We owe a lot to Crete. It gave us the ancient myths of Zeus and Minos, artists and painters such as El Greco and, well, Nana Mouskouri. Today, it remains a sun-drenched, inviting island where ancient tradition meets welcoming, warm hospitality. Come rest in the cradle of civilisation, and don’t forget the retsina!
Where to go
When in Crete, live the good life! Eat good food, drink the local wine and lounge on the shining, white beaches. Inland, explore the ruins left by the enigmatic Minoans – the palace at Knossos is a highlight. Follow the history of the island by touring the Venetian castles and fortified monasteries left behind by waves of migrants. Hike the jaw-dropping Samarian Gorge, In the towns and villages that dot the island, enjoy boutique shopping, or go looking for traditional arts and crafts in street markets and tiny, hidden shops. Crete really is a terrific all-rounder.
Food & Drink
Think beyond gyro and souvlaki. Greek cuisine makes liberal use of fresh vegetables and herbs, combined with meat on the grill to provide tasty, tangy dishes. The best local cooking can be found at To Pigadi (Xanthoudídou 31) - authentic Cretan dishes in a charming courtyard. Otherwise, Bakaliko (Arhánes) is a wonderful local eatery that doubles as a cooking school, so you can take some dishes home with you.
As a holiday island, you’d expect nightlife to be a constant in Cretan life, and you’d be right. Bars and clubs stay open well into the night and celebrating in public spaces is common. Try Faggot (Anglo 16) for cool drinks and jazz in a charming, rustic Venetian building. Otherwise, Skholarheio in Rethymno (Radamánthyos 29) is a terrific place to hear live Cretan music and party like the locals do well into the early hours of the morning.
Where to stay
We have a few marvellous boutique hotels on Crete. Paradise Island Villas
, near Heraklion
features chic, spacious villas, two large swimming pools and the Ambrosia restaurant, serving fresh island cuisine. Elounda Gulf Villas
, by the Gulf of Mirobello
is a small, intimate luxury hotel that has its own private beach club, spa and kid’s club – the best of both worlds! For those looking for a self-catering option, SK Place Crete
is a collection of luxury villas near Almyrida, each with a cool, clear swimming pool. For the adventurous, watersports such as jet skiing and parasailing can be arranged. How to get there
Aegean and Swiss Air flies to Heraklion from London daily, with one stop. Alternately, you can fly to Athens and catch a ferry from Piraeus.