Perhaps, you arrived here for a city break or wondered what to do over the weekend. If you were looking for some travel ideas that you can explore during a two-day window, we propose you the following:
In the morning, start at Ancient Knossos, the ruins of the Minoan palace
Ancient Knossos is an imposing relic of the ancient Mediterranean world. The Minoan palace was imaginatively renovated in the early 1900s.
Knossos is steeped in mystery and enchantment. In legend, it was the seat of King Minos, beneath whose palace the bull-headed Minotaur hunted its victims in the labyrinth made by Daedalus. In fact, it was the hub of a Bronze Age empire that held sway over the Aegean more than 4,000 years ago. This piece of the Knossos narrative began to be unearthed during the early 1900s when British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans began excavating the site.
The next step is to head to Heraklion, which is Crete’s capital. Heraklion has an extensive medieval fortress that still overlooks the harbour where the galleys of the Serene Republic of Venice once moored. Centuries-old churches and ornate fountains are other reminders of Heraklion’s Venetian era. Lively open-air markets and the island’s most charming museum are also exhibitions. Find a café table on one of the central squares, watch the city’s busy daily life, or browse the markets for Cretan handicrafts and goodies to bring home.
Don’t forget to visit Archaeological Museum. It has an unrivalled collection from ancient Minoan, Greek and Roman cities.
In the afternoon, take more time to explore the city with its car-free old town full of Venetian-era monuments. Later, drive to Chania to discover Crete’s prettiest city and the second biggest, with colourful aged Venetian structures set around a sheltered harbour guarded by fortifications. To the south are the treeless summits of the Lefka Ori (White Mountains), sometimes covered in snow until June. Good beaches are located to the west and on the Akrotiri peninsula to the east. As well as Venetian ramparts and churches, some of the old Islamic buildings serve as reminders of the 250-year Ottoman dominion.
Spend the night there.
In the morning, wander around Chania, with its pretty fishing harbour and colourful market. Drive to Rethymno and arrive in time for lunch.
In the afternoon, explore Rethymno. It is Crete’s third-largest town, has been occupied since Minoan times and prospered under Venetian rule. Built on a wide, shallow bay, it has a good beach at the heart of town and a medieval quarter. Several well-preserved mosques remain from the Ottoman era. Along with the palm trees planted along its seafront esplanade, they give the city a pleasantly exotic atmosphere. Then take time for a splash at the palm-lined beach east of the harbour.
Return to Heraklion in the evening for dinner.