If you’ve planning to visit Greece, make sure you include a few days in the gorgeous island of Crete! We planned a wonderful stay in the gorgeous GM Villas in the Almyrida area, located by the coast in the middle of Crete, halfway between Chania and Heraklion.
We started our journey in Greece from Crete and spend 3 days exploring the island from west to east.Break up your itinerary between these locations:
1. Chania – Old Venetian harbor and Old market
2. Beaches – Elafonisi & Balos
3. Other Towns: Exploring the multiple other towns like Rethymno, Almyrida and Heraklion
We focused most of our time in Chania and by the pristine beach of Elafonisi!
Chania: As Lonely Planet says: “Hania (also spelled Chania) is Crete’s most evocative city, with its pretty Venetian quarter, criss-crossed by narrow lanes, culminating at a magnificent harbour. Remnants of Venetian and Turkish architecture abound, with old townhouses now transformed into atmospheric restaurants and boutique hotels.”
Chania Light house:The lighthouse at the mouth of the Venetian Harbour is one of Hania’s landmarks, sparkling at sunset and then illuminated after dark. The stone tower rises 21m above a stone base and was built in the 16th century by the Venetians, although it underwent various changes over the years. It’s a nice walk out here with photogenic views of the waterfront.
There are few places where Hania’s historic charm and grandeur is more palpable than in the old Venetian Harbour. It’s lined by pastel-coloured buildings that punctuate a maze of narrow lanes lined with shops and tavernas. The eastern side is dominated by the domed Mosque of Kioutsouk Hasan, now an exhibition hall, while a few steps further east, the impressively restored Grand Arsenal houses the Centre for Mediterranean Architecture.
The old town of Chania is the beating heart of the city and the prefecture of Chania.
Crowds of people, tourists and residents of the city, people of all ages, come here and get what the charming old town and the enchanting Venetian harbour of Chania has to offer.
Elafonisi: As described in Lonely Planet,”If much of life in Crete is like a beach, remote Elafonisi is a beach and a stunning one at that. Tucked into Crete’s southwest corner, this symphony of fine pinkish-white sand, turquoise water and gentle dunes looks as though lifted from the Caribbean. Off the long, wide strand lies Elafonisi Islet, easily reached by wading through 50m of knee-deep water. The entire area is part of Natura 2000, the environmental protection program of the European Union.”
I’m not kidding when I say this place was spectacular due to the stunning pink sands! The water is crystal clear and the blues are breathtaking!
The drive up to Elafonisi is long and winded and took us about 2.5 hours to get there, but it was absolutely worth it! Its much less crowded compared to all other beaches we went to and just so surreal!
Balos: We heard amazing things about Balos but we also heard its incredibly crowded. So we skipped it and chose to drive around exploring all the other remote beaches along the drive to Rethymno.
Rethymno:Quoting Lonely Planet:Basking between the commanding bastions of its 15th-century fortress and the glittering azure waters of the Mediterranean, Rethymno is one of Crete’s most enchanting towns. Its Venetian-Ottoman quarter is a lyrical maze of lanes draped in floral canopies and punctuated with graceful wood-balconied houses, ornate monuments and the occasional minaret.