Crete is ... Unique like you!
"Megalónisos", the "Great Island", is the Greek moniker for Crete and it is so trues, since it is almost a country unto itself.
For the extraordinary Traveler, an extraordinary Journey awaits, Crete is a great deal more than just another greek island. It is true that much of the time especially in the four bigger towns or along the developed north coast, it doesn't feel like an island at all, but a substantial land in its own right
Crete – the southernmost island in Europe has “everything”! Its bountiful variety of features includes mountain villages, long sandy beaches, rocky bays, beach-bar-boogie and nightlife. There are magnificent mountain ranges, water-sports, tranquil locations and clean swimmable seas.
Bathed in clear sunlight much of the year, the climate is one of the best in Europe. The largest island in Greece, it is understandably a most popular travel and vacation destination.
Crete also has a magic radiance – truly! There is the supreme quality of the light here, the sharp rugged mountains meeting openly with clear seas. There is an abundance of wildlife, plants and flowers that are unique to the island. Breath in the ever-present scents of wild herbs, taste fresh fruit, the best of the world’s olive oil and healthy, delicious cheeses.
No other place in Greece can delight the senses of smell and taste like Crete. Fine cheeses, cold cuts, olive oils, herbs, honey, wine, raki ...
Crete is blessed by nature, fertile and wild. Everything grows here, with vegetables, rare greens, herbs, spices and olives as far as the eye can see.
Enjoy the delight of sipping a Greek coffee at the roadside in a mountain village, the excitement and spillover of weddings and occasions, the history, the people and the world-sourced visitors. It is also a historian's and archaeologist's paradise.
Crete has a people noted for and conspicuous in their hospitality and tradition of welcoming visitors. The traditions and culture offered in music, art, food and crafts play a large part in this picture. It combines European ways with the uniquely local.
Because Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, it offers both developed tourist areas with resort hotels and also quiet coves, hidden beaches and invigorating mountain villages and plateaus that reward the discerning world traveller. Wondrous moments, those memorable combinations of time and place that provide you with enriching experiences, are yours - here - if you explore the island.
When to come
The climate is ideal for most folk, most of the year. Traditional tourist visit period is April to mid-October. But the best times to visit Crete are in late spring/early summer and in autumn when the weather is not too hot and the summer hordes of tourists have left. Conditions are just perfect between Easter and mid June, when the weather is pleasantly warm in most places, beaches and ancient sites are relatively uncrowded and is cheaper and easy to find. Spring and autumn are also the best time for trekking and other outdoor activities.
The first "guests" start to arrive in Crete around Easter and the high season is around end June to end August. Gradually more are venturing to Crete between October to March when the weather in Crete is more varied, often sunny, cooler, sometimes cold enough for a thick sweater and jacket - this is when it seems like the island is all yours, just uncrowded and magical.
For a sunshine filled getaway from colder climates April to mid-October is always good. Worldwide, the predictability of weather has become less accurate and recently there have been some cooler than normal days beyond the end of May – but the reverse tends also to be true!
History in a few words
Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization, a sophisticated Bronze Age culture from 2600-1150 B.C.: the island bears witness to their achievements in the form of palaces, tombs and sacred sites. This civilization was so sophisticated that they even had a large navy.
The minoans were affected significantly by tsunami waves from the eruption of a huge volcano in Santorini, Greece in 1450 B.C. Towards the end of the Late Bronze Age, the Minoans were superseded by Mycenaeans from the Greek mainland. Thereafter, Crete very much followed in the classical mainstream of Greece and - much later - Rome.
Crete was invaded by Romans from 69-330 A.C. and this period of time plus the Byzantine era actually brought much wealth to the Island. The beauty and wealth of this time can still be seen today by mosaics and monuments around the island.
Crete was the site of an airborne invasion by German troops, and a spirited resistance by Allied (mainly British, New Zealand and Australian) troops and the people of Crete during the 1941 Nazi invasion of Greece. During this invasion many Cretans were executed for initially resisting the Germans and the cities of Chania and Heraklio were bombed so heavily that you may still see the destruction even today.
Crete history is very much related to famous myths like when the King of Crete, Minos, refused to sacrifice a bull to the Greek gods. Poseidon in turn forced Minos's wife to fall in love with a bull which created the mythical beast, the Minotaur.
Crete is steeped in history and the ruins of the palaces from its unique Minoan civilisation are one of the most enthralling attractions. Apart from the world well known and unmissable Knossos the most significant Minoan sites are the places of Phaestos in the south, Malia in the northeast and Zakros on the southeastern coast.
Other significant Minoan sites include the ruins of a villa at Agia Triada ( near Phaistos ), the best-preserved Minoan town of Gournia and the yet-to-be unearthed palace at Palekastro. Most of the finds of excavations are in the outstanding collection of the Archaelogical Museum of Heraklion. Another important archaeological site from later periods include the large and impressive Roman site at Gortyna( Gortys ).
The towns and more
Heraklion has the major archaeological museum, smart and trendy cafes and shops and a noisy business bustle – it also offers many hidden treasures, which we happily reveal.
Chania has much of the Venetian part of its history intact. Luxury in Venetian Villas converted to hotels, the ever impressive Venetian Harbour, narrow shop and restaurant-lined pedestrian streets, small hotels contained in buildings that once were home to expatriate merchants and a wide range of places to stay.
Rethymno has the old section - the castle and a long sandy beach, cafes and restaurants with local and visiting customers.
Sitia is quieter, though still providing much of interest in its Fortezza, beach, unique cafes and many hotels. Many similar benefits are on offer in Plakias and Ierapetra.
Many smaller places, provide a sense that tourism has not got here yet – but you have! Amongst these Agios Nikolaos, Kato Zakros, Ierapetra, Xerokambos, Mochlos Village, Chora Sfakia, Rogdia, Monastiraki, Keratokambos, Makrigialos, Anogia, Zaros, Axos all offer something of Crete that is truly special and a treat for any human in need of the healing power of charm and character in unique climes.
There is more. There are hundreds of villages and other small towns. There are truly individual and unique places – any mood, any pace, any style or setting exists here. There are walks, climbs, drives and rides that take you across stunning plateaux, dramatic mountain and seascapes. There is more - the part that you can discover, that special place "The Crete You Are Looking For".
We tell you about special places, trips you can take, places you can stay or visit that provide the magic and those “Moments” that make a holiday or travel in general, so worthwhile and memorable.
At CreteTravel.com we are that knowledgeable friend, who can show you the things in Crete of special interest to you. Welcome to Crete, have a wonderful visit.
How to get there
By Air : From May through mid-October there are direct charter flights to Chania (17km f and, more frequently, to the capital Heraklion(145km). Tickets can be bought in advance for almost all flights via our partner website.
By Sea : The journey is the thing". A superb way of enjoying the journey to Crete is to fly to Athens and take the ferry from Piraeus (Pireas) - the port serving Athens. A still-romantic way to travel by the overnight ferry from Piraeus to Chania-Souda Port or Heraklion Port. Tickets can be bought in advance for all ferries via our website.
By Car : If you want to explore Crete and her beauties, we recommend that you rent a car, other means of transport are limited and/or infrequent. We suggest our Partner, which offers competitive prices and you can collect your car at either airport.
By Taxi : Book your taxi transfer online easily and safely from the airport or port to any location via our website.
Where to stay
If you would like to enjoy the best places to stay in Crete - follow the route taken by discerning travellers... our guests.
The best travel service in the world makes sure you enjoy staying in the best places in Crete - don't take our word for it.
Be somewhere cool, hot, exciting, beautiful, memorable...don't settle for less...
Hand-picked, myth-making small hotels, luxury villas, quaint houses and tip-toe-to-the beach studios... humble hamlets to sublime luxury, caviar or spice.
From the expert team at CreteTravel.com (our sister website), our most valuable service for you:
We will help you find your own ideal place to stay and dream, you will stay in the place that memories are made of:
Why you will be delighted:
See more true photographs (accurate, up-to-date, fast-loading) what-you-see-is-what-you-get
Candid, truthful descriptions tell you all you could wish to know about a hotel and the area it is in (and you can, please, always ask us for any additional information, details, ideas or suggestions)
Personal service - you can speak to us, you can ask us to call you anywhere in the world to discuss just what you want - making choosing the Crete You are Looking for SM, a pleasure to plan, and a delight to enjoy!
Isn't this what you wish for? Let's start planning your trip to Crete now.
Crete in winter ........ a beginning
"Out of season" and "off-season" the right time to enjoy Crete's more peaceful nature. A good time to pursue interests, studies, hobbies and hikes. By winter, we mean November until late March.
Tip: Browse the full, up to date list of hotels we offer that operate in the winter here.
Winter months offer the chance to explore the uncrowded vision of Crete. In some years there is significant snowfall in the mountains (the highest peaks always receive some winter snowfall). The winter of 2004 saw record-breaking snowfall during the month of February.
Vistas open up in the winter and you can meet local people, experience hospitality that is offered so genuinely when you pause on your journey around the island. Don't expect to bask in sunshine every day, but on those lucky sunny days you get a bonus of bright island light.
Crete is an island of drama, something the weather often reflects. Come prepared for driving winds and rain, then enjoy the bright spells. (If you are concerned about the weather, have a look at our weather page).
Rent a car - visit villages, museums, shops - walk/hike, play tennis - see the natural beauty of Crete, the snow-capped mountains, uncrowded roads and be here when travel seems as civilized as it did decades ago!
Note: some hotels use air-conditioning for heating, whereas some have proper central heating. Hotels or villas with pools may have their pools emptied or unheated (unless we write otherwise). Ask if you need more information about winter facilities.
A visitor's comment about Crete
Before I thought that Aegean is the heart of the world, now I am sure Crete is the core of this heart. Everyone should visit this holy land like a pilgrim! I have my roots from Chania originally. So this was not only a holiday to me (September 2001) it was much more emotional. I was mostly based in Heraklion at Gondhi Maria Hotel, and the owners - a retired couple - have become my "mama kai babas" I felt myself one of the people who live there!
They wrote "mandinades " to me!! I cooked for them!! I am honored to be accepted one of the family members!! Chania!! Limani!!! I sat on a bench, and breathed, the air was different, so different to relax my muscles... The limani (ed. harbour) was there to please my eyes... I wanted to lose my self between those wonderful Greek houses and cobbled streets... Smiling to everyone...
Crete is a place that as soon as I step on it my body shook feeling thousands of years history. From every door, many doors would open to the ones who are able to see the amazements...
The mountains... I felt that behind the trees a God or a Goddess would come... Olive groves... wonderful olive trees... Crete, my fertile land... My heart , my soul, I left there... Every night I smile and wish always good, always good things for Crete...
Many thanks dear Ozlem