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Crete On The Road

The Sunday Telegraph.

Crete on the Road: the Best Driving Tours around West and Central Crete by Frankie Miles. Frankie is from Villas Crete Holidays and she is very knowledgable about this part of the island.

Read the full Article.

General Information

Crete has everything you that could possibly want from a holiday: soaring mountains that are snow capped from November to June, many great walking trails including Europe's deepest gorge, ancient archaeological sites and Minoan palaces, quaint villages, sparkling clear blue seas with tavernas serving freshly caught fish, golden beaches, glorious wild flowers in the Spring and a variety of delicious foods which are made from healthy, home grown produce.

Crete enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine each year and this is high on the list of reasons that holidaymakers return to this beautiful island year after year. The climate of Crete is a temperate Mediterranean climate and the weather is characterized by long hot, dry summers and mild, sometimes rainy winters. There are relatively few days a year when it rains, but when it does finally rain it tends to be rather heavy and quite spectacular. This results in Crete being surprisingly green for most of the year despite the many hours of sunshine, and with a magnificent display of wild flowers in the spring.

ARRIVING BY AIR

Charter Flights.

The majority of travelers who visit Crete arrive by plane into either Chania or Heraklion Airports. Between April and October, there are many charter flights flying direct to Crete from most European countries, therefore saving time and avoiding the hassle of having to change planes in Athens.

Subcategories

A holiday to Crete is not complete without a visit to one of the 3 major towns, Chania, Rethymnon or Heraklion, all of which are situated on the northern coast of the island. These towns all have large areas of modern buildings that are not particularly attractive, but they also each have an area known as “the old town” where the buildings are stunningly beautiful having been built centuries ago by different foreign invaders such as the Venetians and the Turks. Nothing can compare with a stroll around the harbour or down the narrow, bougainvillea lined alleys that comprise most of the old towns, particularly in Chania and Rethymnon. These streets were originally designed to be wide enough for 2 laden donkeys to pass by each other easily. Today there are a myriad of colourful gift shops, street markets and romantic open air tavernas which entice the many tourists who visit every year. The major towns, particularly Heraklion, also house the best archaeological museums on the island. The young and old alike will enjoy the festive atmosphere and the incredible beauty of Crete’s large towns. Chania Town is 25 minutes drive from Chania Airport, 2 hours from Heraklion Airport, 30 - 40 minutes from the Apokoronas area and 20 - 25 minutes from West of Chania. Rethymnon Town is just over 1 hour’s drive from either Chania or Heraklion Airports, 45 – 55 minutes from the Apokoronas area, and 1 hour and 10 minutes from West of Chania. Heraklion Town is 10 minutes drive from Heraklion Airport, 2 hours and 10 minutes from Chania Airport, 1 hour and 45 minutes to the Apokoronas area and 2 hours from West of Chania.

The Apokoronas region is just east of Chania and is packed with sandy beaches, excellent tavernas, small archaeological sites, and local handicrafts. You do not have to drive very far to experience a huge amount. The National Highway runs through the middle of the Apokoronas, dissecting it into two very different parts. The north side of the highway is the area with the shallow crescent shaped sandy beaches. It is busier than the south side and caters more to tourism, but in a lovely understated way. Despite the presence of many new houses in some parts, this area is still stunningly beautiful with glorious views of Souda Bay and the White Mountains. South of the highway the contrast is quite marked. It is unbelievably quiet, very green and the roads take you up into the hills, resulting in spectacular views. Only 10 minutes south from the northern coastline you will find that there is no tourism at all. Everything is traditionally Cretan and the friendly locals speak very little English but are great at sign language!  

 

All of the villages described below are within 1 hours drive from Chania Airport and the majority are within 35 minutes.

Just West of Chania there is a very well known area that runs along the coast that has become quite built up. This does not, however tell the whole story. Between Chania and Maleme, on the coast there are a lot of apartment buildings and hotels, but this also means a lot of facilities. There are a lot of watersports on the beaches between Agia Marina and Platanias including the best scuba diving school in the area. For those of you who are looking for nightlife, Platanias and Agia Marina are also the places to head for.

The few villas that we feature in this area are in the incredibly beautiful and peaceful area to the west of Maleme. In this area on the west and south coasts, the villages are tiny and traditional with farming being the major occupation. You see very little tourism in these rural villages as life has not changed for many years for the people living in them. There are many unspoilt and empty beaches, and even the stunning sandy beaches of Falassarna and Elafonissi are never too crowded. The Rodopou Peninsula is not a place that many tourists go to despite the great views and small secluded rocky coves. Kissamos-Kastelli is a working town with large fishing harbour, a huge sandy beach a promenade with great fish tavernas and yet very few tourists. Boats run on daily excursions from the harbour to Gramvoussa Island and the glorious Balos Lagoon.

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