Immersed in the Mediterranean Sea, Crete is washed on the south by the Libyan Sea. This island offers incredible views of mountains and plains, Caribbean beaches (more touristy in the north coast, more isolated and wild in the south) and a dip into history and legend. It is said that Zeus, the father of all gods, was born in Crete.
If you are organising your 10 days trip to Crete, you could check out the most popular hotels among our users. Book in advance to ensure the best offer:
– Galaxy Hotel in Heraklion – 5 stars
– Aquila Atlantis Hotel in Heraklion – 5 stars
– Hotel Haris in Agia Marina – 3 stars
– Hotel Fereniki Holiday Resort and Spa in Georgioupolis – 3 stars
There are many things to see and it is essential to rent a car to freely explore the island. At the Heraklion airport you have several rental options, from the most famous companies (Europcar, Hertz) to the minor ones (such as Royal Car Rental). Some of them offer the possibility to rent without credit card and sometimes without advance payment (see http://carrentalcrete.gr and http://www.cretarent.gr). However, it is better to book your car before leaving, especially in high season.
Heraklion and its surroundings: what to see
Spend some time in the capital city whose architecture clearly reflects the past Venetian hegemony, such as the imposing city walls and the fortification that still dominates the city. Visit the archaeological museum and continue your plunge into the Minoan civilization going to the nearby archaeological sites of Knossos and Malia.
The archaeological area and Matala
Move south and stop to the archaeological areas of Gortyn, Phaestos and Agia Triada. You can have then a restorative bath in the clear waters of the famous Matala beach, from where you can walk to the less touristy Red Beach.
Nearby there are other beautiful and generally less busy beaches, such as Kommos and Kalamaki.
Matala, also known for being an active centre of the hippie movement during the ‘60s, offers a range of accommodations.
Visiting the province of Rethymno
From Matala you can move to the province of Rethymno, which embraces parts of both the south and the north coast. You can pause at Agia Galini, with its characteristic terraced restaurants overlooking the Libyan Sea. From here you can easily reach by boat the less popular beaches of Agios Georgios and Agios Pavlos.
In the south coast it is also definitely worth the sandy beach of Preveli, bordered by a small forest of palm trees and dominated by the monastery of Preveli, that offers an amazing view.
Driving northwards you will enter an enchanting mountain area with numerous villages and the famous Arkadi monastery.
Rethymno, dominated by the seventeenth-century fortress, is a charming little city that mixes its history and architecture with both the Venetian and Turkish influence.
In the south coast you can find the village of Hora Sfakion, 70 kilometres (43,5 miles) far away from both Rethymno and Hania. From here walk or more easily take a boat to reach some beaches with incredible sea bottoms, like that of Glyka Nera, or the charming fishing village of Loutro.
Chania and its surroundings: what to see
The lovely and vibrant town of Chania is located about 60 kilometres (37,28 miles) from Rethymno and represents a strategic point to discover the western part of the island. Its architecture also reveals the interweaving of the Venetian and Turkish culture in the history of Crete. It has several places of historic interest, including the Archaeological Museum and the Venetian castle.
The large area north-west and south-west of Chania includes some of the most enchanting and famous beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.
The day trip to the Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe, is a “must”. Ask your hotel about this excursion. Otherwise, you can organize it by yourself.
From Chania you can reach Omalos, about 40 km (24,85 mi) far, a mountain village at 1200 metres (3937 feet) above sea level. From here you will walk downhill for about 16 km (9,94 mi) to the scenic seaside village of Agia Roumeli, through a breathtaking and wild landscape. If you left your car in Omalos, from here you can catch a ferry and then a bus back to the starting point.
Falasarna, Balos and Elafonissi: the most beautiful beaches of Crete
If you prefer not to drive for long, you can choose to stay in the area of Kissamos (40 km/24,85 mi west of Chania) to more easily reach several must-see beaches:
– The Balos lagoon and the facing Gramvousa islands offer wild nature, white sand and a Caribbean landscape.
– Falasarna, with its white dunes and turquoise sea is much loved by tourists and surfers. Do not miss its incredible sunsets.
– Elafonissi, is considered the most beautiful beach of Crete. Its white and pink sand and crystal-clear and warm waters make it a real gem.
Chania has its own airport. However, if your 10 days in Crete are over and you have to depart from Heraklion, the two cities are about 140 km (86,99 mi) far away by motorway.