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The Crete Experience

Situated between the three continents of Europe, Africa and Asia, is the largest of the Greek islands with a population of just over half a million people.

Crete boasts a wide variety of landscapes, ranging from the majestic Lefka Ori white mountains covered in snow until spring, to the golden unspoilt sand beaches considered some of the cleanest in Greece and crystal clear sea. The island is known to many as small Greece for good reason, simply put because this is the island that has it all!

Why Crete?

Crete offers:

  • A unique geographic position that offers the sunniest climate with more than 300 days of sunshine per year and the least rainy days.
  • The most beaches in Europe which have been awarded the Blue Flag for their cleanliness and water quality by the European Community.
  • Whitewashed villages with narrow winding streets
  • Traditional cafes with fine cuisine
  • Hospitable people adjusted to but not changed by tourism
  • A rich history made up of the Minoan, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Era
  • It has the lowest crime rates in Europe and a low cost of living which makes Crete an ideal home for many

The climate

The climate in Crete is primarily temperate since it is split between two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and North Africa. Since it mostly falls within the North African climate, the average summer temperatures are normally somewhere between 20-30 degrees celsius, with the maximum temperature being somewhere between the upper 30's to mid 40's.

Because the south coast (including the Messara plain and Asterousia mountains) falls into the North African climate zone, it has significantly more sunny days and high temperatures throughout the year. As a result of this, it is in southern Crete where the date palms bear more fruit and swallows stay year-long, instead of migrating to Africa.

Attractions in Crete

  • The ruins of the ancient Minoan civilization in Knossos, Phaistos and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
  • The big variety of landscapes in a short distance: the wilderness and solitude of the Cretan mountains some hundred metres away from the coast.
  • The eccentric culture of Crete in the traditional cafes (kafeneia).
  • The gorge of Samaria
  • The southern coast of Rethimnon prefecture. There are some beautiful beaches, many accessible only on foot. The monastery at Prevelli is of particular historical interest as the site from where Abbot Agathagelos Lagouvardos sheltered and assisted the evacuation of Allied troops during WWII.
  • Visit the Archaeological Site of Knossos - and its famous palace, major city of the Minoan civilization 4,000 years ago, with a professional tourist guide.
  • Listen to traditional Cretan music: Lýra is the dominant folk instrument on the island; it is a three-stringed fiddle, direct descendant of the ancient Lyre, which is held vertically, resting on the thighs of the player and is played with a bow like a violin. It is often accompanied by the Cretian lute (laouto), which is similar to both an oud and a mandolin. The film Zorba the Greek helped to expand the audience for Cretan folk music; popularity peaked from about the middle of the 1970s to the middle of the 1980s.
  • Complete the walk down the Samaria Gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea, at which point tourists sail to the nearby village of Hora Sfakion and catch a coach back to Hania. The walk takes between four and seven hours and can be strenuous, especially in high summer.
  • Avoid overcrowded and touristic places as they are ugly and don't offer any of the qualities of Crete. In general, the North coast is much more busy and touristic than the South coast.
  • Go walking in the mountains.

Main Attractions

Chora Sfakion
An interesting village built on the side of a rocky mountain.
Gavdos
Gavdos is a tiny island with fantastic beaches reachable by boat from Chora Sfakion.
The lake of Kournas
This is Crete's largest lake and is surrounded by beautiful mountains.
The Samaria Gorge
This stunning gorge is the largest in Europe and hiking is permitted during the summer.
The Therissos Gorge
Another large gorge that can be driven through.

Cities

The main cities of Crete are:

  • Heraklion
  • Chania
  • Rethymno
  • Ierapetra
  • Agios Nikolaos
  • Sitia
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