Monday, March 23, 2015

Top 4 Things to See in Crete

by Laura Bianchini

Crete is bathed with sunshine and warm weather for many months of the year, making it the perfect place to visit especially in May and October, when it’s not too crowded and it still feels like summer. The temperature at that time is warm enough to go swimming and have dinner in the lovely outdoor squares, but not too hot to be unbearable – and the perfect time to enjoy a luxury yoga retreat. The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is full of beautiful beaches, amazing historic sites, breathtaking gorges and charming fishing villages.

Here are the 4 Must-See Places in Crete recommended by people who know the island well and love going back every year:


Chania is the most charming town on the island of Crete and some say in all of Greece, with its gorgeous Venetian harbor, old town center and colorful pedestrian streets. You can spend hours
walking around exploring the boutique shops, getting lost in an outdoor market, or taking a break at a waterside café at the harbor, watching life go by.

Chania Harbour and Lighthouse
The food and the locals

The food is amazing, with fresh ingredients based around a healthy Mediterranean diet – having dinner at an outdoor restaurant along the harbor is an experience not to be missed. The locals are super friendly and welcoming, and you can feel the history in every building from the lighthouse to the old port. It doesn’t feel touristy and it’s been able to maintain it’s authentic charm and style despite it being in every guide book’s highly recommended stops. This is definitely a must-see and top on our list of places to visit in Crete.

Elafonisi and Falasarna Beaches

These two long gorgeous beaches are a highlight in everyone’s trip to western Crete.

Pink Sand at Elfonisi Beach
Elafonisi beach sits on the southwestern coast of Crete and has clear blue water and unusual pink sand caused by particles from pink coral and shells that have been ground into fine sand by years of natural erosion. You can walk through the water from the end of the beach to a small island with more beautiful pink sand, and spend your day on a sunbed reading a book and taking in the beautiful scenery. You’ll feel like you’ve landed in paradise!

Falasarna is closer to Chania on the western part of Crete, with a very wide golden sandy beach and green-turquoise water. Despite being a popular beach destination, it still feels very peaceful and spread out, perhaps due to its size. There is always a breeze here, making it an ideal escape on very hot days. Both beaches are a definite must for beach-lovers and an easy day trip from Chania.

Samaria Gorge
Samaria Gorge

One of the longest and most spectacular gorges in Europe, the Samaria Gorge boasts some magnificent flaura and fauna and incredible scenery. It’s a wonderful experience for both novices and expert hikers alike, and recommended by every local friend you’ll make in Crete.

You do however need to go prepared with appropriate hiking boots, hat, and plenty of water, since parts of the gorge can get a bit challenging. And it’s quite a long hike – it can take up to 4-6 hours depending on your pace, still easily doable as a day trip. But it’s worth every step, and at the end of this wonderful journey, you can treat yourself to a swim in the warm Libyan sea – with a view of Africa in the distance.

Knossos Palace

Minoan Palace at Knoss
Knossos is the largest of the Minoan palaces and was the political, ceremonial and administrative center of Minoan civilization until it was abandoned after its destruction in 1375 BC. It grew to occupy about 20,000 square meters and was a maze of workrooms, living spaces and storerooms close to a central square. 

According to Greek mythology, the palace was designed with such a complexity that no one placed in it could ever find the exit - and therefore became the famous Labyrinth dwelling of the Minotaur in Greek mythology. The southern entranceway to the palace offers a grand arrival, leading the visitor through a corridor with elegant frescoes decorating the walls.  The main square leads to the other areas including a throne room, a central palace sanctuary and a residential quarter, which may have housed royal apartments. Full of wonderful historical details, Knossos Palace is a must see for the history buff.

And so many more secret little corners to explore…

These are just four of the numerous wonderful things to see in Crete – an island rich in beauty, history and culture. We’ll have plenty of time to visit these places on our trips, and also explore secret corners that only the locals know about.

After our day trip to Elafonisi beach and a restorative yoga class by the sea, we’ll wander into a sweet little hillside town nearby and have the most delicious home-cooked meal ever. This cozy local restaurant used to be the children’s school and still has black & white pictures of its young students on the wall. A simple old stone building with a lovely courtyard, a few tables, and food made with love!

Check out these amazing holidays in Crete!

Year-round villa holidays in beautiful Greece

Easy-going and fun Yoga holidays

About the Author, Laura Bianchini

Laura has worked in the travel industry for many years, primarily organizing tours for U.S. visitors to Europe, accompanying many guests on their first trips abroad. Born and raised in Rome with an American mother and Italian father, she has lived in New York and London and has traveled extensively to many parts of the world, always in search of those special beautiful corners of the planet. She is a yoga instructor and has been practicing for over 12 years, experimenting with various styles from Vinyasa, Iyengar and Ashtanga, to restorative and Yin yoga, continuously learning and discovering how yoga can help people physically and emotionally. After holding marketing jobs in banking and media in New York and London, Laura decided to make a change from corporate life to start her own business. Combining her passion for travel and yoga, she created Yoga Escapes, keen on sharing those two passions with others on her retreats.

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