Explore the Greek island of Crete – On a family holiday
We were found last week on the Greek island of Crete. This was also our first time in Greece and the first time we came into contact with Greek culture. The local Greek restaurant in our hometown not included of course. We already knew the Greek cuisine a bit, now discover the rest.
Family holiday in Crete
Happy as a child we were when it was determined that we were going to Crete on a family holiday. We booked an all-in holiday at Neckermann for a long time. Our family had asked to book a holiday for them and we liked this destination so much that we went with them. An all-in is easy to book and due to time constraints and excellent offers, we have chosen this option. This time it didn’t take care of everything yourself (although that would have been a lot cheaper). So done, we went to Crete!
Our five-star hotel had it all: large swimming pool, manicured rooms, extensive buffet, stylish décor and located right on the beach. The staff also went out of their way to meet all the questions of the hotel guests. Some even spoke French or German or other language outside their mother tongue to pamper the clients from different countries. 10 days of wonderful enjoyment was without a doubt the intention. Our family was also excited. It quickly became clear that we had scored with this dream destination. And the holiday had only just begun.
Our hotel, Rethymnon Palace, is located as the name says in the municipality of Rethymnon between Heraklion and Chania. These cities are the largest and best known of the whole island, but Rethymnon itself is also worth visiting. We walked on a hot day through the picturesque streets and the harbour of Rethymnon and this city really surprised us pleasantly. Shops with local and handmade products, a fishing port, antique houses and cosy squares color the city. Who doesn’t like that?
After a few days at the pool, we have enough of that and we want to go out. That was no different this time. Although we did omn out our most adventurous challenges because we were now five people and not just among the two of us. It is not easy to find activities for a diverse group. Not everyone likes everything equally, but our first trip was unanimously a direct hit for everyone.
Beach-hopping in Crete
Island-hopping was too expensive and took too much time so so we decided to beach-hopping. We don’t know if this is an existing word, but we aim to visit the activity of different beaches one day. We booked a tour online and our first stop from Rethymnon was Damnoni Beach. A nice place for a quiet beach day, but that’s all. From there we took the boat to Preveli. This beach between the rocks is beautiful in itself but what makes it really beautiful is the palm forest and the adjacent lagoon.
If there’s anything that reminds us of vacation, it’s palm trees. And this trip was ideal to stimulate that holiday feeling. Endless (species) of palm trees were located next to the beautiful green-blue lagoon that flowed to the beach. It is almost unreal to find such a beautiful piece of nature near the beach. This piece of paradise was the most beautiful thing we have seen in Europe. I think the same goes for our family.
After enjoying ourselves in the cold but good water of the lagoon, we took a break on the beach with a nice drink. Delicious! Then the ferry took us back to Damnoni to continue from there to Plakias Beach. This is only a ten-minute drive from Damnoni. The beach is still a lot quieter and there are many eateries. After a long walk in the palm forest we were definitely ready for a bite. Tip: On many occasions you get free access to the sunbeds on the beach if you order something to eat or drink from them.
Our last stop of this tour was the Kourtaliotis Gorge, a huge gorge between two rocks through which a river flows. The Greeks sometimes call it the Grand Canyon of Crete. That term is a big exaggeration, but it’s a nice place to stop. You don’t really do a rest here as you have to go down 250 steps, you want to see the falls. The view is at least as beautiful from above so you save the trouble if you are not well to leg. We were exhausted when we came back up. Those steps down takes almost no effort, but back up… Hallelujah!
After a day of adventure and effort, it was time for deserved rest. Splashing in the pool, then bathing in the bright blue sea. And eat in between. Lots of food. An all-in from time to time is not so bad… Although the audience can do a little better at an all-in. At least in our hotel. Some soured faces colored the hotel atmosphere more grey than yellow, if you know what I mean. Not to mention the rudeness of some hotel guests. Manners clearly didn’t get everyone involved in his upbringing. The last day we even had to intervene in a true “sunbed war”. You hear it right! Two adults argued with physical and verbal abuse over a sunbed. The hotel manager even had to join us. True story…
Road trip time in Crete
Back to half-time. When there was no fighting at the pool, it was an oasis of peace and relaxation. Also the staff exuded that peace and quiet and was always polite and friendly, unlike some hotel guests so. To escape the war of the sunbeds, we hired a car for the next few days to explore Crete further. After all, it was once again found that booking a tour was not our thing. A rental car is all the more so.
The most beautiful Greek city
On another hot summer day, in Crete it was every day of our trip around thirty degrees, we went to visit the beautiful city of Chania. This is seen as one of the most beautiful Greek cities and therefore definitely worth visiting. We especially enjoyed the delicious Greek cuisine and the beautiful souvenir shops they had built on boats in the harbour. And as a highlight we saw a giant turtle swimming in the harbour! Apparently we were lucky because afterwards we heard that residents had not seen them themselves before. Lucky us!
Vroom existence in Crete
Chania was beautiful but actually the big version of the town of Rethymnon where we stayed. So both of them are nice, but if you’ve seen one, it’s fine. Our road trip took us on to the Arkadi Monastery. This monastery played an important role in the war between the Turks and the Greeks in Crete. Besides the fact that it is very beautiful, the monastery and the church are well preserved, you can also learn a lot about Greek culture and history. And the entrance only cost us 3 euros/person. Highly recommended!
The absolute highlight (literally) came at our last stop with the rental car: Spilies Beach. Huge cliffs and a tiny beach where mainly locals come. An afternoon of swimming in the natural cave or sunbathing on the (painful) stone-beach. Beach shoes or slippers strongly recommended! Tip: food at the local, and also only, restaurant is highly recommended. We ate 5 croque monsieurs for 10 euros! We didn’t do cliff jumping here because of something too adventurous, and especially uncontrolled and therefore unsafe, at these heights. But the view from above was breathtaking! For this climb you also have to have a bit of a sense of adventure because there is no stairs that lead you up.
Holidays in Crete
Our family holiday in Crete was successful! We have come into contact with Greek culture for the first time and that tastes like more. We now understand why many friends and acquaintances are so enthusiastic about Greece. Breathtaking panoramas, refined food, beautiful traditions, picturesque villages and hospitable inhabitants. Crete had it all! We are gradually starting to think of a new holiday on another Greek island… Be sure to continue!