I have been to many of the Greek and Spanish islands and I have to be honest you do start to think they’re all fairly the same. However, having just got back from a week in Crete I can say 100% it is one of my favourite islands I have visited.
As the largest island in Greece there is a lot to explore with an array of history, sandy beaches, dreamy villages and beautiful landscapes. Obviously, this is all dependent on the area in which you stay but I felt Hersonissos where I stayed offered a bit of it all.
Flying into Heraklion airport late Sunday evening I instantly got off the plane and felt a nice warmth. Despite it being early September the weather was perfect averaging about 28 degrees most days with some even reaching the early 30’s!
We stayed at the Dia Apartments and with an almost five-star rating on Trip Advisor I wasn’t worried about bad accommodation. On arrival we were quickly greeted and shown to our rooms which were fairly basic but very clean and had everything you could need. As a self-catering apartment you also had kitchen facilities which is a great alternative for those on a budget. It’s good to note that these apartments were very reasonably priced so if you want something a lot more plush then you’re better off in a big hotel complex. I personally, prefer smaller locally run places where there is a lot more of a “community” feel and friendliness surrounding the whole place. Actually it’s interesting to note on the way home we actually started speaking to a gentleman who had stayed at the Sensatori (which if you don’t know is basically Thomson’s luxury hotels) and he said it was very crowded during the days. When compared to our stay, as a small complex it never felt overcrowded even with a small sized pool area. We never had to fight or rush to get sun beds in the morning and we began to get to know everyone by the end of the week. I will give a bit more information about Dia Apartments later on in this post.
Whether you’re a family, couple or a group of friends Hersonissos is a really great area to stay offering an array of bars, restaurants, shops, beach and more – you’re really spoilt for choice! Most of the restaurants look out onto the beach which is really quite stunning at night and some of the bars offer seating actually on the beach which is especially relaxing (minus the sand in your feet!). You can eat for as little or as expensive as you want as prices range depending on the place. We had no trouble finding something we liked either with all restaurants offering a huge array to choose from. However, two places I would really recommend visiting are Palmera restaurant (which is also a hotel that looked very nice!) and just next door to that Niki’s Bar Restaurant which did the BEST and cheapest cocktails you’ll find! We went to Palmera on our last night and I am SO glad we did because the food was divine. It was a little more expensive than other nights but not more than what you would pay in the UK and they do say you get what you pay for! On the other end of the spectrum Niki’s Bar Restaurant was ridiculously cheap and four of us ate a main meal, one desert and four cocktails for just 40 euros! The food was pretty good but for us it was the huge list of exotic and cheap cocktails that made us come back every night. From passion fruit Bellini’s to banana coladas if you wanted it they most definitely had it and for only 3-4 euros it was an absolute bargain.
You also aren’t short of nightlight when it comes to Hersonissos with numerous bars and clubs. We weren’t really up for too much of a ‘club’ type holiday having done this one too many times I’m pretty much done with that phase. However, there was a karaoke bar we fell in love with which ended up becoming a nightly ritual. The bar was called U2 Bar and if you like some old classics, cheap drinks, karaoke and some jokes then this is the place to be! We had so many great nights here and the staff are just as fun and really get involved with making sure you have a good night. Definitely worth a visit.
We did quite a bit during our week in Heronissos and with so many excursions and trips on offer a week in all honesty is probably not enough but everything we did do we thoroughly enjoyed which included a day at the beach, a boat trip, waterpark and a quad biking safari trip which was just awesome! I will talk about these in more detail below.
If you want a short, fairly cheap and sunny getaway then I highly recommend Crete. The people are lovely, the food is delicious and some of the scenery is just stunning especially with its clear blue ocean it really is a winner for me.
Below are my highlights of my time in Hersonissos, Crete:
As you will have already read this is where we stayed but I wanted to provide a little bit more information here about Dia Apartments. A small family run establishment Dia make you feel at home straight away. As soon as we got off our coach we were instantly greeted and showed to our rooms and they even kept the bar open later so we could grab a quick drink (at 1am!). The rooms and surrounding areas were very clean and we were very lucky to get a beautiful room view that looked onto the ocean and the mountains. Rooms are fairly basic but have everything you need with self catering facilities also included.
The pool is a fairly small size so if you have children who like to swim a lot then this may not be ideal but it was perfect for what we wanted. There was more than enough sun beds for everyone and you never had to get up early to make sure you got one which in all honesty is a god send! The pool bar offered an array of drinks and a few snacks/meals I especially loved the fresh orange juice and the cooked English breakfast which was delicious.
Situated on a hill, Dia Apartments sits between the the lively centre of Hesonissos (10 mins downhill) and some quaint Greek villages (10 mins uphill) so is an ideal location. It is definitely worth eating up in the Greek villages at least one evening especially on a Monday where they hold a Greek night which was really fun. If you don’t feel like walking then usually taxi’s charge about 7 euros (to go either up or down) which between four of us was next to nothing!
I really enjoyed my stay at Dia apartments and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to other people. The family work extremely hard and the fact I am giving my money to a local run business as opposed to a chain is even better.
You can find out more about Dia Apartments here.
Most people who visit Hesonissos often end up going to the infamous ‘Star’ beach and to be honest as we stepped in the taxi this is exactly where we asked to go. However, the taxi driver recommended that we went a little further out to Stalis Beach which wasn’t surrounded by walls and was a lot less crowded. Always going on local advice we agreed and I am so glad we did. Stalis Beach is a lovely, long, stretch of beach which is very clean and surrounded by nice restaurants and bars. There are more than enough sun beds for you to use and four of these plus two umbrellas cost us 10 euros which I felt was very reasonable when compared to other places.
There are also an array of watersports on offer such as parasailing, jet skiing, banana boat and more. We ended up getting one of those big pedalos with a slide and had a load of fun!
As I didn’t go to Star Beach I can’t compare which one is better but from what I’ve heard if you want a beach that’s a bit bigger, quieter and less busy then Stalis is you’re better option.
You can find out more about Stalis beach here.
Acqua Plus Park
Again, there is a choice of two main water parks in Hesonissos and after getting advice from our Thompson Rep he recommended that Acqua Plus was slightly better so we went there.
About a 10 minute drive the park isn’t far away and all-round we had a fantastic fun packed day. There is a great range of slides and rides on offer including a large children’s play area and a huge Olympic size pool for those who want to burn a few calories!
One great thing about here was that we didn’t really have to queue at all. I don’t know if this is because we went in September when it was less busy but we weren’t complaining it meant we could go on more!
You can find out more about Acqua Plus Park here.
During our stay we also spent the day out on a boat which was an excursion booked through our Thompson Rep. Despite being someone who very commonly gets sea sick I really enjoyed this day and luckily it was a beautiful hot and still day so the sea sickness didn’t make an appearance!
Unfortunately I can’t remember who we actually went with but it was a fairly small sized boat with about 20 other people which to me is just right. I don’t know about you but I can’t stand when you go on a boat trip and they completely overload the boat up and you feel like you just can’t breathe.
After about a 45 min – 1 hour coach journey we arrived at the harbour where we got onto our boat. The boat was run by a family and they couldn’t do enough for you. Our first stop was across the way to a uninhabited island called ‘Dragon Island’ which ironically looked like the shape of a dragon. Once on the island we had about two hours to go and explore and really just take in it’s beauty. We also had the opportunity to do some snorkelling but unfortunately we didn’t manage to see much sea life.
Once back on the boat we were provided with a delicious BBQ and fruit for afterwards. We then went onto our second stop which was like a pirates bay and was truly stunning. Here we stopped for about an hour and was able to jump off the boat, swim and snorkel some more.
All in all I would highly recommend doing a boat trip in Crete – with its stunning clear blue water it’s hard to resist!
You can find out more about boat trips in Crete here.
Quad Biking Safari
Saving the best for last I absolutely LOVED the quad biking safari and would highly recommend anyone to do one. Not only is it so much fun but you also get to see some absolutely breathtaking views.
Again I can’t remember exactly who we went with but it was fantastic from start to finish. They picked us up from our apartments where we met the other people on the trip. My friend and I paid 60 euros each for the 4/5 hour trip and got to share the driving on the quad which was great.
Weaving on and off road driving the quad was a bundle of fun and as we got to our first stop we were all covered in dirt and looked like we had a really bad fake tan! We stopped at a little donkey farm where we got an ice cold drink (included in the price) and a small rest. Carrying on along mountains we then stopped for lunch at a small village and the food was absolutely divine and was all included in the cost.
On our way back we were able to take in some amazing views and what was really great was that our tour guide would stop now and again so we could get some photos and tell us a little bit about each place.
The quad biking safari was most definitely my favourite day. You really got to see Crete in all it’s glory and covered a lot of area while having a load of fun. It’s good to note though you do need to be over the age of 21 to drive and have a driving license.
You can find out more about quad/buggy safaris here.
I loved my time in Crete and I really think it would be great for any type of person. There’s so much to do that you’ll certainly find something for everyone and with some stunning views it’s definitely somewhere you’ll remember.