Speaking of Greece, people usually think about the blue and white backdrop of the breathtaking Santorini. But Crete is in fact the largest and most populous Greek island and in my opinion, a perfect getaway. My first stop on this island was its capital city, Heraklion.
Heraklion is a nostalgic city, full of historical heritage and old buildings. From museums, palaces, ruins, Lions Fountain to the distinctive yellow building style, it tells of the ancient history and culture of the Minoan civilisation, the very first advanced Bronze Age Civilisation in Europe. The civilisation dated back to around 2700 BC when Heraklion was the port of the centre of the civilisation, the Palace of Knossos. There are fascinating legends about the palace, one of which says King Minos, in Greek mythology the first king in Crete and son of Zeus, lived in the palace. The Minoan civilisation was named after him. It’s amazing how the Greek history is intertwined with mysterious legends.
Today the ruins of the palace remain on Kephala Hill. Through the frescos and remains we can learn more about one of the oldest and mysterious cultures on earth. A relaxing day like this in the old town marked the beginning of my trip in Crete.
The reasons why I chose Heraklion as a home base to explore Crete in Greece:
- There was a direct flight from Paris to Heraklion, and the hotel I stayed was only 15-minute drive away from the Heraklion Airport.
- The Heraklion Port is the main hub to take ferries to different islands near Crete including Santorini.
- Heraklion is located in the middle of the north coast of Crete, making it convenient to go either East or West to different destinations.
Read more or book: Hotels in Heraklion
Chania is the second largest city in Crete after Heraklion and one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island.
As the city was once ruled by the Venetians, the style of the buildings was heavily influenced by Venetian elements. Many other historical heritage remained from the period, like the Venetian lighthouse, fortifications, walls, etc. along with some mosques that survived from the history of Ottoman rule after the Venetians. All together made a distinctive skyline, especially in the Venetian Port in the old town. Along the coast, tourists can also opt for horseback riding for an exotic stroll.
Walking around the old town was such a delight; it literally rolled back time with all those quaint and historic houses and lanes. There were lots of interesting stores and inviting restaurants. It was a good place to shop for handicrafts, leather goods, olive products, etc. I spent a relaxing afternoon around the area and had a nice tea with fantastic sea views. No wonder people fall in love with the city.
How to get there?
I took a bus from Heraklion, taking about 4 hours to get to Chania. Alternatively, people go by plane to Chania International Airport from Athens. During popular seasons, there are direct flights from other countries. Go by ferry from Athens is another option.
Read more or book: Hotels in Chania
I was trying to do some research before the trip to Crete to ensure I would be able to arrive at the conference venue on time and have an appropriate place to stay for a nice rest (Hotels in Crete). However, as this was my first time going there, I was not familiar with the names of the places, nor the transportation options available. I found it very difficult to comprehend the information collected online. Not until I was there in person I started to realize that the same place could be referred to very differently. For example, Chania, the second largest city of Crete, is presented as Χανιά (Greek), Canea (Venetian) or Hanya (Ottoman Turkish). No wonder it took me so long to get myself up to speed with the map of Crete.
During this trip, I spent most of the time in Hersonissos, a beautiful traditional touristic village and port. Most of my friends stayed at Creta Maris Beach Resort, which balanced between convenience reaching the convention venue and access to the beautiful beach.
Like the rest of Crete, the convention centre was just as quaint with an antique construction style. This old-fashioned and relaxing environment gave me a very relaxing and peaceful feeling – highly recommended for retreat or a quiet break.
Read more or book: Hotels in Hersonissos
希臘克里特島的消暑勝地 — 克雷塔馬里斯海灘渡假村