No matter what sort of holiday you’re after, Greece can serve up the perfect getaway – whether you want a couple of weeks relaxing on the beach, a week of hedonistic nightlife or a cultural retreat, the islands can offer it all. And if you want it all in one place, look no further than Crete.
The largest of the Greek islands, not to mention the fifth largest in the Mediterranean, Crete is home to historic remains, breath-taking mountains, valleys and gorges, beautiful beaches, a rich culture of cuisine and an ever-growing nightlife scene.
If Crete ticks all the boxes, a stay in the Rethymnon region is highly recommended, offering up a heady mix of great bars and restaurants, as well as stunning Ottoman and Venetian architecture and some beautiful beaches.
And if you want to make the most of your stay, be sure to add these places to your itinerary:
Visit the old town
If you fancy doing some sightseeing, Rethymnon old town is home to a magnificent Venetian harbour, with some great tavernas offering up some of the island’s best local cuisine, and a Venetian era citadel known as the Fortezza, which looks down on the town from a nearby hill top.
A walk through its narrow streets and alleyways reveals arched doorways and stone staircases, churches, mosques and beautiful Venetian mansions, and the Rimondi Fountain is the perfect place to relax with a coffee or a glass of wine.
It’s also worth taking a trip out to the historic town of Chania – once the capital of Crete, it’s home to Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian architecture, a number of museums for the culture vultures, as well as some great bars and restaurants in its picture-perfect harbour.
And if history is your thing, take a trip to the town’s Historical and Folk Art Museum. Housed in a 17th Century Venetian Townhouse, its collection includes ancient textiles, pottery, baskets, weapons and coins, as well as plenty of photographs and maps to keep it all in historical context.
Sample the nearby natural beauty
If getting out and being active is more your thing, the Imbros Gorge is a seven-mile long canyon, that offers picturesque views but doesn’t make you work too hard – you should be done within a couple of hours.
For something a little more strenuous, the Samaria Gorge is one of Crete’s most popular natural attractions that takes views of the stunning White Mountains along the way and opens up to the sea once it reaches the village of Komitades – be warned though, walking it all can take between five and seven hours, depending upon the route you take, so make sure you’re prepared and take plenty of water.
If you have anything left in the tank after all that it could be worth trying an off-road adventure – take a 4X4 vehicle off the beaten track to take in some of the lesser known sights and take in some of the more famous ones from a different perspective.
And when in Rethymnon, be sure to visit nearby Lake Kournas – the island’s only natural, freshwater lake lies in a valley among the mountains and is the perfect place to take in the stunning scenery, and during the summer the receding waterline means you can sit back and relax on a temporary lakeside beach.