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Trip List by european_traveller

Crete after the crowds have left

May 2, 2006  trip to Crete
4.0 of 5 bubbles based on 3 votes

I visited Crete at the end of the tourist season, when there was finally room for the local man and his donkey.

Crete was a last minute decision towards the end of 2004, when my partner and I found ourselves with 2 weeks off and nowhere to go. Neither of us had ever been on a package holiday before, and I in particular was expecting the worse.

I was partly right, but mostly wrong!

  • Category: Recent trip
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Beachgoers
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Seniors, Students, Budget travelers, Active/adventure, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Sissi

    We stayed at Hotel Vassia Beach in Sissi for the two weeks, we were in Crete. The hotel is small, but has its own pool, a restaurant and a terrace overlooking the ocean. The rooms were clean, the pool not too crowded (although we went to the beach most days) and the staff were very friendly.

    Sissi is a wonderful, small village with a nice, little harbour and a few tavernas and bars. The Pink Flamingo deserves a special mention for its food and very friendly owner. I would also recommend walking up to Epano Sissi for a meal at one of the tavernas up there.

    We found a few small beaches close to Hotel Vassia Beach, but mainly used the small beach of Avlaki, which is a 20-minute stroll from Sissii harbour towards Epano Sissi. Boufos beach is a little closer, and you can rent sunbeds there, but it is not as private as Avlaki.

    Sissi is not for the party-hardy people (yes I do mean "hardy" not "hearty"), but was perfect for the type of holiday we wanted, which was somewhere where we could unwind, go for a swim, have romantic meals, laze about, but have easy access to the rest of Crete.

    View photos from our trip at the above address.

  • 2. Aretiou Monastery

    A beautiful monastery. We stumbled across Aretiou Monastery on a drive in the mountains close to Elounda. The place seemed empty, or maybe they were all asleep, but we still had a look. Definitely worth a visit.

  • 3. Zakros Gorge

    One day we drove from Sissii to Zakros Gorge (through Agios Nikolaos and Sitia). It was a gorgeous drive through mountains, and we saw a few guys out with their rifles probably hunting for rabbit. It is without a doubt the nicest, greenest part of Crete we saw during our visit.

    Zakros GorgeWe walked through the gorge in about an hour (5 km) known as the Valley of the Dead, and had a swim in the Libyan Sea at Kato Zakros. I had never heard of the Libyan Sea, but apparently it is one of a number of smaller seas that make up The Mediterranean Sea. We had an absolutely amazing lunch at Kato Zakros Bay run by Nikos Platanakis and Sons. The gorge had turned increadibly hot by the time we walked back. So remember lots of water and a hat if you attempt this walk in the early afternoon.

  • 4. Kremaston Monastery

    On a drive to Lasithi Plateau we stopped at Kremaston Monastery just before Vrises. An old woman sweeping outside told us to come over, and she unlocked the door to the church. Whilst my partner lit a candle in the narthex (entrance hall), the woman was chatting away in Greek about the church, the painting of the apostles, etc. We understood very little of what she said, but she seemed so happy telling us about it all that we nodded, as if we understood every word. We did understand though that Titus was the protector of Crete. We had no trouble understanding her either, when she shouted at a French guy that had walked into the church and was about to enter the sanctuary to have a look at the altar. "Orthodox only!"

  • 5. Milatos

    We had a long, but wonderful walk from Sissi to Milatos and back. The walk is about 10 km each way, so probably not a good idea in the height of summer. The walk is worth it though for the beautiful landscape. We walked through Milatos village to visit the Milatos cave. Later we walked down to Milatos by the sea and had a gorgeous lunch in one of the tavernas on the seafront.