Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. It is a tapestry of splendid beaches, ancient treasures and landscapes, weaving in vibrant cities and dreamy villages, where locals share their traditions, wonderful cuisine and generous spirit. Linking Asia, Africa, and Europe, it has served as cultural crossroads and a place that boasts of 4,000 years of uninterrupted habitation. Its cities have been home to centuries of historic change both in its terrain and its people. A proud exhibitor of archaeological wonders, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous surroundings, visitors to Crete will find themselves encircled by luxury. Inhabited since 6500 BC, Crete's Minoan history is evident in the archaeological remains that tourists still marvel at. The prehistoric Crete's art legacy, dating back to the Bronze Age, remains in museums and galleries throughout the island. Crete's four major cities are all distinct:
In 2019, Crete ranked fourth worldwide in the Top 25 Destinations by Tripadvisor's Travelers Choice Awards, following London, Paris and Rome! Comments describe the island as a real gem with green-blue waters, long sandy or pebbly beaches, rich in archaeological sites, myths and legends that are reflected upon the ancient ruins and cultural attractions. A Tripadvisor’s review urges the readers to visit one of the numerous archaeological sites while on a break from soaking up the sun.
Crete is TUI’s top holiday destination for European travelers this year and Greece is the second country of choice after Spain, according to the holiday bookings made through the largest leisure, travel and tourism company in the world. According to TUI, vacationers from Europe this year rank Greece’ largest island Crete first in their destination list.
Three of the five most popular destinations for Germans are found in Greece: Crete, Rhodes and Kos. Greece is also very popular among Northern Europeans. For Norwegians, Swedes, Danes and Finns, Greece is the number one holiday destination.
Crete is a very big island with a multitude of places and sites worth seeing!
There’s something undeniably artistic in the way the Cretan landscape unfolds, from the sun-drenched beaches in the north to the rugged canyons spilling out at the cove-carved and cliff-lined southern coast. In between, valleys cradle picturesque villages, and gentle hills are the overture to often snow-dabbed mountains. Take it all in on a driving tour, trek through Europe’s longest gorge, hike to the cave where Zeus was born or cycle among orchards on the Lasithi Plateau. Allow time to leave your footprints on a sandy beach, and boat, kayak or snorkel in the crystalline waters.
Crete’s natural beauty is parallel only by the richness of its history. The island is the birthplace of the first advanced society on European soil, the Minoans, who ruled some 4,000 years ago. You’ll find evocative vestiges all over, most famously at the Palace of Knossos. At the crossroads of three continents, Crete has been coveted and occupied by consecutive invaders. History imbues Chania and Rethymno, where labyrinthine lanes are lorded over by mighty fortresses, and where gorgeously restored Renaissance mansions rub rafters with mosques and Turkish bathhouses. The Byzantine influence stands in chapels, churches and monasteries, decorated by magnificent frescoes and icons.
If you’re a foodie, you will be in heaven in Crete. Rural tavernas often produce their own meat, cheese, olive oil, raki and wine, and catch their own seafood. Follow a gourmet trail across the landscape and you’ll delight in distinctive herbs and greens gathered from each hillside, cheeses made fresh with unique village -or household- specific recipes, and honey flavored by mountain herbs. The Cretan diet, mother to the "Mediterranean Diet" is the healthiest in the world. Pair your meal with excellent local wine, and cap it off with a fiery shot of raki.
Untouched by mass tourism, villages are the backbone of Cretan culture and identity – especially those tucked in the hills and mountains. The island's spirited people still champion many of their unique customs, and time-honored traditions remain a dynamic part of daily life.
Look for musicians striking up a free-form jam on local instruments, such as the stringed lyra (lyre), or wedding celebrants weaving their traditional regional dances. Meeting regular folk gathering in kafeneia (coffee houses), preparing their Easter feast, tending to their sheep or celebrating during the island’s many festivals is what makes a visit to Crete so special.