Whatever you're looking for in your holiday, as Greece's fifth biggest island, Crete has it. From golden beaches and crystal clear waters to rugged canyons. It's rich in archaeological sites such as Knossos, home of the Minoan civilisation, and the north of Crete offers a vibrant nightlife too. Trek through Europe's longest gorge, to the cave where legend has it Zeus was born. Enjoy water sports such as water-skiing, windsurfing and, snorkelling, or relax with a glass of ouzo at a harbour side taverna.
Arts and culture
The richness of Cretan culture is reflected in the number of museums. Highlights include the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, one of the largest and most important in Greece, famed for its Minoan artefacts. Or find out more about the struggle for mastery of the island in the Second World War at The Battle for Crete Museum. The Centre for Byzantine Art is also worth seeking out.
Crete hosts a number of festivals throughout the year including a Classical Music Festival, in June, and the Houdetsi Festival, in August, which brings four days of Cretan music, bazaars and feasts. Alternatively, release the inner hippie at the Matala Beach Festival in June, and enjoy a dance on the beach.
Things to see and do
Trekking is a popular activity, so grab your boots and head for the hills. One classic gorge walk starts just below Zakros village and involves a two-mile trek through a canyon to arrive at Zakros Palace, just 200 yards from the beach. Or, for something a bit more testing, trekking through Samaria Gorge to Zeus's cave offers an unforgettable experience. Take to the water and learn to scuba dive with one of the many organisations to be found on the island. You can also hire bikes in Hania, for example, and join a half- or full-day tour of the region.
Any itinerary of Crete is also likely to include a visit to at least some of the many archaeological sites. The pick of the crop are Knossos and Phaistos. Alternatively, jump in a car and tour the Heraklion area, which is studded with picturesque villages, historic sites and olive groves nestling in vast valleys.
Eating and drinking
Think of a Greek holiday and inevitably you think of idling away a lunchtime at a typical Greek taverna. Among the best is O Kipos Tis Arkoudenas whose wood-fired dishes are even more of a mouthful. For traditional dishes and sea views you can't go wrong with El Greco in Lentas.
For an alternative to Greek food, try Calypso, a waterfront French-style restaurant in Elounda. The executive chef also has a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris.
If you're just after a drink, sample Escobar on the waterfront in Rethymno which offers a wide range of bottled beers, or arty café-bar Ta Duo Lux in Hanna.
The waterside Big Fish in Heraklion is one of the island's liveliest clubs. For something a little different, visit Fagotto in Hania, a jazz and blues bar housed in a restored Venetian building. Also worth checking out is Rethymno.
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