Part II: Your Guide to Exploring Athens and Crete
written by Kristen Kuang
Plaka and Surrounding neighborhood
Located at the bottom of the Acropolis, Plaka is Athens’ oldest district and a prime tourist location for tourists today. Along these charming streets, there are multiple cafes and shops to choose from. Along with shopping and dining, there are also various historical sites and churches you can visit hidden within the streets of pastel colored houses. However, be sure you have a map on hand, because it is quite easy to get lost maneuvering around.
The main tourist attraction in Athens. Learn about the history of the Greek Gods and how the Greeks built the Parthenon. It was very impressive to see what the Greeks were able to build given the limited access of technology during their time. The view from very top of the Acropolis also serves as a scenic photo shoot background. You’ll be surprised at how surreal this structure is in person. Try to get there right as it opens (8am) to beat the crowds and the heat of the sun! Reduced admission prices if you bring your student ID!
What use to be the central hub of ancient Athens is now for visitors. Learn about where the ancient Greeks used to gather to discuss politics, government, and conducted business.
Eleftherias Square (Downtown Heraklion)
Similar to the Plaka in Athens, this is also considered the central hub in Heraklion, Crete. Numerous shops, boutiques, markets and cafes fill the streets. Our group had fun visiting the different ships and exploring the numerous locally made products. They also have the best gelato in town!
Koules Fortress/Venetian harbor
Leaving Eleftherias Square, towards the harbor, is the Koules Fortress. Built by the Republic of Venice in the early 16th century, the fortress is restored for visitors to explore. Along with the impressive history of this fortress, it also serves as a great location for pictures and offers a fantastic view of the Aegean Sea and the Venetian Harbor.
Palace of Knossos
This legendary residence of King Minos has been restored and is a prime attraction in Crete today. We enjoyed roaming around what remains of the palace. We also gained firsthand experience of the Greek art and architecture. Reduced admission with your student ID!
Need some time to relax? This small beach town in located approximately thirty minutes east of Eleftherias Square. Perfect for catching some sun or a quick dip in the Aegean Sea. A short trail at the end of the beach takes you out onto a cliff that overlooks the Aegean Sea. This is one our our personal favorite destinations. Highly recommended!
By visiting all these places, we were able to immerse ourselves into the Greek culture. It is important to learn about other cultures to gain better understanding in order to conduct better business strategies and connect with your potential clients on a personal level. By doing so, we are able to gain insight and implement SIBC’s model of peace through commerce.