DISCOVER THE ISLAND
The island of Crete offers endless sightseeing opportunities and activities. From the mountains to the coast, this is a place of unrivaled natural beauty, a haven for beachgoers, and a fascinating cultural experience.
The beaches of Crete Island are just as famous as the island itself, with many frequently making the Top 10 rated beaches worldwide. The region of Heraklion, specifically, is blessed with a long coastline of sandy coves, trendy beach bars, or secluded bays, depending on your preference.
Found on the northern part of the peninsula, not far from the charming white chapel of St. Georg Kapelle, Sarantari is one of the best spots to relax and take in the scenery. The beach is known for its crystal clear waters and offers a protected bay that serves families with children well. Make sure to pack appropriate shoes if you want to walk around the cliffs and explore the area.
One of the most popular beaches in the area, Limanakia is found south of Sarantari and consists of a group of small bays. Some are organized - others parts not - and you might even find a nudist-friendly spot or two if you look for it. This is a great option for families with children as it is located near the village, with plenty of options for dining and entertainment.
In a distance of approximately 4 km from the house, in the north coast, you will come across yet another stunning beach, Gouves. Soft sand, shallow waters, and a mix of organized and free space are available here for visitors to enjoy. A great spot to watch the sunset before returning to Anissaras.
Voulisma beach is a welcoming location in the middle of a large bay east of Agios Nikolaos. It is a wide beach, with soft white sand and turquoise waters, with all the facilities visitors can expect. The shallow waters make this a perfect spot for families with children.
Kolokitha beach (which translates to pumpkin) is a busy spot during the summer due to its proximity to Elounda. It has no amenities, just a few tamarisk trees for shade, and it is best to visit before the boat trippers arrive at noon or later during the day. For extra peace, you can go towards Vayu beach, with its bright colored orange sand, which receives far fewer visitors during the day.
Elounda & Spinalogka
The small town of Elounda has always been a charming spot, however, its popularity soared after it was used as a filming location for the now-famous Greek series "The Island." If you stop for a swim at Schisma Elountas, you'll choose a bustling spot with a great view of the island of Spinalogka in the distance (also known as Leper Island) and plenty of choices for food and drink nearby. During the summer, the island is open to visitors daily, so don't miss learning more about the history and tragic events that took place there.
Crete is also a great destination for those interested in history, with its many ancient ruins and artifacts from times past. Stroll through the streets of the Old Town and take in the breathtaking views of the city's harbor. Visit the Palace of Knossos and explore the ruins of one of the earliest civilizations in the world.
If you're visiting Crete, you'll want to make sure you don't miss out on Knossos Palace. Only half an hour's drive from Theros Residence, this is one of Greece's most visited and most famous archaeological sites. Knossos was once the center of the Minoan empire and has left behind many beautiful artifacts- and some mysteries too! Tours can be self-guided, or you can arrange for a private guide to learn more about the history and importance of the Minoan civilization.
The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is located in downtown Heraklion. In the museum, you will see many artifacts found in the Knossos Palace, including the renowned Minoan snake goddess figure.
The Caves of Zeus
Crete is home to not one but two locations fighting over the rights as the birthplace of Zeus. The ruler of Mount Olympus is said to have been born here in secret, trying to escape his father's wrath. According to the legend, Zeus was born in either the Dictaean Cave (43 km south of Malia) or Ideon Antron (78 km southwest) in the foothills of Mount Psiloritis.
Natural History Museum of Crete
Located not far from the center of Heraklion, near the waterfront, this is the perfect place for families to learn about the flora and fauna of Crete island and the eastern Mediterranean.
The museum includes various educational exhibits, dioramas, an outdoor botanical garden, and many hands-on activities. Young visitors will love the "Dinosaurs extreme" section, where they can walk among real-life-like exhibits of the fastest, smallest, and largest dinosaurs of the time, plus more.
More local experiences
Visit Gouves and the sacred cave of Agia Paraskevi
Only a short 9-minute drive away from your accommodation, you will come across Gouves. This small village might get few visitors, but that is a mistake. Stop by the Cave of Agia Paraskevi, near the homonymous Byzantine Church, where the Greek goddess Artemis was once worshipped. The cave is 170m long, and you can see stalactites and stalagmites.
The villages of Houdetsi and Venerato
Only a 40-minute drive south from your hotel in Anissaras, a road trip towards the wine-growing villages of Houdetsi, Metaxochori, and Dafnes will offer a truly authentic glimpse of life on Crete island and the chance to sample various local varieties. Don't miss a visit to the Nikos Kazantzakis museum in the village of Myrtia nearby, where you can learn about the life and work of the "Zorba the Greek" writer and one of the most important Greek literary figures.
Family day at Dinosauria Park and CRETAquarium Thalassokosmos
A must for families with children and those fascinated by what came before, these two attractions are located so close to where you are it would be a shame to miss them. Dinosauria Park offers an interactive, educational experience for young and old, while CRETAquarium is the first aquarium in the country, with more than 60 tanks housing Mediterranean species.
Lassithi Plateau has a long and proud history, starting as the possible birthplace of Zeus to becoming one of the most fertile and sought-after spots of land for Venetian families. Thousands of white windmills can still be spotted around the area, which once operated one of the largest wind farms in the world and were responsible for watering the crops.
There are around 18 villages in total, scattered around the foothills of Mt Dikti, with the most famous being Tzermiado, Agios Georgios, and Psychro. The 23km winding road that connects them is one of the most scenic routes for a cycle or road trip, bursting with color in the spring and snow in the winter.
Visitors will be spoilt for choice when it comes to attractions in the area, from E4 hikes to exploring the imposing Havgas gorge or a visit to the nearby monasteries of Vidiani and Panagia Kroustallenia. While in the area, you can't miss visiting the Cave of Zeus, as well as the Greek Mythology Thematic Park nearby, which opened in 2020 and offers visitors a deeper insight into Greek myths and legends.
CRETAN FOOD AND GASTRONOMIC EXPERIENCES
Crete is home to a vibrant and delicious culinary tradition influenced by its rich history and the abundance of fresh local ingredients. The island's cuisine is known for its fresh seafood, succulent meats, and flavorful vegetables, as well as its use of herbs and spices.
Some of the dishes that visitors will love include the traditional lamb and potato dish known as "kleftiko," the hearty and creamy rice and meat dish called "gamopilafo," traditionally served at weddings, and the delicious cheese pies with thyme, honey, and local cheeses "kalitsounia."
If you’re looking for a meal that is deeply rooted in the Cretan culture, then you need to try Antikristo, meaning “facing each other,” and usually includes lamb pieces on skewers, around in a circle around the fire.
Crete is famous for its local honey, olive oil, and cheeses, which are used in many traditional dishes, so don't forget to visit a market for souvenirs and gifts. There are also various red and white grape varieties unique to the island, such as the aromatic and subtle Vilana and the delicate Thrapsathiri.