When you think of the Greek island of Crete, images of stunning beaches, crystal clear water, delicious Mediterranean cuisine, and ancient ruins may come to mind. However, not all areas of the island live up to these expectations. In recent years, the “dark side” of Crete has emerged, with some areas plagued by overdevelopment, pollution, and a lack of authenticity. In this article, we’ll explore some of the resorts to avoid at all costs and suggest some alternative destinations for the more discerning traveler.
Resorts to Avoid
1. Malia – Once a quiet little fishing village, Malia has become a synonym for all-inclusive resorts, drunken clubbers, and loud music. During peak season, the streets are littered with broken glass and it’s not uncommon to see young tourists passed out on the sidewalks. The bars and clubs of Malia are infamous, but little else in this town is worth seeing.
2. Hersonissos – Another example of overdeveloped tourism, Hersonissos is a resort town that caters almost exclusively to sun-seeking Brits looking for cheap booze and fast food. The beaches are overcrowded, the nightlife is tacky, and the town itself lacks charm.
3. Agia Pelagia – While the village of Agia Pelagia is quaint and charming, the resort area is anything but. Construction of dozens of unattractive high-rise hotels has marred the coastline, and the beach is no longer a pleasant place to sunbathe or swim.
4. Elounda – While the views from Elounda’s luxury hotels are undeniably beautiful, the town itself feels fake and manufactured. The marina is lined with yachts and there’s little to see beyond the glitter of the rich and famous.
But fear not, there are plenty of places on Crete that are worth visiting instead of these overdeveloped resorts. Here are some alternatives:
1. Chania – Situated on the northwest coast of Crete, Chania is a charming town with a beautiful old port and a Venetian quarter. The winding streets are home to fascinating museums, local shops, and excellent restaurants. You’ll also find some of the most beautiful beaches in Crete nearby, such as Balos and Elafonisi.
2. Rethymno – Another picturesque town, Rethymno is located on the northern coast of the island. The Venetian harbor, narrow streets, and colorful buildings are sure to impress visitors. Rethymno is also home to some lovely beaches, such as Preveli and Plakias.
3. Loutro – This tiny village in southwestern Crete can only be accessed by ferry or hiking trail, and there are no cars allowed. The whitewashed buildings and turquoise waters make Loutro feel like a hidden gem. The town has a handful of simple but lovely guesthouses and small restaurants.
4. Paleochora – Located on the southwest coast of the island, Paleochora is a laid-back town that has managed to retain its authenticity despite increased tourism. The beach is long and sandy, and there are plenty of walking trails to explore in the surrounding hills.
1. Is Crete safe for tourists?
Yes, Crete is generally a safe destination for tourists. However, it’s always important to take precautions, such as not leaving valuables unattended and being aware of your surroundings in busy areas.
2. What is the best time to visit Crete?
The best time to visit Crete is from May to September, when the weather is warm and sunny. July and August tend to be the busiest and most expensive months.
3. What is the currency in Crete?
The currency in Crete is the Euro.
4. What language is spoken in Crete?
Greek is the official language, but many people also speak English, especially in tourist areas.
Top 10 Tourist Attractions in The Dark Side of Crete: Resorts to Avoid at All Costs
1. Samaria Gorge – Located in the White Mountains, the Samaria Gorge is one of the longest and most popular hiking trails in Europe. The stunning scenery and unique flora and fauna make it a must-see for nature lovers.
2. Knossos Palace – The ancient Minoan ruins at Knossos are some of the most impressive on the island. Wander through the labyrinthine rooms and learn about the history of this important civilization.
3. Heraklion Archaeological Museum – This museum is home to thousands of artifacts from ancient Crete, including many from the Minoan period. It’s a must-visit for history buffs.
4. Agios Nikolaos – This picturesque town on the east coast of Crete has a lovely harbor and plenty of restaurants and bars. It’s also a good base from which to explore some of the nearby beaches.
5. Spinalonga Island – Once a leper colony, Spinalonga Island is now a popular tourist attraction. Take a boat tour to explore the abandoned buildings and learn about the fascinating history of the island.
6. Vai Beach – With its unique palm tree forest, Vai Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on Crete. It’s also a popular spot for windsurfing and other water sports.
7. Balos Lagoon – This stunning lagoon on the northwest coast of Crete is accessible only by boat or a long hike. The turquoise waters and white sand are worth the effort to get there.
8. Frangokastello Castle – This 14th-century Venetian fortress is an impressive sight. The castle is located on a beautiful stretch of beach on the south coast of the island.
9. Chania Lighthouse – The lighthouse at the entrance to Chania harbor is a lovely spot to watch the sunset. The views of the surrounding mountains and sea are stunning.
10. Gortyna – This ancient city in central Crete was once the capital of the Roman province of Crete and Cyrene. Today, visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the city’s fascinating history.