Popular Places, Crete Island
According to guide-books it's a lovely mountain village with cobblestoned little lanes and a marvellous fountain with 19 lions' heads
Unique Suggestions: Unfortunately there's no cobbled streets and the fountain is very tacky and built around 1960 or so. Spili itself is just like any other village, except for the high concentration of tourist shops - not all good
Fun Alternatives: If you want to see a traditional mountain village - you won't find it here. I suggest Karidi, but it's not in the area
Archanes, at a first glimpse, is a lovely charming, colourful village about 30 minutes from Iraklio. It's so beautiful that it has won Archanes has won an important award - that of the 2nd best restored village in Europe. If you scratch a little beneath its surface, the dirt comes out: it's surrounded by nasty and occasionally smelly industry. I call Archanes "industrial chic"
Unique Suggestions: Stay on the main streets and don't venture to the outskirt of the village unless you're fond of industrial architecture and bad smells
Fun Alternatives: Archanes is so evidently "fake", and so very little traditional in Greek terms, that anywhere else is a good alternative
Usually most popular Cretean beaches are overcrowded in full season. This sometimes can make sunbathing and/or swimming annoying and tiring.
Unique Suggestions: Try and find less popular beaches. Ask locals - they're very friendly and know less crowded places. In many cases those beaches are even more picturesque than the popular ones.
Fun Alternatives: I suggest that you visit Crete in 'off-peak' period: May, June, late September or even October.
I was very deceived by Knossos. After all the interesting archeological sites we have seen in Crete, this one was like a kind of Disneyland.
The fact that it was reconstructed according to someone's fantasy and not historical facts makes it little authentic to me.
Maybe it's because I had already been to most of the rest of the island before I ever got there, but for me I must admit I felt sorry for the inhabitants of Agios Nikolaos, Malia and the coastal resorts along the north eastern coastline. Ok, they're reeling in the dosh from the thousands of package tourists that end up there but at what cost? I found the prices there higher by far, the manners of the 'guests' practically non-existent - especially the mainly English tourists billeted in Agios Nikolaos itself, a nightlife based mostly on alcohol, drugs and anything else inducing unconsciousness. I know I'm not a package tourist type person in any case and that for many people this is what a holiday is all about, but it's not Crete