Crete, a sparkling diamond in the Mediterranean Sea, is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean and at the same time the southern border of Europe. It connects the new with the old and the ancient with the modern history. From the distant past to the present day, every place on the island has a short or long story to tell. Crete is the birthplace of the first European civilization, the Minoan, which flourished mainly in Central and Eastern Crete. Even today, the majestic palaces of Knossos, Phaestus, Malia, Zakros, Tylissos, Arhanes, Monastiraki, Galatas, Kydonia and the luxurious mansions at Agia Triada, Zominthos, Amnisos, Makrigialos, Vathipetro and Nerokouros reflect the splendor of the Minoan civilization through architectural, pottery, jewelry and painting masterpieces. Masterpieces of building architecture, painting, sculpture and goldsmithing continue to inspire even modern civilization. Even today, the Disc of Phaestus is one of the most famous mysteries of archeology and deciphering of its symbols remains a riddle.
Nature has given its best gifts to the Cretan landscape. Natural monuments, chiseled by the passage of time, are standing here, narrating events of the past centuries. The alternations of the landscape are impressive. The green color of the plains, the gray of the precipitous cliffs and the deep blue of the sea create an unbelievable combination which carries the visitor away into a journey and uplifts the soul. The endemic flora ads its own colors and aromas, within which a rare fauna is living. In Crete, the inhospitable and barren mountain landscape is harmoniously joined with the fertile green plains, the blond sand, the deep blue of the sea and all together with the light blue sunny sky in a unique harmony.
The island of Crete has a very lively entertainment style. The Cretan people, whether in peace or war, never gave up music and dance. This tradition is still alive today, as there are hundreds of music and dance associations. At the same time, modern forms of artistic expression have been developed. Events are organized throughout the year everywhere on the island, with dance, song and theatre. Moreover, there are hundreds of entertainment places with modern music from Greece, Europe and America.
Religious celebrations and festivals, traditional popular events, culinary feasts and cultural activities organised throughout the year shape a unique cultural profile. One of the most colourful festivals in Greece, “Heráklion Summer Festival” is held by the Municipality of Heráklion and comprises a rich variety of cultural events.
The Cretan diet has been studied by scientists all over the world. The rather surprising findings of those studies have caused a worldwide sensation by documenting the enormous benefits to the islanders' health and the low incidence of several diseases compared to other places on the globe. Due to its unique biodiversity and special climatic conditions, Crete is a place that favors the growing of excellent native wild herbs and greens. This, along with the pastoral products, has shaped the eating habits of the Cretans for centuries and built the reputation of the Cretan diet as the healthiest diet among the rest of the Mediterranean diets. The dietary pattern of Cretan diet is mainly based on the consumption of olive oil, large quantities of vegetables, fish and reduced meat. The purest of ingredients, simple recipes, respect to seasonality, and minimal processing: just a handful of basic principles that make eating the Cretan way a unique experience.
Driving on dusty dirt roads across rocky pastures and hiking in the canyons usually end up in a refreshing swim at a splendid secluded beach. The hues of the sea play their color game with the stones and the sun. From the dunes of Elafonissi and Xerokambos to the tropical shores of Kedrodasos and Chrissi, from the hidden beaches in the wild gorges of Sfakia and Asteroussia to the emerald bays of Triopetra and Plakias, from Balos and Elounda lagoons to the palm groves of Preveli and Vai, from piney beaches of Ierapetra to the long organized strands of the northern coasts, Crete offers the ultimate combination of carefree holidays and natural beauty, which can be finely reflected on its beaches.
The climate of Crete is generally described as mild Mediterranean, differentiating itself with continental characteristics in the mountains. In general, a basic characteristic of the local climate are large deviations from place to place. The yearly temperatures fluctuate between 14 and 15 degrees Celsius, the mainland has generally warmer summers and colder winters, while the southern coasts are warmer both in winter and summer in relation to the northern coasts. Crete has a privileged geographical position in the Mediterranean, which gives it a mild climate with mild changes of the weather. The winter, which usually starts in the middle of December, is mild. The sunshine lasts almost the whole year with greater intensity from April to October. The hottest months are July and August, but generally because of the sea breeze and the effect of the etesian winds, the summer is relatively cool.