Who doesn’t like island living? Warm water, white beaches and cheap pink snorkelling gear on every corner! Crete has it all…
When to go:
Friends gave us the valuable advice of going at the start of the season (first week in May), and boy were we treated like royalty! We arrived at the Atlantica Kalliston and the staff could not be happier to see us. The resort was still fairly empty, the food was fresh and everyone was super friendly.
Where to stay:
There are so many resorts to choose from but after a lot of research we opted for the Atlantica Kalliston for two reasons; we didn’t want to be too close to the party capital Heraklion and the resort was not too large.
As you can see this hotel is right on the beach. They serve drinks and food on the sun chairs and it’s basically Greek heaven. There are three pools, a fabulous spa and even free walking tours with a guide telling you about the area. We stayed for 7 nights and it was more than enough time to enjoy all the amenities of the resort and explore the surrounding area.
The hotel was a 2.5-hour drive from Heraklion airport (it’s only 20min from Chania airport). Flying to Heraklion was the cheapest flight from London and as we wanted to rent a car we didn’t have an issue with driving.
5 Things to do in Crete, Greece:
Once you are settled in and got to grips with the beautiful scenery we suggest doing the following:
- Rent a car and drive around: No matter where on the island you are you have to get out of your comfort zone and drive around. The roads were calm and we found the drivers to be very respectful. We rented a car from Heraklion airport, there are a number of companies to choose from. Just a heads up that the people are very laid back. The petrol tank was near empty and the car was pretty banged up, not the level of service that we normally receive, but the price was good and the car got us through our holiday.
- Take half board – Don’t fall for the appealing full board ‘sit back and relax’ option on this island! You will find local restaurants everywhere on the island and the prices are GREAT. It seems so cliche but the Greek salads we had was the best Greek salads we’ve ever had, and so was the lamb, costing only €5 – 10 per person for a large meal. I don’t have a single photo of our food in Crete, to me, that’s proof that we couldn’t wait to start eating and had no time to stop and take a picture!
- Experience Balos Beach: A very popular attraction on the island is visiting Balos Beach. There are two ways of getting there, driving yourself (including hiking down to the beach and of course back up again and beware it’s a very steep hike) or taking a cruise. We opted for the later. The benefit of driving is that you can get there early and avoid the crowds. The benefit of taking the boat is that you get a bonus trip to Gramvousa island (which we actually liked more than Balos Beach). Book tickets online if you decide to take the cruise and make sure to arrive early to find a good seat on the boat.
- Visit Lake Kournas: This was a lucky find. We were searching Tripadvisor for things to do nearby and found the most magical place, Lake Kournas. It’s inland so it’s great to visit on a windy day when the beach is less than perfect. You can either take a picnic or visit one of the nearby restaurants (there is only a hand full of restaurants so a picnic is a better option). Rent a paddle boat and make friends with the swans floating in the lake. Don’t forget to buy a floaty device before heading to Lake Kournas (we missed out big time).
- Shopping and eating in Chania – Chania is one special village. There is plenty to see but I recommend walking down all the small alleys and keeping your eyes open for handcrafted leather bags and handmade Greek beauty products filled with all the olive yumminess in the world.
A special thank you to Atlantica Kalliston for making our trip so memorable with your great service!
If you have any questions about Crete or have any other tips to share please comment below.
Hope to see you again, Crete!