Three Magical Winter Wonderlands in Crete

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As Greece’s most autonomous and diverse island, Crete is an intriguing place to visit all year round. Its cities are very vibrant and buzzing full of life while its rural locations are effortlessly astonishing, as winter gives the landscapes an alluring Winterland charm. The Mediterranean winter climate is a mild, and although it does get colder, there are many crisp sunny days for visitors to enjoy. Read on to find out what three destinations in Crete make a great escape in the winter months. 

Heraklion - The Fortified City

The capital of Crete is none other than Heraklion, the largest fortified city in the Mediterranean. A city whose old town centres around a beautiful harbour that is enveloped by Venetian Walls which provide a riveting promenade with amazing scenic views of the sea on the one hand, and the mountains on the other. A cosmopolitan city that combines contemporary vibes with a diverse cultural heritage that spans centuries, from the Ancient Greek eras up to modern day history. The Koules Fortress, located right on the seafront at the harbour, is the garrison of Heraklion, imposing and impressive it is one of the most iconic sites in the city. A stroll around its centre, which is a maze of streets will lead you to the stunning, marble Morosini fountain at Lion’s Square while you can also admire the patron St. Minas Cathedral as well as St. Titus church on 25th August Street. For immersing into the local vibes, the central market of 1866 Street houses a plethora of stores that carry local wares of their many local and high-quality products. Cretan cuisine is known far and wide so sampling the local gastronomy is an absolute must! Be brave and try a shot (or two or three) of Raki that will warm your cockles, a usual Cretan welcome treat, but also savour the delicious honey-glazed doughnuts called ‘loukoumades’. As relaxing during downtime, surrender to an unequalled sense of pampering and experience a bit of understated luxury in a central city hotel home to some fine dining restaurants in Heraklion.  

Chania - Colourful Cretan Town

Chania is one of the most picturesque prefectures of Crete. With a gorgeous Venetian port, around which the city is built, it provides for incredibly scenic walks for its winter guests. With a plethora of cafes, restaurants, tavernas and bars, a stroll around will create a dilemma about what to experience first. Some of these are situated in higher up in the buildings that surround the port and offer wonderful views. The embankment of Chania also includes a mosque built during the Ottoman Empire in 1694 that usually hosts a number of exhibitions and is considered an attraction in its own right. The iconic lighthouse, located at the furthest point where the ports meet the open sea, greets the boats that enter and is visible from almost anywhere around the port. It is an incredibly photogenic landmark, especially around the sunset, with the waves crashing over its base if it is a windy day. However, it is highly likely that you will also be able to enjoy the mild winter weather that Crete is known for, thus making a saunter around truly fulfilling. For combining the best of Cretan hospitality with a central location, choose a hotel in the heart of Chania that features many facilities and amenities that will make your stay as-as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

Lassithi - Breathtaking Landscapes

Lassithi is Crete's easternmost regional area that receives less tourism, mostly due to the fact that there is so much going on elsewhere in Crete. However, when talking about the natural beauty of Crete, the landscapes of Lassithi should definitely be highlighted. It may not be the home of mount Psiloritis (in Rethymno) or the White Mountains or Lefka Ori (in Chania), but it does boast striking beaches that soothe your soul as you gaze upon them on crisp, winter days, such as the wonderful region of Elounda. Although popular for summer holidays, the sea view suites of Elounda boast spectacular views of Mirabello Gulf that can also be enjoyed during the winter season. Agios Nikolaos is the region's capital and is a popular destination as it offers art, culture, an exceptional food scene and beaches. Lassithi also features an impressive plateau surrounded by a mountain range which is simply spectacular. Venturing out into the Cretan countryside during the winter months has a charm that comes second to none. It is strongly suggested to spend some time driving around to fully appreciate all that Lassithi has to offer. There are many picturesque and traditional villages to discover, thus immersing into the local culture as much as possible.

For more information on Crete, visit the official Greek tourism website. 

 Donkey at Lasithi Plateau to the Mount.

Donkey at Lasithi Plateau to the Mount.

 Loukoumades at Galaxy Hotel Heraklion.

Loukoumades at Galaxy Hotel Heraklion.

 Elounda Villa Suites.

Elounda Villa Suites.

 Lassithi Plateau Crete.

Lassithi Plateau Crete.

 Old venetian harbor with boats in Heraklion, Crete island, Greece.

Old venetian harbor with boats in Heraklion, Crete island, Greece.

GreeceCharleen Parkes