When you choose to holiday in Crete, you know that you are in for a treat! This Greek island offers stunning natural scenery you will love, such as when you explore the Samaria Gorge, and gives you the chance to learn more about history by discovering ancient monuments, like the Palace of Knossos. You can also experience the famous Cretan diet, which includes delicious vegetarian dishes as well.
We’ve previously talked about some of the amazing things you can see and do on this Greek island, from family-friendly activities to the gorgeous Elafonissi Beach with its beautiful pink sands. One of the great things about the island is that you can easily get to these destinations by car; the same is true for the ‘hidden gems’ you may not have thought of immediately. Car hire in Crete is easy, so you can just take the family for a great day out, exploring unique locations at your own pace.
1. Visit the Arkadi Monastery
This monastery has quite the history and is of great significance to Cretans. During the Cretan revolt of 1866, after the island was invaded by soldiers of the Ottoman Empire, locals fled to the monastery, as they believed it was a safe haven. However, after three days of battle, 2000 Turkish soldiers stormed the monastery; the hegumen (or head of monastery) Gabriel Marinakis ordered the locals to blow up barrels of gunpowder, sacrificing themselves instead of surrendering. Today, the monastery is a powerful symbol of freedom for Cretans.
2. Watch a Movie Outdoors
Did you know that the town of Chania has two open-air cinemas? The Attikon and the Kipos, usually showing blockbuster movies or more cultural ones, respectively, offer great cinematic experiences for everyone to enjoy. It’s a unique experience, even if you’ve watched a film outdoors before; after all, can you say you’ve done it in Crete? No matter the movie you choose, you’re sure to enjoy a wonderful evening in nice weather, surrounded by beautiful scenery!
3. Explore the Island of Spinalonga
If you wish to see more than Crete during your visit, the little island of Spinalonga is easily accessible by boat. Located in the northeast of Crete, Spinalonga – officially known today as Kalydon – can be found in the Gulf of Elounda and possesses a rich Venetian history that you’ll love discovering.
The tiny island wasn’t even an island before, but part of the mainland. During Venetian occupation, Spinalonga was carved out of the coast and used for defence. A fort was built there and, eventually, Spinalonga was also used as a leper colony. Nowadays, the island is a peaceful one, so hop on one of the boats leaving the coast around every 30 minutes and enjoy exploring this uninhabited island!
4. Discover the Gortina Ruins
South of Mount Ida, the tallest mountain in Crete at 2,456 meters, is Gortina (or Gortyn), a Greco-Roman archaeological site with ruins spread throughout fields and olive groves. You can explore the site at leisure and enjoy the gorgeous landscapes surrounding it – perfect for a day out. Gortina reached its peak during the Hellenistic era and was once the most powerful city in Crete. If you love history, you can’t miss out on this stunning site.
5. Dip in the Ocean at Seitan Limania Beach
While Summer and sunny, warm days may not last much longer in the UK, the same isn’t true for Crete. The climate is perfect for anyone seeking a dip in the water, even if it’s not in the peak of summer, and a beautiful beach for this is Seitan Limania Beach on the Aegean Sea. It can get pretty busy during peak season, especially because it’s such a small beach. But by going at the end of summer or the beginning of autumn, you can avoid the crowds and still enjoy the sun on this uniquely shaped beach.
Crete has so much to offer, including little gems that will add plenty of magic to your Greek holiday! Just lose yourself in the natural beauty of the island, explore ancient monuments and places, and eat delicious food.