A culture trip is the perfect way to truly immerse yourself in the destination. Cosmopolitan Crete boasts a fascinating blend of art, history, cuisine and scenery, with many areas particularly influenced by the Venetian, Ottoman and Minoan periods. Discover fascinating history as you gaze up at a huge Grecian fortress, get lost among quaint narrow alleys, or indulge in a plate of fresh seafood just brought in from the ancient port. A cultural trip to this destination is one to remember, not to mention the warm weather, countless hours of sunshine and picture-perfect beaches.
In this week’s blog post, we’ll explore some of our favourite cultural hotspots in Crete, as well as some of our top places to stay. The island's southernmost location means that it’s the warmest, so a villa with a pool is essential for cooling off after a day exploring.
STEP BACK IN TIME IN CHANIA
Lovely Chania is characterised by its colourful Venetian buildings, fine beaches and historic harbour. Around the old Venetian harbour, you'll be able to unravel history that dates back from the Minoan period to the Ottoman Turkish era. To fully grasp the many historical periods that Chania has gone through, visit the Maritime Museum of Crete, the imposing red building located within the Firka Fortress. On your visit to Old Town, the first thing you'll notice is the 21 metre-tall lighthouse which dominates the harbour entrance. Though the lighthouse can only be reached at the end of a long mole, the walk is well-worth the views and actually makes the perfect place for a romantic evening stroll.
Where to stay
Overlooking views of Chania’s iconic lighthouse, Villa Cassandra is an elegant ten-person property providing a glorious getaway on the north coast of Crete. The villa basks in the blues of the Aegean Sea, just ten minutes by car from Chania's stunning harbour front. Along the upper levels of this ABOVE property is the large master bedroom, a haven of relaxation thanks to its own private plunge pool. This villa truly exudes luxury, complete with a sauna, Turkish steam bath, infinity pool and outdoor kitchen with a pizza oven.
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LIVE LIKE A LOCAL IN SISSI
The enchanting fishing village of Sissi perfectly encapsulates pastoral Cretan life. This fairytale location is characterised by its narrow winding streets, stunning views, fresh seafood and tavernas. There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the island's culture than by enjoying fresh seafood that's brought in daily from the fishing port at one of the seafront restaurants. While you admire the harbour views, you might even spot the fishermen’s wives cleaning the catch of the day by the seashore. There are plenty of local tavernas dotted throughout the village, each overflowing with cheerful crowds who frequently visit from Heraklion to get a taste of Sissi’s brilliant seafood and tasty meze dishes.
Where to stay
Within walking distance of Sissi's charming beaches and restaurants, Thalia is a stylish and contemporary villa for six in Eastern Crete. Accommodation is across two floors, each room tastefully decorated in neutral shades and cool greys. The terrace is perfectly furnished for outdoor living, with an al fresco dining table, lounge beds in the shade and cosy, sun-soaked loungers by the lovely private pool. There’s also an outdoor kitchen and barbecue for long, lazy lunches in the sunshine.
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WANDER OFF THE BEATEN TRACK IN ELOUNDA
Though most likely known for its glamorous character and A-lister visits, Elounda is a wonderful spot for holidaymakers with a keen eye for history, nature and culture. On a cultural trip, the best way to explore is go off the beaten track and a little off-script! The Sunken City of Olous is an absolute must, once a thriving city during the Minoan period. Why not take a gentle coastal walk and, if you look carefully, you might make out some of the ancient walls beneath the waters. If you fancy an even closer look, make sure to bring your snorkeling gear. Or, head offshore and visit Spinalonga island; take a boat trip from the harbour and a short trail will guide you through ancient ruins that include a church, hospital and cemetery. Kolokytha Beach is located on the eastern shore of the island, a little sandy cove with wonderful views and fewer crowds.
Where to stay
Just 3km from Elounda's coastline, Tyra is a spacious villa for up to sixteen guests. The property is ideal for a getaway with friends or family, complete with fantastic outdoor living spaces. We recommend a lunch cooked in the charming outdoor kitchen, eaten under the shaded terrace overlooking dazzling sea views, before heading for a dip in the infinity pool. There is also a gym, furnished with exercise equipment and fun activities such as table tennis at this villa.
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There's so much to explore and discover on a Greek island escape. If one of our Cretan properties has taken your fancy, make sure to call and speak to one of our Villa Specialists, or send us an enquiry today.