The light seems never to be full of Greek beauty. In winter, it is still there, bright as always but somewhat sweeter. It revives the winter colors, whilst the mild temperatures rejuvenate the desire for exploration of Greek beauty. If you believed that islands journey through the winter months in solitude, in the sea while reminiscing the lively summers, the time has come to be informed of the opposite.
Crete. Enchanting the soul.
Where: The most southern island of Greece!!Why: The distinct variety of the geophysical scenery, the mild climate, as well as the innumerable cultures influencing the island, spanning from 6.000 B.C. when the first prehistoric settlements appeared, to 1913, when Crete annexed the rest of Greece, are the decisive factors that created Crete’s image today. Spectacular, beautiful and unique, Crete dominates the southern Aegean, full of pride and enchants, all who visit, with its irresistible charm
Where to visit:
Chania: The county of Chania is the most western of the four on the island, characterized by the imposing “White Mountains” and the famous national park that takes up the largest part of the county. Chania is also the capital of the county and is not only one of the most beautiful cities of the island, but of the whole of Greece. The magnificent neoclassical estates, as well as the Venetian strongholds, compose a unique setting. In the harbor you will find some of the greatest attractions, including the famous Maritime Museum and the Turkish mosque, one of the oldest Ottoman buildings on the island. While travelling with children, visit the City Park, which dates back to the 19th century. There you will find a small zoo, as well as, a playground, where you can spend a few carefree moments. You will have the opportunity to enjoy the now world renowned Cretan cuisine, known for its beneficial properties and the longevity it offers. For the nature-lovers, the county’s trademark is the Samaria Gorge, which is an ideal destination, mainly in the summer season. Also for nature-lovers is Lake Kourna, the only natural freshwater lake in all of Crete, where you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind evening walk, as well as, a family picnic.
Rethymno: Surrounded by the White Mountains and Mount Psiloritis (Ida) is the county of Rethymno, which is a jewel on the island of the Crete, defined by beauty and history. The old district of Rethymno, also the name of the capital, stands out for its unique architecture and a combination of Venetian and Turkish mansions that bewitch visitors with their every step. Built in the 16th century in order to protect residents from pirate invasions, the famous fortress Fortezza adorns the city’s harbor. The archaeological museum’s doors are open, helping visitors journey through the city’s history. The well-known Monastery of Arkadi awaits you 24 kilometers southeast of Rethymno; a symbol of bravery of the Cretans against the Turkish occupiers. For those who love mountains, 79 kilometers southeast of Rethymno, above Mount Psiloritis, is the breathtaking Nida plateau with its trademark, stone-vaulted, pastoral residences, known as “mitata”. Winter escapades and winter sports can be enjoyed at the plateau’s ski resort. Built on a rocky edge, at an altitude of 730 meters, you will encounter the beautiful, graphic village of Anogia. Visitors come closer to Cretan tradition, through shops with handmade, colorful weavings and embroidery and for those who love authentic, local flavors; you can experience culinary traditions in the village’s taverns. Indulge yourself in the aroma of raki and the Cretan lyra’s melodies.
In the center of the town, Venizelos Square awaits, surrounded by stores for your shopping sprees and cafes for your relaxation. Standing in command in the harbor is the Venetian castle, which is worth your while to visit. Nearby, in Eleftheria (Freedom) Square, the archaeological museum is a true revelation, as it houses the largest collection of Minoan civilization findings. Two of the most important Minoan palaces in all of Crete lie a few kilometers away from the city; archaeological site of Phaistos is approximately 5 kilometers south of the city, while 65 kilometers southwest of the city, is the impressive Palace of Knossos
Aside from history, outside of the city, one can also enjoy Heraklion’s amazing nature. Caves, canyons and green areas delineate the hinterland’s scenery and invite explorers to enjoy activities such as hiking and biking. At the same time, well-hidden, traditional settlements and villages, with centuries of history, are waiting to be discovered in vineyards and olive groves, valleys and mountain slopes.
Lasithi: Surrounded by the three seas, Cretan, Libyan and Carpathian, the eastern edge of Crete is characterized by unique natural diversity and intense contrasts that create a charming setting. Famous tourist resorts and luxurious tourist complexes combine perfectly with destinations full of Cretan authenticity, untouched by tourism
The picturesque area of Agios Nikolaos is the capital of the county and is one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the island. The harbor is in the center of the city, which is attached to Voulismeni, a small salt lake with a depth of only 64 meters. The archaeological and folk museums of the city are open to all and offer a journey through time. The city itself is a base for the exploration of interesting destinations, such as, Ierapetra, the most southern city of Europe, with the famous Venetian castle and the Turkish quarters, as well as, the fantastic palm forest of Vai. Located 94 kilometers northeast of the Agios Nikolaos, it is the only palm forest in Europe with over 5,000 palm trees, in an area of approximately 250 hectares. Last, don’t miss out on the opportunity to have fun in a traditional Cretan festival. where dancing to the accompaniment of the lyra and feasting on exquisite Lasithian cuisine take central stage. An example of such a festival is that of Agios Antonios on January 17, in the village of Zakros, on the eastside of the county.