Hello. My spouse and I have been fortunate to be married soon 30 years. During those years we've visited 29 countries together, mostly in Europe. We are interested in either spending our 30th wedding anniversary in Spain, Italy or Greece. Hoping someone here can recommend a place/s in either country. Would like the area we spend to be relatively quiet but within walking distance or train/bus to a larger city and on the water. Someplace we can relax, spend our day on the beach or walking through historical scenery. We've been to Barcelona and Tarragona Spain, Rome and Florence Italy and just recently Athens Greece. Any ideas, recommendations appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Congrats on 30 years! Sounds like Crete could be a good choice for you. There are numerous areas along the coasts which meet your description...look for smaller towns near Chania (Kaleves or Almyrida come to mind) or Heraklion or further along the North coast is Elounda with a wide range of accommodation and Ayios Nikolai’s. Just avoid Malia which is party central of Crete! Check out the Rough Guide to Crete to learn more.
While I have not been to the south coast, friends who lived in Crete loved the small seaside towns there.
It will help a lot if you can give us the DATE of your hoped-for trip. (If it's between July 1 & late August, you may have to do some special strategizing to avoid huge crowds of European holiday-makers that could affect your enjoyment).
Yes, the approximate dates of your trip would definitely help, and so would some more of your preferences. Are you thinking of an island vacation - small or large island? - or somewhere on the mainland? What temperatures can you handle well (I personally wouldn't go anywhere in Southern Europe in July or August if I can help it...)?
Also, what do you consider a "larger city"?
Your description of a relaxing place with beaches would make me suggest a smaller island, but those usually don't have what I would call a "larger" city. So that would probably leave Crete or somewhere on the mainland.
Also, I personally would never want to spend my vacation on a beach anywhere near a large city... ;-)
I'm sorry, I thought I posted the date. We're planning on tentatively (depends on prices) the last two weeks of March through the first two weeks of April. Temperatures to the mid to upper 80's are fine with us. As far as the size of the city, definitely smaller than Athens, Barcelona, Rome, etc. More about the size of Dubrovnik is fine, as long as there are a few things to keep us occupied occasionally besides just relaxing.
What is the best and easiest way to get to Crete from Athens? A flight? I think I remember seeing flights leaving Athens for Crete when we were there in December. If we were to fly into Crete is there transportation to get us to a smaller town such as Heraklion, Kaleves or Almyrida? Thanks again!
You fly to Athens and then onward to Chania (Aegean or Olympic Airlines). It’s just over a half hour flight. Taxi from the airport to either of the two villages as the airport is on the other side of Souda Bay.
Late March early April is early and a lot of places may not be open in the smaller towns. At that time of the year I would look at staying in Chania itself; it’s got a lovely old town, a beautiful harbour, some interesting museums and art galleries. Might be a bit cold for the beach and definitely not swimming temps. You would be unlikely to see temps in the 80’s more like 65-70.
At that time of year, I don't think you will find swimming temperatures anywhere around those destinations you have in mind. And in terms of temperature, even as far down south as Crete, the average daily maximum is around 20°C.
as long as there are a few things to keep us occupied occasionally
besides just relaxing
Except for the swimming part, Crete should pretty much fit your bill then. Enough cities, enough beaches, enough historical scenery.
That said, I would personally much prefer the smaller towns over those larger ones. I don't find the large cities in Greece to be particularly attractive, except for their historical centers. The smaller island towns with that lovely island charm are usually the much more attractive ones, IMO, and we have never felt there wasn't enough to keep us occupied. Depends on what you are looking for to keep yourself occupied of course.
The three cities that might interest you would be Chania, Rethymnon and Heraklion. They are all regular cities but what makes them special is their interesting old towns and Harbours. There are airports in Chania and Heraklion. Chanias airport is smaller and is easy to navigate not so much for Heraklion.
If it were me I would chose Chania its so charming. Rethymnon is good for a day trip to visit the Fortezza and of course Heraklion has Knossos.
Here is what they are like.
Western Crete http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632115757899/
Aptera images 38-62 Balos Gramovossa images 79-106
Just a thought Candi -- if you are not dead-fixed on travelling on the EXACT date of anniversary, you could double your enjoyment by re-scheduling your dream trip to Greece for Mid-MAY ... that way you could have all the pleasures described below, together with off-season prices and lack of crowds, but WITH warmer weather (70s), and water warm enough for swimming. R U flexible, in order to see greece at the perfect time of year?? Rains are over, yet everywhere is green & flowering, everything's open but not crowded, GReeks are ready to host, and have time enough to socialize (greeks looove to chat), the days are much longer than in March-April so in effect you get 1.5 days for every day, sunsets are 8:30 or so... Think about it.
I would suggest Crete as well, with Chania being the destination of preference.
Mt. Pelion might be a good choice if you don't mind a road trip which many turns. From Mt. Pelion you could get to Skiathos Island by boat taxi in about 20 minutes. Volos City is close as well, depending on which village you are going to stay. This place is magical all year round!
Another choice would be to stay in Athens and take day trips to the islands close to the capital like Evia, Spetses, Hydra, Poros, Aegina, Kea, Andros
You might also want to check the island of Rhodes...