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You are here : Home > Pictures and tips for a good travel > Crete Island

Crete(May 2003)

"Nice little island in the Mediterranean "

Photo de Grèce et de Crête
Photo de l'île de Crête



Here's a short tour of Crete Island. We'll concentrate our attention especially on the coasts, showing many pics of beaches, hotels, harbours and cities.

We'll start to speak about the South-western part of the peninsula (in particular with Elafonisi Island) and we'll go on describing the island clockwise, to finish with southern beaches and Matala Bay.

* New

At the end we'll also speak about car renting and driving in Crete

But at first let's show a bit of meteo : temperatures are similar to Athens' ones.

Cities Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Athens 13 14 14 20 25 30 33 33 29 24 19 15

average of daily maximum temperatures in°C (see temperatures in the world )


  really favourable period
  favourable period
  less favourable period


 Elafonissi Island

It's a very characteristic island because you can reach it by feet, even in summer, without wetting your shorts. In this scenery preserved from almost all kinds of civilization, you'll benefit of wonderful beaches with fine white and rose sand. The sea bottom is not really deep, the water is hot and exceptionally clear. On the other hand, there are very few fishes.

Plage d'elafonissi

Plage d'elafonissi
Plage d'elafonissi
Plage d'elafonissi Plage d'elafonissi


Plage d'elafonissi
Plage de sable rose d'elafonissi


Plage de sable rose d'elafonissi
Plage de sable rose d'elafonissi

Plage d'elafonissi
Plage de sable rose d'elafonissi

Here're some pictures of the various beaches of the island.

Plage d'elafonissi
Plage d'elafonissi
Plage d'elafonissi
Plage d'elafonissi
Plage d'elafonissi

 Falassarma (bay of Livadi)

Some sunset pics taken from the beach and a more general view of the bay. In spite of the rocks, you can have a swim everywhere and it's really agreeable to swim with the diving mask and the snorkel.

IMG_3438.jpg   IMG_3439.jpg  IMG_3440.jpg 




 Gramvoussa Island and the magnificent Balos Bay seen from a distance

In this small island you can find both a wonderful beach with turquoise water and the remains of a very beautiful Creto-Venetian fortress of the 16th century. This is the one which resisted the most to the Turkish attacks till 1715, and it's probably dued to his altitude.The boat that brings you there leaves you some hours to visit it. Fortunately, because you've to climb more than110 metres to reach it. But the view is amazing.



The only way to arrive there is by boat. There'a a one day trip from Kasteli (Kissamos) which stops also in the lagoon of Balos.the ticket on the spot (on the quay) it will cost 20€ food and drink not included (you'll have to pay for them directly on board). Some tour-operators sell the same package for 45€ (with bus transport included). According to those one who took it, this makes the bus tour too expensive! But it's up to you to choose. The departure of the boat is every day at 10 a.m. and the arrival is at about 6 p.m.


 Balos Bay and its sublime lagoon

It's really the most beautiful lagoon of Crete. Like Elafonissi, it's a place still preserved from civilization and you absolutely have to see it. Beware of the heat and of Crete's crushing sun. If you decide to go there don't forget to bring with you something to drink, food and a good sun cream.

To my knowledge, there're two way to arrive there. So i'm sure you'll find the one you prefer.

If you take the boat it takes half an hour to arrive from Gramvoussa Island. Then, it'll leave you on the beach and you won't have any more possibility to enjoy the scenery.

Otherwise, you've to take a track for all-terrain vehicles which is 8 km long. It starts from Kaliviani and it arrives at the end of Gramvoussa peninsula. To reach the lagoon, you'll have to go down a long stone-built staircase completely new.

This track runs alongside the East of peninsula and permit you to admire a beautiful and very arid landscape.

Baie de Balos et son 'lagon' sublime

Baie de Balos et son 'lagon' sublime
Baie de Balos et son 'lagon' sublime


 Kasteli and its small harbour

Originally, the city of Kasteli was called Kissamos or Kisamos (following the maps).

see the description of the hotel Sunny Bay hotel Sunny Bay

The harbour of Kasteli


port de Kissamos - kasteli

You'll find 2 taverns along the harbour. On the right (for who's just arrived) there's the bigger one, with a large terrace. It's absolutely standard. At the opposite, the one on the left is really special and typical. Par contre, sur la gauche se trouve une petite taverne vraiment spéciale et probablement très typique. Honestly, if you don't know it you can find it very disconcerting : you need to be lucky to eat what you would! But it's a really funny souvenir.

The waiters are really nice and......machos! If they ever offer somebody the aperitif, they do it just with men. It's upsetting! But the menu is special too. As drinks you can find local wine and raki (there's no light aperitif for women!), and to eat there's greek salad, tsatsiki, chips, the fish of the day, and also the coffee, i think. The prices are so big than the menu, so you won't spend a fortune.
To order, a waiter brings you next to the fridge and shows you the different kinds of fishes (really fresh and catched the same day.And i can confirm it cause i went there several times); Then, without saying a word (they don't speak french. Just a little of english to translate the words of the menu) , the waiter waits for your order. Since there's no printed menu, it's not so easy to decide!!! Theree's only board on the wall, with written the different dishes and prices, but if it's the first time you go there you won't find it easily. Since i didn't see it, you can imagine the meal i had and especially the order with which i ate the dishes.I started with a salad, then fish and after some wine. Another strange thing is that they bring you everything at the same time. As after all that i was still a bit hungry, i ordered some other dishes, chips,....and i don't remember anymore what else, and i not even a waiter was embarrassed. And so, even if after several orders, you manage to eat really well!

In fact, you've to choose since the beginning all the dishes you'd like to eat. Anyway they'll bring everything at the same time (starters, main dishes and drinks !).

The last problem is the quantity. They count in number per number of dishes. This can seem evident, but be careful anyway. I thought i was right to choose 2 ishes which seemed quite small to me, but the waiter understood 2 dishes of fish ! Who knows.... but at least it was really good :)


 Harbour of La Canée (Chania, xania or hania)

The harbour and the old city are wonderful. Surely, you'll find also many shops and restaurants for tourists, but i think that it's really worth the travel.

Like everywhere in this island, you'll be harassed in front of each restaurants, but at least lots of waiters are nice.

Attention, there's a few of cybercafe in the city. Even if you're thinking : "on holidays?? are you mad?!?". But anyway, sometimes are really useful. Other detail: car parks and traffic are not well-working. I didn't stay for a lot, but it was enough to understand that is forbidden to park on all the big boulevards. So, even if you see a lot of car already parked, be careful : after 2 minutes i had tried i saw 2 policemen fine. Then i decided to run into the big fee-paying car park in the city centre.
In the end i could have gone to the big car park in the West of the old city, which goes along the sea and it arrives until the castle (or Siavos castle).

But as i've already said, the traffic is complicated in this city. A big number of streets and boulevards are one-way only.





 Beaches of Marathi and Bay of Souda

The 2 beaches of Marathi are simply amazing, as you can see below. There's not a lot of things to say except that it's such a pleasure to relax there. The only dommage is that the bastion which is next to the top of the harbour has attracted a big group of young people ready to celebrate.That day i've to admit that i was not really quiet and relaxed..On the other hand, once you've spoken to the waiters, it's exceptional.






As a background, the almost-eternal snows




Somewhere on the way going along the Hania Gulf.




 Rethimno (rethimnon)

Still another beautiful harbour surrounded from lot of restaurants and nice bars.

IMG_3381.jpg  IMG_3477.jpg  IMG_3478.jpg  IMG_3479.jpg  IMG_3480.jpg  IMG_3481.jpg  IMG_3510.jpg

We can't honestly say that the municipal beach is beautiful or even welcoming. But on the other hand the beach which is on the East is really nice. As usual, there're many bars, hotels, taverns and shops for tourists.


 Amoudara (next to heraklion) and its beach

Actually, there's a power station in Amoudara. But it's located at the exit of the city, on the way to Bali, Rethymno. Even if it seems disturbing just the customers of the hotels next to it, it's enough to spoil the pictures as well.See the description of the hotel akti zeus to know more.

There's no pollution at all and the beach is beautiful and extensive, the water is green-blue....
"Amoudara is a really small seaside resort with restaurants, bars, car rentals,...", in short, this is what we can read online. In fact there're some restaurants, bars, and shops, but nothing special. And if you won't rent a car during your stay, you'll easily get fed up.

Plage d'Amoudara
Centrale électrique d'Amoudara
Amoudara beach
the power station

I's up to you ...

 Hersonisou next to Heraklion

A hypertouristic city, delimited on one side by the sea and some tens fo restaurants and bars, and on the other side by the main street, which is some kilometres long and it looks like a boulevard because of the huge presence of cars. There're also a lot of touristic shop, of all kinds. Almost in the middle, a shop sells some poster of Crete and Greece. If you like the blue of the sea, the white of the houses, the red of the sun, you'd be delighted...which amounts to saying that i've bought plenty of them!


Even if you can't see it clearly, the seaside is completely covered from restaurants and bars.



 Ammoudara (next to AG. Nikolaos)

Another wonderful creek. Its water is so blue you can imagine to be in a Polynesian lagoon. It doesn't have an easy access but, once you're in, the quietness is guaranteed. For experts only.



 Beaches of Tholos and Mohlos

I really suggest you this place not because of its beach (because i didn't have the time to enjoy it) but just to have a drink and to eat something. If you go off the beaten tracks, you can find a wonderful quiet and romantic bar, protected by the shadow of the trees and with a magic view of the sea.



Pictures of the village

Really nice village. It's quite small, so you can easily visit it even if you don't have so much time. Don't miss it if you can. if you'd like to stay there, you can take one of the rooms rented out by an "ex" french man.


the village viewed from the top.

* Continuing for about ten kilometres to the South of Agios Nicolaos, inside the bay, you'll find another small village with a nice little There'are almost no tourists there.Just 2 or 3 taverns in front of the sea for the locals. But because of their sea sight, i couldn't not to visit them.

  Petit village au creu de la baie de Agios Nicolaos







 Sunset next to Mont Toplou






 Vaï and its surroundings (Itanos and Big Bays)


A pride of Cretans and greeks. Sincerely, except for the East Coast of the island, where there're some remains and some beaches, i didn't see anything extraordinary. But if you'll find something interesting to see or to do there, don't hesitate to write me



Another exemple of bay with a good reputation in the tourist guides. It's up to you to judge.


And to finish, here's the beach with 1001 coconut trees. It has a really high reputation.

You've to know that after a small country path you'll arrive in a cul-de-sac with a paying car park. Obviously it's done on purpose. It's impossible to park somewhere else. Then, all around the parking there're some small shops of souvenirs and beach items. And under the coconut trees, even if you can't see it from the pics, there're two taverns.

       Plage des 1001 palmiers



 Dead Valley and Kato Zakros


A wonderful walk. The only problem is the hot due to the depth of the valley and the lenght of the way, but fortunately the tourists are left on the top and there's a car service which fetches them at the bottom. Surely if you don't like steep terrains this is not the best solution for you.



Kato Zakros

There're some nice restaurants on the bottom of the Dead Valley. It's so cool to have a rest and a drink on their terraces.Moreover, the waiters give you a very warm welcome.



 Some view of the plateau of Ziros




Not far there's also a tavern with an amazing view.



 Ierapetra and a big beach of Keratokambos in Tsoutsouros





Here we are in the South-South Eastern Coast. There're really less sand beaches here. but some white shingle beaches are really good for taking pics!


Big beach of Keratokambos in Tsoutsouros

The Southern Coast is not very touristic yet but it has lots of beaches and creeks. Except some crowded creek, most of them were "deserted".




 Matala Bay and Red beach

Absolutely wonderful place. Even if it's looks like Saint Tropez. If you go on the heights (take the path whiwc goes to Red Beach and take the right fork), you'll have an unforgettable view, but also lots of quietness. I think it deserves a bit of effort.

Baie de Matala
Baie de Matala
Plage de 'Red Beach'
Beach of Red Beach





somewhere else ...




Car renting and driving

Talking about driving in Crete, I made there more than 1000km (even almost 2000) in a bit less than 3 weeks and i didn't have any problem. Mmh, ok...i lost a hubcap because of a hen nest. In fact you've to be carefull to hen nest on the small paths and to landslide, especially in the mountain ways and in some really narrow streets. But apart from this, there's nothing else to say. Maximum speed on the isdland should be 90km/h in the main street which goes along the North side; in all the others is 70km/h, so nothing to worry about.

Likewise, you've to respect their rules.When somebody overtakes you, the habit is to go on the right, on the "emergency-stop" line. If you don't do it, they'll sound their horns. If you go on the right, be careful to the fragments that you can find sometimes on the road.
In the advices given by the agences on car renting they even recommend to:
- keep the right, and to use the emergency line,
- in the crossings, give the right of way to the arriving cars,
- the right of way on the right is not always appropriate,
- when it rains don't exceed 50km/h. Because of the sand, the salt and the oil, the road-way becomes very sliding. When it starts raining, it's better to stop and to continue later.

We can notice that the advices are a bit stricts, but it's just to make you adapt to their way of driving (which sometimes can seems really surprising).

I recommend to everybody to rent a car vehicle on the spot to enjoy all the different landscapes. Like always, be careful to the rip-off merchants.
For what concerns the prices, i think i took one of the most expensive rents : Auto Papas (affiliated to Thomas Cook). I don't know the others, but the one i chose had a really good quality. They offered me a day extra because of an unforeseen event and the they kindly propose to bring me back to the airport. Mreover they have lots of agences (one is 300 metres next to the airport).

Abou the price : with Auto Papas, a A class with air-conditioning : 429euros/19days. The concurrents have sometimes prices 3 times lowers.



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