The second half of my trip with The Luxury Collection & Beautiful Destinations for their Global Explorers campaign brought us to the island of Crete. Substantially larger than Santorini, Crete is the most populous island in Greece. We only had 2 full days on the ground, and I couldn’t wait to explore the island. Since we landed in Crete late in the evening, we first needed to check-in to our hotel at the Blue Palace Resort & Spa to get some sleep.
We started early the next morning by grabbing breakfast in the private VIP section of their Olea restaurant. The outdoor seating offered us an amazing view of the sun rising over Spinalonga Island – we all felt the warmth of the sun of our faces as we enjoyed our breakfast. I was particularly fond of the greek yogurt, granola and honey; if only I could start every morning like that! After breakfast, our first full day was spent photographing the amazing views at the resort and enjoying mouth watering food at their Isola Beach Club & Blue Door Taverna.
On our second day, we departed the Blue Palace to the Knossos archeological site. It’s the largest Bronze Age archeological site on Crete and is considered Europe’s oldest city. Growing up, I was particularly fond of Greek mythology, so this site was of particular interest to me. It was said that King Minos had a palace at Knossos and he constructed a labyrinth to retain his son, the Minotaur. My imagination went wild as I walked the historic grounds of this famous site.
Following Knossos, we departed via our escort van, this time for Voulisma Beach. Along the way we took a quick detour to an incredible monastery we saw situated along our route (unfortunately my research online couldn’t identify which site it was). Once we arrived to Voulisma Beach and I saw the beautiful turquoise waters I couldn’t wait to jump right in. Surprisingly, the sea had a slight chill, but it was refreshing to escape the heat & humidity.
After our quick exploration at Voulisma Beach, we hopped back into our van to head back to the Blue Palace to take a boat ride to Spinalonga Island. Rich in history, the island’s importance dates back to the 1500’s when it was originally under Venetian control. Originally, Spinalonga was not an island, but it was part of Crete. During the Venetian occupation the island was carved out of the coast for defense purposes. Ottoman Turks captured the island in 1715, and the last Turks left the island in 1903. The island was subsequently used a leper colony from 1903 to 1957, and was one of the last active leper colonies in Europe. Amazingly, once on the island, the lepers received food, water, medical attention and social security payments. The views from this incredible island are not to be missed, I highly recommend taking a few hours to visit.
Although our trip to Crete was extremely quick, and our itinerary was jam packed, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. It embodied the idea that I had in my head of a Mediterranean Greek vacation – beautiful turquoise water and white sand beaches. Don’t get me wrong, both places are truly unique and I enjoyed Santorini too. I can’t wait to get back to both, and hopefully explore the other Greek Islands someday too.
In addition to the photos from my trip below, I put together this little video compilation of my trip through Santorini and Crete. Hope you guys enjoy!