Travelers to the island of Crete got a once-in-a-lifetime welcome when an eagle started leading the arriving plane to its bay at the Heraklion airport. The AegeanAir had just landed and was taxiing when ground staff contacted the plane’s pilots letting them know the bird was just yards away from the aircraft.
Known as the largest island in the Greek archipelago off the Greek Meditteranean sea, Crete is a hotspot for tourists seeking an unforgettable Mediterranean vacation. This naturally beautiful island has been ruled by various crussaders over its centuries-long history but is now a major destination for European tourists looking to enjoy the sun and sand. Crete is divided into 4 sections with the west coast dominated by the Chania region, the east coast marked by the Lassithi region and the island’s center described as Rethymnon and Heraklion or the plain. But most tourists who travel to Crete spend their time far and away from the island’s center, enjoying its more than 100 miles of coastline and the many sun-kissed beaches that along it. Once the sun sets, visitors usually head inland to enjoy wonderful restaurants and wine bars or dance the evening away at any one of the Crete’s many nightclubs. Whether you choose to party or relax (or some combination of the two), Crete travel won’t disappoint. But in case you’re seeking a bit of direction, let Travel + Leisure’s Crete travel guide lead the way.
Things Not to Miss in Crete
• Hike parts of Samaria Gorge, a major mountain range that runs along Crete’s western coast with a breathtaking gorge to walk through and meet Liviko pelagos-Libyan sea.
• Make day trips to the national parks on the neighboring islands of Gavdos and Spinalonga! Hire a car and drive yourself.
• Tour the Heraklion center, located in the island capital of the same name
• Visit the History Museum at Heraklion port and after Koules fortress on the venetian harbor too, closeby.
• Spend the day exploring Elafonisi beach, west of Crete and south of Chania. Rent a car and drive yourself.
• Bike your way through the Lassithi plateau, place of birth of God Dias-Zeus. Rent a bike and do it easy.
• Take in the annual Matala festival in south of Heraklion. You can use a rental car from Crete.
• Shop at the popular Wednesday market in the town of Moires. The way to Moires is easy, by hiring a car is quick to find and park.
• Spend the day sunning yourself on Balos Beach. The way to this place is difficult, a special 4wd car is needed or a crossover hire car.
• Explore the Gaidouronisi island, know as Chrissi! The rental car can be parked at the port of Ierapetra, where all ferries depart from.
When To Go to Crete:
Crete experiences a Mediterranean climate, which means cool, mild winters with temperatures peaking in the mid 25s and bright, sunny summers where daily temperatures rarely exceed 50 degrees, and rainfall is at its lowest. Those looking to get the most out of their Crete travel should then visit between May and September when the days are warm, and the evenings are just warm enough to make nighttime adventures easy and comfortable.