Crete – The Stone Ship
Zorba’ s Island
Who can forget Anthony Quinn dancing on the beach in Zorba the Greek, the movie from 1964? Crete is, after all, a small universe filled with beauties and great treasures that you will probably need a lifetime to uncover!
Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean and the largest of the islands forming part of modern Greece. It is a real feast for the sense or in other words a tapestry of splendid beaches, ancient treasures, and landscapes encompassing vibrant cities and dreamy villages, where locals share their traditions, cuisine and generous spirit.
“The mystery of Crete runs deep. Whoever sets foot on this island senses a mysterious force coursing warmly and beneficently through their veins, sensing their soul beginning to grow” wrote Nikos Kazantzakis, Crete’s most celebrated author, in Report to Greco. On the south side of the Aegean is an island that is mystical, warm and welcoming, pure and generous.
The good news is, that in Crete it is summer all year round. The summer is warm and bright with cool breaks due to the northern winds of August. The winter in Crete is mild, while spring and autumn are soft and pleasant. So Crete is a perfect destination for all seasons, the climate is considered as one of the finest, healthiest and mildest climate in Europe.
Reasons to fall in love with Crete
Crete captures the spirit of Greece, and enchants everyone who visits it. Heraklion, Rethymno, Chania, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, Ierapetra, Malia, Hersonissos, Sitia, Sfakia: an island with numerous destinations and thousands of vibrant images.
Chanya, the old town with its world-renowned Venetian lighthouse, the aristocratic suburb of Halepa, the Tabakaria (center for leather production), the Neoria (arsenal) and Kum Kapi, teeming with bars, cafes, restaurants and elegant hotels.
Rethymno, discover the old town, which is a gem of a settlement on the island, with its Venetian buildings, mosques, minarets, fountains and cobblestone alleys lined with shops, cafes, bars and hotels. You must explore Idaio Antro – one of the most important caves of Minoan worship.
Heraklion, the Venetian port, a lively city filled with sights, museums, restaurants, bars and hotels. Walk along the walls of the old city, and Morosini (Leondaria) Square, surrounded by important buildings; the Loggia (City Hall), Agios Titos and Armeria (armory).
Ierapetra, the old town with its narrow alleyways, little harbor and famous Fortress of Kales is one of the most significant sights in Crete.
Agios Nikolaos, it is a cosmopolitan summer resort, with the mystical allure of Lake Vouliagmeni (which, legend has it, is bottomless), with numerous cafes and restaurants dotted around its shores.
Sitia, the historic Kazarma fortress (Casa di arma) and its animated waterfront, lined with cafes, shops and restaurants, should be on your list of destinations to visit in Crete.
Elouda is the cosmopolitan paradise of sophisticated resorts and hotels, with private beaches, pools and piers. It has the highest concentration of Greece’s five-star resort and is the top destination for a luxurious holiday.
Lassithi, visit the palm forest at Vai but make sure you also find time for the caves of Diktean Antro and Milatos, the island fortress of Spinalonga and the Lassithi Plateau.
Mount Ida (Psiloritis) is the highest mountain in Crete. Ambitious hikers will climb to the top and be rewarded with an unforgettable view.
Cretan Events and Nightlife
Everyone knows that Greece is famous for its especially intense and multifaceted nightlife, which is not restricted to the weekends, in difference with the other European countries; the fun lasts until the early hours of the morning. Crete has the most lively nightlife of all the Greek Islands. There is a wide variety of entertainment choices, for all tastes and all ages, from wild foam parties to traditional evenings with Cretan music and dances.
Summer in Crete means “tables outside”: The guests meet the local people and everyone joins the party. After the sunset, people start gathering in “ouzo shops” and “taverns” (which are usually next to the sea or have a view to the sea) to enjoy “tsikoudia” (traditional local drink) or ouzo and special snacks. The night continues in various music halls, clubs, bars, “bouzouki” or “Cretan Lira” places (halls with live Greek or Cretan music) in the beautiful narrow streets or at the coastal zone of the island until the morning. For those who want something more relaxed, there are various art festivals and cultural events, like theatre performances, concerts with any kind of music and dance and summer cinemas.
Ierapetra’s annual Kyrvia Festival runs from July to August and features a program of cultural activities including singing and dancing nights by local folk and popular groups, special concerts by famous artists, film screenings, theatre performances and much singing and dancing in the streets of the old town.
Battle of Crete, in Hania. Hania commemorates the WWII Battle of Crete anniversary with athletics competitions, folk dancing and ceremonial events for a week at the end of May.
Marine Week – Sports in Agios Nikolaos. Held during the last week of June in even-numbered years, this celebration has swimming, windsurfing and boat races.
Carnival in Rethymno, the annual pre-Lent celebrations bring four weeks of dancing and masquerading, games and treasure hunts, and a grand street parade. Festivities usually fall around February or March.
Traditional Cretan Recipes
Called as the “heart” of the Mediterranean Diet, some would say it is miraculous! It is all about the original Mediterranean diet culture, history and geography that helped to create the perfect combination of food and lifestyle which provides a unique diet, highly nutritious and helping to prevent many of the diseases.
Cretan cuisine is distinguished and traditional. Local cheese, famous olive oil and punchy liqueurs are just three of the treats on offer. If you visit this island, there are some dishes that you should definitely try. Don’t expect over the top fancy dishes, just pay attention to the quality of the food and the great flavors that each of them includes.
Dakos. Chopped tomato, fresh cheese, herbs and olive oil placed on top of a Paximadi (rusk). There is just enough olive oil to make them soft but without taking away the crunch of the base. You could eat these over bruschetta any day!
Cretan Cheeses. There is certainly no shortage of sheep or goat cheese in Crete. The most popular cheeses eaten in Crete are: Anthotiros, Kefalotiri, Mizithra, Graviera.
Sarikopitakia (Cheese Pie). Sheep’s cheese-filled pastries fried in olive oil and served warm with a sprinkle of honey on top. They get their name from the shape of the scarf the local men wear on the west of the island.
Chochlioi Boubouristi or Fried Snails are extremely popular. Once the women catch the snails, they are fried with flour and hot olive oil in a pan, then doused with wine and are ready to eat.
Moussaka is an eggplant or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, in the Levant, Middle East and Balkans, with many local and regional variations.
Cretan Wine. Traditionally Cretan wine is home-made and rarely bottled. The wine is a golden brown colour with a fairly high alcohol content (13 – 14%) and more akin to port or sherry.
The local “hard drink” is called “raki” or “tsikoudia” and is distilled from what is left over from pressing grapes so in fact it is the same as the Italian grappa. It is a strong, pretty clean alcohol, meaning that you’ll get drunk on it really quick but will feel halfway human the next day.
- The winter is so mild that many swallows winter in southern Crete and Davdos Island.
- One of the most important sites for wave sailing in Greece is the rocky bay Papadiokambos, also known as Faneromeni, a few miles west of Sitia.
- Snorkeling above ancient submerged towns and settlement of Koufonisi, ancient towns of Itanosm Olous and the sanctuary of Viena at Krios Cape.
- In the fall, sand dunes are smoth-ered with white lilies.
- Well-kept, well-equipped, peaceful, sandy beaches with lifeguards that are located next to tourist facilities are considered ideal for children.
- Aradena Gorge hosts the second highest bridge in Europe( 138m high), which is used for bungee jumping.
- Crete hosts 4 large water parks!
Residence Olympia- Althaia, Rethymnon:
Residence Olympia is located near Rethymnon, a historic location where you find museums, amenities and entertainment. It is composed of 4 villas: Althaia, Iole, Phile and Thea and they all offer privacy and views of the sea. You can either enjoy your freedom and privacy or take advantage of the residence facilities.
Residence Thalassa- Gaia, Samonas
Residence Thalassa is located near a small village in the Apokoronas district. Nestled on a hills slope at an altitude of 400m, the residence offers stunning mountain, valley and sea views and it is the perfect place if you want to relax and enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of Crete. Residence Thalassa is composed of 5 apartments: Gaia, Delia, Kora, Maia and Zena that share the same pool.
Villa Alexios, Loutra
Villa Alexios (125m2) is a new built semi-detached villa with bioclimatic construction techniques in mind. Located in the north coast area of Crete the area is offering an excellent base for excursions either to Heraklion, Chania or to the south coast where you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and the crystal clear water of the Libyan sea.
Villa Cyrano, Elouda
Located on a hill overlooking Mirabello Bay and the Aegean Sea, Villa Cyrano is a new built villa providing accommodation for 6 people (94m2).
Villa Cyrano is set on three levels.
The outdoor area consists of a private swimming pool (24m2) with hydro massage, sun loungers, a 140m2 terrace with dining facilities, a wooden pergola, a private garden with great views over the Aegean Sea, a BBQ area and private parking space.
Breaking the Waves
If you are a nature lover and you like to combine adventure and fun during your vacation, than Create is heaven. Here you will find many opportunities and a variety of activities for exploring nature and promises a unique and unforgettable experience for those who decide to explore it.
Crete of four seasons never gets boring. Hiking, cannoning, climbing, scuba diving, horse riding, trekking, caving, parasailing, windsurfing and kitesurf some of the activities that Crete offers, besides a great variety of lodging options.
Windsurfing and kitesurfing are the two most popular wave sports in Crete. One of the most important sites for wave sailing in Greece is the rocky bay Papadiokambos, also known as Faneromeni, few miles west of Sitia.
Tourists of Crete have the opportunity to escape to the magical underwater world by choosing among a large number of diving clubs.
You can also explore coasts through snorkeling, taking fishing trips or bottom-glass boat excursions.
Souda Bay and the rocky coastline from Kalyves to Georgioupolis in Chania are the most spectacular diving sites with many caves and rocky abyses.
Also in Rethymnon don’t miss a diving excursion to Skinaria beach by Plakias, the most impressive on the island is ideal for underwater exploration. Areas preferred by the diving schools are also in Heraklion and Lassithi.
You can choose also for daily boat services to many of the most famous remote beaches, such as Balos, Preveli and Agia Roumeli, or other activities like taking kayaking lessons, water skiing, pedaling or parasailing.
Sea of Colors
Greece is famous for its gorgeous beaches – swimming in crystal clear waters surrounded by the beautiful colors of the Aegean will make anyone feel new again. Crete in particular has some of the most stunning beaches in all of Greece – from small coves to long stretches of fine white sand, lagoons and inlets with shallow water leading to deserted islands and soft pink sand.
If you visit Crete, do not miss, these beaches:
Magnificent Falasarna- aquamarine sea and fine golden sand is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Crete. It is peaceful and spread out, perhaps due to its size. It’s located at the very western tip of Crete, and an easy day trip from Chania town. The view from the top of the cliff when driving down to the beach is breathtaking – you get a sense of how wild and free it still is, and why people from all over make a special trip to visit.
Among the most exotic sandy Crete beaches is Balos– raw beauty, deserted-isle feeling and boat trip to paradise, this beach is a wonderful place in Chania with crystal Caribbean-like water. This place amazes visitors with the stunning natural beauty.
Another of the most beautiful beaches of Crete is the exotic beach of Elafonissi in Chania, on the westernmost spot of Crete, as well as the long, sandy beach of Falassarna. Finding a perfect beach is not a problem for visitors, as there are nice clean beaches in Crete all around the island.
Falasarna is a short drive from Chania town, you’ll find sunbeds and umbrellas on the beach, as well as a handful of tavernas offering home-cooked meals and cold drinks.
Stavros beach – a smaller peaceful cove with amazing colors.
It has its own charm and beauty, and perfect for a calm quiet day on a sunbed – which is why it has made our top-four list! he beach sits on a small circular bay with very calm waters protected from the wind, located at the foot of a mountain and next to a picturesque harbor. The lagoon-like bay has white sand and shallow green water, and the contrast of the wild mountain with the peaceful beach makes Stavros a favorite swimming hole with Greeks and a handful of tourists in the know.
Elafonisi beach – walk barefoot through pink sand and shallow clear water across to a lovely island. The beach has clear blue water reminiscent of the Caribbean, but with rare pink sand from pink coral and shells that have been ground naturally over the years. Kissamos is located less than an hour west of Chania, and the morning boat trip that leaves Kissamos for Balos will bring you back by early evening, with enough time to drive back to Chania for dinner, or grab a bite at one of the delicious tavernas along the way.