Incomparable Crete


Oct 07, 2014 by Smart Blog

It has been said that there is a Greek island to suit every holidaymaker, and that is probably true; however, when it comes to all-round versatility and a bit of something for everyone, it is very difficult to beat Crete. For lovers of beach, night and restaurant life, flora, fauna and history, Greece's biggest and most populous island is a 'must see' destination.



Like much of Greece, in Crete the holiday season begins around mid May, but in the south of the island the weather stays good until late October, meaning that there is plenty of opportunity to visit outside the peak months of July and August. Indeed, many repeat visitors actively avoid those months, knowing that the weather is likely to be extremely hot (and sometimes extremely windy) and the beaches crowded.



Crete occupied a central place in European civilisation, specifically as the centre of Minoan civilisation (2700 - 1420 BC), which was probably the earliest civilisation in Europe. As a result, Crete is a history-lover's paradise, blessed with a wealth of historic sites and artefacts from the prehistoric, Minoan, Mycenaean, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian eras. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Minoan site at Knossos, but there are churches, chapels, paintings, architecture and other relics from various eras, all over the island. The Archaeological Museum at Heraklion is fascinating.


Flora & Fauna

Its plants and animals also distinguish Crete, and the seas around the island are home to dolphins, whales, porpoises and sea turtles. There are more than 200 species of wild orchid on Crete, and a vast range of animal species including the very rare Cretan ibex.



The Cretan landscape is both stunning and varied. The island has three main mountain ranges, and several gorges - a day trip to the Samaria Gorge is highly recommended, it is both a national park and world biosphere reserve, and offers unparalleled scenery.

Those who prefer a more laid-back holiday are spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches - in the north, the beaches tend to be sandy and extensive, whereas elsewhere they are more secluded.


Things to do

Crete has three waterparks, which are great for families, and many bars, restaurants and dance clubs, particularly in key centres such as Heraklion, Rethymno and Hania. The local tipple is raki, a form of grappa or 'firewater', which should be consumed with caution!


Getting around

Crete has an extensive road network so it is possible to reach all parts by car, although the driving habits of the locals can be a little hair-raising in comparison with the UK. Many of the bigger tour operators run day trips by bus or coach. There are no railways on the island, but ferry services to neighbouring islands, such as Santorini, are available.


Local tips

In Crete, siesta time is 3-5pm. The dress code is generally casual, but for men shorts are seen as beachwear and may be seen as 'infra dig' elsewhere. In chapels and churches, the usual rules of modesty should be observed.