Chania Crete

The largest island in Greece, Crete, is an exquisite location for its mixture of Venetian and Turkish influences, ancient architecture, long stretches of sandy shoreline, and a wealth of natural beauty. Due to its significant location in the Mediterranean, Crete spent time under Minoan, Arab, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman empires before falling under Grecian rule. Many of these civilizations left their mark throughout the island of Crete.

Heraklion, the largest city in Crete, is a metropolitan area where many visitors to Crete begin their stay. Heraklion has many old sights to see from the “old city” fortress walls built by the Arabs, to the number of fountains built by the Venetians and Turks. The Lions fountain is a popular landmark, constructed in 1628 as is the Charity fountain built in 1776 by the Turks. Many churches line the streets of Heraklion reflecting various different stages of rule over the city. Visit the Venetian loggia or the Ottoman Mosque to witness the influences the empires left here. Consider staying at the Amirandes Grecotel Exclusive Resort in Crete, which was styled after the lavish palaces of Venetian nobles. Fragrant gardens and sparkling lagoons certain to impress surround this resort.

Knossos Palace, Crete

Crete was once the center the Minoan Civilization and the island displays many of its influences today. One of the oldest and largest monuments belonging to the Minoans is the Knossos Palace and ruins located just south of Heraklion. This ancient society was proficient in arts, sciences and held a strong maritime or naval presence. The civilization reigned from approximately the 27th century BC until 15th century BC. The archaeological site includes the Palace of Knossos, the largest preserved palace, with four wings including the royal quarters, a central courtyard, workshops, shrines, banquet hall and more. In addition to the main palace, find the Little Palace, the Royal Villa, Temple Tomb, and many other significant structures. Speak to a Luxe Travel advisor about touring Knossos with an expert archaeology guide.

The Venetians played an important influence over Crete for more than 400 years, beginning in the 13th century. In Chania, many Venetian structures survive along the Venetian harbor. Roam through the city’s Old Town with narrow paths, intricate fountains, and elaborate churches. This charming picturesque town is a remarkable place to wander the cobbled streets, dine on delectable Greek cuisine, with Venetian influences, or visit its numerous museums.

Rethymno is another Cretan city filled with Venetian style buildings, Orthodox churches, mosques, and cobblestone streets. However, visitors to Rethymno will be taken in by the city’s natural wonders. Located on Mt. Psiloritis, the area is home to green valleys, wild life refuges, picture perfect canyons all alongside white sandy beaches. Be sure to visit the Lagoon of Preveli, where the “Big River” meets a gorge before flowing out to sea. This sandy cove tropical oasis is not far from the Preveli Monastery as well as other area beaches.

Vai Beach and Palm Forest, Crete

Crete is home to hundreds of exceptional beaches, perhaps some of the best in the Grecian Islands. Many of the beaches in Crete feature soft white sand and many resorts offer easy beach access. If you’re feeling adventurous, head on over to Red Beach in southern Crete, known for being a nude beach set against golden cliffs. In Vai, combine a trip to the shore with the lush green forest of palms, the only existing palm tree forest in Europe. Or go to the shade of cedar trees on the white beach in Ierapetra. Plantanias is a popular tourist beach near Chania, with lots of activity and access to nearby shops and restaurants. No matter what beach you choose in Crete, you’ll be rewarded with warm sun, smooth sand and sparkling blue water.

White Mountains of Crete

Crete is not short on mountains, either. The White Mountains, among others, feature high peaks, fertile valleys, deep gorges, and rivers. Explore the caves west of Rethymno, the olive groves in the valleys of Mt. Psiloritis, or the natural lagoons and rivers cutting their way through the lush green hills.

Crete has it all for every traveler: expansive history and archaeology, gorgeous beaches, stunning mountain vistas, quaint towns, and bustling city centers. When you’re ready to book your trip to Crete, contact the Luxe Travel team at 1-866-365-8747 or concierge@luxetravel.com.