This island has been blessed with an extraordinary fusion of landscapes some of which include snow-capped mountains, gorges, caves, rolling hills, cascading valleys, plains, endless citrus and olive groves, rivers, lakes, natural and man-made ports, harbors and countless kilometers of varied coastlines.
The Lefka Ori (White Mountains) are snow-capped in the winter and the snow is still visible at the start of the summer – wonderfully contrasting sight where the light of summer defines each twist, bend and cliff of this massive mountain. It is for these reasons, as well as the fact that they are covered in a whitish- light grey colored limestone rock, that these are called the White Mountains. With over 55 peaks this mountain range rises well to 2,452 meters above sea level at Pachnes and falls to the southern shores. It is this decline which has created several beautiful and most impressive gorges such as the well-known gorge of Samaria beginning at Omalos and home to the unique species of wild goat (locally known as the ‘kri-kri’), and others such as Therisso gorge, Agia Irini gorge and Imbros gorge.
Crete is dotted with several traditional and interesting mountain villages some of which include the historic Therisso village, Kandanos, Vamos, Vrysses and Melidoni village. Mountain retreats are a unique experience at any time of the year.
The northern coastline has large bays, a multitude of larger beaches and the largest natural harbor, Souda Bay. Scattered in the sea are a number of islets such as Agii Theodori, Agii Pantes and Spinalonga.
Some of the most famed beaches are Elafonisi beach, Falassarna beach, Balos lagoon, islet of Gramvousa and Gavdos islet. Elafonisi beach – a destination in itself – is on the south-west corner of the incredible length and a wide section of sandy beach before the sea.
The Balos lagoon and the islet of Gramvousa (again north-west Crete) are quite ‘tropical’ in style with turquoise waters and magical beaches. Gavdos islet (48 kilometers south of Chora Sfakion), accessible only by boat is a get-away destination.
The southern coastline which faces the Libyan Sea has smaller indentations; smaller beaches, caves and ports such as Sfakia, Loutro, Agia Roumeli, Paleochora, Plakias, Agia Galini (all coastal villages with varied beaches).
Lake Kournas, just 4 kilometers from Georgioupolis, is the only freshwater lake on Crete and is protected under Natura 2000 as it is an important wetland and home to ducks, eels, water snakes and the Diamondback Terrapin (a rare species of terrapin/turtle with a patterned shell). Most enjoyable place to relax at with views to mountains, the sea as well as the lake – even while it sits just 20 meters above sea level.
The Diktaean Cave and the Idaean Cave are the most important caverns on Crete and are known since Neolithic times.
A land of contrast and surprise is heartwarming to be in; while in the west you are surrounded by citrus and olive groves which alternate with mountain plateaus and while in the east, taken aback by the number of palm trees around. Stunningly beautiful natural landscapes provide exciting incentives to venture out, explore Crete and discover its beauties in art, culture, gastronomy, natural surroundings and traditions.
It is an established fact that over the last years amount of tourists visiting region of Chania, Crete has increased greatly, making this wonderful Venetian town and its surroundings one of the top destinations in Greece amongst such popular places as Athens, Santorini and Mykonos.
People are coming here to spend great time and to visit spectacular sights like bay of Balos, pink-sand beaches of Elafonissi or trek down the Samaria gorge, the biggest in Europe
Crete’s strong local culture is instrumental in the daily lives of the people of Crete. Cretan music, traditional dances, Cretan food, Christenings, weddings, festivals, religious celebrations and holidays are just a part of this integral and deeply intimate cultural heritage.
Famous Cretan hospitality is very much still alive; locals are friendly and offer directions and tips freely, neighbors frequently bring over fresh eggs, vegetables and fruits from their plots or even a meal or dessert they have prepared.
Being the largest island of Greece at 8261 square kilometers Crete is often referred to as ‘Megalonisos’ (big island). It is in fact the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean.
Crete, which lies south of the Aegean Sea, in the center of the East Mediterranean basin (where Europe, Asia and Africa meet), is a long and narrow island with east-west orientation (260 km long and widest part at 60 km).
This island has been blessed with an extraordinary fusion of landscapes some of which include snow-capped mountains, gorges, ….
Zeus, the ruler of all Gods, born in the Diktaean cave and raised up in Idi Mountain on Crete, was also buried in his birthplace. Being born, raised and buried on Crete, Zeus is said to be resurrected each, live on and reign. He is a God who dies each year and is reborn even stronger, much in the same way that nature brings everything back to life in spring.
In Ancient Greece, hospitality was a virtue where care for ‘xenoi’ (strangers such as messengers from a distant land) was a divine requirement.
Crete enjoys a Mediterranean climate, where weather can be characterized by mild winters and hot, dry summers. Warm weather is enjoyed for nine months of the year from April to November and winter months are just December to March.
The coastal areas have a dry summer and mild winter. Good weather prevails throughout the season while it can rain sporadically from December through to March. Snowfall along the coast is a rarity.
In search of the ideal diet which would improve one’s health, ward off illness and optimize our functioning, the Cretan diet has been pin pointed as being just the right one to follow. The term ‘diet’ of course is used not as a diet to follow in order to lose or gain weight but rather a lifestyle which encapsulates the way in which we achieve well-being. This lifestyle, a deeply cultural act, includes foods, drinks and activities.
Several studies on the traditional Cretan diet have shown that the population of Crete enjoys the longest life span and have the lowest percentage of death caused by heart attacks and of various kinds of cancer.
1. Elafonisi beach
Located close to the southwest corner of Crete, Elafonisi is in fact an island taking its name from the Greek words ‘elafi’ and ‘nisi’ meaning ‘deer island’.
The beach and island are quite tropical in style with fine white sand and clear turquoise waters. In fine weather you can in fact walk to the island through the shallow water. This beach is a destination in itself for travellers and locals alike.
Airports: Crete is serviced by two International airports (Chania and Heraklion).
Chania International Airport (CHQ) is 14km east of Chania.
Busses depart regularly from Chania airport to Chania center (journey time approximately 30 minutes). Taxis are readily available.
Both short term and long term parking is available.
Tel: +30 28210 83800
Heraklion International Airport (HER) is 5km east of Heraklion.