CRETE – WHY GO?
Packed with Byzantine chapels, Minoan ruins and ancient relics, Crete is the Mediterranean's largest island. Head to the southern coast for a taste of traditional, timeless Crete, hone your tan on endless sandy beaches or explore the spectacularly rugged interior.
MUST SEE, MUST DO
If you're looking for a secluded spot, visit the tiny village of Xerokampos – there's just one winding road that provides access to its tiny coves and pristine beaches lined with golden sand. The picturesque drive there will take you past fantastic photo-spots with sweeping views of the beautiful coastline.
Be sure to visit the Byzantine fortifications around the town of Sitia, where the Venetian Kazarma fortress has been built up over the older ruins. Floodlit during the summer months; it also hosts year-round concerts, plays and art exhibitions.
Cave of Zeus
Take the road to Nida Plateau and head for the caves hidden behind the small church, where legend has it the god Zeus was born. Explore the large cavern and then let your eyes readjust to the light in time to look out for vultures and other birds of prey back outside.
One of the longest gorges in Europe, this stunning sight runs 16 kilometres from the Omolos Plateau to the Libyan Sea at Agia Roumeli. Adventurous walkers can take a guided tour to hike down steep stones steps and through forested mountain streams.
Just off the mainland of eastern Crete, the fascinating island of Spinalonga is an ancient fortress that in its lifetime has been bombarded by pirates, turned into a Turkish village and also served as a leper colony. Today it makes a pleasant day trip from the villages of Elounda and Agios Nikolaos.
MAKE A DATE
Elounda town stages various cultural events and even a fish night.
Pack a picnic and find your own private beach at Xerokampos to enjoy a romantic al fresco meal in total peace and quiet.
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