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Crete offers the dreamy beaches expected from a Greek island, whilst also surprising visitors with its greatness in size, culture and history. Authentic local life characterises the island, the unique customs of the island remain central to the vivacity of culture and landscape. Soft sand, a deep history and fresh and healthy food for the soul, Crete is an island teeming with charms.

Crete is Greece’s largest island and many often say I deserves a country title of its own. The finest beaches in the world are the biggest crowd attactions but beyond the turquoise shores are steep gorges, supreme mountains and often a cosmopolitan energy. Crete is proudly distinguished as the home of Europe’s earliest civilization, the astonishingly advanced Minoans. Located between the east and west Crete’s position caused it to be passed through the hands of numerous rulers, from the Greeks to Romans, then on to the Saracens. Crete was even occupied by the Germans during the second world war and was the first place to be successfully invaded by paratroops. The islands history is rich and diverse. At the heart of the island’s culture is mythology. The Greek myths say that it was in Crete, in cave Ideon where the goddess Rhea hid the newborn Zeus. Zeus was brought up in the cave by the nymphs and it was later in Crete that Zeus disguised himself a bull and took Europa his love.

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Photo by gromgull Heraklion.

Heraklion is the most populated region of the island and is nestled between to gorgeous mountains regions. In this region are fine vineyards and romantic valleys as well as tranquil villages. The fifth largest city in Greece, Heraklion is also in this region and is a bustling and lively urban space. Many fantastic restaurants can be found spread across the city as well as vibrant bars and authentic coffee shops. The impressive Saturday market is over a kilometre long and is definitely worth visiting if you hit a weekend. Other sights include the archaeological museum, the History Museum studying Sophocles Venizelos and a range of designer or handmade gift shops.

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On the western side of the island is the Chania region, dominated by majestic white mountains. The national park offers adventures in abundance and the food and wine in the region is unbeatable.  Mountain villages offer the opportunity to wholly immerse yourself in local life and hiking in the region is stunning. The city of Chania is as beautiful as its surroundings, particularly the old Venetian Harbour. The city is unique in its variety of architectural gems, full of old buildings of Venetian and Turkish design paying tribute to its rich past.

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As October looms, the prospect of a summer holiday appears to dwindle, but Crete is blessed with a summer season that reaches deep into the Autumn. For beaches, Crete offers more than you’d wish for. Watersports, boat trips, sunbathing, beach walks and relaxing under the sunrise immersed in a good read, each beach offers the lot. For sports, Kouremenos Beach is excellent, the windsurfing here attracts the veteran adventurers as well as lots of camper vans giving the beach a charming character. Elafonisi is tropical, bright waters are scattered with even brighter marine life and the relaxed atmosphere is finished with a chilled sand bar. For some lively action, Matala has a party character, with illuminated caves and fruity cocktails.

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Photo by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho Elafonisi Beach.

Eating in Crete is both heavenly and guilt free, a rare combination for truly heartwarming food. The traditional culture shines through in the cuisine, and local produce is completely fresh and full of flavour. Cretan cheese is typically made from sheep or goat’s milk and is a must try. Each village appears to have its own signature cheese, providing the perfect excuse to insist you indulge in trying them all. Another popular eat is dakos, a Greek meze of salad on a soaked barley rusk based and often topped with olive oil, oregano, salt and cheese. More cheese delicacies can be enjoyed in the Cretan cheese pies, a handmade pastry dough filled with a variety of cheese fillings. A finish touch is added with the addition of sweet honey, complimenting the fresh cheese perfectly. Greek weddings are famous, and the traditions that define them are still prominent today. If you’re lucky enough to attend a Greek wedding ever, you’ll have an experience like no other and also get to try Gamopilafo. The dish is offered at traditional Cretan weddings and is a rice dish soaked in a rich meat broth and liberal amounts of creamy butter.

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Crete is serene and bewitching in every way. Why do you love relaxing on this dreamy island? Let us know in the comments below.