The flora and fauna of Greece are so diverse that it is difficult to narrow down the search to any one specific area. Having said that, there is one region which stands out from the others with its spectacular natural landscapes, and that is the island of Crete.
Over the years, Crete has become a leading destination for nature enthusiasts because of the endless outdoor activities on offer. The sheer abundance of forests, caves, valleys, rivers and exotic wildlife has turned this area into a natural haven. Some of the most popular spots which should be on every nature lovers bucket list, while visiting Crete are detailed here to make your holiday fruitful. The island is also perfect place to rent a villa in Crete or find a more alternative accommodation.
The stunning island is the fifth largest in the whole of the Mediterranean and the largest in Greece. The island’s rich heritage has been inherited from the Minoan civilization, said to be the most advanced in all of Europe, a fact which is vividly displayed in the many historical ruins of the Venetian era and the Ottoman period.
The gorge of Samaria
Located in the Samaria National Park, this stunning gorge is one of the leading natural attractions of Greece. The gorge is thrown open to visitors in early May till end of October, when the high water level makes the trip impassable.
A visit to this majestic natural marvel requires a certain level of fitness as almost five to seven hours of hiking is required to traverse it, and is quite tricky in places. The hiker will be rewarded with great views of forests landscapes with hardly any people around, and the sight of the most beautiful beach in Crete, namely, Agia Roumeli.
Elafonissi beach, Elafonissi
Southwest of Crete, lies the magical beach of Elafonissi, roughly 80 km from the city of Chania. The beach is characterized by shallow clear waters and pink sand dunes in places, due to the presence of thousands of crushed shells. The hidden caves are great for exploration and the area on a whole offers a peaceful retreat for everyone.
Phaistos Minoan Palace
The Minoan Palace of Phaistos is strategically located on top of a hill overlooking the plains. The palace portrays the vestiges of the Minoan civilization, through a display of some of the finest architecture inducted in the royal apartments which once existed there. The palace is also the site of a mysterious Phaistos Disc found in 1908, the origin of which has still not been established.
Balos lagoon, Kissamos
The exotic scenery and pristine beaches make Balos lagoon one of the leading tourist attraction in western Crete. The clear blue waters and eternal sunshine have made this one of the most photographed region. Once the visitors have soaked up the energy from the sun, they can venture to the nearby secluded island of Gramvoussa, famed for its beautiful Venetian castle.
Located in the eastern region of Crete, the Psychro Cave, also referred to as the Dikteon Cave are said to be of great importance on the mythological front. There are more than 3000 other caves situated near the village of Psychro, but none are of more significant value than these caves. It is presumed to be the cave where goddess Rhea gave birth to Zeus.This legendary tavern is visited by thousands of tourists each year.
Bali is a beach community located between Heraklion and Rethymnon, which is known for its lovely bays and peaceful beaches, reminiscent of its famous Indonesian counterpart. The abundance of taverns, bars and restaurants provide a good alternative to visitors looking for relaxation. For beach lovers, the four different stretches of pristine sand found here are said to be some of the best in the country. The place is ideal for extended stays and is readily accessible from all major towns.
Chania is situated about 160 km away from Heraklion, to the northwest of Crete. The ancient town is steeped in history, and was once the capital of the state for nearly 90 years. The cobbled streets, lined with cafes and bistros are a great draw for visitors, especially those seeking to experience the rich history of Chania. The Archeological and Maritime museum are the major draws here, apart from the beautiful old buildings displaying Venetian designs.The harbour is lined with luxury boats and yachts, confirming the importance people have given to Chania.
About 70 km east of Heraklion, lies the picturesque town of Agios Nikolaos. The town offers a perfect opportunity for visitors to unwind and relax in the taverns by the bay and watch the fisherfolk at work.The town has a busy marina and is also known for a place to shop for handicrafts and souvenirs. The famous Kitroplatia beach and other beaches by the Mirabella Bay are popular with locals and tourists who throng the many cosy cafes and taverns lined up by the beachfront.
History has it that in 1866 the Arkadi Monastery was the scene of a tragic sacrifice by the Greek refugees, who committed suicide by blowing themselves up rather than surrendering to the Turkish invaders. The incident sparked a wave of sympathy from all over the world, as a result of which this 12 the century monastery was made as a mausoleum to display the plight and bravery of the people of Crete. The monastery was fully restored in 1870 and occupies a pride of place in the country’s rich history.
This is a guest post for Travelling Buzz created in partnership with Luxury Retreats.