Whether it’s one of your island hopping stops, or your final destination, Crete is a great place to become enveloped in ancient history and Greek culture. There’s time to walk along the shore, taste amazing cheeses (you’ll probably never find a better feta), hang out with the locals and explore ruins thousands of years old from the Minoan civilization.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Flight time: 9.5 hrs from NYC, 14.5 hrs from LA, to Athens; 50 minute flight from Athens to Crete
Getting around: Car, taxi, ferry
When To Go: Crete at its best
Best weather: Summer is searing; winter is cool. May, June, September, and October. July and August can be uncomfortably hot (and unbearably crowded); the winter months are cold and damp — it can even snow! The rainy months: January through February.
Best prices: Prices peak in July and August
What To Do
Explore mythology: Crete was ruled for 700 years by the Venetians and Turks — and the architecture is there to prove it. But one of the most fascinating pieces of ancient history here goes much farther to the years of 2600 BC through 1140 BC when Minoans ruled, most notably King Minos. The most impressive relic is the Palace of Knossos, a labyrinthine ruins said to have been home to a mythical monster known as the Minotaur, a half-man half-bull creature. According to ancient Greek mythology the king refused to sacrifice a bull to the gods and to punish him, a spell was cast on his wife that made her fall in love with a bull. Together they had a kid: the Minotaur.
Wander charming towns: There are four regions on Crete, each with their own museums, shops, cafés and beaches. There are literally hundreds of villages and small towns to explore — some less traveled than others. While your itinerary should definitely include visiting towns like Iraklion and Matala, an afternoon spent sipping coffee and staring at the Mediterranean Sea can be just as enjoyable as exploring the island’s many ancient ruins.