map greece creteMap: Greek Island of Crete

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, and very much like a self contained land of its own, with high mountains, in a series of ranges that cross the island.

Crete also posseses one sizeable city Heraklion and three smaller ones (Hania, Rethymno, and Sitia) along the north coast.

The main sites of the Minoan civilization (mostly in Iraklio province), beaches, gorge walks (including the famous Samaria Gorge), traditional villages, impressive flora, and wild, rugged coastlines.

crete;s heraklion prefectureThe Iraklio Archaeolgical Museum is visited by millions annually in conjunction with visits to the Minoan sites of Knossos, Festos, Malia, and Zakros; the Natural History Museum in the same city gives a background to the geological evolution of the island.

Not far from Iraklio is the wine country near the traditional village of Archanes, though for architecturally appealing cities, most travellers visit the coastal cities of Rethymno and Hania, capitals of prefectures of the same name, with lovely Venetian and Ottoman architecture.

To the east of the Iraklio province is the famed Lasithi plateau, with its windmills, and a ring of 18 villages up above it, approached via a spectacular mountain pass, and up on the coast is the charming village and nearby resorts of Aghios Nikolaos, and the quieter, more low key coastal city of Sitia in the far east.

samairia mts CreteIn the far northeast tip of the island is Vai, the beach noted for its indigenous palm trees. To the west of Iraklio prefecture, the lovely Amari valley has some of the loveliest countryside on the island, and to the west of it, the green village of Argiroupolos, with many springs that provide half of the drinking water for the prefectural capital of Rethymno.

Hania prefecture, the westernmost of the four, boasts the city considered the most beautiful in Crete, as well as some of its finest, and wildest nature, as well as the monastery of Aghia Triadha, a Turkish fortress, Crete's only freshwater lake, villages built around springs, high mountain country , the Imvros and Samaria gorges, and the southcoast beaches at Paleohora, Aghia Roumeli, Frangokastello, and the islet of Elafonisi. Kindly also see Eco-Crete Guide and the Crete Greek island Guide.