Crete, Greece

The Greek island of Crete, or Kriti, is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean with most of its people living on the north coast. Magnificent mountain ranges form the backbone of this very popular holiday island. Most of eastern Crete is dominated by cheap holiday package complexes while western Crete has a wilder coastline, fewer crowds, and more sedate beach resorts. The mountains split north and south too, with the south much quieter and with fewer holidays resorts.

At the West of Crete in Chania prefectrure, Lefka Ori, the untrodden mountains, the old Venetian harbor and the modern town of Chania, the breathtaking beauty of the country, the dreamy sea and beaches, the famous Samaria gorge invite you to come here and spend unforgettable holidays; to taste the gorgeous local cooking and enjoy high quality services and visit the inland still keeping the tradition of the great Cretan hospitality.

The old town of Rethymno with the Venetian architecture and the interesting monuments and the whole area defined by the mountains of Lefka Ori and Psiloritis and the magic sandy beaches of the North and of the South, present an impressive natural and human environment.

In Heraklion Prefecture, The Minoan Palace of Knossos, the medieval town of Candia, the impregnable mountain of Psiloritis, Kazantzakis, the author of Zorba the Greek, the famous painter El Greco, along with the endless unique beaches, the refreshing climate, the rich and original flora, the Cretan diet, the traditions of the mountaineers and the living history form the character of the birthplace of the first great civilization in Europe.

Finally at the East of Crete Lasithi offers everything: cute small towns with long history, scenic traditional Cretan villages, endless charming beaches, the uforgettable palm-tree wood of Vai, unique in Europe, the small lake where goddesses Athena and Artemis used to swim, the plateau with hundreds of windmills.

The 5 must-see sites of Crete

1) Palace of Knossos The Palace of Knossos is the major archaeological site that testifies of the ancient greatness of Crete, the largest Greek island and the fifth-largest of all the Baltic Mediterranean. Knossos, 6 km from the sea and 5 km from Heraklion (or Iraklion), was an important center of Minoan civilization developed during the Bronze Age. The mythological stories of Minos, the labyrinth of Daedalus, Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur took place right in the palace complex of Knossos. Do not miss the Throne Room which is one of the best preserved areas of the Palace of Knossos. The colors of the frescoes have remained intact in all their splendor.

2) Beach Elafonissi The beach Elafonissi is considered among the most beautiful in Europe, and is often appealed to as “the Caribbean of the Mediterranean. ” The beach is situated in the extreme south-west Crete, and can be reached through a long winding road that crosses the island, climbing the mountains, canyons and ravines. The beach has white sand and a shallow lagoon with crystal clear water. You can walk through the shallow water, which does not exceed the knees to the island of Elafonissi. On the island there are other small beaches with sand that in some particular points appear pink.

3) Samaria Gorge Samaria Gorge extends for 18 kilometers, and is considered the longest gorge in Europe. The Samaria Gorge offers a wide variety of landscapes that you can enjoy with a hiking trail that starts from more than 1200 meters above sea level and finishes up to the level of the sea at Agia Roumeli, where you can catch ferries to reach the nearest locations where public transport is available.

4) Monastery of Preveli The ancient monastery of Preveli is located in an idyllic location overlooking the sea with panoramic breathtaking views. This monastery was used by the Allies during the Second World War. from here they where able to escape from the island. The entrance to the monastery is a fee (€ 2.50) and allows visit a small museum with icons, paintings and relics, as well as the modern-looking church flanked the oldest, well preserved buildings.

5) Old town of Chania The quaint old town of Chania extends along the harbor area and is the most typical neighborhood of the city. This area is lively at all hours of the day by a large number of tourists. The road ends in a characteristic square, called the square of the port where there is a fountain surrounded by the numerous cafes and coffee restaurants. Opposite the square is the inner harbor, with its long promenade and the Mosque of Janissaries, who is also the oldest Ottoman building in all of Crete! This mosque dominates the landscape with its large dome. Along the waterfront with sweeping views on striking buildings that overlook the sea, colorful houses that seem to lean to one another.

Where to shop

1) Rethimnon The Way of Arkadiou Rethinon is very characteristic as it retains many buildings and homes in style Venetian mingle with other architectures, along with many craft shops and souvenir shops.

2) Fashion and clothing For shopping Cretans generally move directly in the capital Athens as only in the center of Iraklio there are some known brands internationally. In all the cities of Crete, however, is very varied choice of footwear: practical, trendy or stylish.

3) Stained Glass The colored glass is the most popular item of arts and crafts. There are glass artists throughout the nation. Recommended the glassblower of Kokkino Horio, 26 km east of Hania.

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