Crete is the largest island in Greece, and the fifth largest one in the Mediterranean Sea. Here, you can admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore glorious beaches, impressive mountainscapes, fertile valleys and steep gorges, and become part of the island’s rich gastronomic culture. Crete is, after all, a small universe teeming with beauties and treasures that you will probably need a lifetime to uncover!
The region of Chania on the western side of the island, is dominated by the impressive White Mountains (in Greek: Lefka Ori) and its famous National Park, which occupy the largest part of the region.
The city of Rethymno is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Greece: Venetian fortification works mingle harmonically with orthodox and catholic churches, mosques, grand mansions of Venetian architecture, arches and cobblestone streets they all create a wondrous atmosphere.
The largest and most densely populate region on the island of Crete is Heraklion (pronounced Iraklion).A unique combination of urban scenery and natural wealth makes the region an appealing all-year-round destination.
Lasithi is the easternmost and least mountainous region of Crete, where the population resides in four semi-urban centers: Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, Sitia and Neapoli. The mythical palm tree forest of Vai, the Gulf of Mirabello, the windmills on the Plateau of Lassithi (the largest in Crete), beaches lapped by crystalline water, beautiful cities and luxurious hotel resorts all make up a rather fascinating world.
Tour 1 : Full Day Chrissi Island (starting from Lasithi)
Become a Robinson for one day on the deserted island of “Chrissi” or “Golden Island”. This exceptional outing begins with a picturesque drive to the town of Ierapetra on the south coast. From here a boat rides across the azure waters of the Libyan Sea and takes us to the Island of Chrissi which is located 8 miles away from the coast. During the crossing sometimes you can observe the dolphins in their natural habitat, seemingly showing off as they swim and leap into the air just a few meters away from the boat.
Chrissi Island is the most southern as well as the hottest point in Europe with vegetation near to tropical with a beautiful “Lebanon” cedar tree forest amongst the sand dunes, probably the last existing in Europe. Walking through this forest you can reach the beautiful fossilized shell beaches with their white sand and crystal turquoise shallow water. The island is now protected as an “Area of Intense Natural Beauty” as it looks like the last paradise on Earth.
A perfect day for swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, and relaxation away from the busy modern resorts…
- CHRISSI ISLAND, Stratigou Samouil, Ierapetra, Greece
Tour 2 : Full Day to Gramvousa & Balos (starting from Chania)
Starting early and heading west, after a short breakfast stop near Rethymnon and driving outside Chania, we reach the Port of Kissamos or Kavonissi. Here we board our boat for a pleasant sail close to the coastline. On the way you will notice an impressive geological phenomenon of land elevation by 6 to 9 meters above sea level (dated since 200 years ago).
After approximately one hour, our boat arrives in the port of the pirate island of Gramvousa. According to Homer, Gramvousa is the island of Aeolus in “Odyssey”. It is also the habitat of over 100 bird species, and the sea turtle “Careta-Careta” Here you can visit the Venetian Castle, which was built on the top of a steep rock, at the highest point of the island, in 1579, and it’s one of the most impressive castles in Greece. The spectacular view, the marvelous landscape and the “legend of the Pirate’s hidden treasure” is an attraction not to be missed. As well as your visit to the castle, you have plenty of time for swimming or having lunch on board (optional).
Our boat then departs for the Blue Lagoon of Balos, a shallow and warm water lagoon. Here the crystal-clear, azure colored sea water, in combination with the white sand makes this place unique, and one of the most beautiful beaches all over the world. Your stay at the lagoon, where you can enjoy a fantastic swim, will be approximately three hours, before boarding our boat for the return sail.
- Gramvousa, Kissamos Province, Greece
Tour 3:Full Day Knossos Palace ( starting from Heraklion)
The Palace of Knossos was the monumental symbol of Minoan civilization and culture, due to its construction, use of luxury materials, architectural plan, advanced building techniques and impressive size. It was built gradually between 1700 and 1400 BC, and was discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokerinos and excavated by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900.
The intricate Palace of King Minos slowly unfolds before you, a labyrinth of 1200 rooms at the center of which is an enormous courtyard. The corridors and rooms are lined with beautiful frescoes, many of which have been restored to their former beauty. You will see the Corridor of the Procession, the Horns of Consecration, the Queen’s Boudoir (complete with one of the earliest known flushing toilet systems) and you will hear the Legend of the Minotaur and the Bull Dancers.
Leaving the Palace you are taken into Heraklion at the region of Pateles where you can visit the municipal market known as the “gipsy market” where you can find everything like vegetables, fruits, clothes, shoes and many more in really cheap prices. The atmosphere feels oriental and the screams of the vendors amuses whoever passes.
We then proceed at the Historical center of Heraklion with the Loggia and the Morosini fountain at the “Lion’s Square”. You have enough free time for shopping and lunch before you are taken back to your hotels
- Knossos Palace ENTRY, Knossos, Greece
Tour 4 : Full Day Cretaquarium (starting from Heraklion)
An exciting tour for those who want to explore the secrets of the city of Heraklion, discover hidden treasures and capture its magic with their photo-lenses. Let’s discover the city in a whole new way as we get the opportunity to develop our photography skills and see the sights at the very same time.
Our exploration starts from the statue of Eleftherios Venizelos in the Eleftherias’ Square, before moving on to some of the most beautiful and photogenic narrow streets of the city, the so-called “prasines portes” (green doors), where plenty of small traditional ouzeris blend the past and the present. The next photo-shooting spot is at the grave of Crete’s most acclaimed 20th-century writer Nikos Kazantzakis, with the world-known epitaph that reads “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free”.
We walk through various alleys and hidden tiny streets to get to the church of Agios Minas, one of the largest cathedrals on Crete. A walk through two of the busiest places of the city, the market and the fish market, with the walkways teeming with intense energy, allowing us to focus and capture the pulse of the city through our lens.
Our next stop is at the renowned Lions’ Square in the centre of Heraklion, with the arrays of cafés and restaurants, the meeting point of all the locals. Just across the square we can see the cathedral of Agios Titos, probably the oldest church in Heraklion, a building of neoclassical nature with intense eclecticism and many oriental features.
Our day tour includes also a visit to the City Hall, Loggia, which is considered to be one of the most elegant architectural monuments of the Venetian period and then a walk along Koules fortress, the “Castello a Mare”, one of the most familiar and beloved monuments of the city and the symbol of Heraklion, which is still haunted by legends that support that Cretan rebels were horribly tortured in its damp, dark rooms.
Whether you are an experienced or an amateur photographer, regardless of your camera or type of shooting, this tour through the city streets is going to be an unforgettable experience that will point out details invisible to the untrained eye, reveal the best points en-route and find photo opportunities for creative shots. On the tour, there is always a professional photographer who shows us how to catch the city’s beautiful environment, how to expose, compose and set the camera settings for best results. We get many tips on photography and at the end of the tour we will have postcard-like images to include in our photo album.
Our day ends with a visit to Cretaquarium in Gouves, one of the largest aquariums in Greece, a marine park for research, education, culture and recreation. Its exhibits focus on the marine fauna of the Mediterranean region and include sea organisms from over 250 species in more than 60 tanks.
So, come and travel back in time with us on this one-of-a-kind photo tour of Heraklion and enjoy an unforgettable experience that will be depicted on your photos for a lifetime!
- CRETAquarium Thalassókosmos, Heraklion, Greece