Travel Diaries: Mythical Crete Travel Guide
After re-igniting my love for Greece earlier this year, my husband and I decided to head back at the end of the summer for one last summer escape – this time we headed further south to one of the larger islands in the Aegean Sea – Crete.
If you are looking for a short haul, low key but nice, relaxing break, then definitely check out the greek islands – they have something to offer for everyone, from beautiful coves and secret beaches to bustling markets and winding cobbled streets, and not to mention the amazing greek cuisine!
Crete Travel Guide
Where to Stay
We flew into Heraklion, but actually stayed bang in the middle on the northern coastline in the district of Rethymono, famous for its Venetian town and port.
The hotel we stayed at was called The White Palace a beautiful hotel (with all-inclusive option) which prides it’s self on the ‘Hippy Blue’ decor and their beautiful interior design inspired by the blues of the ocean. I would highly recommend it!
Each morning I would take a run down the beautiful coastline, watching out for hatching turtles along the way. Once back I could cool down and stretch off in the gardens that overlooked the sea before taking a shower and heading down for breakfast.
We mixed our week up with some down days, lazing around the pool and enjoying the all-inclusive facilities and food which included a hand-made chocolate shop, creperie and an gelto bar (warning do not go to this hotel if you are on a diet) and of course plenty of cocktails, plus a few adventure days, exploring the south of the island and its contrasting scenery – we were located in the perfect place, with the quickest access to the south (45min by car).
What to Do
The northern coast of Crete has many beaches and fishing villages which you may wish to explore during the day.
Spot Hatching Turtles
If you are an early riser, be sure to take a (careful) beach walk and see if you can see any hatching turtles. This part of Crete is famous for its turtle conservation projects. Just be careful not to tread on any nests and if you see any, please be careful not to use flash photography as it will damage their eyes.
Preveli Palm Forest
The natural Preveli Palm Forest in the south of the Rethymon region is a must on your Cretian Bucket List if you are looking beautiful exotic locations to visit in Crete. It is the second largest after Vai (eastern Crete), located below the monastery of Preveli, at the mouth of the Kourtaliotiko gorge.
Access to the beach is only by foot, and there are two options, and a 3rd if you fancy a very long hike through the Palm Forest.
The shortest option is a five minute walk from nearby Drimiskiano Amoudi, accessed by dirt road (don’t be surprised – most of western Crete is like this and our small hire car survived, just make sure you take the ‘dustbin’ insurance option!) or alternatively (and I would highly recommend) if you are fit and able and up for a steep climb home (perhaps to work off some of those holiday cocktails), aim to park up at the top of the cliffs as you can enjoy the spectacular views as you descend down to the beach along the costal path of the entire palm forest.
This option offers picture perfect views and instagram worthily shots, and is well worth the effort. A little taverna on the beach at the base of the cliff path steps offers refreshing ice cold drinks and lunch time snacks to refuel you ready for the climb back up.
As the beach is a protected area, it is not as well organised as other beaches, so make sure you bring your own shade and towels to lay on as there are not available there – I quite liked this as it felt ore ‘un-spoilt’.
Heart Shaped Rock
As the palm forest spills into the sea, at the end of the trail you will reach the beautiful Preveli Palm Beach which is home to the famous heart shaped rock of Crete and a perfect photo opportunity to send a holiday snap back home from Crete ‘with love’!
Be warned though, the beach does get busy from lunch time onwards, so keep this in mind when you are planning your visit. We chose to visit this spot early in the morning when there were less crowds and cooler temperatures for the hike, then grabbed lunch at the Taverna (less crowded) at the top of the Cliff near the car park which offered our favourite typical greek Chicken Gyros and was quite cheap too! Highly recommended
Other Beaches in Preveli
We loved the south coast of Crete so much that we went back a few times, another great beach spot we checked out, also near Preveli, is Skinaria Beach.
This beach is well organised, with a few taverna options to choose from and as you might expect on a typical greek beach, beds and brollies! If you love to snorkle then this is a great spot for you!
In the afternoon we moved on and went hunting for another beach to explore preferably with a nice bar (we were after cocktails), so headed further along the coastline towards Plakias, and followed signs to a beach bar at Mikro Ammondi beach. After parking up the car we followed more signs along a foot path to a nice beach bar discovering lots of perfect cliff jumping spots on route, but when we got to the beach we noticed something very different about this spot – everyone was nude! Shocked and surprised, and not quite sure what to do with our selves, we quickly turned around and headed back up the path, back to the car, giggling away!
In the evenings…
I would highly recommend making the most of the cooler temperatures and heading into Rethymon town. A taxi into town takes only about 10-15 mins from where we were staying, and costs very little. It is well worth doing if you fancy spending your evening exploring the market streets and tasting the local delicacies (in our case – we were on the hunt for more Chicken Gyros!).
Places on my list for my next visit to Crete
Famous for it’s pink sandy beach, crystal clear lagoons and beautiful monastery, located in the most South Westerly point of Crete
One of Cretes most beautiful beaches, located in the most North Westly corner of he island.