Welcome to Crete
Crete is a tapestry of splendid beaches, ancient treasures and landscapes, weaving in vibrant cities and dreamy villages, where locals share their traditions, wonderful cuisine and generous spirit.
There’s something undeniably artistic in the way the Cretan landscape unfolds, from the sun-drenched beaches in the north to the rugged canyons spilling out at the cove-carved and cliff-lined southern coast. In between, valleys cradle moody villages, and round-shouldered hills are the overture to often snow-dabbed mountains. Take it all in on a driving tour, trek through Europe’s longest gorge, hike to the cave where Zeus was born or cycle among orchards on the Lasithi Plateau. Leave time to plant your footprints on a sandy beach, and boat, kayak or snorkel in the crystalline waters.
Rich Historical Tapestry
Crete’s natural beauty is equalled only by the richness of its history. The island is the birthplace of the first advanced society on European soil, the Minoans, who ruled some 4000 years ago. You’ll find evocative vestiges all over, most famously at the Palace of Knossos. At the crossroads of three continents, Crete has been coveted and occupied by consecutive invaders. History imbues Hania and Rethymno, where labyrinthine lanes are lorded over by mighty fortresses, and where gorgeously restored Renaissance mansions rub rafters with mosques and Turkish bathhouses. The Byzantine influence stands in magnificent frescoed chapels, churches and monasteries.
If you’re a foodie, you will be in heaven in Crete, where ‘locavore’ is not a trend but a way of life. Rural tavernas often produce their own meat, cheese, olive oil, raki and wine, and catch their own seafood. Follow a gourmet trail across the landscape and you’ll delight in distinctive herbs and greens gathered from each hillside, cheeses made fresh with unique village- or household-specific recipes, and honey flavoured by mountain herbs. The Cretan diet is among the healthiest in the world. Pair your meal with excellent local wine, and cap it off with a fiery shot of raki.
Untouched by mass tourism, villages are the backbone of Cretan culture and identity – especially those tucked in the hills and mountains. The island’s spirited people still champion many of their unique customs, and time-honoured traditions remain a dynamic part of daily life. Look for musicians striking up a free-form jam on local instruments, such as the stringed lyra (lyre), or wedding celebrants weaving their traditional regional dances. Meeting regular folk gossiping in kafeneia (coffee houses), preparing their Easter feast, tending to their sheep or celebrating during the island’s many festivals is what makes a visit to Crete so special.
Greece and Spain are the most popular holiday destinations for Europeans this summer. This is shown by the TUI Holiday Atlas Summer 2021, which evaluates the most popular vacation destinations of European TUI customers. The Greek island of Crete takes first place. Gran Canaria, Rhodes, Tenerife and Antalya are also in the top five. Last year, Greece was already the most popular vacation destination for TUI guests from all over Europe. Bookings also show that this summer the Canary Islands are ahead of the Balearic Islands in terms of popularity. TUI has around 21 million customers in Europe. All existing bookings from the most important European markets are included in the evaluation of the world’s leading tourism group.
The TUI Holiday Atlas also provides an overview of country-specific preferences. This year, British guests particularly favor Dalaman on the Turkish Riviera, followed by Cyprus, Antalya, Tenerife and Rhodes. Crete is the top destination for German holidaymakers for the first time. The island moves up two places in the ranking compared to the previous year and replaces Majorca. Rhodes and Kos also each climb two places to occupy 3rd and 4th place. As in previous years, the Greek islands are the number one destination for Finns, Danes, Norwegians and Swedes, followed by Majorca, Antalya and Cyprus. Belgian and Dutch TUI holidaymakers are heading in particular to Antalya and the Turkish Riviera this summer, while the two Greek islands of Crete and Rhodes as well as Majorca and Tenerife are also highly popular. French holidaymakers have chosen Sicily as their favorite destination this time, followed by Greek and Spanish destinations. However, the French are also keen to holiday within their own country this summer.
The TUI Holiday Atlas shows: Greece and Spain are strong in demand. Greece is starting the new season with the tailwind of last summer. Low infection rates, comprehensive hygiene measures and a wide range of offers had already made Greece the most popular destination in 2020. In Spain, the Canary Islands lead the way in terms of bookings. An increase in bookings for the Balearic Islands is still to be expected in the coming weeks. An increase in bookings is also expected for Turkey. This is shown by the evaluation of search queries on TUI’s booking pages in the various countries of origin.
Furthermore, there is an increased demand for higher category hotels and room upgrades. The willingness to treat oneself to something more this summer shows Europeans’ longing for holidays and the continued desire to spend vacations in other European countries.
Article by: capital.gr
Despite the sad times we experience due to Corona Virus, we can still dream of our summer holidays and is there any better place than Crete, which revolves around sandy beaches, scenic countryside, and an encyclopaedic offering of myths and legends.
Despite an early end to this year’s tourism season due to the resurgence in coronavirus cases, as a destination Greece has won the safe operation challenge, which bodes well for a much better 2021.
Provisional estimates by large hoteliers and tour operators, as well as by leading officials in the tourism sector for next year see the industry’s activity recovering 50% of the record year of 2019, up from 20% in 2020. This is unless a serious resurgence of the pandemic takes place, or the standoff with Turkey spins out of control.
Experts estimate that the number of foreign visitors will more than double next year, compared with 2020, and if this proves correct it would also help boost the recovery process of the national economy.
Greek Tourism Confederation chief Yiannis Retsos told Kathimerini that “the conditions are there for 2021 to reach up to 50% of 2019 figures.”
Such is the positive outlook for next year that, for example, the hotels of the Sani/Ikos group have already sold 22% of their night stays for 2021 in the group’s nine units, management sources have told Kathimerini. At the same point of the year in 2019, before the coronavirus outbreak, the group had only 8%-9% of its capacity booked for 2020.
The same sources say that these bookings for 2021 do not include those who canceled their holidays this year and received a voucher, but new sales and re-bookings. The Sani/Ikos group, which currently appears better positioned ahead of next season based on the bookings reported, attributes this picture to its policy of covering the cost of testing all of its guests twice and to the strict health protocols it has applied.
Grecotel management sources say that although it is too early to make any safe predictions about 2021, they already discern strong demand for next year. Based on their contacts with major tour operators, the prospect of a coronavirus vaccine coming out and indications that next season will also include May, the management sources estimate that next year the group can recover 60%-70% of the occupancy of 2019.
This article was first published on ekathimerini.com
What’s the weather like in Crete in September?
Crete’s the largest of the Greek islands, and sits between the mainland and North Africa. It has hot and dry weather in September. Located in the southern Aegean, the island has the warmest climate in Greece, and although there’s some local differences in weather you’re virtually guaranteed glorious weather in September.
Crete has two very distinct microclimates due to the central mountains that stretch from east to west. The mountains act as a barrier to north westerly winds, so the south looks more African compared to the Mediterranean north. You’ll find things hot and dry in the south, although breezes will help keep you comfortable around the whole coast. Temperatures are higher on the coast compared to in the mountains, which can get heavy snow in winter.
Things are nice and hot in Crete during September, which has an average high temperature of 27ºC. You won’t need to bring many warm clothes with you as it stays pleasant at night, while the sea temperature’s an inviting 24ºC. Humidity’s low and ranges from 50% to 80%, while average rainfall’s just 10mm over two rainy days.
During September you can look forward to 12 hours of daylight each day with ten long hours of sunshine. UV levels will be very high, so make sure you bring plenty of sun cream and be careful in the midday heat, while sunset’s at 7.45pm at the start of the month.
Holidays to the Heraklion area of Crete have something to offer around the clock, starting with early morning sunbathing stints on the beach and ending in dusk-til-dawn clubbing.
Greece will permit direct flights from Britain to resume on July 15, a Greek government spokesman has confirmed.
Stelios Petsas said: “In cooperation with the British government, and following advice of experts, the government announces the resumption of direct flights from the United Kingdom to all airports of the country from July 15.”
Greece is exempt from the FCO advice against non-essential international travel, but a ban on non-stop flights was recently extended, making holidays more difficult. Now airlines will be able to restart services, just in time for summer.
Across Western Europe, airlines increased capacity to 6.8m passengers last week, up 47 per cent, with Ryanair alone offering 763,938 seats, up from 218,484 over the previous seven days.
However, Britons hoping for a last-minute summer holiday have had their options significantly curtailed. Of the 74 destinations to which the FCO has given the green light, only 25 do not have restrictions on UK arrivals. Malta, for example, currently requires all British visitors to self-isolate for 14 days, while Cyprus, another Mediterranean favourite, is still refusing entry to all UK travellers.
The Venetian Castle of Heraklion is called Koules, which means fortress in Turkish. It is an impressive fortress that surrounds the harbor of Heraklion, Crete. The Koules Castle is a massive fortress with two storeys that used to guard the entry to the port. The Castle was constructed by the Venetians in the early 13th century when they conquered the town. The earliest description of the Koules Venetian Castle exists in the work of the Florentine monk Cristoforo Buondelmonti in 1429.
The Fortress was primarily built for the storage of the foodstuff and the military supplies. It also served as the quarter for the officers and as a prison. A devastating earthquake completely destroyed the Castle in 1303 and it was rebuilt by the Genoese. The fortress was again restored during 1523-1540 and got its ultimate form. During the Ottoman rule, the Castle was again transformed to a prison. Several Cretan heroes who revolted against the Ottomans had been imprisoned in the castle and had been killed in the dark dungeons.
The architecture of the Castle is the typical Venetian architectural style. The construction was such that the walls of the Castle could protect the breakwater of the harbor. The Castle was made of stones. The ground floor has a vaulted roof with broad fanlight. The walls were very thick and were divided into 26 apartments serving as the residence of Kastelanos, the officer responsible for the well-being of the castle, as well as the dwellings of the captains and other officers.
A part of the ground floor was also used as the storeroom. There were three carvings of the Lion of Saint Mark in the Castle. The one at the seaside of the castle exists to these days. The upper floor and the basis of a minaret were added in the original construction by the Ottomans. Today the Koules Venetian Castle has been cleaned and restored many times. It is visited by thousands of people every year and consists of the trademark of Heraklion Town.
Tourism Minister, Haris Theoharis, revealed the health protocols for flights and hotels Greece plans to implement during the tourism season in summer 2020, once the country opens its borders to tourists amid the pandemic.
Speaking at an online event of the youth organization of ruling New Democracy, Theoharis stressed that the pandemic makes the setting of rules for the tourists’ arrivals necessary and that these health protocols must be respected.
He said that the health protocols have been prepared in collaboration with the Infectious Diseases Commission of the Greek National Health Organization EODY.
These protocols have already been submitted to tourism agencies for consultation and submission of proposals on their side, the Minister added.
In order for a passenger to board a flight from abroad to Greece, he must have received a health certificate within the last 72 hours that he is not a carrier of COVID-19. Without this certificate, he will not be allowed to board.
There will be no vacant seats on flights to, from or within Greece, ie their capacity will be full so that air transport is economically viable.
Passengers will not be served food for flights for up to four hours, but only packaged snacks.
Greeks who want to travel abroad should also be tested 72 hours before boarding the plane.
Greece’s request is that no COVID-19 test be conducted when tourists leave Greece. Tourists should be tested when they return to their own countries.
Tourists will leave the country without any control, so that there will be no risk of being trapped in the country and stay in quarantine. “After all, this would be a disincentive to choosing our country as a holiday destination,” the minister said.
“Quarantine hotels” in every tourist area
The Ministry of Tourism will rent a tourist accommodation in each tourist area of the country which will function as a “quarantine hotel.” Tourists who are found to be carriers of the coronavirus will be transferred there.
Each hotel or tourist accommodation will be obliged to contract with a doctor, who will determine whether a tourist must undergo a COVID-19 test. The diagnosis will be either live or via telemedicine.
The test results will be released within six hours so that anyone who is tested positive can be transferred to “quarantine hotels”.
Special training in hygiene rules will be provided to the staff of each hotel.
There will be no buffets in the hotels, except in small hotels.
Sunbeds will be installed at a safety distance to each other and will have a disposable cover for each swimmer.
Revenues, bilateral agreements
Regarding the revenues from tourism, Theoharis said that last year revenues were 18 billion euros. “This year we will have at most 8 billion euros,” the minister said.
He announced bilateral agreements with countries such as Bulgaria, Israel, Cyprus, for the free passage and return of Greek tourists.