Through Tiffany ryes, international banker
Sandy beaches against sprawling mountains; green palm groves against limestone bleached by the sun; vibrant modern cities against centuries-old streets and architecture – Crete is truly an eclectic and diverse island of contrasts. However, if one thing ties the assortment of Crete experiences together, it’s the clear, crystal-clear water that envelops this bustling Greek island in a disarming whole.
The Crete experience
A memorable mix of experiences and sights can keep you busy on this island. Whether you are a history buff, foodie, beach lover or just looking for a memorable getaway, the island offers a wide range of experiences and destinations.
The best time to visit Crete is from mid-May to June, when the waters are warmer and the local wildflowers bloom, dotting its coastline with color. In September and October the water is cooler and most tourists are already gone, but Crete continues to offer places and activities to excite every traveler.
To help you plan your itinerary, below are some of the destinations you may want to explore taking in all the sights, sounds and wonders of this magical Mediterranean island.
Traveling to Heraklion, the capital of Crete, introduces guests to one of the most fascinating cities in the Mediterranean region. This medieval area is full of history, attractions and activities; inside is the largest and best-preserved Minoan site in Crete, the Palace of Knossos. Considered the mythical labyrinth of King Minos, this historic site includes four wings built around a central courtyard, which includes living spaces, ceremonial spaces, elaborate decorations.
Meanwhile, Koules Fortress is a 16th-century Venetian-style structure. Imposing and impressive, this fortress has large and heavy wooden doors that open to period pieces such as old cannons, ancient pots and stone carvings. History buffs can also enjoy the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which houses artefacts spanning over 5,500 years of history. The Morosini Fountain in Lions Square is also a must-see, a wonderful base site for further exploring the city.
While the city offers several accommodations, most travelers looking for a top-notch getaway choose Faros Villa, nestled in 150 acres of private land and overlooking Sigri Harbor and the Aegean Sea. Perched on a peninsula on an elevated property, guests can enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the Mediterranean Sea. Built to the highest standards with high quality wood and marble as well as Italian furniture, the contemporary villa is truly a vacation home away from home.
This lavish private resort features a saltwater infinity pool perched perfectly atop a seaside cliff. To further appease guests, the resort offers a wide range of specially designed activities and experiences. This includes healing treatments and therapies, as well as healthy cuisine from the establishment’s local chef and a well-tended garden, perfect for yoga and meditation.
To the east of Heraklion is the coastal town of Agios Nikolaos, which invites guests to stay a little longer and fully explore its many sights and sounds.
At the heart of Agios Nikolaos is Lake Voulismeni, a freshwater lake rooted in mythology, allegedly the lake in which the gods Athena and Artemis bathed. For centuries, people have flocked to this mythical body of water for its healing properties. Today it is framed by a plethora of bars and restaurants that serve a diverse mix of Cretan and international dishes to a crowd of locals and tourists alike.
Many sites in this city offer first-hand mythology lessons, as around it abound sculptures, such as The Horn of Amalthea, reminiscent of a myth of Zeus, and the nearby Cave of Zeus, in which the god was supposed to be hiding. Another sculpture is The Abduction of Europe, in which Zeus was transformed into a white bull to approach a beautiful girl, Europe.
Museums in the area include the Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos, which houses pieces from different Minoan periods. The Agios Nikolaos Folk Art Museum, meanwhile, offers guests a glimpse into the Cretan way of life, with ancient pottery, textiles, and furniture on display.
For travelers looking to rest and explore this fascinating city on another day, a stay at Orea Villa offers a memorable experience in itself. Built and designed with opulence in mind, this state-of-the-art property offers one of the best views on the island – of the Kalydon Peninsula (Spinalonga) and beyond to the open sea.
The property beautifully recreates a traditional Greek town down to the smallest detail, from stone paths to narrow streets, Cycladic houses and sunny terraces. With a gorgeous heated swimming pool overlooking Mirabello Bay, guests are transported to a lush Mediterranean sanctuary all their own.
In the north of Crete is Georgioupolis, a town popular for its exceptionally long beach, the longest on the island. This town, once a fishing village, is now a thriving seaside resort, with the Lefki Ora (White Mountains) offering a resplendent setting. Georgioupolis is also home to another white structure, the iconic Agios Nikolaos Chapel, located at the end of a rocky causeway.
Meanwhile, the organized beach is lined with umbrellas and sunbeds, which provide tourists with a space to relax and sunbathe before taking a dip in the water. Snorkeling and jet skiing are also popular activities here. For those who want to get away from the sea-loving crowds, Georgioupolis also offers the island’s only freshwater lake, Lake Kournas. Meanwhile, the Argyroupoli offers a magnificent view of its waterfalls.
However, one of the city’s most exquisite gems is Levanda Villa and Jasmine Villa, two exclusive villas with private pools each that overlook Falassarna Beach and the magical sunset beyond. The Raised Villas offer guests a private space away from busy beaches, taking them to a world of their own, with its classic Greek style surprisingly offering all modern comforts to satisfy even the most selective traveler. Villas feature fully equipped kitchens, private sea views from their balconies, gardens, and full barbecue facilities to provide guests with a sanctuary to enjoy with loved ones.
Located at the western end of the island, soulful Chania maintains a charming and authentic Cretan style alongside more developed destinations. Holidays in Chania offer unique experiences with a rustic Mediterranean vibe, allowing tourists to feel its history while enjoying its splendid seaside resorts and serene beaches.
One of its most popular tourist spots is Chania, which offers a walk through time. Boasting traditional Greek, Venetian and Turkish architecture, this picturesque and historic village has an interesting range of establishments. Its well-preserved buildings and mansions have been restored and turned into shops, restaurants and taverns.
Another sight to see is the Venetian lighthouse, erected in the 16th century. This sits at the far end of the Venetian Pier, one of the city’s most important historical sites. The port is lined with shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants offering traditional Greek and international dishes.
Meanwhile, overlooking the harbor and bay is a modern and striking luxury property, Villa Kyma. Designed by an initially sea lover as a dream retreat, every detail of this villa has luxurious relaxation in mind. Three of its four spacious bedrooms and two living rooms offer a generous panoramic view of the turquoise Mediterranean bay. You can enjoy alfresco dining, lounges and barbecues, with a perfect view of the sunset. This villa is also equipped with a 50 square meter infinity pool overlooking the sea and a path leading to a salt water sanctuary where you can enjoy a private beach.
The ultimate luxury
Cradle of the most enduring legends and myths as well as one of the first civilizations, Crete is truly a Greek world in its own right. It has a beautiful and magical atmosphere and the island is large enough to be explored and fully enjoy a wide range of experiences. From exploring ancient structures to visiting museums, treks along hills and mountains or walks on narrow stone paths through ancient villages, tasting the best Greek cuisine before resting in the midst of A blend of modern comfort and Greek hospitality, the island offers vacation experiences that never fail in splendor.
And with private properties that offer exclusive amenities and premium services, any discerning guest can experience the height of luxury in every corner of Crete. In a word, serenity.