The largest island in Greece – Crete – is a unique paradise with amazing beaches, rich history and ancient Greek myths. The island is a cultural and tourist centre of the country. It is administratively divided into four regional units – Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Lasithi with its administrative centre Agios Nikolaos. The island's capital is the city of Heraklion, which is also an important seaport.
Natural contrasts of Crete attract many tourists to the island. It is covered with mountain ranges, among which amazing natural places – canyons, gorges and caves – are hidden. Located in the regional unit of Chania, the Samaria Gorge, the longest one in Europe, is of particular interest. Rethymno is home to Sfentoni Cave, a unique natural site. In this regional unit, there is another natural wonder – Kourtaliotiko Gorge with its virgin nature worth to be seeing. In Lasithi, you can visit Psychro Cave located in Mount Dikti. According to the Greek mythology, the cave is a birthplace of Zeus, a God of the Sky.
The nature of Crete is very diverse: mountains, green forests and picturesque valleys. A huge diversity of flora and fauna is typical for the island. On the coast, endless beaches and bays are seeing. In regards to the beach-related rest, Elafonisi, an island in the south-western part of Crete, should be mentioned. Quiet and pure water, shallow depth and pink sand make this area extremely popular. Among favourites, both the beach of Vai with its unique palm forest, and Mirabello Bay in Lasithi, the most scenic bay in Greece, should be mentioned.
Besides beaches and many opportunities for outdoor activities, Crete is famous for its ancient cultural heritage. Numerous archaeological sites can be noted by you on its territory. It is believed, the Minoan culture, an ancient European civilisation, flourished in the area long ago. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum, the largest on the island and in Greece, presents unique artefacts of the Minoan civilisation. Among tourists, the archaeological site of Knossos, where the ruins of a Minoan palace were found, is also very popular. Crete can also impress with its Byzantine churches and Venetian palaces, numerous monasteries, the most famous of which is Moni Preveli.
It is quite hard to describe all the advantages of a vacation in Crete with its beauty and extraordinary atmosphere – a picture is worth a thousand words. The island annually welcomes up to 2.5 million people. Locals are very hospitable, they treat tourists with folk dances, music, myths and traditions. The Cretan cuisine, a very tasty and healthy one, is a paradise for gourmets. Local cheese, as well as boiled snails, a traditional dish, is a must. Tsikoudia (aka raki), an alcoholic beverage, a grape-based pomace of brandy, should be sampled by you as well. Locals produce and sell olive oil, ceramic products, as well as wool and wood products. Therefore, you can bring a lot of interesting and practical souvenirs from your vacation.
The easiest way to the island is by air. There are two major airports in Crete: in Heraklion – Nikos Kazantzakis Airport and in Chania – Daskalogiannis Airport. The island can also be reached by ferry – from the port of Piraeus. Ferry is also available between Crete and other islands.