Crete Island – a guide with tips & tricks for a good time – Part 1
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I chose Crete because I liked the photos I came across on internet so much that it beat all the other options. The truth is that being in place is much better than you can imagine looking at the pictures.
Many asked me if it wasn’t too hot in Crete in August. The answer is yes, it is hot, it is very hot, but you do not feel it as a burden, you are grateful. The locals have found a way to deal with the relentless sun. The buildings in the cities are crowded to keep the shade. Thus, small shady picturesque streets are formed, and where more sun shines, a natural shade is made of creeping plants or awnings are placed, which can protect the whole space from the sun rays. Where there are souvenir shops, you can feel a cool breeze from their air conditioners. If you feel tired, you can immediately sit down at a beautiful and inviting table in the shade of the densely distributed small neat restaurants, to drink something cool.
Don’t forget to read also Part 2 of this travelogue.
How to get to Crete?
Friendly advice: if you fly law cost, and there is no other way, at least make sure the rent-a-car is sound, because well-positioned in price quotes refuse to wait for you in case of flight delay, regardless of whether you are ready to pay your afterhours tax.
Use the box below, which allows you to view all the options of all companies.
If you still can’t afford one of the more famous ones, I recommend Global Rent-a-car or Holiday Auto from the locals. These two were waiting for their customers after the spectacular delay of WizzAir flight by more than 6 hours and at 4 in the morning they gave their cars. Centauro did not want to wait for us even for their regular fee of 40 euros. When I tried to get along with them on the phone, they told me that they were just an office in Chania and could not deal with my reservation. They advised to reach the call center to cancel it if I wanted and that the fact that I could not get to Rethymno without their car, at 4 am, was not their problem. Just to explain that there was no call center, but there was an IVR, which referred me to their office- practically they put me in Catch 22 situation.
By the way, if you have such a flight delay, be sure to go to the Wizz website and file a complaint. It has a form. Compensations amount to 250 euros.
If you from Bulgaria, as an alternative to airplane transport, you can travel there by car, but be sure to check the schedule of ferries and the requirements associated with Covid to board them. It is advisable to stay one night somewhere, so as not to make a huge transition at once – after all, Crete is in the southernmost part of Greece. The whole mileage from Sofia is about 1200 km and is over 18 hours. So, think carefully about which way of moving you will choose. The convenience of being by car is that you do not depend on low cost airlines, car rental companies, you can carry an umbrella and sunbeds to visit the wild beaches, which are most worth seeing there and of course to stock up on high quality olive oil.
Where to stay?
If you are going to Crete for the first time, I recommend booking something in one of the cities – Rethimnon, Chania, the emphasis is on Ya or Heraklion.
I chose Rethymno because it seemed the most romantic and attractive to me. There is a good beach nearby with a beach bar and equidistant from the east and west coasts of the island.
You can read more about the beaches of Crete in Part 2 of this post.
If you’re willing to spend a little more money, it’s worth it, don’t get expensive, especially on your first visit. Get an overnight stay in an old building. There are many preserved ones here, because there were no bombings during the war.
We stayed at the Avli Hotel, pronounced I, located in a building from 1600. You can read more about it at Avli Lounge Apartments in Rethymno on the island of Crete – where time stops and you do not want it to continue.
What is it like to live like a Cretan?
To live like a Cretan means not to rush anywhere. In this heat you do not have to bother with schedules and urgent tasks.
Before I left, I was asked at our hotel if I had eaten as a local while I was in Crete. I asked what that meant. I was told that the locals eat a lot and delicious. Well, that’s how I live in general, I have to tell in my blog about as many dishes and experiences at interesting places as possible. 😊
To feel the spirit of Crete, use as many opportunities as you can to wander the small streets of the old town, to take pictures, to sit down for a drink here and there. There are all kinds of souvenirs, but if you have the opportunity, get olive oil, because this one is very good quality, with low acidity.
If you want to be a local, don’t get up early, have a hearty lunch at 3 pm, have dinner at 9 pm and later, party until dawn. You don’t have a fast job. There are only tourists “early” in the morning at 9 o’clock. on the streets and staff of hotels and restaurants. The beaches are getting occupied at 10-10: 30 at the earliest, and the Greeks arrive even later. I don’t even know if the beach bars work earlier. 😉
What is the local drink? It’s not ouzo. 😉
Try the local tsikoudia brandy, the emphasis is on Ia and you pronounce it Ya.
Raki is the same, as far as I understand, but there may be a difference in alcohol content. Here the tsipourou, which is widespread in the north, is not so common. For all anis fans, Ouzo is also available. However, try tsikoudia with honey and cinnamon, it tastes like liqueur and it is very pleasant, especially as a digestive. In fact, you can’t miss trying tsikoudia, because they serve it in every restaurant, at the end of the dinner as a compliment just before the bill, along with the complimentary desserts.
For the first time we tried this local drink in Tavern Stavros, which was located next to our hotel. You can read about it in Stavros Taverna- Greek cuisine with Cretan style in the old town of Rethymno.
Here is a short film about the tavern, dubbed with typical local music.
In the second part of this post you can read where to eat as a Cretan, i.e. in which places in Rethymno and around you can eat delicious and plentiful, what local products and specialties to try, how to drink wine as a local, where are the cool bars in Rethymno, some ideas for beaches, as well as for historical sights.
In Part 2 of this travelogue you can read where to eat as a Cretan, i.e. where in Rethymno and around you can eat delicious and plentiful, what local products and specialties to try, how to drink as a local, where are the nice bars in Rethymno, some ideas for a beaches, as well as for historical landmarks.
How to get to all those places on Crete?
Don’t worry about how to get to the above places. Just use the Google map here by clicking on the red pin with which I marked their locations and then select directions:
How to book your stay in Crete?
You can book your stay right here. For your convenience, I have added a booking.com box, which refers directly to their site. I guarantee you’re going to use all your genius discounts and privileges they would offer to you. Just enter the dates of your trip, then hit the Search button and voila. In addition, booking.com are doing their best to make sure that your expectations as a customer are fulfilled. I’ve described an example about the latter in my story about our stay in Shangri-La hotel in Singapore.
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Do you ever wonder how some places differ so much from others in service, environment, as an overall experience? This means you are also interested like me in the topic of The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore. I constantly add to my collection reviews about those of them, which practice its principles, regardless of intentionally or accidentally. If you are curious to understand which they are, explore category The Experience Economy.
If you need to rent a car, you can book it here in the box of the largest booking platform