Saturday, October 15, 2022

Greece: Crete, Cyclades Islands, and Athens

The Venetian Harbor of Chania, Crete

Greece: Crete, Southern Cyclades Islands, and Athens
September 1 - October 11, 2022

Our trip to Greece was postponed from 2019 due to the Covid-19 virus. After deciding it was safe enough to travel internationally, Ken completed the research he had begun three years earlier, and booked the flights, ferry trips, lodging, and tours.

We visited the island of Crete. Then we went to Naxos and Paros, part of the Cyclades, an island group in the Aegean Sea. In addition, we spent four days in the capital city of Athens before returning home.

Crete Island

Our first stop would be the island of Crete. Located 160 kilometers south of mainland Greece and 320 kilometers north of Africa, Crete is the largest and most populous Greek island and the 5th largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.


We flew into the western part of Crete and spent five nights in the historic Venetian port city of Chania. The Capt. Vasilis Traditional Hotel is housed in a 16th century Venetian building and only has five rooms. Our room overlooked the old harbor.

From Chania, we went on the 7 Villages of Apokoronas tour visiting the Apokoronas region of East Chania—an area known for its quaint villages, green hills, and stunning scenery. Highlights of the tour included the Ottoman Fortress of Aptera, a local cheese factory, and a raki (local spirit) distillery.

Chania Photo Album


Having read that Rethymno had a scenic old harbor like Chania, we were anxious to see it. We walked to the bus station and took an hour-long bus ride to the nearby city. We strolled around the old fortress and waterfront, stopping at a popular seaside cafe, operated by a rather colorful character, for a fabulous lunch.

Rethymno Photo Album


For the sake of logistics, we would have to stay in the city of Heraklion (146 km East of Chania) before catching the ferry to Naxos Island. However, there were plenty of things to see in the city. We stayed there for two nights which gave us a full day for sightseeing. Our hotel was located right on the waterfront with a great view of the harbor and right across the street from many wonderful seafood restaurants.

We had decided to bypass the archaeological site at Knossos and, instead, visit the highly-acclaimed Archaeological Museum. After touring the museum, we strolled around this very interesting city.

Heraklion Photo Album

Naxos Island

Our ferry left Heraklion early in the morning, stopping at Santorini, then continuing on to Naxos.

Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades Island group in the Aegean Sea. We stayed in an Airbnb rental conveniently located a short walk from the scenic harbor and all its shops, cafes, and restaurants. Sitting in a waterfront café, drinking an Aperol Spritz, was the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful Grecian sunsets - it became a nightly ritual.

While staying on Naxos, we went on a day tour which included the Temple of Demeter, a traditional olive press in Damalas, the fishing village of Apollonas, and the Panagia Drossiani Monastery, one of the oldest Byzantine churches in the Balkans.


Naxos Photo Album

Paros Island

Although only a short distance from Naxos, our ferry traveled north to Mikonos before turning south to Paros Town. It was a sunny day and nice to be on the water.

One of the Cyclades Island group, Paros lies just to the west of Naxos, separated by a channel about 8 kilometers (5 miles) wide. Historically, Paros was known for its fine white marble, which gave rise to the term "Parian" to describe marble or china of similar qualities.

We had rented a cute little house, with a large covered front porch, close to the seaside. All the paths to the house were down narrow lanes lined with whitewashed buildings, draped with bougainvillea.

Paros has an excellent island-wide bus service that we used to visit many of the other villages on the island. We also took the ferry to the nearby island of Antiparos.


Paros Photo Album


Lefkes is the largest village in the island's interior. It was settled high in the mountains to evade the 17th century pirates. It is very scenic with steep, narrow stairways winding throughout the village. 

Lefkes Photo Album


Naoussa, located about 10 km northeast of Paros Town, is a quaint fishing village turned tourist destination. The scenic old harbor is still used as a fishing port and is occupied with colorful working boats.

Naoussa Photo Album


We took the ferry from the port at Pounta to the nearby island of Antiparos. It is the smaller sister isle to Paros. A much-quieter spot than Paros Town, Antiparos was made renown by one of its celebrity residents, Tom Hanks.

After a taking short walk to a beach on the other side of the island, we strolled around the village, had dinner in a café, then caught the ferry back to Paros.

Antiparos Photo Album

Piso Livadi

Another day, another beautiful Greek village! Piso Livadi is a small village located on the eastern side of Paros Island.

We took in the sights and enjoyed a great seafood lunch at a café right above the crystal clear water of the Aegean Sea. 

Piso Livadi Photo Album


We had passed through this town on the way back to Paros Town one evening and it looked so interesting, we wanted to come back!

There wasn't much to see in this small, seaside village on the southern coast of Paros, but it did have a beautiful little harbor and great restaurants. We walked around the harbor, enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch, then caught a bus back to Paros Town.

Aliki Photo Album



Adding Athens to our itinerary was a last-minute decision, but we're glad we did. To have traveled that distance and not seen the capital and largest city of Greece would have been a mistake!

We ferried from Paros to Piraeus, Port of Athens. After some (much - the arrival terminal had changed) confusion, we caught a free shuttle bus to the train station, then a train to  Monastiraki Station. From there it was a short walk to our hotel.

Our hotel (Attalos) was located in the historic center of Athens. The roof garden/bar of the hotel was the perfect setting to enjoy the magnificent views of the Acropolis, the Lycabettus and a panoramic view across Athens. It was walking distance to the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora and Plaka.

It was a tiring day, but we had to see the sights! The tour of the Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora, and the Agora Museum was wonderful. We saw the Agora, Hephaestus Temple, the Church of the 12 Apostles, the Temple of Apollo Patroos, the Altar of Zeus, and much more!

We enjoyed Athens, We loved Greece!

Athens Photo Album