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Discover the amazing beauty of the Greek Island of Crete

Crete located at the southern side of Greece is its largest island, being a land of unparalled beauty which attracts globetrotters from every corner of the world.

The beauty of Crete is captured not just in its iridescent landscape, it can be appreciated through its glorious history, distinctive culture, healthy Mediterranean cuisine, heartwarming customs and traditions and its hospitable, generous and friendly people.

crete greece

Photo: www.mostbeautifulpages.com

A vacation in Crete can mean many things to different people – absolute meditative peace, extreme adventure trekking, thrilling archeological discoveries or the best of gourmet dining combined with pulsating night life. Holiday crowds would first gravitate to Heraklion, Crete’s largest metropolitan city on the northern side of the island, before moving on to the fascinating old world towns of Chania and Rethymno through ferry routes.

Plateaus ringed by mountains in Crete

Plateaus ringed by mountains in Crete – Photo: www.cretazine.com

What impacts you immediately about Crete is a landscape of expansive fertile plateaus, with green hardy vegetation, ringed by raw rugged mountains and glorious vistas of turquoise blue seas. Being an island, Crete is blessed with spectacular beaches throughout its zigzagging coastline with white powdery sands contrasting stunningly with the azure blue of the sea.

The coastline is sprinkled with historical remnants of long lost civilizations, picture perfect villages and stunning world class resorts. Inevitably, new travelers could find themselves extending their vacations so they can soak in all the sand, sun, culture and beauty they possibly can.

Lasithi, Crete

Lasithi, Crete – Photo: http://www.thehotel.gr/istron-bay-hotel/en/Lasithi

Probably the best way to cover the island is to rent a rugged and sturdy vehicle or to use the local buses, reserving an exclusive visit to Chania and Kissamos to view some of the finest beaches in the world. If you desire isolation and cool meditative seclusion choose the stretches off the beaten track near to Lasithi and Heraklion.

malia crete

Malia: Crete’s party center for DJs, discos & dancing  – Photo: www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/malia-2013-three-british-girls-2100492

For party troopers the best destination would be Chersonisos with its exuberant night life, lively bars, exciting restaurants, captivating harbor and the fun filled beach front which is a magnet for water sports enthusiasts.

Balos Beach, Crete

Balos Beach, Crete  – Photo:www.holidayspots4u.com/2013/06/balos-bay-gramvousa-crete-greece.html

Balos easily gets the most beautiful beach award but it is pretty tough to access by road. It promises to be a rugged journey well worth the trouble when you finally arrive and marvel at what appears to be the very edge of paradise.

There is another lovely beach at Vai, fringed by the biggest palm grove forests in all of Europe, a sparkling beach where travelers can enjoy sun, sand and sea in peaceful seclusion. For sheer evocative grandeur nothing beats the expansive view of Chania harbor. Visitors to Crete also love watching the sun go down on the west coast.

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum  – Photo: www.rutraveller.ru/place/437

If you have had your fill of the physical beauty of Crete, dive deep into the history of ancient Crete making Heraklion as a base to cover important archeological sites and famous museums in and around the city, and conserve your energies by visiting Zakros and Palekastro via an overnight journey to the eastern side of the island.

greek crete family

Unifying feature of Greek culture: healthy food and close family ties – Photo: www.antiworldnews.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/greece-photos

Crete presents a fertile landscape and bubbly cityscape that is uniquely Greek with great weather, abundant vegetables, fascinating herbs and plenty of wild fruit and sweet wine, creating a strong foundation for its healthy Mediterranean cuisine.

The relaxing ambiance of Crete is further enhanced by picturesque, eco-friendly, uber luxurious holiday resorts located in Heraklion, Chania and Rethymno, as well as Agios Nikolaos.

Seaside Resort & Spa, Heraklion

Seaside Resort & Spa, Heraklion – Photo: www.seaside-hotel.gr

7 Super pursuits in the discovery of Crete’s eternal beauty

✓     Enjoying the sun and sand and swimming in the most beautiful beaches of Balos, Elafonissos, and Falassarna, besides sampling the ecstasy inducing vistas of Matala, Belegrina, and Vai beaches.

✓     Tasting the raw, fresh and healthy food that Crete is world famous for, enjoying its abundance of raw and fresh home grown vegetables, wild fruits, choicest herbs, fresh sea food, famous local wine and raki.

✓     Admiring and researching the famous Heraklion Archaeological Museum, repository of the biggest collection of artifacts of Crete’s legendary Minoan civilization.

✓     Ambling through the picturesque seafront promenades and by lanes of Chania, Agios Nikolaos, and historic Rethymno.

✓     Visiting the ancient ruins of Phaistos and the Palace of Ancient Knossos, the seat of the rulers of the mighty Minoan empire.

✓     Taking the cruiser lines to beautiful Gramvousa and Balos renowned for magnificent beaches and enthralling geological land and seascape formations, savoring the breathtaking beauty of their spring flora and the appealing architecture of old Venetian castles.

✓     Trekking the visually spectacular and physically challenging Samaria Gorge, a major world biosphere reserve.

Arriving in Crete one discovers that it is more than just an island with mind numbing beauty, rugged landscapes, massive mountains and huge gorges carving up the island into fabulous geological formations and beautiful beaches. Crete has much more to offer through its outstanding historical legacy, the richness of its culture and traditions and its culinary diversity. If beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, Crete presents a glorious panoramic vision that remains etched forever in the memory of the global traveler.

 

Author bio: Ilias Tsagklis is the co-founder of the Greek blog  Travel Ideas, avid traveller and developer.

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Ilias is a senior software engineer and co-founder at Java Code Geeks.

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