My first memories or learning of Crete were in Church listening to my pastor reference Acts 27:7. Later, I became enthralled with Greek Mythology and learned more about Icarus in the scope of the larger Greek stories in a college course. It was a destination I have always had my heart set on visiting. Sailing from Santorini to Crete is not the shortest of boat rides but when you do arrive, you quickly notice it’s massive compared to some of the other Greek Islands.
Arranging transportation through your hotel might be a good idea. Coming in through Heraklion and then navigating to other parts of the island is a journey in itself. I was staying at Elounda Mare Hotel so I truly saw a good span of the island just going from one end to the other.
Elounda is near Aghios Nikolaos and this part of the island is something out of a fairytale. The pink skies as the sun goes down are one of those things you have to see in Crete. I love the other islands but this was a painting in real life.
There are several beaches in Crete that you will want to visit (time permitting) but Elounda Mare has private beaches and views worth sitting awhile to appreciate.
Aghios Nikolaos was not nearly as chaotic as some of the other towns I’ve visited in the islands. You can leisurely walk through, popping in and out of shops and of course dine on the lake. This is another great place to find authentic Greek leather sandals. They are not astronomically priced and you will find a wide selection. It’s also very helpful that they have some luggage shops just down the street because if you’re like me, you will need another bag to bring them all home. This is also a boat lover’s dream area. There are so many colorful little boats used to get around and the detail on some just couldn’t be ignored.
Knossos Palace is not to be skipped. I had a private guided tour arranged and learned so much history about the Minoans and where Icarus comes into play. I also may or may not have nearly got kicked out for a daredevil picture.
Wine Tours in Greece are splendid not just because of the fresh wine. In Crete, I was learning about wine, olives and so much more. They can ship wine home too so you don’t have to try and pack it all in your luggage.
In Heraklion, you will notice the history of the Venetians remains through the architecture and structure of the town. This area is booming with people going in and out of shops because it’s not only the biggest city but it’s also where the cruise visitors all populate while there. I needed an emergency manicure because climbing rocks at Akrotiri did a number on my manicure and I was able to get that done before eating lunch at Mino’s. I really love chicken souvlaki and again, Minos’s didn’t disappoint. The mainstream retailers like Zara and Massimo Dutti can all be found but I really like the smaller shops. There are some stunning jewelry finds here and bags that you won’t find in other places. That’s where I spent my euros.