The largest of all the Greek islands, Crete is known as the mythical birthplace of Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. This motorhome-friendly island features stunning natural landscapes to explore, as well as a collection of ancient Greek ruins, each revealing a different aspect of rich Greek mythology.
With its gorgeous sunsets, extant ruins, verdant landscape, and fine Mediterranean beaches, it’s hard not to fall in love with Crete. We previously spent a week touring around this real-life Treasure Island, and now, we’re going to explore it from the fascinating lens of Greek mythology.
For starters, the Cretan capital city of Heraklion contains the ruins of the ancient city of Knossos, the former seat of power of the Minoan civilisation. Historians estimate that Knossos was abandoned sometime during 1300 to 1100 BC for unknown reasons. But A Luxury Travel Blog suggests in its recounting of mythical Cretan sites, it might just have something to do with King Minos and the mythical Minotaur rumoured to roam the city’s labyrinth. You can investigate this for yourself as you walk through the labyrinth and admire the many frescoes scattered around the palace-city. Pace yourself and breathe it all in – it’s going to take some time to explore one of the largest archaeological sites from the Bronze Age.
Next to Kronnos, the second largest Minoan palace-city in Crete was Phaistos, which today is an explorable archaeological site. In Greek mythology, the wise King Rhadamanthus of Phaistos eventually became one of the judges of the dead. Apart from the chance to see the ancient city’s artefacts and complex architecture, the hilltop site also offers a breathtaking view of the Messara plain in southern Crete. Image credit: By Marc Ryckaert (MJJR) – Own work
The Messara plain itself is home to ancient landmarks that are testament to the beauty of Greek mythology. For instance, the plain is home to the 6,000-year-old city of Gortys. Legend has it that the city was named after its founder, Gortys, who was the son of Phaistos city’s King Rhadamantus. Gortys is also where you’ll find the Plane Tree of Zeus and Europa. This rare, evergreen plane tree is said to have been the site where Europa and Zeus made love after the Greek god first appeared to the Phoenician princess as a bull. This mythical love affair produced the three kings of Minoan Crete: Minos, Sarpedon, and Radamanthus.
Although Crete is known as the birthplace of the god-king Zeus, there’s currently no official information on the exact location of his birth. However, in the Cretan mountains, two caves vie for the honour of being the birthplace of the Greek pantheon’s king: the Ideon Cave (also known as the Cave of Zeus) in Mount Ida and the Dikteon Cave in South-Central Crete. And what an honour it would be – the ancient Greek god is in many ways still worshiped today through various modern cultural tributes. In the movie Clash of the Titans, Zeus was played by iconic action star Liam Neeson.
Meanwhile, on Foxy ’s digital slot game, Zeus – God of Thunder, the Greek god’s mastery of the sky, thunder, and lightning is used to provide a dazzling background to an otherwise regular browser game. In the game, Zeus is depicted as a stern-faced King of Gods, complete with a fork of lightning clutched in his bare hand. Similar depictions can be found in the likes of God of War’s most recent installment, where the hero Kratos meets Zeus in hell after a series of harrowing challenges. While these modern tributes to Zeus are interesting to say the least, actually visiting and Motoroaming the mythical island birthplace of the Olympian god-king is another experience altogether.
Crete is filled with ancient sites that can be found in the annals of Greek mythology. There’s no doubt that the best way to explore these places, while also appreciating the wild beauty of Crete, is by bringing your home with you.
And if this has piqued your curiosity about Crete and what it can offer you as a visitor with your motorhome, why not check out The Motoroamer’s free to download Captivating Guide to Crete.
Zoe Morris Biography
Zoe is a history graduate and avid traveller. Her speciality at university was Ancient History, and she hopes to use her knowledge to encourage more people to get interested in the past by visiting historic sites. In her free time she likes reading and writing about her favourite subjects.
As we look back at 2017 and our highlights – Eastern Europe is going to always stand out to us. Whilst we love Western Europe, our curious souls sought more cultural education and east was where our hearts took us.
Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and all too briefly, Hungary. What delights these countries were with history, nature, cultural diversity and a world that has been teetering on the edge of communism into the European Union. What a fabulous six months we had.
To bring our experiences to life, we have produced an interactive map that shows not only all the camping spots we stayed at during our tour, some of the highlights too. Combining our videos, Drone footage and blogs, you have one resource all in one place.
So if Eastern Europe is calling you for 2018 – then this interactive map complete with pictures and co-ordinates is all you need to ignite your plans. We hope that it gives you some seriously entertaining travel inspiration.
Click on any of the icons on the map for more information about each place we visited. Please bear in mind that we started from Italy, headed over to Greece, then had a short trip to Crete and then headed north through Bulgaria and Romania before having a short period in Hungary.
As part of our 18 months on the road Celebration Series, we are sharing our Top 25 Nature Beauties.
During our time on the road we have been privileged to witness the most incredible scenery, landscapes and wildlife. We have tried to capture our best bits in one place in this INFOGRAPHIC which you can download for free. Click HERE to download your own copy.
From Spain, to France, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia; here are just a few of our favourite things…..
Enjoy with our love and we hope it inspires you to put these places on your list.
Being in our camper allows us to change our vista every day, if we wish, and gives us the freedom to get into the heart of the countryside, in amongst nature.
Travelling is such a privilege and feels even more so when you can take your home with you wherever you go. Being in our camper allows us to change our vista every day, if we wish, and gives us the freedom to get into the heart of the countryside, in amongst nature. During our 18 months of full-timing we’ve encountered a range of ‘homes’ from wild sites on cliff tops, to fields that resembled nothing short of a glorified car park, to the charm of a five van Aire in a tiny French village in the middle of nowhere.
2017 has been the year of (ad)venturing further east away from the relative comfort of Western Europe. We left our traditional lives in UK to push the boundaries, to explore and find the road less travelled, so at some stage the call east was bound to resound. So what would Eastern Europe bring us, how would we fair camping in the Balkan lands? Shrouded in Communistic shadows and media spin, we had a little trepidation about what to expect. Today we want to put the record straight. The Balkans is stunningly beautiful section of Europe and needs us to indulge our curious spirits. Although my focus for this blog is more about camping in this eastern land rather than advocating the countryside beauty. Come read about our camping highlights; we stayed at lots of great spots, although these are our favourites and deserve a bit of publicity and promotion.
The Balkans is stunningly beautiful section of Europe and needs us to indulge our curious spirits.
Finding good campsites is not difficult anywhere in Europe although their quality does vary dramatically. And interestingly that’s rarely to do with the country and more to do with the people who run it or who lovingly create it, we have found. Spending five months travelling through Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovenia (in 2016), we have been introduced to some great camping experiences; in fact some of our best ‘homes’ feature in this latest tour. Here we have taken the opportunity to show-case our favourite, must-visit Eastern Europe and Balkan camping beauties in the hope that they give you the inspiration and comfort to head over this way. *(All prices are for a MOHO, two people and electricity.)
This is one of two sites run by the same family, although in our opinion, this was the best. A small terraced site about 3km from Nea Epidavros on the eastern thumb of the Peloponnese. €19 out of season with ACSI. The site is narrow and pitches a bit tight to manoeuvre into if you have a rig longer than 7.5 metres, although it is a beautiful spot, right on the edge of the sea. With great shade to ward off the Greece sunshine, this site offers a relaxed place to rest up for a couple of nights with the town within easy reach by bicycle and the Amphitheatre not more than a 30 minute drive away. Good showers are available, with a restaurant next door that has a good reputation, although we didn’t eat there.
This is another family run and small site that whilst, like many campsites in Greece, have little pitch structure, has a certain charm. Only a couple of minutes walk to the beach and only ten minutes from the delightful Agios Galini, Camping ‘No Problem’ is great for a week or two. Hiring a car from the town nearby, gives you easy access to the surrounding southern beaches and the campsite’s restaurant is superb, offering a high quality and good value meal. And the swimming pool is to die for, especially at the beginning of the season when you have the snow-peaked mountains as your backdrop view.
Meteora is one of those unique sites around the world that will never leave your heart. It gets under your skin and you find yourself transported to a very special place of awestruck loveliness. Staying at Camping Vachros right on the fringe of the National Park is a joy, especially when you see the view from the swimming pool. You are within five minutes walk to the village and only a 10 minute drive to the first of your floating monasteries. It is an incredibly special place and feels a privilege to visit. Aside from the pool, the campsite has plenty of pitches, decent shower facilities and a restaurant run by the family. It costs €18 per night.
After leaving our love affair with Greece behind, we wondered how life in Bulgaria would fare for us. In fact what would Bulgaria be like as an experience, altogether? Well after a simple crossing over the border, our fears were allayed immediately. Good roads, beautiful countryside with vineyards, rolling hills and a super campsite waiting for us within 20 minutes of arriving in Bulgaria. Result! English couple, Sara and John moved over to Bulgaria to set up this lovely campsite, which has more of a feel of their back garden than anything stuffy from a commercial site. With only eight or so spots, free wifi and fantastic shower facilities, Sara and John make you feel so welcome. Sat in the foothills of the Pirin Mountains, you have so much to explore as you ground yourself in the Bulgarian culture. Try Melnik, only 11km away, which is easily reached by bicycle, for a great introduction to the Bulgarian architecture and way of life – oh and a bit of wine! Low season €16, high season €17. Bargain!
Welcomed by Matt, a lovely guy from England, Camping Alexandrovo is a delight. Another site that is more like a back garden, Matt’s place oozes beauty, views and security. Whilst the village isn’t pretty and doesn’t offer anything much, when you’re behind his walled garden nothing else matters. It’s a great spot to just chill out after a busy Bulgaria tour of either the northern or southern regions. Just east of Plovdiv, this is a great spot for checking out the city or heading further east to Turkey, which is only a couple of hours away. And you have to get up early for the sunrise, which is something else! Hammocks, a brick built barbecue and great facilities await you here and we highly recommend this restful retreat. Only €17.50 in high season! Check out our Drone footage below!
This is a beautiful, homely campsite run by Nina and her fisherman husband Dan. You are in their back garden, which is so tenderly cared for, with good facilities and the opportunity to go out with Dan at 6.00am or 5.00pm for a trip on his fishing boat into the Delta. For €25pp for two hours, this is a unique experience that gets you into the heart of this precious ecosystem, which is the second largest delta in Europe. If you love photography and nature, then this is a must-do place for your travelling agenda. And all this for only €10 per night. Bargain.
This was a gorgeous little find, hidden in the hills behind Zarnesti and so much nicer than the touristic Bran’s Castle about 20 minutes away. We loved it here. Whilst the approach to the Guest House owned by Constantino and Otilia is steep and a bit tricky to navigate, it is doable and their lower garden area is beautiful. With Zorro the Shetland pony to entertain you and an afternoon tea perhaps from Otilia, you will feel very much at home. The facilities are a little basic, although the charm of the owners (who speak English and German) and the surroundings absolutely make up for it. And for only €14 per night, it’s good value too. You can cycle or drive to the Liberty Bear Sanctuary, which is only 15 minutes away, which is a very humbling experience. Check out our blog here.
Run by a Dutch couple, this motel and medium sized campsite is a perfect stopover en route to or from Romania, being only 30 minutes away from the border. There’s no structured pitches and basic facilities, although it has a non-commercialised and informal feel to it. As you drive in you are welcomed with Hungarian flags and their own church, which has some interesting history! Underneath the trees you get great shade and you are not far from the river where you can hire a boat or two. They have a restaurant offering local fare, although we didn’t eat there. There are plenty of walks just outside of the campsite and you are only five minutes drive away from what looked like a charming thermal town with its own Spa and Baths. Well worth a look around if you have time. €18 per night.
Whilst this site wasn’t salubrious and has a commercial feel to it, it was ideal for visiting Budapest. You are only a 15 minute walk to the Danube and museums, from which you can then pick up trams and only 10 minutes walk from the station where you can buy your travel tickets for getting around the city. Tram number 24 stops right outside the campground. The facilities aren’t great, although there are plenty of parking spots and a restaurant if you don’t fancy cooking. We found an amazing restaurant in town, close to the Parliament Buildings, which we highly recommend. Click here for our review. Surprisingly, Camping Haller is not as noisy as you might expect from an inner city campsite and at only €18 per night and really cheap washing machine facilities – it’s a super place to explore the city.
Our final and best camping spot in our brief sojourn in Hungary was Camping Hintohaz. Run by Dutchman André, you will be greeted with a friendly and informal welcome, a drink from the bar and a wonderfully terraced campsite with excellent facilities. In fact one of the best shower blocks we have seen in Eastern Europe. André has put a huge investment into the campsite and with its beautifully grassed areas, you have tranquility, countryside views and comfort. There was no ‘locked gate until you pay’ policy here, unlike another campsite we experienced in Hungary. We highly recommend coming to this campsite if you’re close by. Whilst there isn’t much to do in the surrounding area, sometimes this is just what you need. André is keen to share a bit of Hungarian history, which is wonderful and his warmth is palpable. And only for €10 per night. This is an absolute must visit.
Check out our Drone footage here:
After seven weeks in Poland in the summer of 2018, we were blessed with 34 different places to stay, of which 12 were campsites. Sites here are often eclectic, although always delightful and our spot best sites were:
This was a super campsite nestled in between Dunajec Reservoir with its grand historic castle and the fast-flowing Dunajec river. At just £10 per night, which even in August has plenty of space, this is a steal. 2 miles away from the castle, just up on the dam for a gorgeous sunset and you can book river kayaks from here too. We did a 22 mile cycle that took us left from the site into Slovakia and then we followed the river path for 14 miles before crossing the bridge and then coming through the forest. What a stunning location.
A super ACSI site that gave you a 10% discount even though it was summer season. Attached to a hotel, the grounds were well managed and the facilities excellent. A bus stopped just outside the campsite for Warsaw although it looked a bit of a trek, so we moved to the secure parking on the day we wanted to visit the city. Highly recommend this lovely spot.
Slovakia actually a perfectly sumptuous place to wild camp and in our three weeks there we only had five nights in a campsite. Although this one is in the heart of an amazing National Park, which if you love challenging hikes, is a must.
The campsite is a bit uneven although with chocks is ok. There’s a number of hook up points up at the top of the campsite. You need to buy .50c tokens for the washing machine and shower (which lasts 3 mins) The same token does a 1hr wash. For a night and two people with EHU it cost €17.50 in August and with walks directly from the site, it really is an ideal spot.
Camping Podlesok Paradise National Park.
So, what can we say? Central and Eastern Europe are full of treasure, warmth, incredible sights and experiences and wonderful places to stay. If you love wild camping, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia are particular good as long as you abide by the values of discretion, respect and giving back. Recent history may well have tarnished the countries’ reputation, although they are rebuilding their lives, growing stronger and with their resilience are fight back to earn their rightful place in people’s affections. Central and Eastern Europe are not to be feared – they are only to be loved. Cost of living is a bonus to the experience of travelling through these wonderful countries and we cannot recommend more highly some time in these delightful, unassuming and peaceful places. Come East, you’ll not regret it!
Hi, Karen & Myles, The Motoroamers here. We are a fun-loving couple travelling full-time around Europe in Scoobie our trusty camper. We're driven to deliver seriously entertaining travel through our blogs, photography and humorous videos. We hope to inspire you too to travel.