More than just another Greek island, Crete is a country within a country. The Cretans are rightly proud of their ancient culture, which was at the root of Western civilisation more than 4,000 years ago. Crete has its own character: it charms and intrigues. But above all, its southern location, with a view of distant Africa, makes it a wonderful destination even in the autumn holidays.
DAY 1: Departure to Heraklion
After picking up your rental car, set course for the Cretan Malia Park, where you will stay for six nights. The hotel is 34 km from the airport.
DAY 2: Trendy Heraklion
Barely a half-hour drive from your hotel, you'll find Crete's versatile capital. Start the morning in the lively centre, where you'll soon get lost in the many shopping streets. Not a shopping fan? Then definitely visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. You will find one of the most important classical collections in all of Greece. After having lunch in one of the numerous restaurants, leave the centre behind and head to the world-famous Minoan palace of Knossos. You've no doubt heard of the mythical Minotaur, who hid in a maze here. A must-see during any visit to Crete! Another option is to head to the Labyrinth Park, a park themed on Greek mythology tailored for children that includes a maze, miniature golf course and other fun activities.
DAY 3: Elounda, Spinalonga and Agios Nikolaos
Today you'll head to the coast and discover some of Crete's finest seaside resorts. Explore the cosy centre of Elounda and take a seat on a sunny terrace for a delicious Greek salad. If you want, you can cross over to the Spinalonga peninsula with its former leper colony. The azure waters surrounding you everywhere here soon make you forget the tragic history of this place. Later in the afternoon, you move on to fashionable Agios Nikolaos, one of Crete's most famous seaside resorts. The kids can have fun on the beach and in the sea. When evening falls, you have plenty of fine dining options to choose from. Beware: choice stress is inevitable here!
DAY 4: Gortys and Phaestos
Time to travel straight through the Cretan interior following the Minoan civilisation. You'll find numerous archaeological sites, such as the Palace of Phaestos. The second largest Minoan palace on the island after Knossos, this complex perhaps surpasses it for its spectacular location. Feel like travelling further? Then make the crossing to the coastal town of Matala, which grew into a hippy enclave in the 1960s. Here the kids can have fun on the beach.
DAY 5: Rest at the hotel
Now that your trip is over halfway through, you've earned some rest. The Cretan Malia Park offers an exceptionally wide range of activities. While your kids have fun at the 'Little Explorers Club', you can relax by the beautiful river pool. Had enough rest? Then blow off some steam in the gym or during a yoga session in the beautiful botanical gardens. Or maybe you're more up for a wine and/or olive oil tasting? After a lovely relaxing day, join a private pop-up dinner in the hotel's beautiful herb garden. Chef Lefteris Iliadis and his team will be at your beck and call to ensure an unforgettable experience.
DAY 6: The paradisiacal palm groves of Vaï
On the second-to-last day, a long drive is on the programme, but one worthwhile. You will, in fact, head to Vaï, Europe's largest and only original palm oasis. The palm trees and clear water offer an undeniable paradise: it almost feels like the Middle East. Around the palm groves you will find plenty of beautiful beaches, archaeological sites and picturesque villages. In summer it can get very crowded here, but in autumn you can discover all this beauty in a much more pleasant way. A paradise for all ages!
DAY 7: Going home
After you have checked out, sadly, this memorable holiday is at an end. You will drive back to Heraklion airport, where you will return your rental car and board your plane back home.
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