Are you ready for glorious days spent lounging on exotic beaches, exploring secret coves, hiking amid striking gorges or discovering the treasures of the ancients? Are you ready for long endless sunsets, and for balmy nights filled with laughter, music, dance and amazing food? Then look no further than Crete: Greece’s largest and arguably most popular island, has all that and much more: Whether you are a nature lover, a history buff, an adrenaline adventurer or a foodie -and everything in between- there are many good reasons for travelling to Crete, no matter the season. Read on for inspiration and ideas.
For its beauty
From tall, rugged mountains to pink-sand beaches and from fertile plains to awe-inspiring gorges and ravines, the island’s ever-changing topography allows you to experience the world in miniature and the four seasons in a day. Travelling to Crete is all about venturing into untouched nature and stunning views blending into the horizon. Take it all in, and let go of your worries and troubles.
For its history
Home to the Minoans, Europe’s first advanced civilization and premier maritime power in the Mediterranean, Crete boasts a fascinating, long and turbulent history: Steeped in myths and legends; imbued with antitheses, from zenith to nadir and vice versa; nowadays Cretan history -manifested in the island’s impressive ruins and world-class museums, but also in the locals’ everyday conduct- is as consistent a lure as is the island’s gorgeous landscape and weather.
For its culture
An amalgam of ancient legends and myths and later-day heroic deeds, Crete’s distinct culture is manifested in the locals’ way of life, in myriads of ways: In their age-old, yet still very much alive and kicking folks, ceremonies and customs; through dress, music and dance; in their close-knit family relations, dietary habits and code of conduct: Take the Cretan wedding, for example. A typically lavish affair for hundreds of guests, complete with ancient nuptial rituals, including gamopilafo- Crete’s culinary trademark, and balothies -i.e. gun shootings in the air, as per the spectacular albeit often lethal custom, no self-respecting Cretan would go without when celebrating their child’s wedding. And though this all night dancing, eating and drinking extravaganza might seem daunting to some, it is actually one of the most memorable experiences one may have when travelling to Crete, best approached with an open mind.
For its weather
Crete is bathed in the Mediterranean’s warm waters, while the sun shines here 300 days a year. Its climate is considered one of the mildest and healthiest in Europe, accounting for the locals’ long-standing tradition of longevity. The swimming season starts at the end of April (even before that for those gutsy enough) and lasts till mid-November. The winters are short and mild, and the temperature seldom drops down below +13C. And even in the middle of the winter, the water temperature stays around +16C. Travelling to Crete in the offseason offers all sorts of opportunities for fun and adventures, even of the aquatic type. Plus one gets to admire the landmarks and the emblems, without the crowds, whilst enjoying reduced prices and special offers.
For its food
There is a reason why the Cretan diet is worldwide renowned: Wholesome yet delectable, made with this blessed land’s seasonal produce and packed with goodness and taste, food is one of the top pleasures of travelling to Crete. Simplicity is key, and here’s where all of the beauty lies. Try dakos -a wholegrain rusk with tomato, drizzled in extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with myzithra cheese- and you have a complete, healthy and super delicious meal. Sample dried anthotyro cheese or aged gruyere and you will get hooked for life. These Cretan delicacies are ideally matched with some raki or hearty local wine and can be savoured in the islands’ renowned restaurants and tavernas.
For its people + hospitality
One of the joys of travelling to Crete is hanging out with the locals: The island’s passionate, hospitable inhabitants are eager to open their homes and hearts to well-meaning strangers; and to share their food, drink, music, and way of life. In fact, whether at a village kafenion or even on the streets of busy urban centres like Chania, you might be invited to partake in an impromptu fiesta -live lyra, mantinades and all. Crete is nothing but authentic and here you’ll sample the famous Greek hospitality at its best. Come and visit us at the Oscar Suites & Village, a family-style complex of studios, suite and apartments in Chania, just steps from the sandy, blue flag awarded beach of Agia Marina -Platanias for a taste of the real Crete.