Wanderlust: What’s Neat in Crete?

Greece is one of the countries that I still haven’t got around to visiting, despite it being a) a pretty popular destination nowadays and b) somewhere I really need to eat all the things. Santorini is the Instagram spot du jour right now; Athens is perhaps the country’s most famous destination – but actually, I’ve got my eyes on Crete…

Combining fascinating history with picture perfect views, Greece’s largest island seems like it has plenty to offer. Greek mythology is something that’s often been a back-of-my-mind fascination (Fun fact: I was in a school play based on Orpheus and Eurydice once!), and the island of Crete especially is home to loads of fascinating stories.

Crete is a BIG island, and there are loads of different areas for different styles of travel. There are also some gorgeous sandy beaches, and gorgeous clear seas to pursue my new-found love for snorkelling in. And, of course, lots of delicious Greek food…

Check out a few other sights I’d definitely like to hit up on my big fat Greek holiday…

Knossos

Knossos in Crete

Bronze Age Crete was home to the Minoan civilization from around 2600 to 1100 BC, and you can still find plenty of leftovers from their existence. The most famous is the Palace of Knossos, Crete’s largest Minoan archaeological site.

Historical reconstruction has taken place on some of the buildings, meaning visitors can get an idea of how this important settlement worked in Minoan times – particularly with the help of on-site guided tours.

Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge

A National Park of Greece and a World Biosphere Reserve, Samaria Gorge is known for being one of Europe’s most impressive canyons. The stretch known as ‘the Gates’ is just 4m across in width, while the near-enough 300m tall canyon walls tower above you.

A five or six hour hike (which is pretty much all downhill – YAY) through gorgeous scenery definitely seems like an enjoyable way to spend a day on a holiday in Crete!

Dikteon Cave (Psychro Cave)

Dikteon Cave

One thing I really wanted to do in Budapest that we didn’t end up doing was a spot of caving. Mainly because it was pretty freezing, and the idea of bundling my shivering limbs into the ground didn’t appeal as much when I’d rather be in a ruin bar sipping hot wine. With hopefully much nicer weather, I can’t imagine this being a problem in Crete…

The Dikteon Cave, also known as the Psychro Cave, is where mythology alleges that the Greek god Zeus was born. The sacred cave consists of five chambers, and a lake at the lowest point. Stalagmites and stalactites – oh hey GCSE science, can you remember which is which? – surround the lake and pathways through the chambers. It looks like such a fascinating place, especially with the mythology that surrounds it, and one I’d love to see with my own eyes.

Spinalónga Castle

Spinalónga Castle

CASTLES. ISLANDS. Those are two of the things I always get excited about when I’m on my travels – and Spinalónga combines them in an awesome double whammy. The settlement was built in between 1579 and 1584 by the Venetians, as a fortress to protect the bay of Elounda.

Oh, and also, if you like odd facts – the island was used as a leper colony in the first half of the 20th century.

How to get there

You can fly to either Heraklion or Chainia from various UK airports.

Where to stay?

As well as the usual hotel properties, there are plenty of villas in Crete that offer a more private, luxurious experience.

Crete is a big island, so work out what your activity priorities are when choosing an area. The Elounda/Agios Nicolas areas are home to more luxury spots; Chania is a city location close to the hiking opportunities of Samaria Gorge; and the capital city of Heraklion has plenty for both archaeology and nightlife lovers.

What would you get up to on a holiday in Crete?

*This post is sponsored by James Villas

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  • Laura Emilia

    Ahh I’ve always wanted to visit Greece – I can’t believe I still haven’t been! Crete looks amazing, especially Samaria Gorge (so beautiful!). That island castle thing really fascinates me too – I’m definitely sold on Crete now. Maybe one day..! xx

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

  • I’ve been to several places in Greece (Athens, Delphi, Corfu, Meteora etc) but not yet to Crete:) I’d like to see the ruins of Knossos:)

  • Don’t let the fact that the gorge is downhill fool you, it’s one of the toughest things I’ve done and the bus only drops you at the hard/ longer side of the trek so you have no option but to do it x

    • Oh really? Interesting! Will bear that in mind – what is it about the gorge that makes it so tough?