Crete is the biggest of the Greek Islands, with a population of more than 600.000 people. The island is a pure summer paradise, with a vast coastline of more than 1.000 km long, more than 150 km of them being sandy beaches.
Crete, being the southernmost part of Greece, is situated between three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. Its exclusive place in the globe is matched only by its remarkable history. Crete was inhabited from the Neolithic Age (7.000 BC). Here, the first organized civilization in Europe flourished, even before 3.500 BC: The Minoan Civilization. In the 5.500 years since then, almost every race and empire in the Mediterranean Sea has set foot on the island, influencing its unique culture. Today, someone can find in Crete remnants of its Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, Byzantine, Arabic, Venetian and Ottoman past. Crete is a real melting pot of civilizations.
Chania city (population: 65.000), is the second largest city in Crete, after the capital Heraklion (population: 135.000). About 60 kilometres to the east, and between Chania and Heraklion, lies the city of Rethymnon, the third largest city in Crete (population: 35.000). Chania region (population: 150.000) is the westernmost region of Crete – and the greenest, as well.
For many visitors, the Chania region is by far the most picturesque in Crete. There are numerous unparalleled places to visit, during your stay here:
Agioi Apostoloi, Agia Marina and Platanias villages, some kilometres west of Chania city, are nowadays the preferred places of accommodation for the smart visitors. Apart from being very close to Chania city, they also feature – unlike Chania city itself – crystal-clear beaches, and some of the best beach bars and night spots in the island.
East of Crete lies the Akrotiri peninsula. Here you can find fine beaches, like the ones in Marathi, Kalathas and Stavros, and also well-known cultural monuments, like the Agia Triada Tzangarolon monastery. And, in case you didn’t know, it was Stavros village where the famous movie “Zorba the Greek” was filmed.
Going further to the east, we find the famous Apokoronas peninsula. Apokoronas is a mountainous area of unparalleled natural beauty – the greenest in Crete. Apart from the nature, it features breath-taking views of the marvellous coastline. It comes to no surprise that the houses and villas here are very popular among international property buyers.
Just after Apokoronas, and some more kilometres to the east, we arrive at the famous Georgioupolis resort. Georgioupolis is one of the most exclusive resorts in Greece, featuring numerous luxury hotels. In the summer of 2004, and about a month before the Athens Olympics, Georgioupolis became world famous, due to a funny incident: While the USA track and field team was preparing here for the Olympics, some IAAF officials came unannounced by helicopter, in order to conduct anti-doping tests on the USA athletes. The result? Many of the athletes mysteriously vanished into thin air, making the IAAF officials chasing them all over the island!
On the opposite direction, and west of Chania city, lies Balos beach, in the remote Gramvoussa peninsula. Balos is a tropical lagoon in its own right, where the fine white sand comes hand in hand with the turquoise waters.
Falassarna beach is a long, sandy beach with clear waters. It is in the north-west of Chania region and considered one of the best beaches in Greece.
Elafonissi beach is a colourful lagoon with extra-fine white sand and clear waters. It is a place unique the world over, and the most especial beach in Crete.
Paleochora village is the biggest resort in south-west Crete. It is built on a small peninsula, near the ruins of a Venetian castle that stood here centuries ago. In Paleochora and its surroundings, you can find more than ten magnificent beaches in total, which means you are going to have a problem deciding where to swim.
Sougia village is another great option in the south of Chania region. Its wonderful beaches and its tranquillity, makes Sougia a place where you can get away from it all.
Sfakia in the south, is the biggest municipality in the Chania region, featuring world-class sights.
Maybe the most famous of them is Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe, with a natural environment unlike everything else you’ve probably seen.
Loutro village, which is near Sfakia’s capital Hora Sfakion, and accessible by boat only, is a nature’s masterpiece. Apart from the unbelievably clear waters, Loutro – as more than many visitors have said – is one of the most beautiful coastal villages in the Mediterranean Sea.
Finally, don’t miss Frangokastello, some kilometres east of Hora Sfakion. It is a location named after a large, 14th century Venetian castle, which is preserved here in very good condition. In front of the castle, you can swim in the superb beach, while imagining the castle’s warriors going up and down the high towers.