I have always loved Greece and so last year decided to take a family holiday to Crete….
The flight was 3 and a half hours long and we arrived into Heraklion Airport. Our transfer on to our resort of Sissi took around an hour and was one of the first stops. On arrival at our hotel Maritimo Beach Resort, we were welcomed and shown 2 different rooms to choose from. They were in the process of updating all rooms though no work is taking place that you can see. We had paid for a sea view room and were upgraded to a sea view superior 1 bedroomed apartment which was perfect. Half way through our holiday we came back to the room to find a bottle of wine and a selection of fruit which was a lovely touch.
Sunrise from our room (I never wake up this early, but I’m glad I did to catch it)
Being based on Half board meant I could try a few more local dishes such as Chochioli Boubouristi; do not be fooled by it’s name, this is not a chocolate delicacy; Cretan dialect chochlios means snail, in this dish the snails are fried with flour and hot olive oil in a pan, then doused with wine (or vinegar), with voila and Rosemary. An interesting dish. I do like however, to sample local restaurants whilst on my holiday and Sissi has a fair few to choose from for a small resort.
The resort of Sissi was just our kind of place. A small village but with plenty of restaurants overlooking the sea and a nice selection of local shops. The sandy beach was around a 20 minute walk through the town from our hotel although there are hotels much closer. There is another beach about another 5-10 minutes on which incurred a little scramble over some rocks but was worth it for the much calmer sea we needed for snorkeling. We saw some beautiful blue and green fish and lots of other schools of fish. Rock shoes are advisable in this area of Crete which you can buy locally.
I would really recommend hiring a car. I didn’t realise we would want one until we got there and decided between booking excursions and doing our own thing independently. We prefer to be independent and have the freedom of where and when and how long we stay for. I would recommend pre-booking your car to get a quality vehicle and ensure all insurances are covered with an excess waiver. If you prefer to take excursions there are plenty we can pre-book for you.
Driving on the other side of the road! If I can do it, anyone can! 1st time driving abroad on the right – proud of me. Call us for car hire quotes!
On day one of having our vehicle we ventured out to the east coast and resorts of Aghios Nikolaos and Elounda and the sleepy village of Plaka. Aghios Nikolaos has plenty of shops, bars and restaurants and we saw the marina with beautiful big yachts and the town beach, the drive around the coast is absolutely beautiful.
I can dream….(Aghios Nikolaos)
We headed up to Elounda which is a lovely resort with some nice bars/restaurants on the front, a decent amount of shops and sandy beach. You can get *boat trips out to the small island of Spinalonga here (*approx 12 euros) . Steeped in history, the island was used for the leper colony years ago. It is worth a visit to see how the community lived. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinalonga . We carried on to the very Greek and tiny village of Plaka where you can also get across to Spinalonga island, it is a little closer so a little cheaper from here.
Day two, we ventured south across country to Chrissy Island, a (nearly) uninhabited island off the south coast of Crete. We got the ferry across from Lerapetra, ferry tickets were available on the promenade leading up the ferry so this was very easy to do. I imagine in high season, this island would be full of young party day trippers. There was a bit of a party feel to the beach where most people congregated, you can however find a quiet spot and go and explore the island too. Just ensure you take plenty of sunscreen, hat, water etc as you are here for the day until the ferry arrives to take you back (don’t miss the ferry back either or you will be stuck there for the night). I am still wearing the bracelet made locally and sold by one of the very talented hippies who live there.
The next days hired car adventure was up into the mountains to the old traditional villages and Psychro Cave https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychro_Cave . This cave is a Greek mythological site as the place “where Amalthea, nurtured the infant Zeus with her goat’s milk”. Being a lover of Greek mythology and history of the places I holiday to, this was worth a visit and the trek uphill for me. The villages were lovely to see and a taste of real Greece.
We then drove on to Heraklion to the famous archaeological site of Knossos. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knossos. You can hire a guide on the gate or stroll around without. I would suggest a guide would be good as you get so much more out of the visit and they bring the place alive. The entry fee was 15 Euros and an extra 1 Euro for entry into the museum in Heraklion housing the artifacts dug up from this important historical site. Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit the museum and it is a regret we did not have a whole day to do both. I would suggest to do both the archaeological site and the museum to bring it all together.
Knossos – Throne room
Our holiday was just one week and I would’ve loved to have stayed longer. The Cretan people were so welcoming and friendly and I would love to see more people heading to Greece as every island has something different to offer. Crete being the largest and southernmost of the islands meant there was lots to see and do and the weather was just perfect at the end of May. I highly recommend a visit!
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