Crete is the magical birthplace of Western Civilization. Everywhere you look you will find ancient monuments, opulent ruins and pristine beaches lined by charming white washed houses. The stunning landscape will envelop you in dizzying panoramas of verdant natural beauty. The rich history of this place is second only to the spirit of the local people and their fascinating traditions, and the delectable cuisine. Get lost in beautiful surreal fishing villages and remote cities like Iraklio and Chania that date back almost eight thousand years. Crete is a gem in the Mediterranean; it has a pleasant climate year-round and a history that dates back to the start of civilization.
The breath-taking beauty of Voulisma Beach.
The natural beauty of Crete is second to none, whether you visit the golden beaches in the north or the rustic canyons and coves in the cliff lined south coast. In the middle of Crete the island comes alive with dramatic valleys and sleepy villages dotted amongst round hills and imposing mountains. Absorb the fascinating landscape by renting a luxury car and driving around the winding streets. As you weave your way through the mountains, stop off at the roadside stands selling local olive oil, honey or the local delicacy raki, the perfect souvenirs from your Grecian adventure. You will be mesmerized by the relaxed and welcoming Cretan culture that you glimpse along the way. To discover Crete’s natural beauty, visit its mythical beaches. The soft pink sand of Elafonissi Beach, where every step feels like you are walking through a neoclassical paradise, will enchant you. The sands give this beach a warm glow against the crystalline Mediterranean Sea. Spend a day stepping in a soft sunset beneath your feet. Another fairy-tale beach is Preveli Beach, where a dramatic canyon acts as a backdrop to the golden palm-fringed beach, encircling a tranquil lagoon. As the setting sun melts into the Mediterranean, you will see why Preveli Beach is often celebrated as the best beach in Crete.
History comes alive in the Old Harbor in Crete.
When history beckons, Crete answers with some of the best ancient sites in the world. Visit the cave where Zeus was born. Located in Lasithi is the Dikteon Cave, which is seeped in ancient Greek legend. The myth is that Rhea hid the newborn Zeus from his father in the caves. Inside you will find over two thousand square meters of impressive stalagmites and stalactites, and fascinating historical sites of Minoan cult worship. History buffs can hunt out the artefacts found in this cave by visiting the Archaeological Museum in Iraklio. For more history head to the Palace of Knossos, the place where the half-man half-bull Minotaur was said to have been born. The palace is a stunning archaeological site full of vivid frescos and colorful murals. You will feel awed amongst the tall halls with their ancient history.
A restaurant in Sissi, in Lasithi Province.
There are plenty of activities to do, and surreal vistas to behold, in Crete. Hike through Europe’s longest gorge. Samaria Gorge is over sixteen kilometres long, and is a spectacle in its own right. Or grab a mountain bike and cycle around the orchards of Lasithi Plateau, or the vineyards of the Peza region, which produces the majority of the island’s wine. Stop off in beautiful towns with Turkish and Venetian influences, like Rethymno. A stunning harbour town that is bursting with character. You can wander around the labyrinthine of winding streets that weave around the fortress at the center of the town. Here you will see refined Renaissance mansions next to Turkish spires, and literally hundreds of churches, such as Moni Arkadiou. Chania is another colorful harbor town, but it has a fantastic selection of buzzing restaurants. Some even tempt you in with a free glass of wine to enjoy on a charming table in the street by the water’s edge. Sit back and take the time to watch the people go by, and then take a cruise out on a boat to experience view of the lighthouse and Venetian fortress from the sea.
A boat floating in the turquoise waters off Crete.
Crete is a land steeped in history, and its people keep up the traditions and customs that have defined this island for thousands of years. Some of the most important of which revolve around the country’s delicious food. Go to the kafeneia, coffee houses, to watch the gossiping locals, or see the preparations for big events like the Easter feast, to name but one of the many festivals celebrated on this lively island. You cannot find fresher food than what is produced in Crete’s fecund fields. It is served up farm-to-table in the tavernas around the country. Gourmands will delight at the feast of organic, local and seasonal food available in Crete. One of the best restaurants on the island is Parasia Rakadiko, an elegant family-owned establishment that has been delighting hungry travellers for years. The dishes are prepared with love by the mother, Voula, and are served with generous helpings of homemade honey raki. Your taste buds will be transported to a simpler, tastier time beneath the jasmine in the outside seating area. Join the lively Cretan party in evening with live music and traditional dancing, and let the vibrant Grecian culture envelop you.
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