Crete (South Aegean)


Crete is the largest, most populous and southernmost island of Greece, marking the boundary between Europe and Africa. An all year round destination with majestic mountains, gorges and valleys covered with palm and cedar forests, olive trees, orange groves and vineyards. The old stone farmhouses, monasteries and villages perched on mountain ridges, the castles and chapels forgotten on steep slopes, have all lured travelers since time immemorial. Its shores, lined with forbidding rocks, are often inaccessible but there are also several inviting sandy or pebble beaches.

Crete is well-known for its hospitality, warmth and joviality, its unique lifestyle and exceptional local delicacies. The capital and largest city is Heraklion, with Chania, Rethymno, Agios Nikolaos and Sitia, all located in the north side of the island while Ierapetra is found on the south side.

Once the center of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC), Crete is regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. There is a number of archaeological sites which include the Minoan sites of Knossos and Phaistos, the classical site of Gortys. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum houses most finds of the Minoan era. Visitors can enjoy private tours through the straits of the old town of Chania and its Venetian fortifications, the scenic countryside and the unspoiled villages. Today, the island's tourism infrastructure includes a wide range of accommodation options; luxury hotels with their complete facilities, swimming pools and recreation, smaller family-owned apartments, camping facilities and others.

If someone wants to experience among other things the Greek summer, sun and sea, the best months to travel to Crete are from May to October, with June, July, August and September being ideal for swimming in the island’s beautiful beaches. During July and August the island is the most crowded and has the hottest weather. For those who would like to focus on the cultural and local life of the island but are prepared to risk some rainy, windy days and an colder weather with fewer tourists, November to April is a great period, with December to February being the coldest months.

Visitors can reach the island via two international airports in Heraklion and Chania and a smaller airport in Sitia in only 55 minutes or by boat to the main ports of Heraklion, Chania, Rethimno, Agios Nikolaos and Sitia (9 hours). Crete can be combined with an island hopping itinerary, including Santorini and Rhodes and of course Athens.

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crete aegean Islands