectares, it gives a tropical feel to the Crete and reminds us that the island is only a few kilometres from the African coast. Legend has it that this palm grove, the only one in Europe, came into being because of date pits thrown there by Egyptian soldiers. True or false? We will certainly never know. What is certain, however, is that Sitia and the palm grove of Vai are beautiful sites that must be visited at all costs during a day trip to Crete.

 

Where to stay in Crete? The hotels not to be missed!

Would you like to know where to spend your day? Then check out our selection of holiday destinations in Crete and create your own country tour.

 

The Grecotel LUX.ME White Palace for a luxurious day in Crete

 

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The five paintings of the Grecotel LUX.ME White Palace ***** announce the colour of a luxury day in Crete. The first major characteristic is its location. Perched in the heights of the Crete Riviera, close to Rethimno, you will enjoy breathtaking views of the sea. The second major point of the hotel is its design. The hotel's design is very elegant, allowing you to spend the night in refined and tastefully decorated rooms and suites. Some of them are even suitable for families, because after all, there's no need to worry about learning how to taste. Everywhere, the immaculate whiteness will remind you of the choice of a pure style. Finally, the various restaurants offering gourmet cuisine overlooking the Cretan Riviera and international menus will allow you to savour your All Inclusive package in Crete and enjoy it to the fullest.

 

A cheap trip to Crete at Arina Beach Resort ****

When you visit the Arina Beach Resort ****, you won’t just be enjoying a cheap trip to Crete. You will also be at the heart of everything one looks for in a beach trip. First of all you will have space. Lots of space. With a total of 40 hectares, you will not see the limits of this address. All the more so as it is also situated close to the turquoise waters of the sea. The hotel also offers the possibility to relax in several ways. You can take a dip in the outdoor seawater pool. There is also the possibility to linger by the beach. And to keep active, choose from a range of activities available in and around the Arina Beach Resort ****. Tennis, table tennis, beach volleyball, beach soccer… It's up to you.

 

5 stars & All Inclusive in Crète

Located in Mononaftis Bay, the Sea Side Resort & Spa ***** has everything you would expect from a resort in Crete. In the heart of the quiet Agia Pelagia area and on top of a hill, you will enjoy the breathtaking views and the serene atmosphere. You can also enjoy the view from the balcony or terrace of your accommodation. You can also enjoy a relaxing wellness experience in the spa, which offers a wide range of services such as massages, sauna, hammam, facials, manicure, pediatrics and an indoor hydropool for adults only. Finally, you can enjoy your All Inclusive package in Crete at the main buffet restaurant called Veranda. For another five-star option, you can also opt for the Sentido Blue Sea Beach Crete in Greece.

 

Now that you know the must-do's of a stay on Greece's largest island, all that's left is to book among the many fantastic hotel's featured by VeryChic.