There’s no easy way to nail down Crete – the land of beaches, ancient history and natural beauty. It’s basically the island of everything, including Europe’s very first city. Sunlight is in abundance here, as are late-night bars and restaurants toting the rightfully-famous Cretan diet.
Crete at a glance
Crete is an island of mythical proportions, and we don’t say that lightly. It’s actually rumoured to be the birthplace of Zeus, chief Greek God. Crete is also Greece’s biggest and most populated island, with a city to fit every holiday bill – a party trip, a family getaway, a culture trek or a couples’ break.
The island of Crete has been populated for thousands of years, seeing rulers from the Romans to the Ottomans, the ancient Minoans and the Venetians, all of whom left their mark in the form of structures like castles, harbours and churches. What makes Crete so remarkable, though, is that these age-old relics are stashed right up alongside modern beaches and hotels, sky high gorges and avenues stacked with clubs so that no matter where you go, your holiday is flavoured with a dash of history. It’s in a holiday league of its own.
5 fun facts about Crete
- Crete is home to the ancient city of Knossos, believed to be the oldest city in all of Europe.
- The air in Crete is so clear and refreshing that it was prescribed by the famous ancient physician Hippocrates to cure illnesses.
- The Cretan diet is said to be one of the healthiest diets in the world, consisting mainly of fresh vegetables and fruit, grains, beans, olive oil and, to a lesser extent, grilled meat and fish. Red wine in moderation is also highly encouraged.
- Crete is the site of many Greek myths, not just the birthplace of Zeus – it’s said to be where Icarus flew too close to the sun, where the Minotaur was killed by Theseus in the labyrinth, the Sirens battled the Muses, and is also the birthplace of the goddess Artemis and the god Apollo.
- Crete is thought to be free of animals that are harmful or dangerous to humans – this is believed to be because in ancient days, Hercules removed them as a way to honour the birthplace of Zeus.
Things to do
The Palace of Knossos – Though not necessarily just a royal site, the Palace of Knossos is considered the epicentre of ancient Minoan civilisation and the stuff of legends. Within the remarkably-preserved site, you’ll find gorgeous frescoes, homes and shops, as well as leftovers from daily life like pottery and coins.
Samaria Gorge – Found in the White Mountains, the Samaria Gorge is one of the biggest natural attractions in Crete. It’s a 13-kilometre walk all the way through, highlights of which include the kri-kri goats and the Iron Gates, where the passage narrows to just four metres wide and rises more than 300 metres up.
Chania’s Venetian Harbour – It maybe be close to 700 years old, but Chania’s Venetian Harbour is one of the most vibrant spots in this busy city, complete with a restored lighthouse, fortress walls and waterfront shops and restaurants.
Stalis Beach – The beach in Stalis is one of Crete’s best, much loved for its laid-back vibes, gold sand and shallow water, all lined with tavernas. What’s more, the beach connects to rowdy Malia, so you’re never far from the party action.
Here are some of our top money-saving deals on holidays to Crete.
Driades Apartments, Hersonissos
Tucked up into the hillside of one of Crete’s biggest cities, these Self Catering apartments are still just a five-minute walk from the nearest restaurants and offer views all the way out to sea, not to mention a swimming pool of its own.
Hersonissos, Crete, Greek Islands, Greece
Ilios Malia, Malia
These apartments score top marks for their proximity to Malia’s beach and nightlife, both of which are right on its doorstep. You’ll also have access to a swimming pool and the dance-heavy Ice Bar, which is attached.
Malia, Crete, Greek Islands, Greece
Althea Village Hotel, Chania
Modelled after classic Greek houses and with all the charm, this quaint little villa offers holidaymakers two pools and a bar, leafy gardens and a buffet restaurant, not to mention live music in the evenings and a location that’s delightfully close to the beach.
Althea Village Hotel
Chania, Crete, Greek Islands, Greece
It goes without saying that Crete is a Renaissance island – what are you most looking forward to when visiting this sunny Mediterranean spot? Let us know in the comments below.