Eleni Psyllaki is an interior designer, architect and author of renowned blog My Paradissi. Here she shares with us her love for her city, Heraklion and shows us her favourite spots on the magical island of Crete.
Heraklion is the capital city of Crete, located on the northern coast of the island. With its history dating back to the 9th Century, there are numerous ancient and historical monuments to be found scattered around the city. The Venetian fortress of Koules, built in the 16th Century by the Venetian conquerors, protects the old port, while the four lions fountain in Morozini square is one of the most famous landmarks of the city.
The citizens of Heraklion love a long coffee under the sun (which is shining in the sky almost 350 days a year) so you will find numerous cafés while wandering around the city centre. Xalavro Open Bar is located in an old abandoned stone building that has no roof. Perfect for absorbing those extra sun rays or having a cool drink under a starry sky.
If you’d like a sweet cupcake to go with your coffee then cutie Oops Cupcakes cafe is a must.
The old market of Heraklion is the right place to find traditional products and souvenirs to take home. There you will also find 50-50 Bar&Grill, a vibrant restaurant for dinner and a dance, that really knows how to keep the night owls of the city in a party mood. You should definitely visit the Touli’s bakery, a century old store, with the most delicious traditional bread and pastries.
Doolapa (means closet in greek,) is an exquisite second-hand store with dozens of stylish outfits to pick from.
Most people know Malia as a wild clubbing resort, where nightlife rules and alcohol runs free to the sound of party music. Not far from the truth, but definitely not the whole story. The large white sandy beaches of Malia and nearby Stalida village can provide hours of silence and relaxation under the thick straw umbrellas. The ruins of the ancient summer palace of King Minos adjacent to the beach is a must visit for history lovers.
Spinalonga is a small uninhabited island with a great history on the north east coast of Crete. You can visit the island by boat and wander around the old village. This part of Crete is surrounded by wonderful beaches with crystal clear waters. While there, don’t miss a visit to Plaka and its astounding rocky beach as well as the luxurious high class resort of Elounda.
Matala is a coastal village with the most impressive scenery of artificial caves extending up its steep cliffs made by man back in the neolithic age. These caves were inhibited by hippies in the 70s and transformed this little quiet coastal village into the ultimate Greek bohemian resort. There are lots of parties and festivals still going on during the summer season that revive that easy-going happy vibe. The most famous one, Matala Beach Festival, takes place each June.
On the western side of Matala lies the beach of Komos. A kilometre long beach of soft sand and turquoise water with salt cedar trees to protect it from the harsh sun. Like (literally) any place in Greece, the beach of Komos is considered a place with great archaeological interest, as there remnants of the Minoan era have been found there, including large storage pots dating back to 1800 BC. Its sandy shore is sheltering the endangered species of Kareta-Kareta turtles, quite a thrilling and touching fact to know, so pay extra attention while staying there.