The island of Crete is the largest in Greece and continues to be a hugely popular holiday destination. The landscape of this island is varied: snow covered mountains, hills covered in olive trees, not to mention a coastline of almost 622 miles. Crete is also rich in history – some cities have been inhabited for over 8,000 years! Visitors to the island can find just the right holiday accommodation to suit their needs, whether one chooses to stay in a large Crete holiday villa in a popular tourist area, or to rent a house in one of the many small fishing villages.
HomeAway has got accommodatios for every kind of traveller to Crete. Self catering with internet access and seaside views are plentiful on just about every corner of the island. It is also possible to rent a house for groups of any size and on any budget, including those travelling with pets and children. No matter what guests are looking for, HomeAway is the place to find an ideal holiday villa in Crete.
Visit the Palace of Malia:
Located near the sea, this spectacular palace dates back to approximately 1,900 BC, though what remains today mostly dates back to 1,450 BC. Visitors can stroll around the impressive palace, comprised of three courts and an ancient cemetery. Visitors can also view wonderfully preserved Minoan artefacts, including a famous gold bee pendant.
Considered Europe's oldest city, Knossos is Crete's largest archaeological site from the Bronze Age. The palace at Knossos was discovered in 1973 and after many years of excavation, a realistic reconstruction was created to give visitors an idea of what the palace looked like in its glory days. This is a definite must-see.
See the Venetian Fortress:
This 16th-century fortress, named "Rocca al Mare" by the Venetians, was built in Iraklio to defend against the Turks and then later used as a prison. Marble reliefs on three walls display the symbol of Venice, and there are 26 restored rooms that often house art exhibits and performances. The views from the fortress are impressive.
One of Crete's most important monasteries, the Arkadi Monastery, dates back to the 16th century, which is evident in the baroque and Roman architecture. The monastery has also long been a symbol of Cretan independence; multitudes of resistance fighters were killed here by occupying forces, and the ossuary houses skulls and bones of those who died.
The Ruins at Phaistos:
The Minoan ruins at Phaistos are a unique site. The palace is comprised of royal apartments, a central courtyard, and a fantastic grand staircase. Visitors can also see the famous and mysterious Phaistos Disc; made between 1,700 - 1,600 BC, no one has yet figured out what the engraved series of pictograms are meant to say.
Walk the Samaria Gorge:
The Samaria Gorge is the longest gorge in Europe and a hike along this 11.25-mile natural wonder is a must for nature enthusiasts. The path starts high up in the White Mountains and it ends along the shores of the Libyan Sea.
Summers in Crete are hot and dry. July is the hottest month with consistent sunshine and temperatures averaging around 26°C. The sea stays comfortably warm during the summer months with an average temperature of 25°C. Winters are generally mild with temperatures around 10°C; rainfall is frequent in December and January.
Crete has three international airports; one in Heraklion (HER), another in Chania (CHQ), and finally one in Sitia (JSH). During high season, flights from most major UK and European airports fly to one of the three airports, and there are also many flights from Athens (ATH). Ferryboats are another way to reach the island; services run regularly from Piraeus port to Chania and Heraklion. The trip is rather long, though. For example, Piraeus to Heraklion is a nine-hour overnight ride.