Leaving a brisk, Irish autumn for the same season in Crete was a breath of wonderfully warm, fresh air in more ways in one. Crete and Santorini were places that re-inspired my appetite for travel. Their charm and beauty were only outshone by the sunny smiles of the people who inhabited them. At first glance, some may think that Crete is just a place to relax on the beach and it can be if that’s what you’re looking for, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that there are great adventures to be had on this island.
Firstly, it was the most relaxed place I’ve ever seen when it comes to car rental. They had very little interest in a driving license or security deposit and at little over €20 for the day, we were on our way. We drove along stunning coastal roads with unbeatable views followed by traditional, quaint Cretan villages. Samariá Gorge is a natural wonder to behold and is named by many as a bucket list hike. If you’re more interested in being in the water rather than on land then you can’t miss Elafonissi. This world class beach is surrounded by rolling hills and mountainous terrain and truly rivals any that I’ve seen in South East Asia and beyond.
On top of its external beauty, Crete was the birthplace of Europe and so is steeped in incredibly interesting history as well as fascinating mythology. We decided to take a guided tour during our trip to the Palace of Knossos in Heraklion and it was some of the best money we spent on our trip. The guide was remarkably well informed and truly brought the history of Crete to life, both fact and myth, which made the tour that much more intriguing. Throw in amazing Greek food with the juiciest, most delicious tomatoes I’ve ever eaten and Crete really has it all!
With the opportunity to see Santorini less than a 2-hour ferry ride away, we had to take a day to see this world famous island. What was once one large island was separated into many by a large volcanic eruption back in the 15th century but this natural disaster is what has given this place it’s beautiful, rugged cliff faces and steeply inclined villages that look as though they could almost fall off the edge. Our first stop was Oia which is as postcard perfect in real life as it looks in photos. The whitewashed buildings and blue roofs combined with the view over the caldera and out to the horizon are stunning. They truly are vistas that you won’t get anywhere else in the world. After visiting Santorini’s second town, Fira, we hopped on what looked like a pirate ship and headed toward the volcanic hot springs. After a 10 minute cruise with fantastic views all around, we could jump off the boat where the hot springs met the flow of the cool Aegean sea. It’s an experience not to be missed!
The alluring, classic charm of these two islands is something that continues to personally inspire me daily. More importantly, it inspires me to explore more of Greece, a country as welcoming and diverse as it is beautiful.
Leanne is a self-proclaimed travel addict on every road but the one to recovery. Currently, she is moving to Australia after she takes the longest route through as many Asian countries as possible. At this moment, she’s visited 31 countries but won’t stop until she’s seen them all. You can follow along with Leanne’s adventures on her Instagram account @life_in_locomotion.