Crete is the largest and the most crowded island of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea coming after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Corsica. This beautiful island is located about 160 km (99 mi) south of the Greek mainland, in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and with its nearby islands, form the Crete Region. It’s divided into four regional units, from west to east named as, Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lasithi. Crete’s capital and also its largest city, Heraklion, is established on the northern shore of the island. To the west of it is Chania, a beautiful city with an old part and new larger part to explore, amazing beaches and a waterfront that you can visit in the evening for a relaxing walk. It is also where The Samariá Gorge National Park, a major tourist attraction of the island and a World’s Biosphere Reserve, it lies to the south of the region.
Travelling to Crete Island
Crete can be travelled to in several different ways. There are three different airports and six ports so its a really convenient location to travel to. There are daily flights from numerous European cities and larger Greek islands including Mykonos, Santorini and Lesvos. While most of the flights are through Athens, there are a number of direct flights from Europe and Britain to Crete as well. For all flights from the other Greek islands you will have to stop in Athens but this can be a really easy way to get to Crete, especially in case you are travelling during the low season and would like to not rely on ferry schedules which can also be affected by the weather. For such quick flights only economy class is available and among the airports on the island Heraklion has the most flight options.
If you fancy for a cheaper and more relaxed method to get to Crete there are multiple ferries available at Rhodes, Santorini, Athens and many other Greek islands that will take you to one of the six ports in Crete, most serviced of them being Heraklion and Chania. It is important to know that the ferry schedules ought to be extra limited during the low season (mid-June through mid-September) yet if you have time and the ferries are running, this way of travelling can be an astonishing way to get to Crete. Several classes of seats and cabins are available for your choosing and regardless of the ferry being fast or slow, taking the ferry can be a lovely way to soak up the beautiful sights of the Greek islands and the refreshing sea breeze from the Mediterranean.
In the isle Crete, you can adore the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore dazzling beaches, grand mountainscapes, fertile valleys and deep gorges and treat yourself with the island’s rich and flavorful Mediterranean cuisine. The Crete Island is in it self, a whole new reality for you to experience and a universe full of beauties and treasures waiting to be seen.
Chania is a city of Greece on the isle of Crete. It is located along the northern coast of the island, about 70 km (43 mi) west of Rethymno and 145 km (90 mi) west of Heraklion, the capital of Crete. Chania is a great city for the old and the young alike with many alluring beaches around to visit such as Elafonisi, Falasarna, Balos and Georgioupolis. Many of Chania’s beaches are among the best of the island with their crystal waters and soft sand.
Going around the Old Town’s maze-like alleys, among the astonishing Venetian mansions, fountains and the pristine cathedrals will let you experience Crete’s well-preserved historical monuments. While wandering around in the New Town’s streets, visiting its museums and marveling at the various architectural styles will help you in getting intimate with modern-day Chania’s laid back lifestyle. The city is also a paradise for food and wine lovers where you can taste the Cretan cuisine and its special local gastronomy with a glass of Cretan wine. Assorted vineries of Chania are also open for visitors offering tastings and tours if you want to learn about the many varieties of local Cretan wines and grapes. The colorful seaside area of Chania is crawling with shops where you can buy their traditional leather craft souvenirs and restaurants with waterfront views. At night, you can walk along the pedestrian-only streets to enjoy the various boutiques, bars and restaurants and live the Crete nightlife as the Cretans do.
Overall, Chania is a gorgeous town where you can spend hours wandering around. And with some of the beast beaches to relax and a wide selection of great hotels, it offers you an amazing choice for where to stay in Crete.
Heraklion is the biggest city of Crete and one of Greece’s major urban centers. The city is located on the northern coast of Crete, between two massive mountain ranges, Idi (Mt. Psiloritis) on the west and Dikti (Lasithiotika mountains) on the east side. Heraklion has exceptional archaeological treasures, important seaside settlements, a series of painting-like villages with vast olive groves, vineyards and the greatest planned tourist infrastructure in the isle Crete.
The Palace of Knossos, the largest ancient site to visit in Crete, is located just south of Heraklion and it is one of the top things to see in Crete. What is left at the palace sites are the shells of the ancient structures. The treasures themselves can be found at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum which is one of the most popular historical attractions and the number one place to find Minoan art. Right after Knossos comes The Minoan Palace of Phaistos, the second crucial ancient site to see. It is located just on the east side of the Kastri hill, featuring a gorgeous natural environment and it is considered to be among the finest of all Minoan palaces.
The region’s northern and southern coasts are bordered with some of the best beaches on the isle of Crete, such as Agia Pelagia, Malia and the past hippies paradise Matala beach. Also just as Chania, the city has lots of exquisite cathedrals, some of the best restaurants and bars to enjoy the night, lots of boutiques to shop in and an old town that seems like its frozen in time. Despite Heraklion’s regularly populous city center, Heraklion’s Old Town still keeps its ancient atmosphere. Walking around the Old Town you will see the Koules Fortress and at the Venetian Port the Turkish and Venetian fountains, buildings and the Venetian Loggia. In addition to all, by having some of the finest museums in Greece, such as the Museum of Natural History and the Historical Museum; Heraklion presents the perfect grounds for experiencing Crete to the fullest and proves to be an excellent choice as to where to stay in Crete.
In the end, where the best place to stay in Crete is really based on your preferences, since you can find something for you regardless of it being whether in Chania, Heraklion or any other parts of the Crete Island. But be aware of that the Isle of Crete is really big with thousands of different options for hotels and resorts available to choose from. In any case with Crete’s distinct scenery, stunning beaches, extraordinary cuisine and charming people you will certainly want to come back for more.