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A year-round destination, Crete is more than just a sunbed by the sea, coconut-scented cocktails, and beachside adventures. Plus its gems shine brighter in the offseason, without the summer tourist masses. Discover one of its brightest, Chania, in the winter.
If you are one of these summer-loving types, who’d do anything to avoid the cold –including migrating to the opposite hemisphere– the good news is that you can still spend winter in Europe but not freeze. Unlike other smaller Greek islands which seem to shut down during the colder months, Crete, the largest of them all, remains very much alive and kicking. With a robust agricultural production and an economy that’s not relying solely on tourism, Crete has a population of more than 600,000 inhabitants: Permanent residents and University students, alike –living, breathing, working and playing here, throughout the year.
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New and old seamlessly blend in an enchanting amalgam of Christmas traditions in Crete. Read on and rejoice!
From the snow-capped roofs of Rovaniemi to the sun-dappled beaches of Brazil, Christmas is a magical time of the year throughout the world. The same goes for the island of Crete: Though it’s not your typical winter wonderland kind of destination, Christmas in Greece’s largest island comes with a wealth of wonderful traditions- some new and imported; others with roots that are lost in the depths of history.
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Ochi day in Crete and around the country marks the date that Greeks said “no” to fascism. Refusing to be bullied into compromise, they fought for their values, displaying ultimate and tangible bravery.
On the 28th of October, Greece -and Greek communities around the world- celebrate the “Ochi Day” (“No day”): One of the nation’s most important public holidays, commemorating its people’s indomitable spirit, undying courage and determination.
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Walking in Crete is the best way to explore the scenery, meet the locals, smell the flowers and discover that quaint little tavern!
Between east and west, on the crossroad of three continents -Asia, Europe and Africa- Crete is like a country on its own: With varied landscapes of gorgeous coastlines, high mountains, and plateaus, steep ravines, Eden-like plains and open panoramic views, Greece’s largest island is best discovered on foot. This is no secret, and that’s why every year it attracts hikers from all around the globe. And they need not be particularly experienced -just keen and effervescent. With thousands of kilometres of tracks of different degrees of difficulty to suit all levels of fitness and expertise, options for outdoor enthusiasts are plentiful. How about taking a break from the staple sea-sun-sand combo, to experience dramatic vistas, enchanting scenery, and the slow-paced, stress-free rhythms of local life?
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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.
A mythic land steeped in history; with potent gods, mighty kings and mightier men -and a wealth of ancient sites and modern-day monuments to prove it. An ever changing topography where you can go from snow-capped mountain peaks to balmy beaches in an hour, and experience all four seasons in a single day. A world-renowned cuisine for its health benefits and incredible taste. Soul-lifting music and dance -and plentiful occasions to experience both. With so much more than just sea, sand and sun, Crete has all the trappings of a legend. That’s why it rightfully belongs among the planet’s most popular destinations. If you are planning to visit Greece’s largest island, here are some fascinating facts about Crete:
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Living or dead, contemporary Cretan musicians have broadened the scope and wealth of this island’s considerable melodic tradition
Psarantonis – Photo: Bruno Zanzottera
Based on the oldest surviving melodic tradition in Europe, Cretan music remains an integral part of locals’ everyday life and an experience to savour during your holidays on Greece’s largest island
Though lavishly celebrated throughout the country, Easter in Chania is extra magical, with a host of dramatic, time-honoured traditions at play.
Easter is the grandest celebration in the Greek Orthodox Calendar but it in fact predates the Christian religion. Rooted in ancient spring rituals that are associated with the rebirth of nature at the end of the winter, Easter merges the spiritual, the metaphysical and the ceremonial with elation and joy. Though piously observed throughout Greece, it is at its most authentic in Crete: A solemn as much as buoyant occasion, Easter in Chania is accompanied by a host of age-old rituals that serve to reinforce community bonds.
Packed with goodness and aromas, Cretan herbs are responsible for an array of health benefits and the heavenly taste of local food and drink.
Crete is known for many things: Its palatable treasures are perhaps the most cherished among them. Sun-kissed climate aside, there is another reason why food tastes great here. Packed with goodness, the indigenous Cretan herbs boast an array of health benefits and delectable tastes. They grow everywhere throughout the island of Crete: In the mountains, in farming lands and coastal areas. A lot of them are endemic- botanical studies show Crete has one of the richest and most interesting ecosystems in Europe- and have been known since ancient times for their therapeutic properties. These aromatic plants also account for the distinct flavours and aromas of Crete’s culinary specialities.