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Akrotiri in Crete

The Akrotiri Peninsula is only ten kilometres away from the main city - Chania. The area of Akrotiri is famous for being relatively untouched by tourism and it boasts quaint and beautiful little villages that nestle within the coastline or sit on the peninsula hillsides. In this place you can find yourself to be the only person on a spectacular golden sandy beach, a huge draw for tourists who are tired of attempting to battle for beach space on the more heavily tourist stretches of Crete.

Akrotiri means 'the cape' in Greek and it holds twenty villages in its peninsula, with around 10,000 residents shared amongst them. There is a single town hall that covers them all and it sits in Pithari village, just six kilometres from lively Chania. It is a hugely beautiful area, with mountain backdrops, charming villages, rich olive and orange groves and gorgeous blue seas to admire.

Things To Do And See

Akrotiri is also interesting for its history and geography, as it boasts many remarkable tombs, catacombs and caves to visit, as well as ravines and gorges which can be walked along. The area is generally quite flat but has some mountainous areas broken up with gorges and also a rocky and rugged coastline which boasts some lovely sandy coves which are protected from winds and also ideal for fishing and snorkelling. If you are a fan of caves, find a walking tour to take you into the hills and witness the magnificent stalagmites and stalactites within them. These caves have a rich spiritual history too, as people have worshipped in them and taken refuge in the past, away from the pirates who used to attack the peninsula in years past.

There are also many churches and monasteries to visit, all spread out in the countryside. Many of the churches are from the Byzantine era and have glorious golden artwork and frescoes still adorning them. The Monastery of Aghia Triada of Tzagaroli is one fine example worth a visit - situated on the north west of Akrotiri it is open most days and also has a small visitors' museum. The monastery of Agios Loannis is also worth a visit, a Nunnery dating back to the 17th century, near Korakies.

Try too, Agios Ioannis the Hermit in Katholiko, believed to be the very oldest monastery in Crete and which dates back to the 6th century. The Cavern Church of Agios Georgios Apidiotis is also beautiful, located on a gorge, close to Pazinos village. And if you are a fan of photography, try the Kalogreon Monastery which has beautiful flora cascading from the walls of the monastery.

Another feature of the area is the annual carnival held in March each year - it's a sight to behold and well worth timing your visit to coincide with the celebrations which include processions, dancing, excellent food and drink and other cultural displays. If beaches are your interest, then the two closest are the Red Beach or the White Beach that is located via a boat journey. You may wish to organise a hire car to make the most of the region.

Where To Stay

There is plenty of accommodation in Akrotiri, from the budget self-catering villas to the gorgeous luxury hotels in Santorini - some of which offer views of the volcano!

Food, Drink and Nightlife

The region is also well known for its glorious tavernas and excellent fish restaurants. One of the best is the Dolphins Fish Taverna, famous for its swordfish, grilled prawns or kalamaris, accompanied by delicious local wine. Take time too to visit the Santorini wineries and take a tour of the vineyards with some samples to enjoy along the way! The nightlife of the area doesn't generally include loud discos or clubs, although the hotels may offer some - this is a quieter area, but the locals do stay up late eating and enjoying drinks sociably at the many welcoming restaurants and tavernas.

Getting There And Travelling Around The Area

The airport of Heraklion serves the island and has various bus and coach transfers available that run regularly to the towns and resorts of Crete. If you are staying in one of the larger hotels or complexes you may find that a pick-up can be arranged. Otherwise car hire is a good option - there are many booths at the airport including well known names such as Hertz and you will find that having a car offers you the freedom to explore the locality on day trips without being reliant on public transport, which is less frequent at night time particularly.