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There are many claims to fame to tempt the would-be visitor to the mountain-shadowed, palm-fringed shores of Greece’s largest island. Crete is the birthplace of the first European civilization; the Minoans, and of Zeus, the most powerful of the Greek gods. History is written on its dramatic landscape, from the remnants of Venetian fortresses to the traditional trades of leather and cheese-making which are still practiced by inhabitants today.

There are thousands of Greek islands, but save yourself the energy and the expense of hopping between them; it’s likely everything you need to see of Greece can be found on Crete.

Cretan cuisine

Cretan food is viewed as an exemplary representation of healthy eating, and on Crete holidays, you dine like a god in this mythical vacation spot and attain the cholesterol levels of an Olympian. Olives, salads, soups, pulses and fresh seafood are the core components of this traditional wonder-diet, and should always be relished from the homely environs of an atmospheric taverna for maximum impact.

Must-visit cities

The lively harbor-side town of Chania has changed hands throughout its history, and often; from Romans to Byzantines, Arabs to Ottomans. The legacy of these cultures can be found echoing around its mosques and Venetian city walls, its old town and older harbor. Crete’s present capital, Heraklion, is an ideal base from which to explore this island’s most fascinating museums, none more so than the Heraklion Archaeological Museum which houses a plethora of Minoan treasures to ponder

Natural treasures

We all know about the sandy white beaches to be expected in Greece, but more iconic still are its mountains. Dikti, a range to the east of the island is a place of legends; offering visitors sweeping vistas, swooping birds of prey, cute tavernas, and the mystical Dikteon Cave, birthplace of Zeus.

Colourful Culture

Its role as Mediterranean melting pot makes Crete a hearty, traditional place with lively music, friendly locals and a laid-back pace in its many villages and small towns. Festivals and feasts are numerous, and usually center on the enjoyment of traditional music and food. Easter celebrations are particularly extravagant, culminating in a day of fireworks and feasting!

A place of marvel, tranquillity and natural beauty: Crete’s brilliance is no myth.

Image by Robert Lindsell, used under the Creative Commons license.