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Horafakia in Crete

Crete, Greek's largest island, has been the focus of attention of various civilisations throughout the ages from the Minoans right up to the Turks in the 19th century. Various cultures have influenced the island and this influence still remains in the architecture and cuisine of Crete.

Today the island enjoys stability of government and enjoys its own unique and wonderful culture as well as weather which is good for almost all of the year. Most days have sunshine and snow is rare except in the central mountainous regions. Days can be balmy and humid in summer and winter temperatures rarely fall below 20 degrees centigrade.

The island lies over 150 kilometres to the south of the Greek mainland and ferries travel to and fro regularly. The ferry journey is pleasant and the hospitality of the Greek people shines through with the excellent service on board ship. If you prefer to fly, many UK airports have flights departing to Crete to either Heraklion or Chania Airports. Cars can be hired on the island or booked before arrival. Driving is probably the best way to see the whole of the island although buses are very good.

If you want to stay in a traditional Cretan village off the beaten track then Horafakia, in the west of the island on the Akrotiria peninsula, is perfect. Follow the coast road through Kounoupidiania past the little sandy coves and you will reach the village. Zorba The Greek was filmed near here on Stavros beaches and the steep mountain is named Zorba's Mountain. The larger town of Chania is nearby.

Horafakia has the amenities required for a holiday including two excellent tavernas which provide good local cuisine. There is a good choice of accommodation including self catering accommodation which really does make for a great holiday. Eating out is an experience not to be missed on Crete. The food is authentic and typically cooked using olive oil. Retsina, a local brew, is often used to accompany a meal which is normally served with a dish of bread used to "mop up" the olive oil. Watch the sun set whilst enjoying a cool drink of wine. For authenticity do give Horafakia's tavernas a try. Rose Cantina provides good food or perhaps you might want to head back to Stavros where there are sophisticated bars and cafes.

If you want to experience the real Crete, away from the tourist trail, then Horafakia is the perfect spot. Brilliant blue skies, dusky mountains, seductive beaches – all this sums up Horafakia. It has bucket loads of charm and a gentle atmosphere reminiscent of days gone by. Life is slow in Horafakia and nobody rushes around. This is part of its charm. For those wishing to escape a hectic life in the busy cities of the UK then Horafakia is the perfect antidote.

Its real attraction is its beach. Tersana Bay is a 15 minute walk from the centre of the village and it is well worth the walk. The sands here are pure white and the water crystal clear. You can spend lazy days just swimming or lounging with a favourite book.

In the centre of the village is a car rental company which will give excellent advice about travelling round the area. There is a well stocked supermarket and local bakery. Visitors often travel to Chania or Stavros by bus and return by taxi later if they have decided to stop off for a drink. On the road to Stavros is the Akron Café Bar which is normally open until the early hours of the morning.

Getting to Crete is easy. Many UK airports offer direct flights to Chania which is the nearest airport to Horafakia. Alternatively it is easy to fly to Athens first and then pick up another flight to Crete, thus enabling you to see something of the capital city before carrying on with your journey.

Some people choose to fly to Athens and continue onward by ferry. This is an excellent way to experience the delights of a Greek holiday as you wake up to see the island of Crete slowly coming into view. The trip takes between six and nine hours. Ships dock in the early morning and from the port you can get a bus or taxi to your chosen destination. The ships are well equipped and modern with excellent food on board and a choice of cabins. Whatever your chosen mode of transport you are certain to enjoy all that Crete has to offer and Horafakia makes a great choice of destination.