THE LAND OF THE MINOTAUR…
AND SO MUCH MORE
Crete is a big island, the largest in Greece, the fifth largest in the Mediterranean and the 88th largest in the world. It’s also been sitting on a major crossroads of the cradle of civilisation since civilisation began! Let’s be honest – to do Crete justice and experience and enjoy all of its multifarious delights in terms of historic legacy and amazing natural beauty you really need at least three months and probably six.
In brief, Crete is Greece in miniature – all the things you could possibly want from a Greek holiday are here. It’s the southernmost Greek island, facing the coast of Africa, which makes it the warmest island – the thermometer regularly clocks 30ºC throughout July and August, although the Meltemi wind can have a pleasant cooling influence on the north coast where most resorts are.
Food and drink here are also typically Greek, but you’ll find a wide range of local specialities particularly if you head into the mountains and find a village taverna. Eating is typically al fresco during the summer months. Cretan wine has a good reputation but don’t overdo it on Raki – the local firewater!
For many Crete is synonymous with Knossos and the myths behind King Minos and the legend of the mythical half-man, half-bull, called the Minotaur. It’s a legend also closely linked with the volcanic eruption at Thera (modern day Santorini) in the 16th century BCE, and Atlantis. The ruins of the palace at Knossos were originally excavated in 1900 by famous British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, although they were actually discovered by a Cretan named Minos Kalokairinos in 1878.
Let’s not give you the impression that Crete is only for ancient history buffs – although there are many other great antiquities to see apart from Knossos. Crete has the most stunning sites of natural beauty, from soaring mountains to world renowned beaches through amazing gorges that link the two.
If you want to see everything Crete has to offer, you’ll almost certainly need to come back more than once – but what’s not to like about that? However, a great starting point for those new to Crete is the west end of the island where, to our mind, the best base is the old port of Chania (pronounced ‘Ha-nia’).
Famous for its incredibly picturesque 14th century Venetian harbour, narrow streets and waterfront restaurants, Egyptian and Ottoman influences, not to mention museums and monasteries, there is plenty to see and do in Chania before you even head for the beach! It’s also a great jumping off spot for a selection of road trips around the western end of the island, and even by boat to neighbouring Santorini.
Alternatively, if you’re just looking to ‘fly and flop’ and laze around the pool or on the beach, it’s worth considering the eastern end of the island around the old harbour town and now classy resort of Aghios Nikolaos. There are some great beaches, a few but not too many cultural points of interest and after dark the waterfront tavernas are really buzzing.
CRETE ISLAND TOURS
We have a great programme of organised or private island tours to ensure you get to see all the unmissable sites this amazing island has to offer. An ‘organised’ tour is where you join a regular tour open to the public. With a ‘private’ tour you can travel by yourself or in a group of friends.