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Whether you seek fun and adventure or peace and quiet, then the island of Crete really does have it all. There are bustling hotspots where the nightlife carries on well into the early hours and, in contrast, there are the tiny villages and towns that have existed on the island for centuries.
Crete is the largest of all the Greek islands and lies at the southernmost point of the country. Cruise ships have visited the Greek islands for many years but it is only recently that Crete has been included in the itinerary. Crete embraces tourism and caters for all budgets and tastes when it comes to accommodation or eating out. However, if you wish to seek them out, there are many small towns and villages which have remained virtually untouched over the centuries and Makriyialos is one such village.
Makriyialos is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Crete's tourist hotspots so if it's peace and quiet you seek then this is the place to visit. This small town in the south east of the island has a long sandy beach which offers excellent warm bathing in its clear waters. Granite mountains provide a backdrop to the beach and the whole area is rich in culture, history and natural treasures. There are nearby gentle walks through pretty gorges and secluded coves for those seeking pure relaxation.
Venetian and Minoan ruins can be explored in the nearby area and the timeless unspoilt villages that lie on this side of the island are a world away from the bright lights of the cities. The Minoans were Bronze Age people whose civilisation flourished on Crete from the 27th century BC right up until around AD1500. Minoan remains were discovered by Sir Arthur Evans, the British Archaeologist, in the early part of the 20th century. It is thought that a natural disaster such as a volcanic eruption or an earthquake caused the downfall of the Minoan civilisation. Fortunately there are many remains to be enjoyed today including a wonderful palace with well preserved paintings on its walls.
Further invaders captured the island and from around 1200AD Crete was inhabited by Venetians who remained on the island for around four centuries. Romans, Byzantines and Arabs have all left their mark on Crete. Their various influences can be observed in peoples' faces as well as in the cuisine and culture of the island.
Crete subsequently remained a little known Greek island until the 1970s when tourists began to discover its hidden gems. Historical ruins, olive groves, little villages, tavernas and beautiful beaches all help to make this island the special place it is. Although tourism is welcomed in Crete there are still plenty of places to escape the crowds and Makriyialos is certainly one of them.
There is, however, a plethora of holiday accommodation here from locally owned studios and apartments to luxurious houses and villages. There are also two small hotel complexes nearby. Accommodation can be booked online before a holiday although, off season, it is not difficult to find accommodation readily available.
As Makriyialos is basically a hidden gem, it barely gets a mention in tourist brochures. Therefore any holiday here needs to be arranged independently rather than through a tour operator. This is not difficult, however, so don't be put off as it is worth making the effort to come to this lovely place.
When it comes to nightlife in Makriyialos there is very little if you are looking for clubs and bars. Instead you will find secluded places to relax and watch the sun go down, somewhere to enjoy a drink whilst enjoying the balmy night air or simply soak up the unique sounds and smells of a very special place.
A visit here means long hours of sunshine, a warm welcome from local people, good food, delightful beaches, warm clear waters in which to swim and good walks and drives into the centre of the island. Crete really does have everything to make it the perfect holiday destination.
Heraklion provides the main entry port as many UK and European airports operate direct flights to the city in summer (which is roughly April to October). Hiring a car is a great way to tour the island as this enables you to visit the tiny hidden away places as well as the mountainous interior of the island. However, bus services are very good, particularly to and from the larger towns. Taxis are available all over the island and the prices are very reasonable. Crete is unforgettable and, once you have been there, it is highly likely you will want to return again and again.