In the Western side of Crete is the old capital of the island—Chania. Chania has been the capital of Crete up until 1971 when it was moved to Heraklion. With the White Mountains at its back, Chania overlooks the Aegean Sea, and it is a wonderful place to explore on foot. Pastel-colored buildings line its alleys, and the early 20th-century agora is worth visiting. The Agora, or covered market, has fresh seasonal produce, and Cretan cheese and honey. 12 kilometers northeast of Crete is an airport served by regular ferries from Piraeus.
Located in the Chania is one of Europe’s largest canyons called the Samariá Gorge. Housed within the Samaria National Park, the gorge is just outside Omalos’ mountain village and is watered by the river Tarraios, which dries up during the summer season. Samariá Gorge’s stony path can be challenging especially to do those who have knee problems, but hiking the gorge is a must-do as long as you are capable of it. Hiking the 18-kilometer gorge takes about four to six hours—depending on your fitness level—and up to 3,000 people hike the gorge on busy days. The gorge is open to the public from May to mid-October.
Heraklion, Crete’s capital, is one of the must-see places when you visit the island. It’s the fourth largest city in Greece, and it houses more than 140,000 people in the city proper alone. The Minoan Palace of Knossos, Koules Fortress, and the Phaestos Minoan Palace can be found here, and there’s more than a handful of beaches in the area that offers numerous activities to its visitors. Being an industrial city port, Heraklion’s beaches aren’t safe for bathing. The seabeds of Heraklion, however, has interesting flora and fauna, and many ancient shipwrecks, making diving is one of the most popular activities in the area especially on Malia, Agia Pelagia, and Gouves. Heraklion’s windsurfing centers and strong winds during the summer provide great windsurfing opportunities. There are also hiking trails in Heraklion that offer routes to villages, gorges, and ancient sites.
Also located in Heraklion is The Palace of Knossos, the largest Bronze Age Archaeological site. Set in the Neolithic period, the palace was inhabited by the Minoans who were named after the mythological king of Crete, King Minos. What used to be the center of the Minoans civilization is now an abandoned city; its inhabitants left the Palace of Knossos around 1380 to 1100 BC for unknown reasons. It is, however, speculated that the palace might have been invaded or disaster (earthquake or volcanic eruption) struck Crete, which might have caused the Minoans’ disappearance.
About 65 kilometers east of Heraklion is the Áyios Nikólaos wherein Crete’s most popular modern resorts are located. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, the Áyios Nikólaos is a place for strolling along Lake Voulismeni wherein numerous waterfront cafés and restaurants are located. You may go boating on the Spinalonga Island wherein Greek TV series are shot. You may also visit the stalactites and stalagmites-covered Diktean Cave near Áyios Nikólaos. Make sure that you check out Krista, village wherein local artisans sell leather goods, ceramics, and hand-woven rugs. Along Krista is the Panagia Kera, a 13th-century church wherein there are amazing Byzantine frescoes.
For an authentic Cretan experience, try our vacation rentals at All Luxury Apartments for a hassle-free vacation in this picturesque island. We offer holiday rentals that would fit a range of location, budget, and duration of stay. With a number of accommodation choices, ranging from Crete cottage rentals to luxury private villas with pool, All Luxury Apartments can provide house rentals—be it short term or long term—that would suit your needs.