Visiting Crete was one of my dream and I worked hard for that dream come true 🙂
I wanted go solo and find travellers while I am there, as it is a popular travel destination..
Greece is one of the most magical countries. On the Mediterranean Sea, the people and the vibe of Greece are warm, welcoming, and relaxed.
Crete is the largest island in Greece and 88th largest island in the world, over 3,200sq. miles.I spent one week in Crete, Greece, and recharged my body with sunshine for the coming winter season.Crete embodies perfectly what makes Greece such a beautiful country. It bursts with amazing beaches, crystal clear waters, magnificent mountains, buzzing cites, archaeological sites, and picturesque villages. Moreover, Crete is located in the far south of Greece and marks the borders between the Aegean and the Libyan Sea. Thus it is a perfect location for late beach vacations.
When I arrived on Crete, I was lucky enough to see and stay with a friend I met few years ago online. His mother is originally from the island so she has spent all of her life in Crete (and few months in main island, Greece).We had 9 days on the island, so we rented a car and set out to see as many of the beautiful towns and beaches as we could on south and west of Crete.We started in Heraklion as I landed there airport, the capital and largest city of the island. Heraklion is a lively port city filled with sights including famed Knossos (the Minoan palace, Europe’s oldest city), museums, restaurants, bars and hotels.I also strongly recommend you go and visit the archaeological museum in Heraklion. You will be blown off your feet when you see how many artifacts have been found all over Crete.
Then we set off to Matala, a small village about 1.5 hours drive.Matala beach is located 68km southwest of Heraklion, between the plain of Messara and Asterousia Mountains. It is one of the most popular destinations of Crete and certainly the most famous beach of Heraklion. It has become known from the caves in the rocks and the hippies of the 70s. It is located near Phaistos, the second most important palace of the Minoans.
You can come in Matala beach by taking the road to Mires and then follow the signs. You could also combine your visit to Matala with a visit to Phaistos. There are also regular buses from Heraklion.The most characteristic feature of the area, are the many caves carved in soft white stone thousands of years ago and located in the northwest of the beach. There are also several caves underwater.It is considered as certain that the caves of Matala beach were tombs of Roman and Christian Period. In these caves of Matala beach in Crete, the hippies found their paradise in the 60s and 70s. Thousands of them were gathered to express their ideas freely, to enjoy love and create.The caves were on high sedimentary cliffs, sandstone, a lot of seashells in it. The caves were carved out by the Minoans hundreds of years ago. Then they were used later on for leper caves. Then after that the Romans came, and they used them for burial crypts. Then some of them were filled in and sealed up for a long time. People began living there, beatniks, in the fifties.Kids gradually dug out more rooms. There were some people there who were wearing human teeth necklaces around their necks.
After 3 days in Matala, we left to Plakias, which is another 2-3 hours drive to south. Plakias is a coastal settlement at the southern Crete, 40 km south of Rethymno, with 237 permanent residents, built at the cove of the bay of the same name on a wonderful sandy beach, 1300 m long, between the capes Stavros and Kako Mouri, that is ideal for swimming and sea sports.Wonderful to relax a few days in the sun after a long hike into the White Mountains of the Cretan highlands. The town has a unique feel and it has a beautiful surrounding countryside with fine walks and gorges.Both the seafood restaurants and the backstreets small family restaurants offer a fine selection of the most amazing Cretan foods.
After 4 days in Matala, we left to Preveli for the rest of my time in Crete.One of the most beautiful places on Crete, Preveli Beach, is located on the south coast of the island, not far away from the city of Rethymnon. This place is famous for its natural palm forest. When you are in Preveli beach you have the perception that you are transferred from Europe to some distant place in Africa or South America. Just imagine the palm trees and the the green river. Add to this, the great Preveli canyon with it’s river and the surrounding mountains and you will feel lucky if you enjoy this little adventure.
I left Crete with a solid plan to come back again next year! Three weeks might not even be enough to see everything!