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Crete

Crete is the biggest of all the Greek islands, with so much to offer that it could easily be a country in its own right. This was the birthplace of Europe’s first advanced civilisation, the Minoans, and over the centuries the island has passed from empire to empire, with each leaving its own distinct impression on Crete’s history and culture, from Ancient Rome to the Ottoman Turks. 

Crete is one of the few Greek islands with genuine year round appeal thanks to its mild winters and varied landscape, from the sandy beaches and busy resorts of the north coast to the soaring mountains of the interior, dusted with snow in winter and still barely touched by tourism. You can hike amongst deep gorges and hills coloured with spring wildflowers, discover Crete’s fascinating history at the famous Palace of Knossos, take a tour of the Lasithi Plateau with its pretty windmills, or take a boat across to Spinalonga island, home of Europe’s last leper colony as recently as the 1950s. Cretan cuisine is amongst the healthiest in the world, with a wealth of cosy tavernas where you can tuck into the freshest of sun-ripened vegetables, meat, seafood, locally produced cheese, wine, olive oil and more.

The upmarket resorts of Agios Nikolaos and Elounda in the east of the island are home to some of the finest luxury hotels in Greece, along with some of Crete’s best beaches, and offer easy access to Lasithi and Spinalonga. The island’s busy capital, Heraklion, is centrally located on the north coast, and is ideal if you’re interested in Crete’s history, with its Archaeological Museum and proximity to Knossos. The west of Crete is quieter, with pretty villages and secluded coves rather than big beach resorts, and the city of Chania is a highlight, with its beguiling blend of Ottoman and Venetian architecture. 

 

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