Crete is the stuff legends are made of: tall mountains rise steeply from crystal blue waters, towering over thick forests and desert landscapes; dramatic gorges house lush valleys and verdant mountainsides support olive groves, orange and lemon orchards, vineyards and olive trees. The island is encircled by idyllic beaches, and in the cities, Minoan palaces sit side by side with Ottoman mosques and Byzantine monasteries. The rich cultural and natural diversity of the “land of gorges” is best explored by booking a stay at a boutique hotel in Crete, where local gastronomy and Cretan hospitality truly come to life.
Boutique Hotels Crete: Mystical beaches, Minoan marvels & Marvelous merriment
Gorgeous nature & Archeological treasures
Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization and still bears witness to the incredible achievements of this Bronze Age culture in the form of tombs, palaces and sacred ancient sites. During the Minoan times, roughly 3,500 years ago, Heraklion was the port of the Minoan settlement at the Palace of Knossos. Today, the city, whose name is derived from the mythical hero Hercules, is the economic and administrative center of Crete. You will want to spend at least a full day at the Palace of Knossos, which boasts more than a thousand rooms, some with luxuriously fitted bath tubs and running water, where you can walk in the footsteps of ancient Minoan kings and be transported to the grandeur of the past. The beautifully restored historical site is said to be the source of the myth of the labyrinth that held the Minotaur. The whole palace is decorated with beautiful frescoes, but if you want to see the originals, they are on display in the Archeological Museum of Heraklion. In Anogia at the foot of Mount Psiloritis, Crete’s tallest peak where it is said that Zeus was reared in a cave, life slows to a crawl. Nature lovers can choose from several gorge walks and hiking tours. The caves in the Zakros Gorge were used by the Minoans as burial sites, and the trail ends close to Zakros Palace, which is the smallest of Crete’s four Minoan palaces. Ancient olive trees hug Agiofarago Gorge that leads to a charming pebbled beach. Chania is a romantic harbor city in western Crete with a touch of Venice. Built on 5000 years of civilization, there are plenty of archeological treasures to see right in town while staying at a boutique hotel in Crete. The excavations of Agia Ekaterini Square, just a short walk from the harbor, and the Archeological Museum, which is housed in an old Catholic church, will delight culture lovers. The car-free historic center of Chania is almost completely surrounded by medieval walls, sheltering ancient city palaces, towering historical tenement houses and sophisticated boutiques lining the maze of alleyways and crooked streets inside. Crete is a treasure trove for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the beginnings of European culture, uncover its secrets, and retrace a history that spans millennia.
Bewitching beaches & Sun-drenched destinations
Finding the perfect beach is easy while staying at a boutique hotel in Crete. Surrounded by gently lapping ocean waves, Crete is a paradise for sun worshippers who want to relax and enjoy the sweet life on idyllic beaches, or de-stress with a night out on the town. The beaches of Balos and Elafonissi belong to the most beautiful, exotic and magical on the island. The stunning natural beauty of Preveli beach on the southern side in Rethymno will enchant you. You can also enjoy water sports here thanks to the lake located formed by the river that flows into the sea. Not far from the tourist village of Plakias, Rodakino is a large, sandy beach with sunbeds and umbrellas that will guarantee some calm moments alongside crystal waters. Greece boasts over 6000 islands scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which 227 are inhabited. A boutique hotel in Crete puts you within easy reach of the Greek Islands. You can fly or take a ferry to the famous Cyclades Islands’s most popular destinations like Mykonos or Oia on Santorini. Alternatively, you could fly to Athens and discover the mysteries of mainland Greece. Located at the crossing of three continents, south-eastern Europe, south-west Asia and northern Africa, the different architectural styles found in the cities of Crete map out the historical routes the island has taken over the years. Crete’s unique geographical position puts you in touch with other stunning sun-drenched destinations like Cyprus, Istanbul, Tel Aviv and Egypt.
Gastronomy, shopping & Hospitality
The culinary highlights of Crete will delight you. It is said to be one of the healthiest diets on the planet, so even your waistline will thank you for indulging. Cretan cuisine is a feast for the senses. From sun-kissed tomatoes and mountain-picked herbs to homemade olive oil and hand-churned cheeses, the gastronomy of Crete represents the lifestyle of the Cretan people and their philosophy of life. The locals are friendly and everyone seems to have time for a chat, coffee or raki, a strong, clear drink that packs a punch, or some Cretan wine, which has been produced on the island for the last 4000 years. To get a real taste of the island, be sure to check which festivals are happening on the island when you book a stay at a boutique hotel in Crete. There are hundreds of traditional festivals that take place in the villages throughout the year, which offer ample food, live music and festive dancing. The Venetians built fortresses and harbors, churches, palazzi and mansions fronted by arches on the island, which now house romantic eateries, fine shops, galleries and boutique hotels. Melame Town in Chania is a boutique lover’s paradise, where you can buy luxurious crafts, accessories, jewelry and souvenirs in the form of hand-carved wooden crafts or beautiful embroidery. The island capital, Heraklion, is the best spot to indulge in some retail therapy at the innumerous chic boutiques and upmarket jewelry hops on Agias Parakevis. Whether sipping a Greek coffee with locals in a mountain village, or enjoying fresh fruit, meze and wine at a tavern after a long day of shopping in a bustling metropole, no other place in Greece can delight the senses like Crete. A boutique hotel in Crete is the best way to enjoy its dramatic coastline, turquoise oceans, idyllic beaches, delicious gastronomy and friendly hospitality.