Going to Crete - what should I see?

I’m going to Crete! A friend of mine and I booked a week’s vacation on Crete. Now, we both wanna see Knossos, but what else? None of us have the patience to sunbathe on the beach all the time, so we need some sights to see - any recommendations?


My mother took a long hike in a gorgeous canyon that descends down to the southern shore of Crete, about a quarter of the length of the island from its western end, IIRC. Can’t remember the name of the canyon – think it started with a P.

Just checked a map. It’s the SAMARIA GORGE NATIONAL PARK. (no “p”)

Rent a car. Instead of staying on the northern side, drive over the mountains to the south. Stop at any villages/beaches/tavernas you fancy.

The roads are awful, you’ll probably get stuck behind a tractor or an old lady and a donkey, but it’s worth it for some peace and quiet and a more authentically Greek experience!
Avoid Malia at all costs, although Agios Nikolaus (Ag Nik) isn’t too bad, if you like scuba diving, or want to give it a go there are scuba places at the harbour at Ag nik. I went twice, and had a great time.



The Minotaur?

iAges ago I spent a month in Matala…small little village with nothing much to do except beach and hang around with other tourists…but had a great time.

We rented motorbikes and hit some villages in the area. Crete is great, really nice people and quite beautiful.

However, a quick story. It was in Crete that I learned it wasn’t my time to die just yet.

I went off on my own, and roamed some cliffs. I stood on a ledge about thirty stories above the ocean and looked out. It was a spectacular view. Then I walked about 500 yards to another overlook. As I stood there, the exact place where I had just been standing a few minutes before suddenly crumbled and that whole ledge went flying down and crashed into the ocean! I slowly back off of the ledge where I was standing and went back to the village. I think if I had been standing on that ledge, not only would I long be dead, but nobody would have ever found me.

On that happy note…go and have a great time in Crete, and enjoy the food and be careful of the Ouzo…you get so drunk you cannot believe it, and the next morning, with that first glass of water, you are just as drunk as you were the night before!

Oh g-d, the Ouzo…and the Raki, and the insanely cheap beer!

It should be mentioned that I was there on a family holiday with my parents when I was 16, however:

  1. In Greece, it’s legal to buy and consume beer and wine when you’re 12, and spirits aged 16, so I wasn’t breaking the law.

  2. My parents have a liberal attitude to alcohol, and knew I was drinking, so it was all good bar the hangovers.

If you decide to do the Samaria gorge trip, please bear in mind that it’s a 4-5 hour hike, not a stroll, in sweltering heat. I heartily recommend it, but take sun protection, someting to eat and for the love of Og, wear shoes that are neither beach slippers nor sandals (when I went there, some people had to be carried the last third of the way which probably was not a lot of fun).

Found a website about the gorge - says the beginning is steep and quite slippery - how slippery? I mean, with my fear of heights I don’t need the mental image of gliding all the way down there :slight_smile:

website is here

Crete is great! You’ll love it.

Unless you have a package hotel, do what was said above- go south. North side is one long strip of chain hotels.

The Palace at Knossos is interesting…and fake. James Burke did a historical piece on the site and he makes some very interesting conclusions. The western architect who “re-built” the palace made some…well…‘Creative’ adjustments and conclusions. Basically the site lends itself more to a merchant’s thorough-fare and meeting place than a kingdoms palace. The mosaics and paintings are great, and the layout is interesting, but…

Some of the points (as I recall) were:

  1. The ‘throne’ rooms are not very throne-y compared to others in the area.
  2. There are large storage areas that at the site are not really talked about- but they are huge and lend themselves to grain storage, etc.
  3. The location is at the confluence(sp?) of two major valleys, thus make it easy for merchants to get stuff to and from the center of the island.
  4. Evidence of major paved roads to the edge of the water where a large port was.
  5. Lots of smaller rooms that were not used for sleeping, indicating offices.
  6. Numerous examples of falsified architecture when it was re-built (columns were there were none, etc).

Lots of other stuff was presented and makes for a very believable story that the place was just a large trade and convention center. Far less impressive than the Palace idea, but still a nice place to spend a morning (go early, less heat and tourists).

Renting a car is a great idea. There are MANY places to see in the center, from vineyards to caves to ruins.

Dinner boat rides are touristy as hell, but, feh, go for it. They’re neat.

OUZO! Sippin’ it right now…MMMMMmmmmm…ouzo…

Have fun-

Well, it’s not that *steep * (I’m afraid of heights as well and that was no problem), but there were rocks and gravel scattered everywhere which made for a less than firm footing. But if you wear good hiking shoes (best are boots that cover your ankle so your joint does not get bend out of shape when you slip) and watch your step it’s exhausting but doable.

Crete is a very cool place.

Raki is evil.

I would say more then that but the 6 months I spent on Crete was 20 yrs ago.

That said, visit Rethimnon…just for me, I have fond memories. :smiley:

We let our then 11 year old try just a bit of raki. Yikes.

Rent a car for sure. We liked Hania (amazing open and covered markets) and Reythmnon quite a bit, but my favorites were the tiny little towns.

Near Plakias there is a guy named George Hatsidakis who has his own military museum (in the village of Askifou). It is full of WW II artifacts which he found himself as a young man.
Also the Venetian ruins of Frangokastello are quite atmospheric (and on a nice little beach.)

Cretons. :smiley: