Excursions on Crete

The place descriptions, excavations and other natural and tourist attractions in Crete, such as Knossos, Festos, Samaria Gorge (the largest in Europe), Venetian castles, caves and sea caves, many very beautiful monasteries in the country - just a few examples to name a few, there are picture albums, based and panels, which can get partially on kiosks, museums and souvenir shops galore. Additional clues to explore the island will give you the following tours prepared by me:

1. From Heraklion to the burial caves of Matala Bay

An interesting visit is the small seaside resort of Matala, mires, Moni Kalivianis and Pitsidia. The road leads directly into the Bay of Matala. The first glance at the silver-gray sand is unforgettable with its iridescent multicolored pebbles. This natural harbour is framed by two high cliffs. Left is the small fishing village of houses stacked staggered, cubes, right, a rugged Escarpment rises. Here the promontory rises in obliquely layered, bright yellow clay stone walls, in which several caves are carved up, which were used as burial sites.

According to the legend, Zeus is the Princess of Europe in the shape of a bull by his hump in this Bay on land. In the romantic fishing village you will find cafés and tavernas with hours-fresh fish. You will recall in this place long and always happy. From Heraklion go buses daily to Matala, which saline water therapeutic properties attributed to what attracts local.

2. In the footsteps of the Minotaur from Heraklion to Malia

The third largest Minoan Palace, which after built by Sarpedon, brother of King Minos, Sage is the Malia. It is located 34 km east of Heraklion, and if you choose the coast road instead of the road, you can connect this trip with other attractions.

Malia is a village with banana plantations and fertile fields, which has been a big boost in recent years thanks to its beautiful beaches. Shops and taverns line the streets to the sea, where you can eat well, listen to music and dance. 3 km after Malia branches left a street at the has walls of Minoan houses are visible. To reach it the Palace of Malia. The entire complex is well preserved and shows little signs of restoration. The construction is adopted for the 20th century before Christ in which was also a necropolis situated close to the sea.

3. Heraklion - Kalo Chorio - Gournia - Ierapetra

From Heraklion on the road to Agios of Nikolaos. On the coastal road that leads from here to the South, after a fascinating trip, where the mountains form headlands that plunge into the sea, and past numerous bays of constantly changing nature, you reach the hamlet of "Kalo Chorio" after 11 km.

The blue-green water of this still undiscovered Oasis invites you to swim. It would be a sin not to stop here. the Minoan town of Gournia, on the slope of a hill, with cobbled streets and stair ways, leading to the great court in the Centre of the village is 8 km away. Gournia was a craftsman and trading town and had an important role because of its location. then, at 2 km Pachia Amos, the road at the narrowest point of Crete (13 km from the North to the South Coast) branches right to Ierapetra, from the "nymph of the South". (Continue straight at Pachia Amos, so come to Sitia - see trip No. 8).

Ierapetra is located on the Libyan Sea, Africa, in the midst of a fertile plain where bananas, grapes, melons, tomatoes and olives are grown. A Venetian Fort, an attractive Promenade and very beautiful beaches characterise the image of this city. One can undertake, if enough time is the return of Sitia.

4. Agios Nikolaos - Kritsa

An interesting half-day trip is to the charming mountain village of Kritsa, situated between olive and almond gardens. Weaving, which are sold in several stores on the street, are manufactured here. In the village are several Byzantine churches. The most important is "Panagia Kera", below the village, from the 12th century. Its frescoes are preserved and are among the most important Cretan. Between the Church and the village, a gravel road leads to the ancient city of lato (700 v BC). From here, you have a great view to the Mirabello Gulf.

5. From Kalo Chorio via Agios of Nikolaos to Lassithi

On the majestic coastal road from Kalo Chorio to Agios of Nikolaos (going around the city) reaching the village of Neapolis on the highway, surrounded by a fertile valley of Vrisses and the road leads uphill to Mesa Lassithi Potami. Shortly thereafter, the Lassithi begins plateau. As far as the eye can see you can see orchards, corn and vegetable fields. Countless windmills with white sails irrigate the Valley, which is surrounded by the Diktimountains.

Going on, so you reach the most interesting point of the plain, the village of Psychro. Above the village is the cave "Dikteon Antron", the Sage after the birthplace of the father of the gods Zeus. Leave the car and climbs towards the steep stairs to the Grotto. To visit the cave, it is advisable to take a guide because it is poorly lit (with candles). You need approx. 2 hours for the climb from the car park. Footwear, possibly a sweater and a flashlight are recommended.

6. From Ierapetra to the donkey Island Gaidouronisi (Chrissi)

It is two hours from Ierapetra in the Libyan Sea and the boat trip to this uninhabited island is a special experience, which is easy to arrange during the summer months. White dunes overgrown with pine trees and Juniper, secluded beaches of sand, multicoloured pebbles and Cockleshells surprise visitors.

7. From Ierapetra to the monastery of Kapsas (Moni Kapsas)

Wide built coastal road east of Agia Fotia, Koutzouras and Makrigialos, situated in a peaceful Cove, leaving Ierapetra. Here, the road leaves the sea, and can be reached after 5 km to Moni Kápsas the shield of the junction. Now, there are still 9 km on a somewhat tedious to earth road. It runs along Lagada and then East a rocky coast, which is however very impressive.

At the first, situated above the road small monastery, you reach Kápsas on an impressive, advanced rock Street located. A strange spell dominates this place of solitude and silence. Below the monastery you will find lush semi-detached houses. Please keep in mind that you will be allowed to enter the monastery not in short pants.

8. From Ierapetra via Sitia to Vai Palm Bay

Over the narrowest North-South connection in the island, take out of Ierapetra and Pachia Amos. From here, it is not far on the road to Sitia. The rise of the new panoramic road begins at Kavousi. In Platanos hold best on the terrace under large plane trees, to drink coffee. There have a great view over the island Psira and see the sea with white shimmering water whirling, stemming from a strong source, almost vertically falling off, among them.

It continues about Sfaka, Mouliana and square. This is followed by Sitia, a pretty little town by the sea, the prototype of the peaceful Mediterranean port. All valleys to the sea is lowering and the coastal plain in the South of the town are planted with vines. Sitia was once a strong Venetian fortress. The Quai along under the trees, visit taverns and restaurants.

According to Sitia, then leave the road and continue in an easterly direction to Palekastro to the Palm forest of Vai (28 km). At Palekastro with its small, bent in the wind Holm, the road passes through barren land, descends to Vai a fringed with Palm trees, beautiful sandy beach. Here there are no shopping except for a refreshment kiosk – this magical place is so remote.

You can choose the return journey from Sitia to Ierapetra (93 km) Piskokefalon, Pressos and Lithines through a varied landscape. A landscape of mountains and hills that are decorative planted with vines and olive trees. This route, you are fascinated especially the villages glued to the slopes.

9. Rethymnon - Préveli - Plakias

A really worthwhile trip takes off from Rethymnon across the Island South to one of the most beautiful landscape impressions of Crete. It is a unique route as many Crete experts believe, that will certainly delight.

One direction of Armeni, branches to 21 km turn right and reached the village of Koxarè through a vertical rock-soaked ravine. It runs until shortly before the Asomatos (31 km from Rethymnon). Here, the way divert to Plakias and Préveli, which choose the direction, according to Moni Préveli, the monastery of Préveli. Soon you will reach the river of Megalopotamos, on a picturesque Venetian bridge spans decorative.

Large olive groves, surrounded the abandoned old monastery, the road runs high over the Libyan Sea to the friendly views of the majestic main monastery, which preserves precious icons. Its monks will gladly show you these treasures. (have 37 km to laid back here). Back drive the road to Asomatos, but before that branch off towards Lefkogia and continue to Plakias. Here you will find an idyllic Bay before this humble village, to enjoy fresh fish from the grill and the well-known "Kakavia", a finely flavored fish soup under a tamarisk after the bath. It continues to Rethymnon then Margiou, Asomatos and Armeni.

10. Rethymnon - Agia Galini - Phaistos - Gortys

The road branches off left to Spili (28 km), which is immersed in green, and Timbaki 3 km from Rethymnon. On the South coast in the Bay of Messara, is inspired by the picturesque fishing village of Agia Galini on the hill above the sea. It continues after a bad break over Tymbaki to the Palace of Phaistos, built on a hill, far beyond looking over the Messara plain and up to the fabled peaks of the Ida mountains (2.456 m).

The road turns south after Matala and eastern reaching Gortys, which was earlier Greek or Roman capital of Crete. Her remains rest in the shade of ancient olive groves. Gortys got famous in ancient times by the record of his being. It was in the 5th century BC stone tablets carved (approx. 17,000 letters), which were built in the 1st century ad in the walls of the then built Odeums. The rights in ancient, Doric dialect, the lines were driven alternating normal, i.e. from left to right proceeding, and mirror image from right to left in the stone are written. The Temple of Apollo, the Odeum and Titus Basilica (the first Episcopal Church in Crete) are worth a visit.

11. Chania - Samaria-Schlucht

One of the most impressive on the island is a trip to the "Samaria Gorge". Footwear is a prerequisite. A good asphalt road leads past the orange groves of the villages of Agia Alikianou and Fournes. The many churches in this region have frescoes from the 14th and 15th centuries. By Fournes out it is worth a detour Meskla, a small hamlet with lush vegetation and a Byzantine Church, which hosts outstanding frescos.

Back in Fournes you continue from here to Lakki. Villages, its whitewashed houses between slender cypress trees on the slopes of the mountains are built, the road leads past always further up in the "White Mountains" (Lefka Ori), until the views of the Omalos plateau opens (1.050 m o.s). Soon you reach Xyloskalo and from here begins the introduction to the 18 km-long Gorge.

At the kiosk of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT), you can enjoy a Greek coffee before descending. The eye glides from here down to the 1,000 m deep falling cliffs - a breathtaking view. The Canyon has an average width of 40 m. In some places it narrows but up to 2 m, where the dark side cliffs up to 600 m vertical rise. From entering Xyloskalo to Agia Roumeli, the exit of the Gorge, it takes approximately 6 hours. The effort of descent is rewarded by a swim in the crystal clear waters of the Libyan Sea. The return would be too tedious to Xyloskalo. It takes to Chora Sfakion - along the wild, indomitable Rocky therefore with the ship. Chora Sfakion, terraced built on the southern slopes of the mountains, has a picturesque harbour between crevices.

My Tip: Because this eventful trip difficult perform with your own car, it would be advisable organized to undertake it. All travel agencies in Chania offered him. They are brought up to Xyloskalo and then again picked up in Chora Sfakion. You can start the Tour "Samaria" but even by bus from Chania (5:00 am). - Don't forget food!

12. From Chania to Kastelli

Leaving Chania in a westerly direction. After a 8-km drive on the coastal road, parallel to the sea, you will reach the village of Agia Marina, surrounded by rich vegetation, beautiful sandy beaches. The trees reach up to the sea and you can hardly resist the temptation to refresh yourself with a dip in the clear waters. The nearest city is in Platanias. The old village is perched on a 70 m-high Hill, whose Hänge drop almost vertically to the new, built on the beach village. About Maleme, where the German military Cemetery from the 2nd World War, driving towards Kolimbari, a fishing village at the foot of the peninsula Rodopou. A trip to the monastery of Gonias with its valuable icons and frescoes, and the monastery treasure is recommended.

The rising mountain landscape of the peninsula Rodopou crossing of Kolimbari on serpentines. Suddenly you can see Kastelli among themselves in the middle of the Gulf of Kissamos, framed by the peninsula of Tak and Rodopou, embraced by vast olive groves and vine gardens, from where excellent olive oil and delicious wine is produced.

Kastelli was called in ancient Kissamos, and served as a harbor of Polyrinia. Today, the town is a rural impression. From here, there are boat connections 1 x per week to Peloponnese. Kastelli is home to a small museum with historical finds of this region. South of the city, you can visit the ancient Polyrinia (6 km) on a hill that dominates the Valley. In a westerly direction, a detour of Platanos and the small settlement of Poros worth to Falasarna, which is surrounded by a beautiful landscape and beautiful beaches. Falasarna was lifted around by an earthquake several metres in the 5th century AD, so the old facility was no longer to use.

13. From Chania to Paleochora

A distance of 77 miles: One going west along the national road of Maleme (German Cemetery from World War II) on the beach and branches off in the direction of Voukolies and kandanos or Tauronitis. The road follows the River through lush farmland and is steadily increasing. After Kakopetros, the ascent of the pass begins. The mountain road descends to kandanos or about Floria. If you make a station on this ride, you can visit numerous churches with interesting frescoes and icons.

We reach Paleochora, a small town on the deep blue sea of the Western South coast of Crete, with golden sandy beaches, and there is a built on the promontory, Venetian castle. Cafés are located on the main street of Paleochora. Eateries and taverns, in which the well-known and good wholesome red wine of the place will be served.

14. Sitia - Paläkastro - Ano Zakros - Kato Zakros

From Sitia in an easterly direction, pass inviting beaches of Sitia Bay, to reach the village of Paläkastro, where the road turn right to zakros, the seemingly weltverlorenen East of Sitia mountains after 25 km. The paved road leads to the village Ano zakros through small villages. After driving through the barren, sparsely vegetated hills and mountains surprised the village through an almost Evergreen dress that is attributable to the abundance of water of a source above the village.

From Ano Zakros leads down a dirt road to the ruins of the Palace of Kato Zakros (approx. 8 km). Along the way, they pass through the Valley of the dead, which is embedded in a Gorge, whose cliffs dark caves that are a mysterious character give this place (in the Minoan period, there were burial grounds). Kato zakros is located at the end of the Valley to the sea, with the fourth largest Palace of the Minoan period. This port is one of the major transhipment points for trade with the then-known world was favored due to its location. The rich, well-preserved finds from this facility are housed in the archaeological museum in Heraklion.

Next to the palace ruins on the beach you will find for your physical well-being also a tavern, where you can enjoy, after a swim in the clean and clear waters of this Bay, on the way back.

The Palace of Knossos

Finally a few words about the two most important witnesses of a great epoch, from their roots our modern civilization is sprung:

The Palace of Knossos, the Pearl of the Minoan culture, which was the largest enclosed settlement of Europe at that time and the city-state of the legendary King Minos, and the Archeological Museum in Heraklion, where the phenomenal art treasures of all archeological sites of the island are kept. It would be a sacrilege not to visit these monuments of European history as Crete traveler.

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