The island of Crete is the largest and southernmost (of the permanently inhabited and relatively large) islands of Greece. And geographically the southernmost is the island of Gavdos, which can be reached from Crete, but that’s another story. Crete has more than 300 sunny days a year, three different seas and an abundance of beaches to suit every taste, excellent cuisine, responsive locals and workers in all fields, fashionable hotels and cozy apartments, affordable recreation and developed infrastructure for any type travelers.
The calendar says August 2021, which means the time has come to visit Crete. Judging by my pop-up memories on social networks, earlier in August I visited Crete almost every year for the past 10 years before Covid. August is the warmest month in Crete. No, it’s not warm, it’s hot. The sea temperature on many beaches is almost the same as the air. Everything is just the way I like it. By the way, according to my feelings, I met the sun “harder” than in Crete only in the Maldives. Burning in an hour on the first day of rest is as easy as shelling pears, so I strongly recommend 50+ sunscreen to everyone, or better yet, even a hundred for the first time!
On this trip, I had with me not only my faithful friend — the Mavic 2 Pro drone, but also a new Canon R6 camera and various lenses. I’m a big fan of long-focus lenses and photography with them, so the “Valera” 150-500mm was on camera almost constantly. And now the height limit on the quadcopter has been removed and we were able to take some beautiful photos from 2-2.5 km. I hasten to share with you the beauty I saw, as well as tell you small but useful life hacks that will help you navigate the island and plan your future trip. Go!
There are two international airports in Crete — Heraklion and Chania. In our case, with 100% probability, we will fly to Heraklion. If before the pandemic there were charters flying to Chania from Russia, then now they no longer do. In my report, Heraklion is present only for information, because this time I didn’t think that the city itself could be photographed beautifully and uniquely, especially from above. Yes, there is the Palace of Knossos, the Archaeological Museum, Waterpark and CretaAquarium, but all these are not my “clients” for photos. Heraklion is big, noisy, busy (by Cretan standards), a little dirty (by Greek standards) and just plain ordinary. Go shopping, yes. Go to a cinema or hypermarket, yes. Just don’t forget that the larger your vehicle, the more time you will spend searching for parking. I once circled for more than 30 minutes in one area just to find somewhere and go quietly and drink coffee.
In Heraklion, in addition to the airport, there is also a seaport (ferries to Santorini, Athens, Italy and much more), as well as a central bus station. This is where transfers are made to get from the east to the west coast or vice versa, since you won’t be able to get directly from Rethymno to Sitia, for example. Comfortable buses run strictly on schedule (the timings are easy to find on the Internet).
The beaches closest to Heraklion are Karteros in the east and Amoudara in the west. In the first case, planes land noisily right on your head, and in the second, there is a beautiful view of the plant’s pipes and barges. But there is sand. Actually, all this is good, but let’s look at the photos.
My first stop is Malia (aka Mallya). A bustling city for young people. Party around the clock. Wide beaches. Water sports. Budget hotels. The Malia (and Sisi village) area has some of the coolest sunsets. The sun sets directly into the sea here. Arrive an hour before sunset, take a seat on the seashore or in a restaurant on the embankment and enjoy yourself.
Actually, that’s what I did. I got high at sunset, in the evening I walked along the very noisy streets in the center of Malia and I could move on. Your next destination is Agios Nikolaos.
Agios Nikolaos is very often called a port town in a disparaging manner. And don’t rush to make a general conclusion about the city in the first minutes, let it open up before you. For example, one day I was traveling by bus to Agios, there were many tourists from Russia and other countries around, and we got off together at the city’s central station. The station is located on the outskirts of the city, but in a convenient location for buses, since the city is entirely one-way and narrow roads. And so people get off the bus and talk to each other in all seriousness: “What kind of a town is this, they don’t even have a sea here!” Fi!” And you walk 15 minutes to the center and enjoy the views, including the sea. Take a walk through the streets, it’s beautiful.
The town of Agios Nikolaos has a really large seaport and yacht marina, but the coolest huge cruise ships and luxury yachts call there. You can (and should) admire them!
And in the evening, the city lights up around the lake and in the city itself, on the streets. Cafes and restaurants, rocks, Cornucopia, streets are illuminated.
General view of Agios from an altitude of about 2 km.
Superjets have recently started flying from Agios Nikolaos to Santorini, which has made navigation between the islands much easier. Now you don’t have to travel 60 km to Heraklion. And also boats continue to sail from Agios to Spinalonga. Despite the fact that the city has both a port and a marina, you will be surprised by the purity, transparency and shades of the sea. Mirabello Bay is considered one of the cleanest in Greece and it shows. And there are beaches for every taste — pebbles, whether small or large, there are black and white, sand and slabs, whatever you like.
And a white ship is sailing somewhere…
Elounda is a small but very proud village with luxury hotels and beautiful views of the island of Spinalonga.
The excursion to Spinalonga is one of the most popular in Crete. Half an hour by boat from Agios or 10 minutes from Elounda and here you are on this island. I’m very surprised by tourists who take with them “as a souvenir” some pebble from a building, to be honest. And no, not even because taking home an artifact from a leper colony, where lepers were kept for many years, is a little strange, and not even because every year stones from the immediate vicinity are brought to Spinalonga especially for the hands of tourists and there are practically no centuries-old artifacts left there (this not exactly), but at least because dismantling an architectural monument in this way is strange. But oh well, we’re here to admire the photographs anyway.
Elounda is to the left, And Istron is to the right (quote from folk tales)! So we go to the right and beautiful landscapes await us along the road
And now we find ourselves on one of my favorite beaches — Vulisma in Istron. Clear water, a bay with small waves, an equipped beach, you should definitely come here for the whole day. Take a sun lounger with an umbrella, don’t forget that you can burn instantly, and enjoy how the color of the water changes throughout the day — from soft blue to dark blue through turquoise. Another advantage of this beach is that you can admire it from above without having a drone at hand. Descent to the beach, into the bay itself, along a staircase of 88 steps.
Relatively nearby there is a marble quarry, rumored to have been abandoned for a long time, but nature still remembers the presence of man. Beautiful, of course, but…
But on the coast of Crete there are small chapels and small temples and churches everywhere. They fit so harmoniously into the landscape that you forget about everything around you!
And in addition there is a beautiful sunset and the full Cretan Moon, although it is no different from any other visible from Earth, of course
The south of Crete is a less developed area in terms of tourism infrastructure compared to the northern coast. No, this does not mean at all that there is nothing to do here and there are tumbleweeds all around. It’s just quieter (although this is not always the case), larger spaces, smaller buildings. Here there is another sea — the Libyan. There are a lot of pleasant secluded coves, and there are also wide open beaches.
The first stop when traveling from Agios Nikolaos is usually the city of Ierapetra, the largest city in the south of the island. I recently learned that this city is the “tomato capital” of Crete; there are very, very, very many greenhouses here and these berries are grown not only for the domestic market, but also for export.
In this photo behind Ierapetra they are. The town itself is like all the typical towns on Crete, with low buildings, narrow streets with all sorts of pleasant smells and, of course, a seaport. In the port there is a small Venetian fort from the 13th century, which now houses a museum.
From Ierapetra there are ferries to the island of Chrissi — uninhabited, with snow-white sand and clear sea water. I didn’t risk flying there on a drone this time, but anyone can easily sail on a boat.
The sea in the Ierapetra area is very changeable and depends on the winds that begin to blow from Africa. Today it may be calm, but tomorrow huge waves will hit the breakwaters with terrible force. It was very calm on my day, as you can see in the photo of the beach.
The roads and landscapes of Crete are a separate topic that can be discussed for hours, if not days. What can you find on this cozy island? There are windmills and serpentines and endless olive groves.
If we go south from Heraklion, we will certainly end up in the town of Matala. Even to a village. A small, cozy, warm, unique village. It is famous, firstly, for the fact that it has a unique bay, in which there are always waves. No, not Balinese, but very cool, like in a water park. It’s very nice to swim on them. Secondly, there are caves from the Neolithic era. Now tourists are allowed there for a symbolic payment.
Thirdly, Matala hosts cool beach parties with all kinds of light shows and tons of sound. DJs come from all over the world, as do party-goers. The whole area is filled with joy, smiles, movement and entertainment. Let’s end this chapter with a beautiful photo of the sunset in Crete.
Western Crete. Agia Pelagia is a small village with beautiful bays around, clean water, a variety of cafes, restaurants and even clubs, an abundance of apartments and hotels for every taste and price.
Of course, the five-star Capsis “Out of the blue” stands apart from everything, occupying a huge beautiful territory on its own peninsula. I won’t praise it too much, it was already shown in the “Heads and Tails” program, and I spent several cool working seasons there.
This is what the Capsis Hotel looks like, one of the most expensive villas in Crete on their Black Pearl territory and the coast of Agia Pelagia. And Lygaria Bay next to Agia Pelagia. In this region there are no waves, there is always calm and a gentle descent into the clearest sea.
Locals love to come to Agia Pelagia, as the resort is located very close to the capital Heraklion and is sold out on weekends. If you want to grab the best sun loungers and umbrellas, then it’s better to arrive in advance. And our path lies further to the west — to Rethymnon and the city of the same name.
Rethymnon, in my opinion, is the most beautiful city with unique architecture, steep palm trees within the city, and various beaches. The city is suitable for leisure activities for every taste and color — there are museums and ancient streets, beautiful evening lighting on the promenade along the embankment, cool cafes and expensive restaurants. Fortezza Fortress, Venetian Lighthouse, Rimondi Fountain, Archaeological Museum — this is not a complete list of what you can and should visit here!
Well, where are we without Google maps, since the drone now allows you to fly to any altitude.
Rethymnon is very large, I would recommend spending at least 3 days to explore it, there is a lot of places to walk! This time, unfortunately, I didn’t have that much time, so we are content with only daytime photographs. I really hope that you were able to feel the atmosphere at least a little!
Lake Kournas is located south of Rethymno, literally half an hour’s drive away. A freshwater lake where you can meet turtles while walking on a catamaran or boat. In fact, this is usually the main purpose of traveling here. There are cafes near the lake where you can relax in the shade.
The lake itself is huge in size and in order to fit it all into the frame, I had to fly about 2 kilometers. You can easily find banal photographs of Lake Kourna on the Internet, but my top-down is unique.
And some scenery along the road from Rethymno to the lake.
With this I complete my photo story, thank you for your attention and subscribe to my social networks — the same nickname is everywhere @nikybwd (direct links at the bottom of the page). If you are going to visit Crete and you want to know something about it in detail, then contact me and I will definitely tell you everything and help!