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.
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.