The beautiful island of Crete has been a family favourite with sun seekers for over 20 years; attracting a young and family market to its gorgeous beaches and friendly villages. The island boats more than 1000 kilometres of unspoilt coastline; and some of the most beautiful views of the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea available anywhere. Crete is also renowned for its historical significance, and the island has a wealth of low cost entertainment including museums, galleries and historical sites, all of which are perfect for visitors to explore.
With the growth in tourism to Crete has come a drop in prices, with many tour operators now offering some of the cheapest flights and holiday packages. Bargains and online deals are available which can make holidays to Crete a possibility on every budget. With travel agents providing so many special offers, Crete is an incredibly popular destination for travellers from the UK; and whether you’re planning on taking a luxury all inclusive break or a bargain package holiday, the options are endless. Cheap accommodation choices include beachfront apartments in Crete’s modern resorts, and there are many self-catering bargains available even during peak times such as school holidays.
History and Culture
The history and culture of Crete is famous throughout the world, with the island being widely known as the foundations of the great Minoan civilisation. There are dozens of palaces, temples and museums exploring the island’s history; and the evidence of the island’s past can be found everywhere, influencing modern culture and attracting fans of archaeology to this day. The ancient myths of Crete have become infamous, and families are able to enjoy plays and retellings of legends involving such characters as Icarus, Daedalus, Princess Europe and Zeus. The island is the setting for the mythical Minotaur’s labyrinth and there are many references to this tale in the culture and storytelling of modern Crete.
Recent history has also been turbulent on Crete, with a Nazi attack leading to one of the most famous and daring resistance movements in Europe. With assistance from the recently cracked enigma code, resistance leaders in Crete were able to respond to a Nazi bombing campaign and the fascinating story is captured by the island’s Battle of Crete Museum, a must-visit for anyone who has an interest in the Second World War.
For tourists who are feeling the heat on the sunny beaches of Crete, snorkelling or diving trips may be a welcome way to cool down; and there are many local instructors and clubs who are able to offer expert guidance and equipment. Trips to the cooler mountain regions to enjoy the unspoilt views are also an experience which is not to be missed and routes are available which are suitable for beginners and the more advanced. The local bars and restaurants in these areas have an authentic and traditional feel and can be a great option for those who would like to sample the local foods of Crete.
Families with children will also enjoy the opportunity to enjoy the popular local zoo, Crete aquarium and Limnoupolis waterpark. These attractions are easy to travel to and are well served by public transport and hotel shuttles. Although these attractions may not be the largest in Europe, they have plenty to see and explore, and are generally amongst the cheapest in European resorts. As such, they offer excellent value and are guaranteed to keep even the fussiest children entertained!
Alongside these attractions, there are also a number of historical and natural areas which make great day trips for families or for couples who are travelling without children. Arhanes Village boasts a Minoan palace and some of the best-preserved historical sites in Crete, attracting many visitors to its ancient beauty and nearby authentic Greek tavernas. The Matala Caves are an unusual natural phenomenon of interlocking caves next to a spectacular beach. They were previously used as a Roman burial site and are said to be haunted, with many local guides offering tours. The Samaria Gorge is Europe’s longest, and arguably most beautiful, gorge; offering visitors the opportunity to hike or picnic in astonishing beauty.
Accommodation in Crete
There are vast differences in the accommodation available in Crete, with everything from luxury villas to cheap hostels on offer to visitors. Some of the cheaper hotels have shared bathrooms and limited hot water, however cheap doesn’t have to mean basic; and with so many travel agents offering deals, it’s now possible to get a good quality hotel for much less than many people expect. Five star hotels, luxury resorts and exclusive villas are available on the island, with many offering world-class facilities such as spas and golf courses. For those with more modest tastes, or budgets, self-catering apartments can often be a very economical option and give families the opportunity to cook for themselves and reduce the costs of eating out.