Holidays on the island of Crete in Greece

Travel report with a lot of photos of the Greek Mediterranean island Crete, taken during a holiday stay at the Hotel King Minos Palace in Hersonissos

Facts and map

Crete is located almost 100 kilometres south of the Greek mainland and is the largest Greek island and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Corsica. About 635,000 inhabitants live on the island. About half of the population lives in the island capital Heraklion. Besides agriculture, tourism is an important economic sector. The most popular tourist season begins at the beginning of May and ends at the end of October.



In 2016, the Greek Mediterranean island of Crete was one of our summer destinations, after having already visited the islands of Rhodes and Kos in the years before. Due to the continuing economic uncertainty in Greece and the increasing number of airline bankruptcies, we decided once again to book a package tour. Otherwise, we usually put together the trip ourselves from individual travel modules. Only the private airport transfers we organized ourselves this time. As hotel we chose the very well rated 4-star hotel King Minos Palace in Hersonissos, about 26 km east of Heraklion.

Arrival

Our flight with the airline Condor, which started at Leipzig-Halle Airport (IATA code: LEJ), landed at Heraklion "Nikos Kazantzakis" Airport (IATA code: HER) at 7:30 pm on time. Due to the late arrival time we decided against a slow shared bus transfer to the hotel. Instead we booked a private transfer by limousine in advance with "Crete Taxi Service". A friendly driver of the company picked us up at the airport exit. He took us in a very comfortable Mercedes-Benz E-Class to the hotel King Minos Palace, 26 km away, in less than 30 minutes. So we could even have dinner after a warm welcome and a quick check-in.

Sightseeing

The island of Crete measures 250 kilometres in east-west direction and up to 60 kilometres in north-south direction and offers a wide range of different sights and destinations for excursions. Therefore it is best to book a rental car. The distances between the hotel and the excursion destination can be very long and the driving time can be very long, especially if you have to leave the highway (Aftokinitodromos) 90 and drive on small country roads. So do not plan too many sights in one day. Thanks to EU development funds, many roads have been upgraded and are in good condition. But roads through small villages, especially in the mountains, can sometimes be quite narrow and winding. We were glad to have booked only a small agile Fiat Panda as a rental car.

Otherwise you can reach the larger towns on Crete very well and cheap using the public buses of KTEL. You can find timetables and fares here:
- KTEL Chania - Rethimnon for the western part of the island
- KTEL Heraklio - Lasithi for the eastern part of the island.

If you prefer to go on an organised trip by coach or boat, you will certainly find what you are looking for with one of the countless tour operators in the tourist resorts.

On the island of Crete we visited among others these sights:
- Town of Agios Nikolaos (by public KTEL bus)
- Spinalonga island - the island of lepers (by rental car)
- Lasithi Plateau (by rental car)
- Cave of Psychro, also known as Zeus Cave and Dictine Cave or Dictine Grotto (by rental car)
- City of Heraklion (by public KTEL bus)
- Tourist resort Hersonissos with Star Beach (by foot)

All photos from Crete