Aquamarine to deep blue seas dotted by lush green palm trees and a culture worth boasting, Crete is one gem that is no secret to travelers across the country. Situated in the Mediterranean as the biggest and one of the administrative regions of Greece, the island is tourism's little slice of heaven. The island is a patchwork of natural wonders: splendid beaches weaving and wrapping around the island coasts, ancient treasures, caves, and a vista like no other. Its capital and largest city, Heraklion, sometimes called Iraklio or Candia, is a one of a kind dynamic city, nurturing locals with its beauty while luring some 15% of the total tourists visiting Greece. A mix of influences and a remarkable history etched in its lands are evident across its parts; Venetian fortresses intermingling with old mosques and Byzantine monasteries, along with hints of the once strong Minoan civilization.
Crete is also heavily influenced by its art forms, especially poetry and music, retaining its local flavor and charm. The island is also known for its wonderful cuisine – food prepared and made with fresh produce renowned for its life-prolonging qualities. Get to know the country by visiting points of interest or simply taking in its unique character through observation and immersion.
Going around and seeing the sites and sights in Crete would require tourists to stay some full two weeks since there are many places and activities to see and do, while an in-depth vacation and exploration will take (and this is based on other travelers' experience) a month or even more. Starting off with historical venues, the island itself has been mentioned in many historical events and past happenings that it has been famed because of it. Crete was believed to be the birthplace of the titan Zeus, God of all Gods in the Greek Mythology. The site of his 'birth' was one of the many caves just outside the city of Iraklio and trekkers frequent the area and hear the stories about the gods. It is also the place where St. Paul taught and preached after he was supposedly washed up on the island after a hurricane. Moreover, Crete's Spinalonga Island was built as a Venetian fortress, before serving as the last Turkish outpost of the Ottoman empire on the island. Aside from the caves, other historical and mythological artifacts can be seen in exhibitions found in the museums of Chania, Rethymnon, and Heraklion, in the monasteries scattered in the cities and in the neighboring islands. Meanwhile the ruins of ancient Minoan civilization, as well as that of Phaistos, Gortys, and the Palace of Malia can also be found in the Palace of Knossos in Knossos and in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
After checking on the historical etches of the island, a tourist is advised to delve on the culture and the sights in Crete. Experience the Crete kafeneion, or a cafe – an age-old institution in Crete where village life is centered. Tavernas should also be tried out, where tourists can grab the “Cretan diet” for lunch or even dinner. Festivals of music and street parties filled with love for art can also be experienced here, as Cretans had some stronghold in their music and poetry. The Lyra, or a small, pear-shaped, three-string bow harp, is known to be the symbol of music for the Greeks, as well as for Cretans. And finally to further highlight the trip, a visit to a beach in the wonderful island of Crete will prove to be quite an experience. Beaches are everywhere here – from the palm-tree covered east coasts to the rarely visited west coasts, there is just so much beauty in the waters of Crete that makes every visitor think of prolonging their stay.
How to get around within Crete
Car rentals and driving around Crete is very much allowed as long as travelers bring their driver's license, although driving should be taken with precaution as Cretans have yet to adjust to two-way lanes since the roads in Heraklion have been paved and improved. Buses here are also reliable, and if lucky, the drivers serve as tour guides – straying from the marked routes to enter little villages if asked. Fares are also relatively cheap, and trips are frequent enough until the night. Ferries are a thing here too, as the island is filled with many harbors. Meanwhile, taxi services are available in Crete. Albeit its steep costs, it is also a good way to travel since drivers may be directed to go to some destinations not familiar with tourists and locals.
How to get there
To get to the lovely island of Crete and to its key cities, tourists are advised to fly down to the Athens International Airport then to the Nikos Kazantzakis in Heraklion through airlines such as Olympic Air, Aegean Airlines, and Athens Airways, taking a maximum of 45 minutes. Chartered flights from other European airports going to Heraklion and Chania are also available from the months of April until mid-November. Cheap flights can be booked using Skyscanner. Skyscanner is a reliable resource of the cheapest flights from 600 airlines.
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Airports near Crete
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