St. Minas Parade in Heraklion

Heraklion coast

The biggest of all the Greek islands, you could be forgiven for thinking that Crete was in fact a whole country. Steeped in ancient history and home to the infamous Minotaur, Crete retains a mythical quality that many other countries have since lost. Book flights to Crete and experience the timeless traditions of this island while you catch one of the intimate celebrations that take place over the summer and autumn months.

Every November, the townspeople of Heraklion take to the streets to commemorate the city’s patron saint, St. Minas, with a parade along Kalokerinou Street. A small-scale event, it nonetheless provides visitors an opportunity to experience Heraklion in a traditional setting where a carnivalesque atmosphere fills the narrow winding streets. The locals adorn themselves in various bright flowers and light candles along the houses at night. Expect to see old and young alike coming together in reverential praise, with local delicacies and processions leading the saint to rest.

Heraklion itself, or Iraklio as it is also named, is the capital of Crete, situated on the northern coast of the island. It is a city positively groaning with heritage, with a vibrant cafe culture and an easy-going pace of life that is hard to leave. The general vibe of Heraklion lends itself perfectly to those in search of pure relaxation among beautiful natural surroundings with plenty of beaches, nearby mountain ranges and even waterfalls to keep you entertained.

If you are feeling adventerous then why not explore some of the neighbouring islands? You can easily rent out a boat with a driver who will invariably tell you everyhting he knows about Crete’s history! Attractions include the stunning islands of Ios, Kos, Mykonos, Paros, Rhodes and Santorini which can provide the perfect daytrip.

Other recommended excursions include the Archaeological Museum which is one of Greece’s finest examples of Minoan artifacts which dates back to the 2nd millenium BC! The Natural History Museum and Cretan History Museum are both really informative and have lots of interesting pieces on display. When you have finished, amble to one of the many pleasant cafes and designer shops lining Dedalou Street and the bustling market in the south of the city, where Cretan olive oil and wine can be snapped up at low prices.

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