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Crete

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About Crete

Crete is more like a small country than another Greek island. It’s not just Greece’s largest island, but arguably its most fascinating and diverse. Its remarkable history is evident across the island, from the ruins of the Minoan palace of Knossos to the Venetian fortresses of Rethymo; from old mosques and Byzantine monasteries to the cave that is the legendary birthplace of Zeus. The Venetian port of Hania in Western Crete is one of Greece’s most evocative cities and the capital, Iraklio, is a dynamic city, the fifth largest in Greece.

The Samarin Gorge

To go to Crete without going through the gorge would be a missed opportunity for an incredible experience, providing you are physically strong enough to walk downhill for 15 kilometers. This part of the trip to Crete should be done before renting a car unless you are prepared to walk 15 kilometers back uphill to retrieve it. There are buses from Chania to Omalos and to give yourself plenty of time I suggest taking the first one. When you get to Omalos find the Xiloskala, or Wooden Staircase and begin your journey down. Eventually you reach a stream and begin your trek towards the sea, passing on your way the deserted village of Sammaria and a variety of wildflowers and terrains. The gorge ends at the village of Agia Roumeli where there are restaurants, cafes and a boat that will take you to Chora Sfakion where you can find a room and spend the night or catch a bus back to Chania or Rethymnon. There are also less frequent boats from Agia Roumeli to Souyia and Paleo Hora.

 

The best time to visit Crete

The seasons in southerly Crete stretches to late October. For discounted room rates, better taverna service and moderate weather, mid-May to late June, and all of September, are the best times; during July and August everything is fully functioning, and the sea thoroughly warmed up, but you’ll contend with crowds and either intense heat or the meltémi, the infamous northerly wind which buffets beaches all afternoon. The best winter options for city-breaks are Hania Réthymno and yes, even gritty Iráklio.

Links:

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/greece/crete

http://www.greecetravel.com/crete/tour.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destination/greece/crete/35942/Crete-travel-guide.html

 

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