The Scoop: Crete
Crete is a land of myth, magic and nature at its most inspiring. Sun-drenched beaches and dramatic canyons compete for attention with a rich cultural heritage including, no less, Psychro cave where Zeus was born, according to Greek mythology.
The largest and most populated of the Greek Islands, Crete lays claim to its own poetry and music and enjoys a Mediterranean climate of long, hot summers (with temperatures peaking at 27℃ in August) and cool winters (with temperatures reaching lows of 14℃ in January). In between feasting on farm-fresh produce and visiting lush valleys, you can trek Europe’s longest gorge, chat with the spirited locals in cosy tavernas and visit the ruins of Europe’s first advanced society, the Minoans.
What to do
For shopping, nightlife and a visit to the Minoan Palace of Knossos, head to the bustling town of Iraklio. Hang out with the celebrity ‘jet-set’ in the charming village of Elounda or party until the wee hours on the beach in Malia.
To soak in the scenery, take a drive through olive groves, vineyards and orchards among the towering mountains of the countryside, stopping for ocean panoramas and exploration of dramatic gorges.
History buffs will love the St George of Selinari Monastery, the Venetian Fortress and the Historical Museum of Crete. When relaxation is high on the agenda, take a boat trip to Spinalonga Island and swim in the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mirabello.
Where to stay
Unique villas by the sand, full-scale resorts catering to families, budget accommodation and inner-city hotels are waiting for you with everything you need for a spectacular Greek island experience.
Bella Beach Hotel (£££)
Located on Anissaras Beach near the town of Hersonissos, the 5-star Bella Beach Hotel boasts 2 swimming pools, 2 restaurants and wellness centre facilities, all resting among exquisitely landscaped grounds. Enjoy tennis courts, basketball courts and mini-gulf before sipping on an exotic cocktail at the beach bar.
Lato Boutique Hotel (££)
Offering views to the Venetian Fortress in Iraklion, opposite the old city harbour, the Lato Boutique Hotel is a popular accommodation choice for tourists for its fantastic location. With 2 restaurants and options of family and executive suites, the hotel blends technology with relaxation to meet all your needs.
Vranas Studios (£)
With a cheap and cheerful breakfast on offer and fully equipped rooms, Vranas Studios gives you a prime location that’s easy on the budget. In the centre of the old town of Chania, you can walk to the Venetian harbour and Neo Chora, the new town with a beautiful beach, restaurants and cafes.
Where to eat
The traditional Cretan diet has been touted as one of the healthiest in the world, as it’s high in olive oil, vegetables, legumes and grains. Try coffee in a Kafeneion, seafood in a remote fishing village or organic produce from vibrant tavernas with their own chooks and herb gardens out the back.
Mama’s Dinner (£££)
With soaring views to the ocean and a mouth-watering menu of traditional Cretan food, Mama’s Dinner, in the traditional village of Kaliviani, is a favourite among tourists and locals alike. Menu specialities include Cretan Gruyere ‘Saganaki’, Pork fillets stuffed with gruyere and sundried tomatoes and Baklava for desert with an extensive wine list to accompany your meal.
Thalassino Ageri (££)
Thalassino Ageri is located on the beachfront in the old quarter of Halepa, with an atmospheric backdrop of ruined monuments and dilapidated buildings from a long-gone industrial era. Notable items on the menu of succulent fresh seafood are lobster with pasta, sea urchin salad and octopus in wine vinegar.
Agora Market (£)
The famous Agora Market in Chania is the perfect snack stop to gather supplies for all your self-catering needs, from cheese, fish, meat and produce to traditional olive oils, souvenirs and clothes. The market also houses tiny restaurants serving traditional fare for a lunchtime feast.
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