Crete: Mediterranean Pearl

Crete is the largest island in Greece, and the fifth largest one in the Mediterranean Sea. Visiting this pearl, you can explore the remnants of brilliant civilizations, discover glorious beaches with beautiful crystal blue water, impressive landscapes covered in mountains, valleys and steep gorges, or simply fall in love with the gastronomic culture. There is much to explore. Crete has, after all, been desired and wanted by civilizations for thousand of years, discover why for yourself.

Crete is regarded one of the historical centers, being home of the earliest recorded civilization in Europe, the Minoan civilization (2700-1420 BC). This is the ideal destination for sun, sand and sea. The Greek Island is home to the bluest water, kind people, beautiful scenery and, not to be forgotten, quite a long history- being conquered, invaded and occupied by more or less all its neighbors. Its mythology is largely connected with the ancient Greek Gods but is also connected with the Minoan civilization.

All the Greek islands are home of the Greek Gods and Aphrodite or Ares have sights all over the places. Knossos, the home of king Minos who had Daedalus construct a labyrinth in which to retain his son, the Minotaur. Where Icarus, Daedalus’ son, flew too close to the sun, when they tried to escape king Minos, is on top of the list dating back to 7000 BC, and The Idaion cave at Mount Ida is according to Crete history the birthplace of Zeus are some of the largest. Other archaeological sites worth visiting if in Crete are Phaistos; the first settlement dates to the Late Neolithic starting about 3000 BC, and is an old Bronze age city. It is believed to have been a part of the kingdom of Knossos, the Minoan complex of Gortys, where it is said that Europa and Zeus made love and conceived the Kings of the Minoan civilization. Another is the island of Kousonisi, which has remains and ruins from Minoan, Roman and World War ii, and tons of other stories and places to visit.

The climate in Crete is primarily temperate, with mild winters. Snow will cover the mountains in winter, but appears rarely in the sea level areas, and if it does, often disappears shortly after. The south coast, being in climate zone with North Africa, enjoys more sunny days and higher temperatures then the north. Crete is the most populous island in Greece and has a population of over 600.000 people. The population is divided between rural areas and the larger cities, with Heraklion being the largest city and the capital of Crete.

Crete is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Greece. Overall, more than two million tourists visit Crete every year. Depending on what kind of vacation you are looking for, Crete has a bit of everything. Heraklion and Chania are beautiful cities, but Crete is filled with small cozy cities and the people are very welcoming. If in want of stunning beaches, Elafonisi south of Chrisiskalitisa and Vai Beach is highly recommended. For luxury, stay at Elounda. If in a party mood Malia is the place to be. As for time of year, I would recommend June to avoid peak season. Another good time to visit would be mid-August to join in the Pangia Festival, celebrated with parades, music and feasting across the island.

While here, why not engage in some local cuisineRake is a traditional drink one should try at least once while visiting; another is Grappa, another Greek tradition. Food wise, Greek Kebab is the country’s original fast food; meat served in pita with salad and tzadziki.

Night spots: Most bigger cities have night life, but watch out for English tourists; these people, once they get drunk, have a way of being the least charming individuals you will ever meet.

Being a pearl of the Mediterranean Sea, you would of course want to see as much of the island as possible while visiting. The bus system is quite efficient and cost effective. If just seeing the local places, bikes are a nice way to get around and stay fit in the smaller cities. Taxis are relatively cheap, but for exploring the island a car is the easiest way; remember though if hiring a car make sure to check the small print, often it says that you must only drive on surfaced roads for the insurance to cover, and many routes in Crete, looking fine on the maps, are gravel once reached.

Anne Kølner

Traveling enthusiast and photographer

Enthusiastic traveller and world explorer, willing to observe every single well-populated as well as uninhabited area on the Earth. I believe that only the day Disney stops being fun will be the day I will retire to a quiet boring life, relaxing on the beach.

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