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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Nestled on the tranquil coast of Elounda on the island of Crete, Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort, offers emblematic views to the relics of Spinalonga Island.
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.
When to Go
Surrounded by the spectacular Mediterranean Sea, Crete offers boasts sunshine throughout the year. The best time to visit is during late spring or early summer before the weather turns too hot. The historic sites are also less crowded in springtime, and the weather is pleasantly warm.
Two different climate zones exist on Crete: the southern coast, which is closer to Africa, is warmer, while the northern part of the island is cooler, with snow in the mountains in the winter and spring.