Greece’s biggest island
Crete subscribes to the bigger is better school of thought. Not only is it the largest of the Greek Islands, but it’s the 5th biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea – Corsica pips it to the 4th place post by just a few hundred acres.
The full spectrum of beaches
Crete’s super-size means it’s got 650 miles of coastline to go around. The beaches in the Lassithi area, to the east of the island, are annexes to the cosmopolitan towns of Agios Nikolaos and Elounda. Here, sunbathers can mix stints on the sunbed with shopping sprees and long lunches in the squares. Further west, the Chania area teams Blue Flag beaches with an historical old town. The 12-kilometre-plus swathes of sand in the Rethymnon area are covered with the footprints of families, while the beaches in the Heraklion area are the staging areas and recovery spots for nights on the tiles.
Crete’s timeline stretches back more than 4,000 years. In fact, the island is credited with being the birthplace of modern civilisation. Evidence for this claim can be found at the Palace of Knossos, in the Heraklion area – the Minoans who lived here were some of the first people in the world to have fashions, parties and women’s rights.
Finally, Crete has a lion’s share of unspoilt scenery. You’ll get the best feel for what the island has to offer at Samaria Gorge, an hour’s drive from Chania. Stretching for 16 kilometres, it’s the longest in Europe.