Crete, Europe’s southernmost and most expansive island in Greece, is big on history and charm. The ruins of its ancient Palace of Knossos, considered Europe’s oldest city, date back to 7,000 BC. They rest in the island’s unique capital city of Heraklion. Myriad artifacts, frescoes, and tombs are on display at the Heraklion Archeological Museum.
After a few hours of sightseeing, vacationers can cool off with a dive deep beneath the Mediterranean Sea to explore its extensive network of underwater caves, gorges, shipwrecks and sea creatures that call these waters home.
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The castle fortress at Rethymno offers magnificent views of the charming village below, with its domed mosques, authentic restaurants, and quaint shops. Crete’s third-largest city is alive with culture, with an ever-changing community of painters, musicians, and poets, especially during the summer months when vacationing students infuse the island with their unique brand of creativity.
The island’s only natural harbor lies to the south, where whitewashed buildings sharply contrast with the vivid turquoise seas. The sparkling Mediterranean is perfect for diving amidst shipwrecks, sea caves, and colorful underwater creatures.
What To Do
Dive deep beneath the salty Mediterranean Sea; or stay dry and explore its majesty via glass bottom boat.
Visit the home of the mythical Minotaur at the Palace of Knossos, which stands at what was once the heart of the ancient Minoan civilization.
Sip some traditional anise-flavored ouzo liquor or Greek coffee at a quaint café overlooking clear turquoise seas.
Visit the uniquely designed Old Ottoman Mosque, Nautical Museum with model ships, photos and relics of the sea, and Archaeological Museum of Chania, housed in the former monastery of St. Francis along the northwest coast.
Hike to the island’s tallest peak, Mt. Ida, known today as Psiloritis.