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Crete Island

Crete Holidays Greece - Chania, Heraklion, Rethymnon, Lassithi

Crete General InformationCrete is the largest and the most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Crete was the center of the Minoan Civilization the earliest high culture civilization which built the first palaces in Europe. Crete is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea. The island was the center of Europe’s first advanced civilization and its remarkable history is evident across the island, form the Minoan Palace of Knossos to the Venetian fortresses in Rethymno; from old mosques and Byzantine monasteries to the cave that is the legendary birthplace of Zeys. The venetian port of Chania in western Crete is one of Greece’s most evocative cities and the capital Heraklion is a dynamic city. Wherever you decide to spend your holidays in Crete, one thing is for sure; your Crete holidays will deeply etched in your memory for many many years...

The four major cities of CreteHeraklion is the administrative capital of Crete and the fourth largest city in Greece. Unlike Chania and Rethymnon, it is a modern city, rebuilt after brutal bombing in World War Two. Over time, the city has been the slave-trade capital of the eastern Mediterranean, a Byzantine fortress town, a Venetian haven, and after a period of Turkish Rule, became the capital of Crete in 1971. Many famous people have called the city home over time, including the painter, El Greco.
Many of the artifacts have been sourced from Knossos, only a few kilometers away, showing the sophistication of the Minoan people who lived in the region. Knossos is the main attraction of Heraklion. It was the capital of Minoan Crete; The British Archaeologist, Sir Arthur Evans, excavated the site in 1900 and then sections of the palace were reconstructed over the next 40 years.The site isn’t like many other ruins. Knossos is a labyrinth of rooms and passages, displaying the splendor of the age. The colorful mosaics and frescos give an idea of how advanced the civilization was before earthquakes damaged the site in 1700BC and fire finally destroyed the site in 1450BC. Knossos is a place you will want to spend a day exploring, investigating the fascinating surroundings.

Chania is the capital of Crete’s most western province, the second largest town on the island and arguably the most beautiful city on Crete. Divided into a number of areas, the old part of town is a mix of colorful old Venetian mansions and winding laneways. Labyrinth like and evocative, bright and crumbling, it is a city for adventurers and romantics. Built on the remains of the settlement of Kydonia, Chania has a huge history. Archaeologists have found bits and pieces of Linear B tablets, similar to the Rosetta Stone, that indicate that the city was sophisticated and important with wealthy inhabitants. In World War II the city was home to many allied troops and it was savagely bombed. Thankfully, much of the old town survived, and with cautious, considerate restoration, the city remains true to its Venetian roots. The old town is centered on the Venetian Port, a maze of narrow streets, colorful lanes and restored mansions, some of which have been converted to exclusive hotels, others transformed into restaurants, shops and bars. Chania's most noticeable tourist attraction is the lighthouse that greets visitors as they enter the port. The fortress to the west of the harbor is imposing, standing high over the port. The Splanzia, to the East of the old town is a muddle of narrow laneways and little squares, the perfect place to wander around. The town also has excellent archeological and naval museums, as well as the site of Ancient Kydonia to the east of the city. There is also an excellent covered food market with an amazing array of delicacies for sale. Around the prefecture, there is plenty to keep the independent traveller occupied. For the history lovers, the ancient sites of Polymnia and Falassama to explore. There is also many small towns, both seaside and inland, where one can discover the more traditional parts of Cretan culture. For those interesting in trekking and walking, the Samaria Gorge on the southern coast, now a national park, it is one of the natural wonders of Greece. A full trek around the gorge can take anything up to eight hours, but the cliffs that start in the mountains and trail down to sea level are one of the highlights of any visit to this region.

Rethymnon (or Rethymno) is the third largest city in Crete, and like Chania, takes its name and ambiance from the Venetians, with its narrow, colorful streets, daring balconies and atmospheric waterfront. It also has a beach in the city, something that is not found in the other major Cretan centers. There is a large student population that helps the city keep its vibe in the winter months due to the fact that the area is home of many Greek universities. The modern part of Rethymnon is similar to every other built up tourist town. The most enticing part of the city is the old quarter on the waterfront. The fortress dominates the area, the site of what was once an acropolis. Within the great walls were once a plethora of buildings, but today, only a church and a mosque survive, and there are plenty of ruins to explore. Near the entrance to the fortress is the Archaeological Museum, which has many important artifacts to view. The Neradjes Mosque is also worth visiting, as it was once a Franciscan church. But it is the streets of the old town which beg to be explored, with its winding cobbled lanes and colorful houses.

Lassithi (or Agios Nikolaos) is the fourth prefecture of Crete, located on the easternmost part of the island. The capital of Lassithi is Agios Nikolaos, which is one of the most popular destinations for holidays in Crete. Other major towns are Sitia, Ierapetra, Elounda beach (with high-level tourist infrastructure) and Vai, a famous beach with palm trees. Opposite to Elounda is the islet of Spinalonga with a Venetian castle, and later, leper colony from 1903 till 1957. Lassithi offers a lot of sites worth a visit, such as museums, monasteries, gorges, caves, beaches, etc.

Crete – BeachesNumerous beautiful beaches with soft sand or coloured pebbles are found in the prefecture of Chania as well as plenty of deserted coves and lovely bays. All beaches have crystalline waters and look like paradise. All along the northern and the southern coast of Heraclion, visitors will discover amazing beaches to relax. Around the tourist resorts beaches are organized with plenty of hotels, taverns and watersports centers. However many secluded bays can also be found for total privacy and isolation. Magnificent beaches can be found along the coasts of Lassithi, such as the unique Vai beach with the incredible palm forest, Istro with the picturesque surrounding. Elounda with view to Spinaloga and the exotic beaches on Chrissi islet. The beaches of Rethymnon are known for their calm environment and the clean water. Most popular beaches are located on the northern coasts. The southern beaches are secluded and offer quite beach resorts.

Crete – Weather, ClimateCrete and its 300 days of sunshine enjoys one the healthiest climates in Europe. The Mediterranean climate prevails in the most regions of the island while in winter months there is substantial snowfall in the highest mountainous regions. Rainfall is also substantial. Quite often during summer months a hot wind “Livas” blows. Cretan weather is relatively mild. During the fall and winter months north and northwest winds dominate, while in summer the ill winds make it enjoyable. But the divine gift of the eternal sunshine allows one to start their vacation from March and end it at the end of October. The southern and eastern regions of Crete tend to be warmer and drier than areas in mid western and northern areas of the island.

Crete – Local ProductsCrete Island produces many products of high quality. Particularly famous is the excellent olive oil known for its healthy benefits. Other famous product is the Cretan cheese. The island also produces excellent honey which has a fantastic texture, golden color and an exquisite taste. Not to miss the local wines and the traditional alcohol drink “raki” which is particularly strong.

Why Crete? –Top 5 reasons to visit
  • The biggest island of Greece with plenty of choices for accommodation for every kind of traveler. Big hotel resorts, camping sites and warm weather through the most time of the year.
  • Famous for the unique beaches, the irresistible resorts and water parks, the warm hearted people and the delicious food.
  • Ideal for every occasion like an exciting unforgettable honeymoon trip, quality time with friends and excellent destination for families with children.
  • Plenty choices for any kind of activities such as sports, SPA facilities, historical and leisure excursions.
  • Holidays for every kind of budget.

The Prefectures of Crete

Crete Holidays Greece - Chania Holiday Packages Chania is the capital of Crete’s most western province, the second largest town…
Crete Holidays Greece - Rethymnon Holiday Packages Rethymnon (or Rethymno) is the third largest city in Crete, and like Chania,…
Crete Holidays Greece - Heraklion Holiday Packages Heraklion is the administrative capital of Crete and the fourth largest city in…
Crete Holidays Greece - Lassithi (Agios Nikolaos) Holiday Packages The Prefecture of Lassithi, Crete, or Agios Nikolaos as some call…

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