If you are looking for a warm travel destination in autumn, look no further than the sunny island of Crete. Pristine beaches, ancient monuments, and delicious food, what more could you want?
Crete is the largest Greek island that was the birthplace of the oldest civilization in Europe and today is one of the most visited islands in the region. Filled with relics from the oldest civilization combined with beautiful mountain ranges, gorges, and the most stunning beaches you’ll ever see, Crete has something to offer for every traveler. Here are the top things you absolutely can’t miss on your holiday in Crete.
Samaria Gorge National Park
Located in southwest Crete, Samaria Gorge is the longest gorge hike in Europe with the main trail reaching up to 16 kilometers. The gorge starts from Xyloskalo at an altitude of 1,230m. The width of the gorge is 150 meters at its widest point and three meters at its narrowest. The hike takes approximately six to eight hours to complete which makes it a great day trip destination from Chania.
The beautiful scenery of the gorge makes it one of the most stunning locations on the island and a top spot for adventure and outdoor enthusiasts. Walking through this path you will encounter numerous flowing streams, unique wildlife, ancient villages, and impressive slopes. The hike ends on the coast of the Mediterranean sea which makes it a wonderful spot for a refreshing dip after hiking.
Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of beaches, you will still appreciate the natural beauty of Elafonisi Beach. One look at it and you will understand why it is often named one of the world’s best beaches. Elafonisi beach is located on the channel between the mainland and Elafonisi which is a small island known for its pink sand beaches and dunes.
The beauty of Elafonisi beach not only comes from the pink coral sand but also because of its sparkling turquoise water and mountainous background. Whether you are a photographer or just a beach enthusiast, you are bound to feel like you stepped into paradise.
The Knossos Palace
Knossos is a Bronze Age archaeological site of a palace and an ancient city that had a population of up to 100,000 in the 18th century BC. Knossos site was built around 3,000 years ago making it a wonderful exhibit of ancient Greek civilization and mythology. Unfortunately, Knossos was heavily impacted by repeated natural and human catastrophes like invasions, earthquakes, and the Theran Eruption in about 1625 BC. This is why today only the ruins remain in the location with some of the restored architecture and frescoes. However, this 22,000-square-meter ruin complex is still one of the most interesting and enchanting places to see on the island. Here you can see the beautiful reception courtyard where the royal family used to greet guests, check out the Throne Room and Sanctuary and explore the Royal Apartments that are built on four levels.
Chania Old Town Harbour
Chania is the second most visited city after the capital, Heraklion, which is known for its Venetian harbor and beautiful old town. The city’s harbor was built by the Venetians who started the construction in 1320 and finished the work only after three centuries. The magical harbor is a wonderful location to explore during the day and night. Here you can stroll along the lengthy mole all the way up to the symbol of the city – a 17th-century lighthouse. Along the harbor, you can find a variety of souvenir shops, and local restaurants that offer delicious Greek cuisine.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
If you are a real history enthusiast and you would like to learn more about the oldest civilization in Europe, then definitely don’t skip the incredible archaeological museum in Heraklion. The site has the biggest collection of Minoan artifacts with around 20 different rooms in chronological order. This way you can dive into the history even from Neolithic times. The exposition includes exhibits of jewelry, liturgical figurines, vases, weapons, and armor. The frescoes have been transferred to the museum in Crete, however, the Heraklion’s museum is home to two artifacts that remain a mystery to this day. One of which is the Phaistos Disc, a 15 cm diameter disc covered with symbols arranged in a spiral.
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