Crete, the largest island in the Greek archipelago, is perhaps its biggest show-off. This island has 650 miles of golden coastline, dramatic mountains, picturesque villages, and a cavalcade of ancient ruins that will set any history buff's heart aflutter. Few places live up their lofty reputations, but after a luxury holiday in Crete, you'll see, this island does not disappoint. From its historical attractions and luxury seaside hotels to its remarkable mountains, gorges, and beaches, Crete certainly knows how to impress.
The city of Rethymno manages to fuse of all these elements with ease, offering you a chance to lay on its sandy beaches, swim in its crystal clear waters, and tour the imposing Fortezza of Rethymno. The central location of this city means you're also a short trip away from Heraklion, the island's capital, where you can get lost in the ancient wonders of the Palace of Knossos.
If seclusion is what you're after, then look no further than Agios Nikolaos. This romantic coastal town is cradled by rocky cliffs and overlooks the dramatic Mirabello Bay. Here, you can visit the local archaeological museums, explore the Cretan Olive Oil Farm, and sunbathe on one of the many fine beaches, like Ammos and Ammoudi.
To the northwest of the island, you'll find Chania. This delightful city features narrow cobbled streets, waterfront restaurants, and a breathtaking 14th-century Venetian harbour. Chania is also filled with boutiques, craft shops, churches, galleries and museums, all of which will keep you entertained, but it is its proximity to the beautiful Balos and Elafonisi Beaches, as well as to the UNESCO-listed Samaria National Park, that really sells this location.
Late May to early October is a popular time to visit Crete, when temperatures are typically over 25 degrees. During these months there is next to no rainfall, and the sea is nice and warm. Late June to mid-August are the hottest months with temperatures around 30 degrees.
With lots of gorges and hiking trails, Crete is a great place to go walking and exploring. April and late October are popular for these kinds of activities because the weather sits at a comfortable 20 degrees.
You should carry identification with you at all times and keep a photocopy of your passport. British passport holders do not need a visa to visit Crete and can stay on the island for up to 3 months. Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports, visas and travel.
Crete is a cosmopolitan island, so you can sample international dishes, from Italian pastas to Asian curries, as well as indulge in local specialities, like moussaka and souvlaki. Fresh fish, fruits and vegetables and fine olive oils are the main staples of the Cretan diet.
Chochlioi boubouristi is a popular Cretan dish of snails fried in olive oil and flour, then sprinkled with wine, and if you like trying something new, this is the place to start. Try raki too, a grape-based pomace brandy, and the island's signature aperitif.