Crete is a land of contrasts with something to offer everyone. If you're travelling from Europe and looking for a holiday getaway, then the tourist resorts on the south shore may appeal to you. But if you're looking for peace and quiet, fascinating archaeological sites, majestic mountains, varied and spectacular scenery, quiet sandy beaches, tiny coves, and traditional mountain villages, you can also find it in Crete.

Crete is the largest and southern-most island in Greece. It's location guarantees a Mediterranean climate, one of the mildest in Europe. Nearly a third of the land is under cultivation producing citrus fruit, grapes for wine, chestnuts, cherries, almonds, vegetables and nearly half of Greece's total olive oil.

Crete is largely mountains and is surrounded by the Cretan, Ionian and Lybian Seas. The mountains on the south shore create a dramatic backdrop, and the water around some of the sheer coasts exceeds a depth of 3,000 metres.

The contrasts co-exist well on the island. Even in the larger base towns, tranquil and remote regions are not very far away. On the north shore, major urban centres such as Iraklio, Rethymno, and Hania are within easy reach of town beaches, but a short distance out will get you into varied stunny scenery, and tranquility.

Hania and Rethymno are captivating in their own right. Stay in the old town city centres on the harbour and stroll through Venetian streets where mansions have been turned into elegant hotels and restaurants.

Iraklion is the capital and business centre of the island and it is a busy city. Many people stay here because of it's proximity to Knossos, and to visit the very worthwhile Archaeological Museum, one of the finest in the world. Most Greek Island cruise ships will stop for a few hours at the harbour. But, as with all big cities in Greece, you can find entertaining squares and streets to sit, enjoy a drink and just people watch.

Crete has beautiful beaches and picturesque coves. On the east of Crete you'll find Europe's only palm forest at the beach of Vai. On the west, visit the underdeveloped Elefonisi Islet, and see the pink sand. On the south of Crete, visit Frangokastello Castle with it's famous ghost story and enjoy the quiet and beautiful beach.

The landscape of Crete is dramatic. The interior of the island is rugged and the mountains are pierced with spectacular gorges, the most famous of which is Samaria Gorge, Europe's longest and a popular destination for hikers.

According to ancient Greek mythology Zeus, father of the Olympian Gods, was born on Crete and raised in the island's caves. And, of course, you'll want to visit the Palace of Knossos, linked to the myth of Theseaus and the Minotaur, and the centre of rule for the ancient and mysterious Minoan Civilization that ruled the Aegean thousands of years

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