It’s almost time for the summer vacay and if you’re anything like me you’re already hunting for deals. I still can’t decide whether I want to travel to the island of Hvar in Croatia or Lisbon, Portugal this year. Last year I traveled to Greece and I can tell you it was an excellent choice, a dream worth pursuing. That’s why I wanted to describe my experience in a few lines and let you in on a few secrets of the marvelous vacation spot.
Hersonissos by night
Like most Greek resort islands, Crete offers an abundance of things to do, see and marvel at. We chose Chersonissos, (Hersonissos) – a charming harbor town right on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea – because we had read that it was a blend of history and contemporary fun. While we appreciate the serenity and rough beauty of secluded places, we wanted to feel the vibe of the Greek streets and mingle with the natives for an authentic bite of Greek culture.
Chersonissons was everything we had hoped for. We found a nice place to sleep in the middle of everything – a cute B&B adjacent to the main party street – and a 5-min walk to the beach called Hotel Floral. Not too fancy yet clean and nice.
Hotel Floral in Hersonissos, Crete
Where to sunbathe, swim, read and chill
We tried several beaches, all great as the fantastic blue-green of the sea is all the same wherever you go along the rocky shores. The water is warm, clean and refreshing – just perfect for taking a dive. Our favorite was Kahlua beach, a pebbly shore with nice staff and good eateries where lunch was a treat every time – delightful and not expensive.
Kahlua beach in Hersonissos, Crete
Star Beach, probably the best or the most popular beach in Hersonissos, is the go-to place if you’re looking for fun, beach games, para-sailing and foam parties. If I were to return, I would probably stay at Star Beach as it provides great accommodation in both villas and hotel suites and it draws eclectic crowds from all over the world.
Star Beach, Hersonissos, Crete
Where to eat
Greek restaurants all have something in common: friendly staff and bohemian atmosphere. You absolutely have to try their world-famous Star Beach, Hersonissos, a signature dish of Greek cuisine along with souvlaki and Pita with Gyros. We thought Acropolis, a family-run traditional restaurant right on the beach, served the best moussaka on the island. They also have a great selection of fish, desserts and wine (which we got for free courtesy of the cheerful staff).
Greek Moussaka at Acropolis, Hersonissos, Crete
We also loved Greek Corner, a super cool spot for fun-seeking tourists. While the food was scrumptious and the cocktails amazingly refreshing, we couldn’t take our eyes of the band – a group of Greek artists playing traditional music while a skillful dancer engaged tourists in traditional dances. We were also drawn to the party and danced to the Zorbas, a mesmerizing song by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis. We literally had to jump over fire; it was awesome, totally worth trying.
Zorba dancing at Greek Corner, Hersonissos, Crete
Our third favorite was White Lion, a more contemporary tavernita where everything was delicious (including the complementary shots, on the house).
What to visit
While there are many lovely spots on the island, loaded with history and authentic charm, Lychnostatis is a place not to be missed. It is an Open Air Museum and a small remnant of ancient Cretan life. You get to admire Greek arts and crafts first hand and see for yourself how people lived, what they ate and how they built their villages.
Lychnostatis Museum in Hersonissos, Crete
There are guided tours through the museum and you even get to experience for yourself certain customs such as making wine, the old-fashioned way. I tried it for myself and I can tell you it’s a painstaking endeavor. Grapes are trodden by feet and the juice runs off into special basins; an there you have it – the nectar of the gods – fantastic.
Wine-making, the old-fashioned way
On the last day we embarked on a trip to Sissi, a cute, simple fisherman village next to the sea. We took the Black Rose Pirate Boat whose captain reminded us of Jack Sparrow – for real. The trip was great, we got to admire some beautiful locations, swim into the clearest waters of the Mediterranean and engage in friendly conversations with Greek people.
Black Rose Pirate Boat docked at Sissi Harbor, Crete, Greece