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This is where Greek civilization reaches farthest back in time. When Athens was a goatherds' redoubt against bandits, the Minoan kingdom had hot and cold running water at the palace of Knossos. Nowadays, this is Zorba's Greece. This is where music and dance can be furious, and passions burn hottest. And at the same time, the Cretans are the most laid-back of Greeks. Hypertensive disorders, alcoholism and suicide are virtually unknown. Their calm approach, physically active lifestyle, and distinctive cuisine make them the longest-lived people in Europe. For a hard party blowout, go to the tourist clogged north coast. But for the beauty of the ...

This is where Greek civilization reaches farthest back in time. When Athens was a goatherds' redoubt against bandits, the Minoan kingdom had hot and cold running water at the palace of Knossos. Nowadays, this is Zorba's Greece. This is where music and dance can be furious, and passions burn hottest. And at the same time, the Cretans are the most laid-back of Greeks. Hypertensive disorders, alcoholism and suicide are virtually unknown. Their calm approach, physically active lifestyle, and distinctive cuisine make them the longest-lived people in Europe. For a hard party blowout, go to the tourist clogged north coast. But for the beauty of the island, rent a car or motorcycle and take a road trip. The central mountains are stunning, and the east and west coasts are the least developed. You'll see fantastic gorges, ancient monasteries, and tiny villages. The harbor area of the city of Iraklion has been rebuilt in a Disneyesque way, but it's not overdone, and is worth a visit. An almost hidden gem is the city of Sitia (pop 10,000) on the north coast. Inhabited since Minoan times, it oozes history. And Club Med hasn't found it. Shhhh.

Richard Sterling
About the Expert

Richard Sterling is the author of Lonely Planet's World Food: Greece, Eyewitness Travel Guide Vietnam, and many other books.

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Richard Sterling for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece.
  • Language: Greek
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Off season; being southernmost, Crete is warmer than the rest of Greece.