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Kolymbari in Crete

Crete is a perfect destination for a holiday and it is somewhere you will almost certainly wish you had lingered longer. One week is not really enough on Crete as there is so much to explore here. Various cultures have influenced Crete throughout the centuries and these influences are still noticeable today in the buildings, the food and the traditions. The largest of the Greek islands, Crete embraces tourism which has become a major industry. Crete is arguably the most interesting of the Greek islands because of its long and varied history. Many different civilisations have left their mark on the island including the Minoans, the Romans and the Arabs.

The Greek authorities have permitted tourist development in some of the towns and cities on the island and have left others undeveloped. Kolymbari lies at the foot of the stunning Rodopou peninsula and is a small fishing village which is perfect if you want to get away from it all. Untouched by too much tourism, the village nestles between majestic cliffs and the Mediterranean Sea.

Kolymbari is best known for its stunning beach and welcoming cafes and tavernas. It is easy to spend the day simply people watching. There are fishermen tending their nets and bringing in their catch, tourists and locals swimming or snorkelling and the native people simply going about their business. There is a café right on the beach which is interesting as it is built of stone. Once a small fishing village, Kolymbari has begun to attract those who enjoy boating and recreation as there is a new marina.

Excellent for swimming, the beach is open, long and undeveloped. Sand tops the pebbles which makes it a sun worshipper's paradise. If you want to get out of the sun you can take quiet strolls in the area behind the beach. Wildlife lovers and walkers enjoy this peninsula which has been left to nature making it a bird watcher's haven.

The area is also well known for its local honey which makes an ideal gift to take back home. In spring the fields and cliffs abound with wildflowers, many unique to Crete. Irises, gladioli and chamomile all grow wild here and there is often the smell of herbs in the night air. Flowers grow in abundance and this helps to create a certain charm that is unique to Kolymbari. A stay in the area means you will probably slow your own pace to suit the tranquillity and calm that seems to pervade the air here.

For those seeking a calm and quiet village resort and yet which is close to more lively places then Kolymbari is the answer. The town is best suited for visitors seeking a cultural experience as well as relaxation. There is not much nightlife so evenings out here tend to centre around a small selection of local tavernas. However, the town lies about 15 miles to the west of the bright lights of Chania where there are nightclubs, bars and restaurants for those who enjoy a faster pace. Also in Chania there is the Venetian Old Town and other attractions all within easy reach. You will find that local buses travel regularly to Chania as Kolymbari has good connections.

Kolymbari village has white painted houses as well as a beautiful Greek Orthodox monastery with a distinctive rust coloured dome dating back to the thirteenth century. Many of the buildings which date back to the 1600s are still in use today.

Shops offer most essentials as well as some souvenirs but if you really want to shop till you drop then you need to head for the bigger towns. Several small hotels offer good accommodation although Kolymbari is free from hotel chains and units of multiple occupation. Places to stay include Spilia Village Luxury Traditional Resort, Elia Traditional Inn and The Old Olive Mill.

Getting to Crete is easy. Many major UK airports have direct flights to both Heraklion and Chania otherwise tourists can fly to Athens and then pick up a connection to the island. There are ferries from Piraeus (the port of Athens) to Heraklion. The journey takes around nine hours on the standard ferry or six hours on a fast ferry. Ferries tend to be overnight trips with arrivals at around 6am. Various grades of cabins are available and food on board is either self service or full service. The newer ferries even have internet and a cinema. Sailing into Crete is a great way to start a holiday. Imagine waking up to the sparkling blue sea to see the dark outline of the distant island coming into view.