The Southern coast - If you...
The Southern coast - If you look for a relaxed holiday, then you'd better think about the Southern coast of Crete. It's more difficult to be reached, there's no road along the coast line, so that you must drive through long and winding roads to overpass the mountains or the valleys of the creeks running down from the tall mountain of Central Crete: it's worth remembering Mt. Ida has a permanent snow cap. Southern Crete offer a lots of little spots, with difficult connection, but you may find excellent secluded beaches and places where rest and great sea bathing is guaranteed. Paleochora is an isolated gem on the Eastern side: nice and large beach, every kind of typical tourist comfort; Sfakia and Agia Galini are similar, but a more accessible; Matala is not what it was (see below); at the end, Ierapetra has a very large beach. There a couple of places I especially recommend: Agia Roumeli and Tsoutsouros, I'm talking about them extensively below.
15 km East of Sfakia, there's...
15 km East of Sfakia, there's very interesting spot with a small white beach dominated by an ancient Venetian fortress: Frangokastello. A pleasant point of rest. The picture is taken from the beach, and the following one from the bare interior of the caste itself.
One of the remnants of Turkish rule is the Bembo Fountain, located on the north side of Platia Kornarou, on the south end of the market. It's in remarkable condition given its age and is one of the more interesting things I saw in the city.
I was a bit bored by the...
I was a bit bored by the Northern coast, too crowded, the beaches are not so interesting, the towns (beatiful as they could be) are completely spoiled by too much noisy nightlife, I mean an 'artificial' nightlife, made by facts, events and styles which are not Cretean or even Greek: that sort of 'international' atmosphere which flattens the joy of being elsewhere.
If you happen - as you surelly will - to pass through Agios Nikolaos, don't stop there for too long, be brave enough as to drive uphill until the Lassithi plateau. Yes, it's a long and winding road to Crete's heart (note for the elders: yes, I took it from Lennon/McCartney), but the view of Lassithi plain is heart filling. An agricultural highland in the mid of the such a dry and inhospitable range of mountains: the plain is pointed by white windmills, slowly rotating under the strength of the wind in order to pump water up for irrigation.
The traditional windmills are more and more substituted by mechanical steel windmills, easier to be maintained, but there are still a lot of them which can be seen. Lassithi is a great place to feel as if you landed on a different planet: it's a sensation I experienced several times in Crete, whenever I had some rest in the rural countryside, out the beaten roads, but it is especially true in the case of Lassithi.
Crete by Fam_Stoica
Irakleion (formerly Candia) is the capital and largest city of the island of Crete. Located on the northern shore of the island, Irakleion is encircled by fortifications constructed by the Venetians in the Middle Ages. Irakleion was founded in the 9th century by the Saracens on what some historians think is the site of ancient Herakleion, the seaport of ancient Knossos. In the 12th century, Irakleion was a possession of the Genoese, who fortified the town; from the 13th to the 15th century, it was held by the Venetians, who extended the fortifications. The Ottoman Empire captured Irakleion in 1669 after a long siege. The town became a Greek possession when the Ottomans ceded Crete to Greece in 1913. In World War II, Irakleion suffered heavy damage during the German airborne invasion of Crete in 1941. In 1971 the island's capital was moved from Chania to Irakleion.