Updated: Feb 23
Planning Your Trip to Greece
Did you know that Greece consists of just about 6,000 islands? If that isn't enough to make your head spin when picking a place to start, I don't know what is! Don't worry though, only around 225 of them are inhabited islands. See? We're already narrowing it down. ;)
Crete - Getting Around
I chose to start my Greek vacation with the largest Island, Crete. I flew into the enchanting harbor city of Chania ( Χανιá or ΧΑΝΙΩΝ - Pronounced: Ha-nee-ah.)
Chania has an international airport with regularly scheduled flights year round. I chose to rent a car from the airport for my stay on the island. If you're intimidated by the thought of buzzing around Greece in a compact, don't be! The drivers are generally courteous in Crete (Athens is a different story), and like any other country, your GPS can be set to your native language to easily navigate.
Pictured above is me next to my handy Volkswagen Up! and a portion of the mountainous terrain I drove through to get to Elafonisi. If you're not driving, you should take a taxi.
What to See & Do
Crete is a massive island that I would safely say you could take an entire week to explore. It offers a plethora of unique activities for any type of traveler, and If you've been to any other of the Greek Islands, you'll immediately notice how different Cretan cuisine is. One of my favorite things to do on any international trip is learn the food culture. This amazing company, Cretan Cooking Classes, offers a variety of classes that include everything you need to take home a piece of Crete. Learn what makes olive oil special, how to cook Cretan specialties like a Greek Gordon Ramsey, and maybe get a little tipsy on Raki ( a delicious local drink) while you do it.
Another reason I would highly recommend getting a car, Crete is lined with incredible beaches! The island is considered to have the clearest water in all of Europe and offers an astonishing 40m view while snorkeling and diving. Those of you who know me, know I'm a dive junkie :D so I spent a lot of my time on the island exploring beaches. Below are a few of my favorites.
Located in the South Western corner of Crete. The sand of Elafonisi beach is white, but can have a pink hue because of the thousands of broken seashells it contains. The water is the most pristine I've ever seen and offers a shallow slope into the deeper waters. It truly feels like you're swimming in a heated pool. You will find sunbeds, umbrellas, lifeguards, showers, a couple of bars with seats in the shade, and bathrooms. Although it is crowded during the peak season, it's the perfect beach for a family trip.
There are also many Olive Orchards and Apiaries along the way if you're interested in learning about the rich honey and olive products from this region.
Seitan Limania Beach
Literally meaning "The Port of Satan." Despite the name, this beach couldn't be more heavenly on the eyes. This beach is not set up for tourism at all, which is one of the reasons I fell in love with it. In order to get to the beach you have to drive up a switchback trail, and then hike a steep downhill trail. So wear your tennis shoes! You can also reach this beach by boat if you have access to one. I packed a picnic and wine, and enjoyed this beach very much.
Where to Stay
I can't miss giving a shoutout to my friend Dimitris and his incredible Airbnb. This little loft has every amenity you could possibly need. It's secluded pool is perfect for sunbathing, and oh is it comfy. Use my link for $40 off your trip here.
There is so much more I want to write about the beautiful island of Crete, and Greece! I'll be diving into Part Two of my guide to Greece very soon, picking up with Mykonos next.
Until then, adventure on, friends!