If you are making plans to visit Greece, then you definitely need to include Crete. Megalonisos as the Greek’s call it, is one of the most beautiful Greek islands, it is the biggest in Greece and the fifth biggest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. Heraklion is the capital and the largest city of the island. Its cultural heritage is enormous and goes back and before the Minoan Civilization. Birth place of famous painter El Greco and writer Nikos Kazantzakis, it is the cradle of the ancient and modern history.
The landscape of the island is so vast that sometimes you do not realize that you are on an island. Mountains, plains with olive and orange trees, gorges, sandy beaches, variety of wildlife, all together create a painting of fine art.
Crete is not only known for its history and beaches, such as Elafonissi, Matala, Falasarna, Vai and many more, but it is also known for its Cuisine, which is one of the most emblematic for its Mediterranean dietary
Heraklion is the largest urban center and the capital of Crete, with a population of about 200,000. The city holds the tradition of one of the most attractive cities in the Mediterranean because it houses the oldest monuments and specimens of Europe’s first civilization. The history of Heraklion begins in the Minoan era as the port of the legendary palace of Knossos. Its old center was built in 824 by the Arabs and later expanded and strengthened with a wall by the Venetians and the Turks.
Walk in the old town of Heraklion and admire the huge Venetian walls that surround it, the ones that protected the city from enemies, the Morosini Fountain with the 4 Lions the old library and many more attractions of the city. The entrance to the city’s harbor is dominated by Koules or Castello del Molo or Rocca a Mare, a Venetian sea fortress which protected the north coast of Heraklion with its cannons. Feel the beat of living, in the flea market enjoy your free time in one of the many cafe, bars and restaurants.
- One of the to do list in your lifetime is to visit the most popular attraction, the archeological site of the Knossos palace the administrative center of the Minoan kingdom. There you will admire expect of the frescos the Throne of King Minos.
- The city’s Archaeological Museum, which has expanded few years hosts artifacts, frescos and statues of Minoan civilization such as the Disk of Phaistos, the “Prince with the Lilies” and the fresco of the “Bullfighters”, and it considers one of the most important museums in the world.
- Phaistos is the second most important cultural center in the Minoan Age and was the second largest palace after Knossos and its view overlooks the deep blue Libyan Sea.
- In the Museum of Natural History you will admire the natural environment of Crete, embalmed and living species of animals and you will discover the wonderful natural world through the interactive exhibits. It is also worth trying the earthquake simulator.
- In the spectacular sea world, in CretAquarium you will see sharks, seahorses and many marine animals. The aquarium offers 60 tanks of different sizes, containing a total amount of 1,700,000 liters of sea water, it is home to 2000 sea animals, 200 different species found in the Mediterranean basin, and together with the appropriate scenery, it successfully represents the Cretan and Mediterranean sea beds.
The prefecture of Heraklion has beaches with green and blue waters for all tastes. Sandy, pebbled beaches, very popular, deserted, small and hidden in bays and large spread over several kilometers.
- Matala, the famous Hippies’ cave dwelling, known in the 1960s and 1970s where Hippies artists and musicians from around the world lived there. It is located 65 km southwest of Heraklion with golden sand and clear waters. In the area you will find shops with souvenirs, cafes, taverns, etc.
- Agia Pelagia is located in Vlychada, an artificial pebble beach. It is also popular and has two smaller beautiful sandy beaches.
- Kalamaki is located 2 km from Matala and is a small fishing village built on a large and quiet sandy beach. In the area you will find some small taverns and cafes.
- Koudoumas is a quiet and spotless place 80kilometers from the city with the homonymous Monastery. It is the place that you can find your soul if you talk with the monks and spend one night there.
- Akti – Karteros is located 7 km east of the city of Heraklion. The Coast is quite large in length and well organized with sunbeds, beach bars, cafes and taverns.
- Paleokastro has small pebbles and its waters are quite deep.
- On the beaches of Gouves, all the appropriate infrastructure for water sports are provided, both to professionals and to amateurs who love them and intend to spend pleasant moments in the waters of beautiful Crete. The most popular are Wind surfing, water skiing, canoe-kayak and scuba diving.
- Ammoudara is a large, sandy beach, with full organization, with shallow waters and is located 5 km west of Heraklion. The water is very hot and there is a windsurfing school.