For most travelers, Crete is a beachgoers paradise. Vacation time, in Europe especially, brings millions to the island’s magnificent beaches to suntan, SCUBA, Jetski, and just laze around. But in the offseason, the real treasures of the island come forth at harvest time, and in the colder weeks when Mt. Ida (Psiloritis) is topped with snow. For a chance of pace and thought patterns, we heartily recommend Crete for nature lovers and great thinkers who need a clean slate. Here are a few stunning Instagram shares to tantalize those people.
A land of stunning contrasts, Crete’s Psiloritis punctuates an island where agriculture and tradition are unparalleled. Here, the mountain where the god Zeus played as a youth, rises high above fertile hills decorated with olive groves, vineyards, and vegetable farms that produce some of the world’s finest harvests. Visitors often come to Crete in search of beach holidays, and leave with a better understanding of how the ancient Minoans lived here sustainably for thousands of years.
The urban gem of Crete, Chania town is empty now except for the locals strolling to market or in contemplation along the world-famous harbor. As you can see from this amazing Instagram share, the Venetian port is painted onto a canvas of majestic natural beauty like no place else on Earth. The White Mountains, in the background, are a playground of unspoiled natural wonder, ancient history, and villager secrets you can only discover after tourist season.
No footprints, imagine that. Frangokástello Beach is one of western Crete’s most popular and beautiful stretches of sand. The nearby fortress, the legends, and ghost stories that abound, and the fact the pristine shoreline is barren of people now, should provoke thoughtful beachcombers to visit offseason. No footprints, I still find this amazing.
I have a Cretan Hound named Mojito who loves running along the shore like this puppy. Here on Crete there are so many fantastic places to enjoy all the sea has to offer. Some of our best times happen during winter when the faint of heart shun the strong north winds. This Instagram makes me want to drive with Mojito to Kokkinos Pyrgos, or maybe Amnissos nearby. I feel the freedom of this place watching him run. And amazingly, the water is still warm.
Gramvousa, most people don’t know Crete’s most famous lagoon to be associated with these islands or the peninsula of the same name. Visitors are more familiar with Balos Lagoon. In summer, thousands of people visit this most picturesque of beaches, but in winter there’s nobody around. In fact, nearby Kissamos seems like a veritable ghost town when tourists leave, or Shangri La if you are like me and enjoy solitude.
High up in the clouds, Lassithi Plateau is where Zeus was hidden from Chronos, or so the legend goes. One of the most unspoiled and mysterious places on Crete, this is an agricultural wonderland. Once there were 20,000 windmills in the bowl formed billions of years ago. Now only a few dot the landscape. In winter, only the locals can be seen scurrying about taking care of the farm business. One of these winter days, I want to spend some time inhaling the perfect brisk air up there. It’s a place where life seems all the more positive and fulfilling, and for that experience of a land time forgot.
Yerápetra (Ierapetra), even the name is like an ancient song. The Instagram below makes me want to load up the car with kid, wife, dog, and cameras to go and capture what Eleftheria Charalampaki obviously sees. Europe’s southernmost city, the port town is one of the safest places on Earth as well. It’s said, the locals consider locking one’s doors an insult. And of course, the seaside in and around the southeaster Crete town are stunning too.
Look! The road to paradise, deserted, beckoning, and thrilling in a calm and wonderful sort of way. This is the feeling one gets traveling through Crete’s Amari Valley. Our pals at Aravanes in the tiny village of Thronos, are like angels guarding a real garden of Eden. I’ll link to them here, because you MUST meet these people if you come to Crete. Really. Visit Amari, and you will either never leave, or come back year after year.
For those of you looking for truly wild and remote places, Sfakia has resisted modernity and invasion for thousands of years. High up at Omalós, you get the feeling of being the last humans on Earth. It’s a place where time really does stand still, especially in winter.