Cramming Crete (aka the fear of missing out on Crete’s attractions)

For some a holiday means plonking yourself on a sunbed and roasting for a week or two, with the occasional visit to a bar, a nearby restaurant  or your hotel room.
At the other end of the holidaymaking spectrum you have the indefatigable tourists rushing from attraction to next “must visit” spot from morning to evening with barely a moment to relax.

It could be just my subjective perception but I get the sense that the second type of visitor is becoming more prevalent in Crete (and elsewhere of course but this is a blog about Crete) and I believe that the internet is playing a big role in it.

We are being assailed by lists and listings. For example just yesterday I read that Crete was the 4th of the 25 top world destinations (Tripadvisor Travelers Choice). Dig deeper on the same Tripadvisor site and you’ll find a list of Crete’s popular destinations (Chania at #1) and 10 best beaches (Elafonisi of course at #1 and unfortunately Kedrodassos at #3 – next place to get entirely messed up).
Every travel site has their top place list of general attractions, best outdoor, top hidden places and on and on.

Tripadvisor Top 25 Destinations

Naturally, when people plan a visit and want to do more than grill on the beach (and even then, they might want to do it on the Best Beach!) they start making their own list and will eventually end up with something long and not dissimilar to what’s on  many other people’s lists. This leads to two issues:

  1. Everybody ends up going to the same “top places” which get hopelessly crowded and therefore not that great anymore.
  2. People are trying to cram far too much in their holiday. It becomes a race to tick off the attractions that you decided (or were told) are a must do. You end up spending more time driving to and from these top attractions on busy roads (because many others are doing the same) than actually enjoying being in Crete.

For some reason it seems that American visitors are the ones trying to cram the most stuff in. Maybe that’s  because they’re not given much holiday time or because they have come a long way and are trying to make the most of it. Often just reading their holiday plan makes me feel really tired and in need of a holiday.

The problem is that by rushing around in your rented car and ticking things off the list you’ll be missing much of what Crete can be about: a place where you can slow down and rediscover simple pleasures such as good tasty food,  crystal clear seas, open vistas and friendly people.  

Just accept that you will not be able to see all the ancient sites, great beaches, cute villages and monasteries in a week or two – and not in a year or two either, it’s a vast island.

By all means, make a list of things to see and do but use it only as a broad guideline. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are on holiday and it’s not a visiting race but time to slow down, appreciate and enjoy.

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15 Responses to Cramming Crete (aka the fear of missing out on Crete’s attractions)

  1. Ethne Bartup says:

    Excellent advice: we have been visiting Crete for over 30 years and discover something new each time. However, we like quiet (not to be named) places but hope to introduce friends with similar tastes this May and revisit the Samaria Gorge: do you know the planned date for its opening? Thank you for your blog.

  2. Karen Waugh says:

    yes, I have found that, travelling to Crete over the years is just to hop in the car and drive, getting lost in the inland villages, sipping a frappe in a village square and chatting to the people who live there give a far better sense of the Island then visiting the ‘must do’ places. Don’t get me wrong, I have visited Knossos, Phaistos etc and thoroughly enjoyed them, but my most vivid and happiest memories are of days when you follow your nose !!! xxx

  3. bkinder says:

    i am assuming you’re talking about me 🙂 I will relax and enjoy the vistas when i’m retired and living on the island. If i wanted to spend 5000 on a vacation to sit around, i’d stay home and spend 0. I also come in May when it is not so busy, so, not nearly as many people on the roads.

  4. Jack Schwarz says:

    Hi bkinder I hope that is not Euros you are spending as for one tenth of that you can have a great time in Crete. Now I will admit that we have been coming to Crete for many years and to begin with we did hire a car and I still would if I could justify not using it all the time. The thing is it great to stay on the North of the island but to swim on the south and for that you need a car.
    After many years of Cretans advising us to slow down we are now happy with swimming on the north coast returning to our apartment for a while during middday and then going for a walk in the afternoon. Evenings are taken up with a meal in a local taverna and some white wine, a great way of spending a holiday.
    The problem is that there are so many beautiful sites of historical, botanical interest in Crete all of which are accessable to everyone it is difficult to persuade guests not to visit them as it certainly extends the period when visitors come to Crete with their Euros which must help the locals.
    Looking forward to our visit this year.

  5. Tom Burke says:

    I’ve just come across this post (I know, I’m a bit behind the times. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to Crete this year…).

    There’s one thing I wonder about, and that’s the fact that reputedly the numbers doing the Samaria Gorge walk have apparently dropped quite a lot during the last 10 years or so. Any thoughts on why?

  6. Jack Schwarz says:

    Why does it matter how many “do” the Samaria Gorge. There are lots of other gorges. The pleasure of Crete is surely to relax and enjoy everything and everybody you come across.

  7. Kreta says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Ticking of sights from a list is not relaxing at all. Renting a car and just go for a drive is the best way to explore Crete in a laid back fashion if you ask me. 🙂

  8. Jack Schwarz says:

    Not sure how to start a new post.
    I have been hoping that the effects of Coronovirus (COVID-19) have not reached Crete. I realise that the virus will have a huge knock on for everyone on Crete and I want to pass on my hope that you will all stay safe and be able to overcome any difficulties that you have. I still look forward to visiting in 2020.
    Best wishes

    • Jean says:

      You can’t start a post because it is a blog, not a forum.
      Yes, after just starting to come out of a 10+ years financial crisis this is a real bummer for Greece (and Crete). I am sure that we’ll survive though.
      Thanks for your kind thoughts

    • Birgitta Kolte says:

      Hi Jack, Thank you so much for your thoughts and wishes!
      We all hope that we are able to welcome our guests here in Crete as soon as possible.
      Spring is already in full bloom and gives us color and hope.
      Again thank you, see you in Crete and best wishes back at you,

  9. Jack Schwarz says:

    Hi Jean and Brigitta
    Thanks for your comments. As I don’t do texts or or indeed other forums I was stuck with your blog. Can you let all your supporters know how Covid-19 is effecting Crete? It is terrible in the UK despite our Government doing all that it can.
    Also love the photo today and when the lock down is lifted how about a photo from the church back in the direction of home. I think you may have done it but can’t be sure.

    • Jean says:

      – Why be stuck with this blog which has not been very active at all? There are more current sources of information
      – I can’t tell you much about how this is affecting Crete. As we are in lockdown I can’t really travel around and get the mood of things.
      – “photo from the church back in the direction of home:” What’s that? I don’t get it.
      – if you want to communicate with me why not use email instead of posting on an unrelated blog post?

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