Things to See and Do in Crete - Pros and Cons of Greek Island Holiday
I visited Crete in late Summer 2016 where the weather was a scorching 40 degrees. After being met at the airport by Thompson Airline staff and brought to my accommodation, The Mika Villas, I fell asleep to a deafening chorus of crickets all around me.
Excursions in Crete
There are a lot of things to see and do here, as I found out next day when I was given a list of possible itineraries to choose from. Those who get a kick out of driving off the beaten track across country, should try the jeep safari, though at 70 euro, it is expensive. I chose to take an excursion to Watercity; bus and transfers coming to 30 euro. The water park isn't very big but there are some very good slides, a wave pool, lazy river and something for the little ones as well. If you're into horse riding, try the sunset horse back safari. This two and a half hour trek up along a mountain pass, goes half way to the top, where everyone gets a shot of alcohol and a slice of waterlemon. The two guides on the excursion are great fun and you can get your photo taken riding the pony. On return, a delicious barbeque awaits. This excursion works out at 60 euro. The only problem I had with it, was that some of the ponies were a little on the thin side.
A Bit of History
If anyone is interested in history, an excursion to the island of Spinalonga is a must. The bus picks you up outside your hotel, takes you to a place called Elounda and from there you embark on a small boat trip to Spinalonga. This comes highly recommended, this island was once a former leper colony and the last leper to leave the island did so in 1956. There will be a guide on the trip who will give you all the history on the area, followed by a swim in a small beach nearby with beautiful crystal clear water and after that, a barbeque on the boat. Food included, all this comes to 53 euro. If you want to experience other islands, take a ferry to Santorini; the most romantic island off the coast of Greece with its white washed buildings and blue shuttered windows, Santorini is truly magnificent.
The Piskopiano Area
I stayed in a place called Piskopiano. It is a traditional village, situated high up in the mountain and has lovely cobbled streets and ancient churches. Piskopiano is quiet with a umber of restaurants and shops. The drawbacks are that it is far too hilly for walking, it does not have a great night life, restaurant owners stand outside trying to get you to come in all the time and the beach is way below it in the next town, Hersonnisos.
Hersonnisos would perhaps be a better destination with its beachfront location, plenty of shops and it is situated along the main bus route. Hersonnisos has a shingle beach but the next town Stalis, only a ten minute bus ride away has a beautiful sandy beach with crystal clear blue, green water where you can hire the umbrella and loungers for only 3 euro per person.
What to Watch Out For
Many places offer scooters and quads for hire with a minimum rental period of three days; all for thirty euro excluding petrol. Be warned however: not all quads have hand brakes and some of them don't have any mirrors. However, they are a great way to get around and it does solve the problem of all those hills! I mentioned earlier about the sweltering heat. Make sure to bring plenty of high factor sun lotion. There are also mosquitoes in Crete so pack a fly repellent to avoid getting bitten!
When to Go
Most of the natives speak a little English. Crete's economy is based on sixty percent agriculture and forty percent tourism. Most restaurants close for six months of the year for the low season. June, July and August are the busiest times of the year and the hottest, to get away from the hustle and bustle and constant mania of tourists, I would suggest travelling to Crete in either May or September.
For beautiful weather, budget accommodation, cheap food and wine and plenty things to see and do, I would definitely recommend Crete as a great place to visit.