I am taking you to go on a trip to Crete, this big wild island steeped in myths. Going to the meeting of the Minoan civilization, this culture of the Bronze Age was mainly developed in Crete and left splendid palatial ruins. We spend more than a week, by the way, of course, to take the time to visit – but also swim in the turquoise sea, walk in the villages, discover monasteries surrounded by olive trees…
9 days / 8 nights
Nearly. 310 Miles
Crete and Cyclades enjoy a Mediterranean climate, with particularly hot summers (more than 30 ° C). It’s the good season to swim! Between April and October, the water is still good and the temperatures are perfect for walking (59 ° F / 77 ° F). Most of the hotels are still open and even if the crossings are more rare, the roads belong to you and that’s priceless.
For the trip, I board a Ford Falcon XB. A full-size car that was produced by Ford Australia between 1973 to 1976. It was the second iteration of the third generation of this Australian-made model and also included the Ford Fairmont (XB), the luxurious version of the Falcon. A real gem fully restored. Now that you know why we’re going off-Season, let’s hit the road!
DAY 1 & DAY 2
I meet Valentina who will guide me throughout the trip. We start by exploring Chania, ancient Cydonia. Although there are very few vestiges of this Minoan city, there are many traces of the Ottoman and Venetian occupation. The ideal’s to start by exploring the narrow streets and charming buildings of the old town, then stroll through the Venetian harbor and its lighthouse.
The surroundings of Chania are also worth a visit. Valentina takes me to discover the Akrotiri peninsula, which has some sandy beaches and beautiful monasteries. The 17th century Agia Triada’s a haven of peace and great mountain views. That of Katholiko, in ruins, is nestled in the rock.
DAY 3 & DAY 4NEARLY. 40 miles – NEARLY. 1h15
It’s towards the east that we reach Rethymnon, another city with a Venetian past. In the old part of the city, you can admire beautiful Byzantine and Venetian churches, Turkish minarets and fountains, arched passages and picturesque street … without forgetting its fortress. Something for travelers looking for culture and charm! Its port is the ideal place to walk and have a drink on the terrace, admiring the colorful houses and the azure sea. My advice! If you want to escape the city, you can take a trip to Lake Kournas, the only freshwater lake in Crete, for swimming, pedal boating or simply relaxing on its banks. Nearby, the village of Argiroupoli is a green and refreshing stop with its shaded waterfalls.
DAY 5NEARLY. 21 MILES – NEARLY. 1h
We are on our way to Plakias. On the way, we visit the necropolis of Arméni, a set of Minoan tombs still full of mysteries. The road also crosses the Kourtaliotiko gorges, a fascinating rocky landscape accessible on foot. Once on the south coast, we make a detour to Prévéli beach, crossed by the Megalopotamos river and surrounded by palm trees. In Plakias, we simply take the time to rest and bathe!
DAY 6 / DAY 8NEARLY. 114 MILES – NEARLY. 3h
Before returning to the north coast, we pass by the Minoan palace of Phaistos, located east of Plakias. The archaeological site remained in its original state, without any risky restoration. Being near the site of Agia Triada, we go there, it is less impressive but more wild. When the visits are over, we go swimming on the orange beach of Matala.
There’s a lot to see around Elounda, starting with the islet of Spinalonga and its ramparts, the old salt mines and the Kolokitha peninsula, perfect for hiking. At the end of the day, we have a drink which ended with a dinner in the pleasant town of Agios Nikolaos. In order to go further, we went to the Lassithi plateau, whose crops are dotted with old mills and wind turbines. At the far east of the island, a superb walk is to be done in the palm grove of Vai or the gorges of Zakros.
DAY 9NEARLY. 43 MILES – NEALRY. 1h15
Heraklion, the Cretan capital has little charm, but we did not want to miss visiting the archaeological site which is located 5 km away, Knossos. Just out of a passion for history and mythology, it is clearly a must! We then go to the pretty flowery village of Archanes. Its neoclassical houses have been superbly renovated and offer a charming setting for eating or drinking a glass of local wine. This journey ends. In the end little rest, but an in-depth discovery of the region, its history and its inhabitants.
This is especially why traveling out of season‘s so interesting.