• Coastline Treasure island
  • Coast life Minoans, myths and moustaches

The birthplace of Minoan civilisation was bound to be beautiful, cultured and rich in history; the island’s Riviera-rivalling beaches, mysterious caves and deeply traditional, hospitable locals are unexpected extras.

Thankfully Theseus killed off the Minotaur (murderous King Minos came to a sticky end not long after), so there’s no reason not to come to this poet-inspiring island. One look at the landscape and it’s clear why it’s the stuff of legends: milky white stretches of sand, dramatic canyons, deep gorges, verdant olive groves, wild flowers, ancient towns and hilltop villages. The imprint of the island’s varied cultured custodians remains today; Minoan palaces sit side by side with Ottoman mosques and Byzantine monasteries and the ruins at Knossos, Malia, Zakros and Phaistos will impress even the most reluctant of historians.

Do go/Don’t go

Crete has a long high season – from mid April to October. The island sizzles and simmers in June and July, with temperatures above 40 degrees, so avoid these months if you're no sun worshipper.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes The three main airports are Heraklion | Chania and Sitia. Easyjet serves the former | with direct flights from LGW (www.easyjet.com). BMI | Multiple Airlines | Aegean Airways and Olympic Air also offer indirect flights to Heraklion and Chania | with stop-offs in Athens | Eleftherios Venizelos and sometimes Munich.
  • Boats Hop on a ferry from mainland Greece. There are plenty of different options: boats from Piraeus stop at Agios Nikolaos, Chania, Heraklion and Rethymno; from Gythio head north west to Kissamos-Kastelli; from Thessaloniki dock at Heraklion (www.ferries.gr).
  • Taxis Flagging down a taxi in the mountains might prove irksome; ask your hotel to book cabs for you.