We’ve been lucky enough to have two wonderful weeks in Crete this Summer, the first week at GK Beach Hotel in Crete with Simpson Travel. This was our second visit to GK Beach, the first being in 2018 which you can read all about in our review of GK Beach Hotel here.
I’ve had lots of DM’s over the last couple of weeks asking about what travel to Greece is like this Summer which I’ve been very happy to reply to but thought I’d pull together something a little more informative about our two weeks, what we did in Crete, what it’s been like, but mainly to show how
Crete is very much open for business and waiting for you to arrive for a wonderful summer holiday.
GK Beach Hotel itself is a small 23 room hotel which sits right on the beach in Northern Crete and the distance from our room to the sun loungers on the beach front can’t have been any further than 100m. The location of this hotel means that you’re tempted to never leave as you have exactly what you need to enjoy a week in the sun right there. – a stunning beach and a large pool. In fact when we visited in 2018 that’s pretty much what we did all day every day for a week.
This year, probably because we had a car, or more likely due to the fact that we had been locked down for 4 months, we explored a little more of the island and went out for dinner a lot more.
When we decided to fly to Crete this Summer most people asked if I was worried about the flight. We took a lot of masks with us, the kids didn’t need to wear them on the flight but did in the airport, and for us the experience was successful, and in fact the airport experience was considerably better than usual. You can read more about our flight during Covid here.
Arrival in Crete
On arrival in Crete and the rest of Greece as I understand it, the authorities are completing spot check Covid tests on incoming flights. We didn’t have a test and didn’t see any other families being asked to either, just one or two individuals which happened very quickly and efficiently and easily before the bags were out on the belt.
You also have to show a QR code to the authorities before you can enter, this is to prove you’ve completed a new arrivals form – the Passenger Locator Form. You can complete one of these for all the family as long as each person is mentioned on the form. We were prompted to complete this by Ryanair who we flew with and it was also checked before we got on the flight.
Holiday at GK Beach Hotel!
Save for the fight and the arrivals policy, the rest of our holiday in Crete has felt very very normal indeed and we’ve been warmly welcomed by the Cretans. Crete is an incredible place to be right now and social distancing is simply not an issue as there are significantly less people here than in previous years. Crete has allowed us to feel like we’ve escaped into some sort of paradise and I’ve been been desperately trying to work out if we can stay longer!
So what else have we done?
Trip to Chania
Chania is a lovely harbour town with quirky back street tavernas, and port side restaurants with a sunset view. It takes 25 minutes to drive or you can take a taxi which costs around €25.
We made our way into Chania around 5pm. The girls happily pottered around the shops spending their holiday money, we ate ice cream and drank cocktails by the harbour and then had a wonderful dinner in Salis which we had eaten at on our previous visit. The food at Salis is more expensive than your average restaurant in the area but the food is better than average too.
It was also lovely to see the town buzzing with people. We perhaps hadn’t needed to make a reservation in advance at Salis but by the time we were leaving it was full and people were being turned away.
I’d highly recommend a trip to Chania whilst you’re staying at GK beach.
Trip to Lake Kournas
Recommended by Tina our Simpson representative at GK Beach, and only 30 minutes drive, we’ve now been twice and will probably go again before we leave. It’s a huge freshwater lake with pedalos and kayaks and tavernas around the side. It cost €30 for us to hire a pedalo for 5 with a slide for 2 hours.
The lake was the perfect temperature to swim in, and at the other side of the lake there is even a rare species of turtles to find if you’re quiet and have a little bit of patience.
It’s a really lovely afternoon out and the sunshades on the pedalos, and the temperature of the water means its actually quite a refreshing afternoon out.
One of the best things we’ve done is to hire a catamaran for the day with a skipper and head out on a boat trip. We hired a smaller boat last year at Bella Mare in Corfu and sailed it ourselves but for ten people it was definitely worth getting a skipper.
The catamaran we hired from The Skippers went from Bali (an hour from GK Beach hotel) but you can find similar options in Chania and Plakias.
We got to Bali port for 9.15am and got back at 5.30pm having had an amazing day. Check out my Crete instagram stories for more pics of the day. We visited the pirate caves in a smaller boat, swam and snorkelled in the sea and then had lunch at a taverna overlooking the sea in Panormos. We didn’t quite manage to see the dolphins but the kids (and the adults) had a blast being dragged off the back of the boat in the rings! Highly recommended!
On the southern side of Crete, just over an hour from GK Beach lies Preveli Beach. We didn’t do a lot of reading up about how to get to the beach before we decided to visit, just focused on how beautiful it looked and how unusual with its palms and lagoon! If you do decide to visit, do take a look at the access issues!
You can get to the beach by car and then walk down a very steep path, or you can take a boat from Plakias or Agia Galini. The upside to parking in the car park at the top of the mountain ridge and walking down (15-20 minutes ish) the very steep steps is that you have to walk back up again (in our case in 36 ° heat) but the upside is that you can arrive before the boats and thus when its quiet. Those people we saw walking back up at 11am definitely had seen the best of the beach and had enjoyed it with relatively few people and before the heat took hold.
I have to say I did quite a bit of complaining about the steep climb down (mainly worrying about the hike back up) but the beach at the bottom was worth it! It was gorgeous and well worth the trip.
There is a small taverna on the beach under the trees and whilst there are no sun loungers if you can get there early you can put your towels under the trees and claim some shade!
Eating Out in Kalyves
Having not been able to go out for dinner for the last 4 months we took advantage of being able to walk to restaurants from the hotel and went out every evening for dinner. Some of our favourites were
Il Forno – end of Kalyves, brilliant for pizza and pasta with an owner who loves to do magic tricks for kids and adults alike
Almy – definitely a hit. Wonderful, cheap fresh food. We went three times.
Kymata – lovely setting right on the beach
Koumos – one our favourites due to the fascinating way the place has been created. Do check out the tripadvisor reviews.
We have had the best two weeks here in Crete and would recommend a trip to Crete at the moment without hesitation.
If you want some guaranteed sun in a relaxed way. Crete is definitely the place for you!