Greek Islands Guide

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Crete is the southernmost and largest of the Greek islands. Situated to the north of the continent of Africa, the island is easily reached via the many ferries that ply their trade around the Greek islands. There are two main airports on the island, both on the north coast. one is located at Heraklion, to the east of the island, and the other to the west just outside Chania.The islands history is a long and fascinating one stretching back many thousands of years. This plus a dramatically mountainous interior, and superb, long, sandy beaches, makes Crete one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

Crete 1Aghios Nikolaos is one of the most popular resorts on the island, so as you would expect there is a wide variety of water sports on offer. Popularity can result in the town becoming very busy during the high season, but despite the crowds and the vibrant nightlife, the town has managed to retain a degree of Greek charm.

Crete 2Rethymnon located on the north coast near the centre if the island. It has a picturesque harbour and good beaches to the east of the town. One of Rethymnon's main attractions, apart from the harbour itself, is the old Venetian quarter with its narrow streets, and sits on the headland overlooked by the remains of a Venetian fortress.

Crete 3Chania is a picturesque city, and is the main town in the west of Crete. It was the capital of Crete until 1972, when Heraklion took over the role. Chania consists of the New Town, where the day to day business goes on, and the Old Town, built around the Venetian harbour consisting of numerous narrow streets, and architecture displaying the influence of many years of foreign domination.

Crete 45 kilometres from the centre of Heraklion can be found the ruined remains of the Minoan palace of Knossos. This is a large archaeological site which was first discovered by Minos Kalokairinos in 1878, but It was not until the arrival of British archaeologist, Arthur Evans in 1900 that major excavation work was carried out. Badly damaged murals that decorated the plastered walls, were discovered, reconstructed and placed into rooms. The centrepiece of the palace is a room known as the Throne Room.

Crete 5The Samaria Gorge is a National park situated in in the White Mountains in Western Crete. Walking the gorge is very popular. The best time to visit the gorge is in the Spring, the weather is cool and the vegetation at that time of the year is at its best. Nearing the end of the walk, you will come to the narrowest part of the Samaria gorge known as the "Iron Gates", from here you are about 3 kilometres from the village of Agia Roumei, and the end of the walk. Stout shoes or walking boots are advised, also ensure that you take some drinking water with you, a snack to eat, and in hot weather, a hat to protect you from the sun.