Heraklion, an ancient city once thought to be the home of the legendary Minotaur, now stands an incredible urban fortress, offering visitors a unique experience steeped in myth and history. The largest city on the island of Crete, Heraklion is a perfect blend of ancient culture and contemporary city life. Hidden beneath its tough cosmopolitan exterior lies a selection of hidden gems, including excellent architecture, delicious culinary delights and some of the most famous sites in antiquity.
In just a day, you can stroll through the old city towards the Venetian Koules Fortress, a formidable structure overlooking a beautiful harbor, before lunching at a seafront restaurant to sample some of the region’s local cuisine. The Historical Museum of Crete, and the nearby Archaeological Museum, are also just a short walk along the coast offering visitors a once in a lifetime glimpse at a wonderful collection of Crete’s historical treasures. If it’s ancient life you seek, take a quick drive to one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, the Palace of Knossos.
As night falls around Lions Square, home to the famous Morosini Fountain, you’ll enter a central hub for night-time activity. The fountain leads to a street full of picturesque gift shops, markets and boutiques, perfect for spending an afternoon browsing in before heading to the surrounding bars and cafes for a relaxing evening under the stars.
The Peloponnese has a Mediterranean climate. Highs are usually between 75 and 85 degrees from May through October, and 59 to 68 degrees from November through April. June to September is the warmest period – usually between 82 and 88 – while the air is cooler and rain is typical from December through March.
Most travelers book vacations to Greece between mid-June and the end of August when temperatures are at their hottest. Between Easter (March/April) and mid-June is also a good time to visit; the days are sunny but not too hot.
The shoulder season runs from late August to mid-October. Days are warm, resorts and attractions are open and, best of all, prices are lower.
Most of the resorts and tourist attractions close down between October and April. Unless you are in Greece for the skiing, you may find that there is little to do during these months.
How long is the flight to Greece?
Greece is one of the most beautiful and ancient cities in the world with a history that spans across the country. From the Parthenon to the historic site of the original Olympic games held over 1,000 years ago, visitors from around the world yearn to explore this extraordinary country. The flight times vary from airline to airline and country to country and when making connecting flights, always check with your carrier. Due to layovers at certain destinations, your actual travel time may be in excess of 30 hours.
There is a nice variety of airlines from which to choose for your trip to Greece, but please be sure to check with your carrier for details regarding your layover cities, if applicable, and actual travel times.
The best tip for traveling anywhere in Greece is to travel light and keep it simple. Clothing styles in Greece are very casual, making every excursion a comfortable experience if you follow some simple suggestions.
Pack for the weather: The summer months from June through September are extraordinarily hot and dry so sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat are a necessity. Athens receives the most rain from November through February and it is often colder and windier than you expect, so pack a light sweater, raincoat or folding umbrella when you travel during this time.
Shoes: The roads away from the main towns in Greece, whether on the mainland or one of the many islands, are often rough and stony, so make sure your footwear is supportive and covers your feet such as a closed flat for women or topsiders for men. High heels are generally not ideal for sightseeing, but in many of the historic sites, such as the Acropolis, this type of shoe is banned to ensure that the ancient monuments are not damaged.
Monastery excursions: For both men and women, it is necessary that your legs and shoulders be covered, so plan accordingly.
Clothing: Other than trips to a monastery, your clothing options may include shorts, jeans, capris, sundresses, T-shirts, polos and a lightweight jacket.
Backpacks or carry-all: Bring a lightweight bag to store your essentials when sightseeing. An ideal bag has a place to secure a water bottle, a phone bungee to protect against loss, theft and damage, and a travel adapter plug if your devices are not designed for European voltage (230V).
Between state international, domestic and municipal airfields there are 44 airports in Greece. Travelers taking trips to Greece can get to the islands easily or from the islands back to Athens. The domestic airlines offering flights include Olympic Airlines, Sky Express and Aegean Airlines.
The rail network covers much of the mainland and links Greece with Central Europe and Turkey. There are express, regular and high-speed train services running daily. Hellenic Railways Organization runs the rails.
There are intercity coach services on the mainland, but on the islands buses are the best way of getting about. Even the tiniest towns are linked to the bus network. KTEL runs the inter-urban busses throughout Greece.
Renting cars and mopeds is easy and relatively inexpensive.
Off the mainland, the islands are all well-connected by hydrofoils, ferries and passenger boats.
The beautiful Mediterranean climate, sandy beaches and ancient archaeological sites make it difficult to choose which activities to pursue while visiting this amazing country. The mainland has monasteries at Meteora and the Acropolis Museum in Athens. In Thessaloniki, the second largest city after Athens, you’ll find Byzantine churches and a museum, and also several Roman monuments like the Triumphal Arch of Galerius.
The Delphi Archaeological Museum on the mainland displays many finds from the ancient ruins of numerous temples in the area, including the stadium where pilgrims came to worship Apollo, the god of light, prophecy, music and healing, and to consult the Oracle.
Many visitors catch a ferry from the Athens’ port of Piraeus to one of the many Greek islands. Santorini is a town on the west coast with the dramatic cliff-top towns of Fira and Oia, romantic destinations for honeymooners. Sunbathing on the black volcanic sand beaches is quite popular, especially after visiting the archaeological site of Akrotiri where volcanic lava buried the city more than 3,600 years ago.
Greece not only offers visitors an amazing variety of places to see and things to explore, extraordinary hotel accommodations make you feel welcome and right at home. You may choose from small, charming guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, villas and self-catering cottages as well as traditional resort-style hotels. (http://www.smallhotelsingreece.com/find-a-hotel/)
(prices quoted are from London)