Visit the wonderful Naval Museum in Chania
(Maritime Museum) - it delivers a superb introduction to the History of Crete and is by no means only for maritime mavens, you will learn more here in half an hour than most could teach you, about the events that filled Crete's moving past.
Ela - where?
Elafonisi (Island of Deer) is like paradise on earth, and posessess a wonderful beach with pink coral sand and crystalline waters, a small islet connected to the rest of Crete by a shallow reef that can be crossed when the sea is calm. This islet is lying on the south-west corner of Crete, the journey itself is amazing, with a narrow tunnel and stunning wild Cretan scenery. Beware in high season, it can get very busy, but is so large, there is always a peaceful spot to be found. There is an excellent taverna at the beginning of the sand dunes.
One Man's folly is another's delight
On the way out of the village of Kalyves going West to Kalami there is a sign and arrow to Koumos. This place is worth a visit and is known as one mans folly. A collection of buildings including a taverna and a chapel with a domed roof all built from local small misshapen stones. This eclectic mix of buildings are all made from small rocks and all built by one man over a period of 10 years. There are mosaics on the paths; whilst walls display images of fish, snakes and various animals. There are also stone tables and chairs. If you just want to wander around, take photographs or just be amazed,pop along as there is no admission charge. Look out for the occasional ostrich or even a llama - quite surreal as these weren't made out of stone!
The "Cretan Runner" written by Giorgos Psychoundakis is a great book describing some of the heroic exploits the Cretan resistance along with British soldiers and pilots got up to during the second world war. Giorgios was originally a shepherd but became a member of the resistance after the German invasion. His heroic and selfless exploits and the general population are described in the book. It is regarded as a classic book of its type. There are two British War cemeteries in Souda Bay, however, much of the action took place around Maleme where a large German War cemetery dedicated to German soldiers was until recently tended by Giorgos himself. The British cemeteries are in a beautifully kept place, moving and humbling.
If it gets too hot down by the sea, drive up to Spili a picturesque village located at an altitude of 430 metres, 28 kilometres south-east of Rethymno.Due to its altitude the village offers an astonishing view. It is surrounded by verdant vegetation and is filled with trees, fountains, springs and chapels and churches with wonderful murals. The main square of the village is lovely and has a fine stone fountain constituted by a row of stone carved lion heads from where crystal-clear water flows.The water guarantees that the air is fresh, cool and pure. It is also known for a unique type of weaving and has a few tavernas and an old fashioned atmosphere.
Journey to Anogia in the Psiloritis Mountains and
enjoy a Greek coffee at the square in the upper village (Agios Georgios square), the atmosphere here is wonderful - hospitality and welcomes are surprising in their warmth. 740 metres up on the north face of Mount Psiloritis to be precise. It's a short hop from here to the stunning Nida Plateau, the Ideon cave (mythology: Zeus grew up here), the observatory at the top of the Skinaka as well as the ancient settlement of Zominthos. In Anogia, excellent local cheese and Raki are available to buy, at the shop on one corner of the square. You are more likely to see men wearing the Cretan baggy trousers tucked into their boots, heads decorated with nets, here than just about anywhere else. This is miles from "designer name" mecca. The small church of Agios Georgios is worth a visit if it is open.
Sail to historic Gramvousa and beautiful Balos
From May to October, you can take daily cruises from Kissamos port to Gramvousa and Balos (42 km west of Chania), leaving in the morning and returning in the evening.Gramvousa (also called Tigani peninsula) has a castle on top of the island built by the Venetians to protect Crete from a Turkish occupation. It was one of the last unconquered bastions and it was the first area of Crete to be liberated from the Turks in 1825 (Turks were expelled from all the rest of Crete only by 1898). 3000 Cretan rebels were planning operations from Gramvousa.During this period of turmoil, the residents of the island started looting boats passing through, which gained the island its pirate reputation! The Gramvousa/Balos region is a protected biotope. There are 400 different plants on Gramvousa, 26 of them endemic to Crete. The Anthemis glaberrima (a type of daisy), the Allium platakisi (a wild onion) and the Silene litegripetala are found only in this area and are protected species. In the shallow parts of the sea, the Mediterranean plant Posidonia oceanica thrives, providing shelter for marine life. 98 bird species have been reported in the area. 20 of them are protected and 14 of them are threatened species (like the vulture Europe Gypaetusbarbatus). The Mediterranean seal (Monachus Monachus) and the Caretta Caretta turtle find shelter in this area. Also, a flock of wild donkeys lives on the peninsula.!
Peddaloes across Kournas lake
This breath-taking lake is the only one in Crete, and the brillliant aquamarine waters are a wonderful backdrop for a spot of lunch. Afterwards, you can rent peddaloes or a small boat for half an hour and row yourself around the lake, and work up an appetite for supper!
Try the Cretan hooch!
Raki or Tsikoudia is distilled from the stalks and skins of grapes left over from wine pressing. It is drunk widely and you are likely to be offered a thimble-full glass of raki wherever you go. It can contain anything between 35-65% alcohol – you have been warned
Try authentic home cooked food by Mrs Katerina
Up in the "Eagle's nest" (Aetofolia) in Samonas village. Perched high up, with views to the valley and sea reached from twisting narrow mountain road (quite a drive!). Authentic, quality home cooking by Mrs Katerina, the owner. Simple and pure food with good local ingredients (their own eggs, chickens...). Call to pre-order food the morning before an evening visit, otherwise selection is limited. But you can always find a lamb "tsigariasto", which is cooked just right here, a potato & vegetables omelet, wonderful greek salad, keftedakia (meat balls) and the tastiest fried potatoes. In the summer, if you are lucky and she has stuffed tomatoes, they are fantastic.
Friendly and delicious
On the way from from Chania to the beach of Elafonissi via Drapanias there is a sign stating "Wine museum", a bit like the Agroturismo places in Italy. The Pnevmatikaks Winery is a nice and delicious wine tasting place, a family business that grows grapes and olives. You can taste all they produce: different wines including a wine called Romeiko, produced the way it was done in Antiquity. The Romeiko has a taste similar to a nice sherry and is 14.5 proof.Recommended are their olive oil taste and Raki (tastes similar to Grappa). If you purchase wine and oil they pack the bottlesup in such a way that they arrive safely home.
Wi-fi, wetting the whisle and watching the world go by
The owner of Epavlis Plaka, Nikos has a taverna on the corner of Plaka square called Elpis and opposite a lovely bar with Wi-Fi access. What better way to catch up with home, drink a coffee, beer or glass of wine,watch the world go by and then make the five minute stroll back to sanctuary!
Visit the Archaeological museum in Knossos close to Heraklion
Open Tuesday – Sunday from 09:00 till 19:00 and visit by far the worlds largest collection of Minoan artifacts.
Visit Kourna lake
A wonderful trip for lunch. You can rent a small boat fior half an hour and row yourself around the lake, then it’s time to relax in one of the many waterfront tavernas.
Drive through the Amari valley
Perhaps the most breathtakingly beautiful drive on the entire island, in particular the stretch of road between Mount Idi and Mount Kedros.
Take a ferry over to Loutro
From the village of Hora Sfakia take one of the regular ferries over to this lovely tranquil spot.
Visit the palace of Knossos
Excavated in the year 1900 by an English archaeologist by the name of Sir Arthur Evans, this is a most impressive palace, and we recommend that you hire a guide in order to benefit from their wealth of information.
Visit the ancient site of Aptera
Here you can visit the remains of a very important city dating back to the 5th century BC. It really is a lovely walk, and with there being no admission charge, a great cheap day out!
Go have a look at Souda
Souda Bay is one of the largest and deepest harbours in the Mediterranean. The word “souda” is derived from the Arabic language, and means narrow passage. This bay is now populated by the Greek Navy, NATO and a large American base and accounts for the eclectic and cosmopolitan feel to the former capital - Chania
Take a hike
Definitely recommended to take a guide with you, but no trip to Crete is complete until you walk along the deepest gorge in Europe, the Samaria Gorge.
Spend a day in Chania
The original capital of the island (since 1971 that honour has been passed onto Heraklion) Chania is one of the prettiest towns in the whole of Greece (perhaps on a par with Monemvasia, Nafplion and Corfu town). The city is reputed to be the oldest city in the world, and the mix and match of Venetian and Turkish influences and architecture.
Have you visited Epavlis Plaka?
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