If the first thing you thought of when you saw “Crete” was cobalt oceans, constant sunshine and happy locals, you’re not far off. If the next is great hotels or cosy B&Bs, you're not so far off either.
Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands, and it also has one of the oldest recorded civilizations in Europe. Heraklion, the capital of Crete, is found on the central part of the Northern Coast, and it’s full of stuff for history buffs. Check out Saint Minas Cathedral, Heraklion Cathedral and Heraklion’s Fortress for a few lessons in Greek Ancient History. However, it doesn’t stop there – Greek history oozes out of Crete, from the 14th Century Venetian Fortress, to the Rouvas Gorge in Zaros.
In terms of natural beauty, Crete doesn’t fail to impress either. There are plenty of little islands for day trips off the mainland too. Elafonisi is an island located close to the south-western corner of Crete, famous for it’s white sandy beaches leading into the calm blue waters. Spinalonga, however, is a rocky outcrop on the north-eastern coast of Crete. It might not be as pretty as Elafonisi, but that’s probably why they chose to send victims of Hansen’s disease here in 1903 (it’s now known as Leper Island).
If you head a little further along the north-eastern coast, you’ll come across one of Crete’s best beaches, Vai. This is where Bounty’s “taste of paradise” ad was filmed in the 70’s, so it makes the perfect backdrop for a few hours sunbathing. That said, you’ll find picturesque beaches all around Crete, which is what makes it such a great little holiday island.
What you need to know
You can fly directly to Chania or Heraklion Airport from Dublin. Heraklion Airport is 5km from the city, and there are a few buses heading into the city every day. There is also a 30 minute bus service several times a day from Chania Airport to Chania city. Although there is some public transport in Crete, if you want to see everything on the mainland you should consider renting a car in Crete.
Laws & Customs
Smoking cannabis here (or taking any drugs for that matter), is strictly prohibited.
You should also note that they nod their heads up to signal “no” instead of sideways.
Best time to visit
Spring is a beautiful time to see Crete and its entire flora, but the sea is still cold in April. Instead, visit from May to June, or September to October. The temperatures and crowds rocket over July and August in Crete, so avoid that time if you can. Thinking about bringing your own garden parasol? Don't! Check out this guide on what you can and can't take with you on a plane...
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Airports near Crete
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