» Greece, Crete – The Island of Historical Sights, Mountains, and Sea I
Greece, Crete – The Island of Historical Sights, Mountains, and Sea I
The title suggests that Crete is island of several great tourist attractions. People who love culture, those who love history and nature or just laying on a beach will all enjoy a stay here. The history of Crete is, however, very colorful. Therefore, it would be a pity to spend your vacation just being lazy on a beach.
In the era between the years 2700 BCE to 1450 BCE the Minoan culture flourished here. Sometimes it is called a “palace” culture for many palaces it had built in Knossos, Mallia or Kato Zakros. In various degrees the palaces have survived until the present day. You really can feel old history almost everywhere on the island. No wonder then that tourist swarm in great numbers every year.
In case you are not a fan of a Cretan sun the best season to visit the island is spring or autumn. It could be more raining, on the other hand temperatures are milder and the number of tourist is lesser. Also, accommodation is much easier to find than in the high season (June-September).
We planned our trip so we would really enjoy it. The quickest way to Crete is by plane, of course. Direct flights operate between Prague and Heraklion, the capital of Crete. Flight tickets would cost you up from 5000 CZK (depending on the date of departure). People who love adventure can try to get on Crete on land. First you would drive to some Greek or Italian port and then take a ship.
To travel across the island renting a car is the best option. And we did it. We also considered travelling by bus which drive, however, only between larger towns. Because of our plan to travel up into the mountains or more remote beaches, we had to leave this one. Visiting Crete out of the main tourist season has another perk – it is much cheaper to rent a car. There were only two of us so we rented a small car. It cost us around 120 euro for 6 day and insurance was included. There are no trains on Crete.
We intended to stay at camps and sleep in our own tent. There are about 11 camps on the island therefore we had to thing of the direction of our trip thoroughly. Thanks to the fact that we traveled not it the season we didn’t have to book our place at camps. Prices were also much lower. On average we paid around 13-14 a night for us, tent and the car. Camps are of various quality. But basically they are good and included all necessary facilities including free WiFi.
We planned to travel across Crete to the west from Heraklion at first. We would travel across Rethymno and Chánia up to the northwestern beach of Balos. Then we would drive down to Paleochora in the south. We wanted to walk through Europe’s longest gorge of Samaria in the Lefka Ori mountains. Our next destinations would be Preveli monastery, a palm beach and Faistos palace.
Then we were planning to move to island’s east to the area around Kato Zakros palace, a town of Palekastro on Vai beach. We would return to Heraklion along the northern coast. Our trip would conclude by a tour in the capital and Knossos palace. We had only eight days for the whole journey. Therefore, our schedule was really packed. We planned also to make a trip to the Lefka Ori mountains. Eventually, bad weather prevented us from completing this.
In the following parts of our series we tell you more about our journey. It will come out on every Monday.
GPS: (Heraklionu airport) 35°20'22.3"N 25°10'28.9"E
Text and photos: Vojtěch Bližňák
We end our journey across Greece on Skiathos, an island in the Aegean sea. It makes the Sporady archipelago together with the neighboring islands of Skopelos and Alonissos. If you like Mama Mia musical, this is a total must for you.
The green island of Thassos is situated in Eastern Macedonia. It is green because mountain peaks are covered by pine and olive groves. Its rocky shores are washed by the tranquil Aegean Sea. You will not find any airport or industrial zone. That makes the air here great. Thanks to the marble subsoil, one of the best marbles in the world is mined here.
An island with a history dating back to the early Stone Age was only discovered in the 1970s-80s. Today, it is a popular holiday destination not only for the mainland, Romanians, Bulgarians and the inhabitants of the former Yugoslavia, who are almost overwater here, but Thassos is stuck in the viewfinder to tourists beyond the borders of Europe. The most popular places include southern Limenaria and Potos.
Santorini (Thira in Greek language) is a relatively small part of the Cyclades archipelago, with a width of only 6 km and a length of just over 25 km. Its area, however, strongly balances the geographical and geological location of the island and its rich history. Situated 220 km from Athens and 110 km from Crete, Thira has always been an important and often necessary stop on the route between these major shopping centers. As a result, traces of the largest Minoan settlement outside Crete have been preserved on the island.
Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek) is one of the smaller islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Most tourists come here with a clear destination - relax on the beach, gyros and tzatziki, ouzo and maybe one or two trips to the most interesting sights. This 60 km long island with a long and interesting history can offer much more.
Beautiful nature, green olive groves and many famous beaches, that is Zakynthos. It is the southernmost and third largest island in the Ionian Sea. The symbol of this island is the beach with the wreck of a smuggling ship. But don't expect historical monuments like Rhodes or Crete.
The island of Mykonos is not big, it has an area of only about 100 km². And so the ideal way to travel the whole island is to rent a scooter, motorbike or quad bike. In addition to a varied nightlife, Mykonos is famous for its rugged coastline with beautiful beaches and a very pleasant climate. Today we will go to explore some of its most famous beaches.
Cosmopolitan Mykonos is an island in the Greek Cyclades archipelago in the Mediterranean. The world is known as the island of celebrities, creams and nightlife. Recently, however, it has come to the forefront of popularity and Czech travel agencies are beginning to offer it in their catalogs.
Lefkada is said to be a pearl in the Ionian Sea and to have just the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece. The name Lefkada dates back to ancient Greece and was derived from the bright white cliffs at the southernmost tip of the island. And we will take a closer look at this gem together today.
Wondering if you will end up heading out to sea? Would you like to fly to Crete? This island is so famous that we will not talk about it now. But while you're here, we know of a great day trip. That you don't want to walk around the sights in the awful heat? Be calm, this trip will absolutely captivate you. We set off to Chrissi Island.
Greek Kefalonia is the largest island in the Ionian Sea, located between Lefkada and Zakynthos. People come here mainly for beautiful beaches and peace, because it is not so touristy yet. The capital is Argostoli, which is also worth a visit. We stay in Lixouri and there is a ferry every 30 minutes between Lixouri and Argostoli. One trip costs less than 3 euros and takes 20 minutes.
We stay in the sunny country of Greece also this week. Today, we visit the most popular summer resort on the Olympic riviera – the town of Paralia. This sea resort is about 8 kilometers away from the capital of Pieria prefecture. Paralia is a great place to relax at and have fun.
Upon our visit to Litochoro, we moved several kilometers on. Our next stop was a typical Greek village with amazing nature, interesting architecture and amazing vistas.
This time we decided to set off to explore towns and cities in Greece. Litochoro was one of our first stops. This "stone town" is situated close to the Olympic Mountains.
This gem of Ionian Islands. It is known not only for beautiful beaches but also for its charming Greek countryside. You can enjoy it to the fullest on the island. Lefkada is situated south of Corfu and north of Cephalonia.
The last day before leaving Crete by plane we did want to spend in Heraklion. Most of all at the most famous Minoan palace of Knossos. At around 8 o’clock in the morning we left the camp of Sissi. About one hour later we were in front of our hotel. We parked the car and went for Knossos right away. This largest tourist attraction on Crete is only 5 kilometers to the south from Heraklion. Buses depart every twenty minutes for the palace and you pay 3 euro per ticket.
The next day’s morning we woke up while it was still being dark. Because we spent the night at a cottage, we quickly packed our things. At 6 o’clock we were already heading to Kato Zakros, another important Minoan palace. Unfortunately, the weather was not good. It rained all day. Yet this was no thing that would make us to loose our spirits. At around 8 o’clock we reached our destination. The information in the book guide said it the opening hours start at 8. However, right there we found out it would be at 10. Two hours of additional time meant we made use of them and walked along the coastline.
We left early in the morning the Agia Galini camp for Phaistos (Faistos) palais. It is considered the second most important Minoan palace (the first one is Knossos). The palace is situated on Kastri Hill which is in central area of the Mesara Plain. Up from there you can get beautiful vista of the Idi mountains.
On this day, we planned to make a short trip to the Lefka Ori mountains. Bad weather prevented us from going there. Therefore, we decided to travel to Moni Preveli monastery instead.
The longest European gorge of Samaria was another point of interest. The Samaria is located in Crete’s western half. The gorge is in the middle of the White Mountains (in Greek Lefka Ori). The gorge became a national park in 1962 when the inhabitants of Samaria village was displaced. It was situated in the middle of the gorge. Also, the gorge is a world biosphere reserve.
We woke up to nice and shinny day. Nobody was on the beach we went to so we just laid around. I recommend you Camp Mithimna, the camp we stayed at. Its owner was very kind and helpful. After a short talk with him we left for Balos, the beach in the northwest on the Gramvousa peninsula.
A delegate of the company we rented our car from had been already waiting for us once we arrived at the airport. It was apparent that there is some fierce competition among car rental companies. The way how they treat their customers is the consequence of the fierce competition. Once we had settled all documents we needed we get in our car and drove to the west. There are no official freeways so you don’t pay any toll.
After several articles on London we jump across Europe to the Mediterranean, actually to the east part of the sea. Today we will have a taste of sun after rains of London, and warm waters of the Sea of Crete.
One of the most popular holiday resorts in recent years has been Greek island of Samos, the birthplace of famous Pythagoras. What reason stands behind large numbers of tourists coming there between June and first half of September? There are actually couple of them!
One of the most attractive places on Rhodos east coast is Lindos, a city built in the rock. It has a acropolis and the temple of Athena of Lindos. The knights of the order of Saint John built the greatest local landmark.
The city with cultural traditions, with known rhetorical school (attended by Cicero and Caesar) and the famous sculptural school. Ever since its foundation (408 BC) the capital of the island is Rhodos, lies in whose northern tip.
From Old town with medieval buildings and watchtowers we head into the New Town district, where you can also find monuments from different periods, which was together with historical centre right declared by UNESCO as world natural and cultural attractions.
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