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The Cretans welcome you with open arms, introducing you to a life where food is home-grown, much of the flora is native and days are always relaxed. The locals have much to be proud of – Crete is one of the most gorgeous and enticing European destinations we’ve had the pleasure of visiting.
A Greek island with its own enticements
As a Greek Island, it’ll come as no surprise that Crete is blessed with a sensational coastline. Rugged cliffs are met by the azure Mediterranean Sea, with many charming villages adorning the shoreline and stretching out to colourful fishing harbours. Beyond the enviable beaches are acres of lush olive groves – the Cretans like to call their olive oil ‘liquid gold’ – and stunning gorges that create epic hiking experiences.
What we love most about Crete is the people. They tend to quietly get on with their day, but they love to introduce visitors to their restful way of life, sharing their own traditions, cooking incredible meals and taking the time to chat. Alongside meeting friendly Cretans in family-owned restaurants and bars, on your holiday to Crete you can expect to soak up the sun, eat your fair share of creamy feta, hike through canyons and wander through charismatic seaside villages.
Why visit Crete?
· The cuisine in Crete celebrates the beauty of growing and dining locally, with lots of charming rural taverns creating a menu of their own meat, olive oil, cheese and wine – they even catch their own seafood each day. Each dish is lovingly flavoured with herbs and vegetables gathered from the landscape. The best way to try it all is with meze, the Greek version of tapas, where you can try delicacies including saganaki (deep fried cheese), keftedes (lamb meatballs) and stuffed vine leaves, all offered alongside Crete’s liquid gold – olive oil. Top it off with a punchy shot of raki – many local families brew their own.
· The wildlife and landscape here are lush and beautiful – and some are even unique to the island. Look out for Cretan ebony – a small shrub with tall dusty pink flowers, origanum dictamnus – an aromatic plant that’s commonly used in herbal medications and Cretan plane trees – large trees that offer shade in many of Crete’s villages. You may even spot a Cretan shrew, or if you’re very lucky, a Cretan wildcat – thought that is very rare.
· Crete is a great destination for hiking, trekking and biking. Peel yourself away from your sun lounger and stretch your legs at the Samaria Gorge, one of the World’s Biosphere Reserves and a popular hiking spot that takes you through the jaw-dropping gorge right next to a river – there are many guided walks here.
· The culture and history of Crete plays a big part of Greece’s heritage, but it retains its own cultural traits too – making it a unique island indeed. The locals are very proud of their heritage – they usually title themselves as Cretans rather than Greeks – and they have their own poems and songs that you may hear while you’re on the island. Great cultural attractions include the Palace of Knossos – an important archaeological site believed to be the palace of King Minos, and Heraklion – an old town adorned with Venetian-era buildings and home to gorgeous boutiques and restaurants.