I just came back from a (mostly) sunny 10 days in the Greek island of Crete. Originally we were going to visit a couple of islands but it worked out a bit over budget so opted for the full time in Crete. I’ve got serious holiday blues and can’t stop posting photos on my Instagram so while it’s fresh, here are my top recommendations for a holiday to Crete.
Where to stay
We chose to stay in Chania old town, located in the north-west because we wanted to be in a town but with access to near-by beaches. Our studio apartment was in the absolute perfect location. We didn’t hire a car so had to take buses and coaches to get around. The flat was a 7 minute walk from the bus station and close to supermarkets and shops. Being right on the old Venetian harbour was magical and a Maitre d’ told us we had 237 restaurants to choose from! I would recommend staying in Chania old town as a brilliant base to explore north and western Crete.
On many of our coach trips we went through different seaside towns which seem to be built purely on tourism; many beach resorts, family restaurants and activities like mini golf and go-karting. If you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday as a family or couple these would be the perfect places.
Where to eat
As I mentioned before there are over 200 restaurants located just in the old town. We found there wasn’t too much variety with mainly traditional Greek cuisine or Italian restaurants and not much else. That being said we did eat some incredible food.
My top three must-eats
Lithos on the harbour: make sure you order the panna cotta.
Veneto in the old town: the Amatriciana pasta dish is amazing.
Semiramis in the old town: a really romantic spot for al fresco dining. Try the baked feta and never look back.
What to do
Maritime museum: located next to a wartime fortress, this compact museum is a great visit for only €3 entry. It was really interesting to see all the artefacts and read about Greece at war when you’ve only ever learnt about British and German relations.
Walking and hiking: there are plenty of mountainous areas around which would have been much easier for us to visit had we hired a car. Even walking around the town or along the harbour is beautiful though and there are stunning streets hidden around every corner.
Boat and snorkelling trips: we took an hour boat trip out to a small island and I got to see a turtle swimming free which was magical! During the summer they offer longer trips with snorkelling but the water would have given me a permenant chill so we just sat in the sun and enjoyed the sea.
Botanical park: I read some pretty negative reviews of the gardens before we went; ignore them all! The walkways are slightly steep at times, no good for prams but easy to navigate. They have a huge array of plants set in the beautiful, lush hills and a restaurant serving food made with some ingredients directly from the gardens.
Where to visit
Heraklion: this is actually a place NOT to visit. It took almost 3 hours and €30 to get there on the coach and is just a bigger, less clean, busier Chania. There are museums and Knossos is not too far away but everything costs extra to get into (€10 for a museum that someone described on Trip Advisor as ‘just jugs’). The town is probably great if you’re really into archeology and souvenir shopping but not much else.
Falasarna: the most beautiful, secluded beach I’ve ever been to with clear water and soft sand. Of the 3 beaches we visited, this was by far the best. Many tourists go to Balos but you have to pay €27 for a cruise to an island beforehand and only get two hours on the actual beach there.
Elafonisi: located on the southwest side of the island, Elafonisi is supposed to have pink sands caused by tiny broken shells. We weren’t able to see much pink and it’s a definitely hotspot for tourists, plus getting the coach meant we were only there for around 4 hours.
Agia Marina: super easy to get to and more of a resort town which was fine for the first beach we visited. The buses run here really regularly, there are plenty of places to grab some food and the water is nice and warm.
I hope this helps if you’re looking for some tips for your own trip to Crete!