Best time to visit: May, June, July, August, September
Average high: 21˚C
Average low: 14˚C
Price of meals: 3/5
Holiday type: Adventure / Beach / Culture / Family / Party / Romantic
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and while it promises sun, sea and sand for its visitors, there is so much more to experience, from natural wonders and stunning landscapes to its unique culture
Beach-loving holidaymakers have no shortage of stretches of white sand and azure and turquoise ocean. However, while the reliable spring and summer sunshine can make it tempting to stay in one
of the all-inclusive hotels, the best way to see the island is to rent a car. Most of the island’s mainstays are along the coast anyway; originally built so the inhabitants could keep watch for invaders, these homes and hotels still boast spectacular Mediterranean views…only now without the risk of pirates coming ashore.
Yet, as tempting as it may be to stick to the coast, there are plenty of reasons to venture inland. For instance, Samaria National Park is home to Europe’s longest gorge, while a hike up Mount Ida will
reward you with breath-taking vistas of the island’s many olive groves, vineyards and lemon orchards across its mountainous terrain.
Crete is also a magnet for culture lovers, who flock to visit the ancient Minoan ruins that are scattered throughout, such as the impressive Palace of Knossos, as well as the exquisite Venetian architecture of Chania, the quaint Rethymno and the must-see fortress of Spinalonga Island.
Life is relaxed, and music is everywhere; it is hard to go for long without hearing the traditional Cretan Lyra being played. Couples can delight in the warm evenings and delicious dishes while partygoers have their choice of music venues and festivals. Meanwhile, families and adventure seekers have no limit to how they can explore Crete, be it riding horses along the beach, taking a jeep safari or discovering the caves beneath the island.
The western side of the island receives the most rainfall, although that still only amounts to approximately 60 days per year. As such, this is also the side most forested and where the island’s many vineyards can be found and, in many cases, toured. Most of Crete lies within the Mediterranean climate zone so shares the typical heat cycle through spring, summer, autumn and winter. However, the south of the island has a North African climate, so receives notably more sunshine and warmth throughout the whole of the year.
Meal prices are similar to those on mainland Greece. A three-course meal for two costs €30 on average, though a meal for one will still cost about €10. Beer averages €5 for a half-litre bottle and a cappuccino will cost about €3. Water is available cheaply at no more than 50c. Cretan cuisine is typically Mediterranean and healthy, with dishes varying depending on which fruits, legumes and herbs are in season.
Winter need not be that gloomy time of year with dark days and wet nights. Swap the fireplace for blue skies and sunshine and the gloves and scarf for shorts and sunscreen by booking a winter getaway ...
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