Crete – the perfect family holiday location?
The government and the media are telling us that Monday the 19th July is ‘Freedom Day’! They tell us that normality will return (while whispering ‘though you should probably keep on your mask, stay away from people and avoid large gatherings’) and it will be all OK again. Until the moment comes we can’t be sure what will happen but one thing that is certainly evident is that the upcoming changes in travel rules has seen a surge in people booking holidays and we, like many others have been looking at what is available.
The Greek island of Crete is somewhere that is definitely worth considering whilst looking for a family holiday – if you’re not quite ready to risk heading off this summer it is worth noting that Crete in October still sees average highs of 23°C so a half term jaunt may be more up your street.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands so what you will do on your holiday entirely depends on where you will be staying – here are just a few reasons to visit.
Crete, like the whole of Greece, has a rich history and is home to the Palace of Knossos. Once the political centre of the ancient Minoan civilisation, the first civilisation in Europe, the Palace now provides the opportunity for visitors to step 3500 years back in time and explore the Bronze age ruins. Whether you decide to pay the entry fee and look around at your leisure or pay for a guided tour, you will marvel at the crumbling architecture and have the opportunity to see the restored frescos depicting general life in Ancient Greece. You must also visit Heraklion Archaeological Museum where you can view Ancient Minoan artefacts including pottery and jewellery.
If you prefer to hit the beaches rather than the ruins you won’t be disappointed. Crete has thousands of beaches for you to choose from but those considered to be the best lie in the Chania area of the island. If you are travelling as a family then Marathi might be the best option for you, with it’s golden sand and clear, calm water Marathi is perfect for children. There are also a lot of tavernas and restaurants to grab something to eat and drink very close by. Again, if you are thinking of travelling later in the year, the water is still warm enough to swim in right up until and throughout October.
Throughout the island you will come across many quaint, family run taverna. Take the opportunity to enjoy some of the delicacies of Crete. Like many areas in the Mediterranean, what make Cretan food so wonderful is the use of fresh, high quality, local ingredients and locally produced olive oil of course. Cretan specialties include Gamopilafo, a rice dish cooked in meat broth and served with a squeeze of lemon. While visiting you will discover a world of Cretan cheese filled pies but Sarikopitakia, a filo pastry filled with cheese, fried and finished with a drizzle of honey is by far the most delightful. Stamnagathi is very similar to spinach and believed by many to be the reason for good health. Boiled then served with a dash of olive oil and lemon, you may find this accompanying many of your meals, especially meat based dishes.
Again, similarly to the rest of the Med, Crete produces a lot of wine and this can often be purchased in tavernas at a very reasonable price, usually €1-2 per glass. It’s worth noting that the Greeks refer to larger quantities of wine in kilos rather than litres. Red wine is more popular than white though I would definitely recommend trying a glass of Retsina when in Greece. White wine aged in pine casks, it has a unique taste (and I love it). Tsikoudia or Raki is the traditional drink of Crete, a pomace brandy made by distilling the left overs of wine production. Drank as a shot, Tsikoudia is pretty cheap but with an alcoholic content of 45-60% so will blow your socks off.
All in all, Crete is the perfect location for a family holiday and ideal for an October half term break.
At the time of writing Greece is on the Amber List for travel. If you are planning on visiting this summer you MUST be sure to check the entry requirements for Greece at the time of travel and adhere to the rules when re-entering the UK after your trip.