With a spectacular rocky shoreline, long stretches of sandy beach and an array of fascinating historical sites to its name, Greece’s largest island, Crete, is a brilliant place to explore by road. Europe expert, Ashling, navigates the island, discovering its hidden gems, not far off the beaten track.
You would be forgiven for expecting Crete to boast beautiful beaches, enjoy incredible weather and offer delicious food by nature. Nothing could have quite prepared me though for how much I was to fall in love with this wonderful isle, its amazing culture and stunning scenery. Only a short flight away from London, Crete is a wonderful destination and right on our doorstep. Four hours after leaving London we had landed in Chania, in the north-west of the island, and were basking in the Mediterranean heat.
From the airport, a 30-minute scenic journey took us to one of the most relaxing stops on our trip; Domes Noruz. This adult-only, beachfront boutique hotel has a host of sunbeds and bean bags to lounge on, allowing you to really get away from it all in a completely calm and peaceful setting. For couples, this is the perfect retreat, so whether its yoga before breakfast or a special dinner just for two, Domes Noruz is an idyllic destination.
To truly experience Crete in all its glory and enjoy the flexibility of exploring the island on your own, you have to rent a car. The roads are easy to drive and the scenery is spectacular and well worth getting behind the wheel for. We headed straight from Domes Noruz to the most incredible and beautiful beach on the south west of the island, Elafonissi. The route takes you through incredible mountainous scenery and stopping for delicious homemade honey en route makes for the perfect pit stop. This beach truly lived up to its reputation as the ‘pink beach’, and it is no myth that the pink glowing sand merges seamlessly with the clear, blue sea. We arrived just in time for sunset which made it all the more impressive.
We continued our Cretan adventure by spending the next day exploring the local villages around Chania. Visiting a traditional Cretan monastery is something you simply must do as it is a great way to uncover the real Crete, learning about the traditions of the island and its rich history, whilst also enjoying the delicious homemade olive oil!
For me, Crete has it all. It is at once a cultural hotspot, offering so much in the way of local culture and cuisine, whilst also home to some of the Mediterranean’s best and most beautiful beaches. So whether it’s a summer sun getaway with a loved one or the family, there are few better places than Crete’s sun kissed shores.