Crete is filled with ancient history, diverse architecture, beautiful beaches and the Venetian influence is evident in the pastel-washed houses of the harbour fronts.
Beneath it all, something far more ancient lies; something whose origins are lost in time but that is still visible in the mysterious Minoan palaces. Perhaps the phrase ‘the cradle of civilisation’ is not so inappropriate here. Civilisation, however, has grown up and while the fascination with our origins remains, people want to be amused on holiday as well as educated. In Crete, there is something for everyone, whether it is to ponder on the past or take advantage of superb beaches and challenging terrain for sports of all kinds.
• The island of Spinalonga is only five minutes by boat from Elounda, a leper colony until 1957 it is dominated by the ruin of a Venetian fortress. It is the setting for Victoria Hislop’s novel ‘The Island’
• The Plateau of Lasithi can be explored by car or mountain-bike. Scattered with countless windmills, the heritage of its important agricultural past, it is also home to a great number of utterly fascinating ancient towns dating back to early Minoan times. Here too, is the Cave of Dicteion, where legend has it that Zeus was born
• The sunken city of Olous, from which Elounda takes its name, provides some wonderful snorkeling opportunities
• Make a late afternoon visit to the enchanting village of Kritsa, explore the ruined city of Lato, and watch the sun slide into the waters of the glorious Mirabello Bay
• There are over 100 gorges on Crete, the most famous being the Samaria Gorge, in the West of the island. A smaller, less visited but no less beautiful gorge is The Valley of the Dead, in the East. It starts in the agricultural village of Zakros and winds its way down towards the sea, ending at the Minoan Palace of Kato Zakros, where ther is a shingle beach and a few tavernas, for an inviting swim and delicious refreshments
• Crete is renowned for the numerous archaeological sites and Minoan Palaces, the most famous being Knossos, which makes for a fascinating day out when combined with the Archaeological Museum in nearby Heraklion.