Beautiful beaches to rugged mountains
One of the most beautiful beaches of Crete and even Europe is the shell beach of Elafonisi, whose turquoise water contrasts paradisiacally with the pink to pink tinted sand. The pink colour results from all the crushed shells, which colour the sand and the shallow sea there. The sandy beach at the south-western tip of the island is further characterized by several sandbanks that run through the turquoise water. This is where the "Caribbean feeling" really comes into being - fine sand, ankle-deep, wide-stretching lagoon in perfect sickle shape. Elafonisi beach, located in the far west, is also very popular with families, although it may take some time to get there due to its remote location.
About 60 km northwest of Chania is the white lagoon beach Balos with the island Gramvousa in front of it. A multitude of mussel and coral particles give this beach its particularly bright colouring. Please note that the way to the beach is connected with a small trekking tour through rocky sections downwards - therefore sturdy shoes are recommended! If you don't want to walk to the parking lot by car, you can also take a ferry from Kissamos harbour. Regardless of which route you choose, it is worth it, although this beach is very well visited due to its exceptional beauty. Especially on foot, arriving from above, you will find a stunning view of the Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island, and you may even be able to observe the amazing fauna (falcons, monk seals and the occasional Caretta-Caretta sea turtle).
At the north-eastern end of Crete, Vai beach is famous for its palm trees. This beach is home to the only naturally growing date palm grove in Greece and even Europe with over 5000 palm trees. Legend has it that the palm trees grew from seeds that were disposed of by Saracen pirates and washed up by the sea. Besides this event, Vai is a real dream beach because of its natural beauty with fine sand and crystal clear water. In addition, there are many other beautiful and also well-known sandy beaches, such as Komos, Triopetra, Agios Georgios, Agia Fotia, Falasarna, palm beach Preveli along the coast of Crete.
Furthermore, the island of Crete is defined by a mountain range extending from west to east, which is basically steeper towards the south coast and flatter towards the north. Lefka Ori (the White Mountains) is the largest and westernmost mountain range on the island, but the highest mountain Psiloritis, at 2456 metres, belongs to the Ida Mountains, which are located in central Crete and which form an imposing structure alongside the fertile Messara Plain. The mountain ranges of the fascinating White Mountains are partly still forested with maritime pines, cypresses and special oaks. From there, Europe's longest gorge, Samaria, stretches 17 km to the southern coast, which can be hiked through in the summer months with a little practice and good equipment and makes the hiking heart of those who come from all over the world beat faster. With a little luck you will see exotic plants as well as Cretan wild goats. A fantastic view is guaranteed in any case!
The Dikti Mountains, located in the eastern part of the Aegean island, line the famous and also fertile Lasithi plateau, where you can still see many windmills that were used for the former irrigation of agriculture. The famous Psychro Cave, also known as Zeus Cave, can be explored here. Guided mountain tours to enjoy a bird's eye view over large parts of Crete are highly recommended. But also easier walks on the many E4 hiking trails are a real pleasure, because the flora and fauna of Crete is unique!
Not to be forgotten are the sandstone caves in Matala, which in the Neolithic Age served as residential and later as burial caves. In the 1960s these hippies attracted people from all over the world. The island also offers many other caves, like Melidoni or Kournas.
Fantastic cultural heritage
One of the most famous archaeological excavations from the time of ancient Greece is the palace of Knossos. This palace represents the glorious time of the Minoans around 2000 BC, during which the Minoan people developed from the Stone Age to a high culture. Many palaces were built during this period in Crete, the palace of Knossos being the most important and largest and also the best preserved in our time. A visit to this palace, or to the palace of Phaistos in the central south of the island, is certainly something special for every visitor to Crete who is interested in culture.
Besides historical buildings and many museums, the particularly picturesque places and harbours are worth a visit. One of these beautiful places is the port city of Chania with its lively and original old town. Enjoy a walk along the charming 14th century Venetian port and feel the impressions of a bygone era along with a gentle sea breeze. The beautiful city of Chania is also famous for its culinary delights. Many particularly good restaurants are located in the old town of Chania.
Heraklion, the capital of the island of Crete, has many other historical sights in addition to the atmospheric old town and the Venetian port, such as the Archaeological Museum, which offers a unique insight into the Minoan culture, the Historical Museum with its Byzantine medieval collection, the Icon Museum with a variety of frescoes and icons and the Natural History Museum with special impressions of the flora and fauna of the eastern Mediterranean.
Also worth a visit is the harbour town of Rethymno with its fortress "Fortezza" and its archaeological museum. Experience the beautiful views in one of the idyllic cafés and traditional Kafenia at the local Venetian port.
The whole island is also characterized by monasteries, churches and palaces worth seeing.
he Cretan cuisine uses a lot of food that is produced in the country itself. These include tasty olives and olive oil made from them, yoghurt, sheep's cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as fish and mainly lamb, but also rabbit and chicken. Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, thyme, mint, laurel, rosemary and garlic give the dishes a delicate taste. Various delicacies made from legumes, such as the honey-yellow looking Fava (chickpea puree) are also always on the menu of Cretan taverns. Especially in the summer heat, a fresh tzatziki in combination with a Greek farmer's salad with olives and feta made from sheep's milk is certainly a "must". An appetizer only available on Crete is dakos, where a repeatedly baked bread made of barley flour is topped with slices of tomato, feta and herbs. Also worth mentioning are the pickled wild capers and also the homemade honey, which is produced all over the island.
Very tasty red wines, white wines and rose wines are produced on Crete. The vineyards in Archanes and other wine-growing areas of Crete allow wonderful grapes to ripen. The high-proof Raki, a liquor distilled on the island itself, has a long tradition and should not be missed after a great meal.
As you have surely noticed, it is very easy to find the right delicacies on Crete. The Mediterranean climate allows the growth of many wild herbs to sun-ripened tomatoes as well as oranges and lemons all year round.
The particularly healthy as well as diverse Mediterranean cuisine of Crete will inspire you!
You will be delighted!
Enjoy your holiday in beautiful natural stone houses, traditional country houses and exclusive luxury villas with private swimming pool on the Aegean island of Crete.