A very popular tourist destination, Crete invites the traveler to explore the Minoan sites of Knossos and Phaistos, the Venetian castle at Rethymno, the Greek food and music, the beaches or enjoy the scenery during a relaxing hike.
The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. Located in the South of the Aegean Sea, Crete is the link between Europe, Asia and Africa.
Crete borders the Sea of Crete to the North, the Myrtoon Sea to the South and the Karpathion Sea to the East.
How to Get to Crete
Between April and October, charter flights from most European capitals arrive in Crete, mostly on Heraklion airport. If you want the flexibility of scheduled flights, the only option is to take a plane to Athens and then take a domestic flight to Heraklion or Chania. The domestic flights are quite frequent (about 6 a days).
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You can also take a ferry from the port of Piraeus (Athens) to Heraklion or Chania. There is regular ferryboat service and the ships depart each evening around 8-8:30 PM, depending on the season. During winter the sea is stormy and the ferries might get delayed for days until the storm passes.
Ferryboats also connect Italy –from Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, Venice and Trieste – with mainland Greece. It’s advisable to book in advance.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Crete is influenced by two climatic zones: the Mediterranean and North African, although the climate is primarily temperate.
From January to March, you will find real winter weather, cold and rainy. It can be a bit depressing, but yet pretty romantic. It’s the time to visit Crete if you want to explore the archeological, museums and churches, while March and April are perfect if you want to spend Easter in Crete.
July and August represent the high of the season and the weather is very hot! Prices are higher than usual, the island is crowded and you need to book in advance.
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The Palace of Knossos
Home of the legendary Minotaur, The Palace of Knossos is s connected with the name of the mythological king Minos. The ancient atmosphere still leads travelers astray in the labyrinth palace. According to mythology, each year Athens were paying tribute to the Minotaur by sending seven young girls and boys to be eaten by the monster. The palace contains 1300 rooms of which 800 are opened now. It’s advisable to visit the place with a guide because it’s very easy to get lost even if you have a map of Knossos.
Getting to Knossos is simple: take the Number 2 bus from the main station at the port. The entrance costs 7.5 Euros
The beaches are the best place to relax and enjoy the summer weather. If you like trendy crowds you might want to check out the beaches of Vai or Elunda, while if you are looking for great nightlife and youthful spirit, Hersonnisos is the place to spend time. Locals consider the beach of Preveli the best in the world.
Other things to do
The Venetian Fortezza is a beautiful 16th century fortress, combining European Medieval and Moorish architecture. The site offers incredible panoramic views of the city and the ocean.
Gortyn -the city of ruins- is a spectacular place located south of Heraklion. You can visit the ancient temples, including a Temple of the Egyptian Gods and a Byzantine church.
Crete is a great destination for those interested in ecotourism or agrotourism. You can stay in farms and learn how to cook the traditional food.
If you plan to spend a romantic vacation in Greece, Crete is considered one of the most romantic islands and many couples flock here for some quality time together.
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