High summer is almost upon us and the entire island, indeed the whole country is quite literally warming up for the arrival of large numbers of visitors over the most popular months of the year. Here’s a list of activities and events to help you make the most of your time in Crete this summer! Whether you want to plan to be at our hotel in Rethymno to soak up the atmosphere of these times, or you want to schedule your time here so as to avoid the added hustle and bustle, the choice is yours!
June: sightseeing and absorbing culture
We can recommend visiting the sights of the island in June, as they will be somewhat less crowded than the peak tourist period in July and August. (September and October are also great from this point of view) Knossos is the foremost Minoan site of course, but some other sites such as Phaistos (with the wonderful vista over the plain of Mesara, shown below,) Malia and even distant Zakros are also splendid.
Lots of good cultural events and religious festivals take place in June, but one of our favourite ones, is the little-known Klidona Festival, normally on the evening of 24th of June, also the birthday of St John the Baptist, when leafy wreaths kept over since May Day are ceremonially burnt along with secret wishes for the future. Intrepid wishers leap over the flames to lots of applause.
July: A Festival of food and drink and walking the path less travelled
Right here in the municipal gardens in Rethymno, the Cretan Diet Festival will be held on July 1st-7th. This is a celebration of the healthy lifestyle and the healthy diet made possible by the simple goodness of Greek cuisine. All manner of traditional foods and dishes will be available, and of course, lots of great local wine.
This is the busiest time of year for the island, and now visitors are arriving, literally by the boatload. All the services are in full swing now, but it is still possible to find a little find solitude in Crete in July; the mountainous interior has some fantastic hiking trails in and around the White Mountains 40km (25 miles) south of Chania, such as the climb up to the 1980m summit of Mt Gingilos. This is a long (5-hour) but very rewarding walk past odd rock formations, a natural spring and finally up to a great summit lookout. It’s easy to reach, as it shares a starting point with the also popular Samaria Gorge walk, one of Europe’s longest at 16km (10 miles.)
August: Snorkel time and the renaissance returns to Rethymno!
In August and normally into September too, the sea is the perfect temperature for swimming. This is the time to take a look at the denizens of the deep –well not too deep, but even with a simple snorkel set and some flippers you can see some pretty amazing sights, without shelling out for the expensive scuba experience. You can buy or hire snorkelling equipment quite inexpensively at most large towns. (If you plan to snorkel on the wavy west coast, I recommend a breathing tube with a floating-stopper attached, which reduces the incidence of waves splashing down your tube when you are expecting air.) Thanks to Maria Shipley for the lovely snapshot of snorkelling in Scorpion Bay- no waves here!
Another way to get a glimpse of a different world in August is to attend the Renaissance Festival. The first week of August will see our local town of Rethymno travel back in time about 500 years, for the annual celebration of the music, dance and atmosphere of this important time in European history. The town makes the most of its Venetian connections and most of the performances are hosted in the Erofili Theatre in the Fortezza Castle. The exact schedule for the 2013 festival has not been announced yet, but watch this space!
Of course we have nothing against September and October – in fact this is, for many people their favourite time to visit, with glorious weather, warm waters and markedly less crowds. However for the majority of families with children, these last 2 months of great weather are just too late -owing mostly to the relatively narrow window afforded by the school holidays across Europe.
So these are the months of the high summer. And they are almost here!
Click here for more information about our hotel in Rethymno.