Exploring the Island of Crete

September 9, 2011 by

Day Trips, Sightseeing, Things To Do

Elafanissos beach in Crete – Photo courtesy of Gerd A.T. Müller via Wikimedia Commons

The sheer size and beauty of the island of Crete makes it an ideal destination for travelers looking to log some time hiking in the Mediterranean. By far the largest islands in Greece, Crete is home to more than half a million people, but it is easy and advisable to enjoy the many wild places that the island has to offer.

It stands to reason that an island that is more than 160 miles long (and nearly 40 miles across) offers some varied terrain, and Crete doesn’t disappoint in this regard. It’s possible to start out at a beautiful beach, bypass one of the island’s 9 major cities, head into the mountains, pass through idyllic plateaus, stretch your legs in the desert-like areas, visit iconic monasteries and other interesting examples of classical regional architecture, and descend down into secluded lagoons and other sandy shores.

Noteworthy sites worth visiting include the ruins of the ancient Minoan civilization in Knossos, the Gorge of Samaria, the palm tree-lined expanse of Vai beach, the ancient caves and sacred sites (including a former leper colony) of Lasithi, and the stark peaks of the White Mountains.

Tourism is the driving force of the economy on Crete, so the cities, resorts, and popular beaches are very crowded indeed. Take the initiative and venture off away from the hordes of pleasure-seekers. Crete has so much to offer. Your visit can be much more contemplative, relaxing, and memorable if you can find a little peace and quiet.

-John Reality

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