CreteCopyright: Olga Gavrilova/Shutterstock.com
CreteCrete, the largest of Greek islands, is a place where myth meets history, where the age-old Cretan culture teems in modern villas, where the sea meets the mountains, and unspoiled nature coexists with modern tourist infrastructure. Crete has a thousand faces: one for each and every sort of traveller: the nature-lover, the explorer, the cosmopolitan, the lover of history, and the classic vulture.
The IslandCrete, the largest island in Greece, is one of the most popular travel destinations of the Mediterranean. It's an island with a thousand faces that combines everything a traveller might ask for: a rich history, several major attractions, a unique food culture, a vibrant nightlife, magnificent nature and pristine beaches. On Crete flourished the first prehistoric civilisation of note on European soil, that of the Minoan Bronze-Age, and its majestic palaces can still be visited today. In the long history of the island, a multitude of different cultures and conquerors have passed through, leaving behind important traces on the island. As a result, present-day Crete has a high level of historical, archaeological and cultural points of interest. The heart of Crete beats in its cities: Chania, the Venice of the East, Renaissance Rethymno, cosmopolitan Heraklion and picturesque Agios Nikolaos, Sitia and Ierapetra. In addition museums and historical sites and buildings, you'll find many shops selling local products, lively bars and cafés, as well as restaurants where you can try the both delicious and healthy Cretan cuisine. At the same time, Crete stands out for its unique natural environment. On one hand, a seemingly endless and indented coastline offers countless beaches for each and every taste. At the other extreme, there is a spine of high mountains ideal for hiking and mountaineering. Gorges to wander through, caves to explore, valleys to admire, all waiting the visitor’s glance. In Crete, you'll never fall short of things to do.
Cities & TownsFrom the colourful Old Town of Chania to the Renaissance buildings of Rethymnon, and from the cosmopolitan city of Heraklion to the picturesque Agios Nikolaos and Sitia, each and every Cretan city has its own attractions and personality.
BeachesCrete has over 1000 km of coastline, composed of seemingly endless stretches of sand, pebble beaches, deserted beaches, beaches for camping, water sports, and more. Try going to more than one before choosing your favourite — which will likely still prove a challenge.
WineriesMany Cretan wine-making establishments are open to the public. You'll be able to tour the vineyards and cellars, learn more about the production process and the local wine tradition, as well as taste wines accompanied by typical Cretan appetisers.
Do & See
Crete is filled with history and scenic landscapes. Archaeological sites, historical landmarks, fascinating museums, isolated monasteries, wandering walking trails and much more await you in this amazing place.
In the restaurants and traditional tavernas of the towns and villages of Crete, you'll find all the genuine flavours of traditional cuisine and an insistence on using local products. Mediterranean cuisine is inherently healthy and vegetarian-friendly, and everyone is bound to find something to suit their tastes. Apart from an abundance of olive oil, fish, and seafood, local specialities to try include cheese pie, fried snails, smoked pork and raki — an alcoholic beverage served after the meal.
The traditional Cretan Kafenios are sadly beginning to disappear, replaced by Western style cafés and coffee culture, but for now the tradition lives on. Remember that Greek coffee is quite strong and you need to specify your desired sweetness when ordering. The numerous modern places that you can find everywhere on the island offer, among other things, espresso, cappuccino, filter coffee, sweet treats and savoury snacks.
Bars & Nightlife
The two main party towns of Crete are Malia and Hersonissos, located withing easy reach from the cosmopolitan Heraklion and the quieter Agios Nikolaos. Korai Street in Heraklion is notably lined up with bars and clubs, but also Chania's Old Town and Rethymno have no shortage of places where you can spend the night dancing and drinking refreshing cocktails. If you're looking for a chill evening, just stop by one of the many friendly taverns scattered around the island, or end your lazy beach day at a beach bar.
Crete offers a vast amount of local products worth buying, such as olive oil, honey, herbs and spices. In addition to typical delicacies, you'll find many natural beauty products, leather goods, unique souvenirs and beautiful ceramics. All Cretan cities are dotted with small local shops, markets and stalls where you can find real bargains. In the capital Heraklion, the commercial area is located around the triangle formed by the Averof, 1821 and Kalokairinou streets.