Per square mile, Crete must be one of the most "loaded" places in the world -- loaded, that is, in the diversity of its history, archaeological sites, natural attractions, tourist amenities, and just plain surprises. In a world where more and more travelers have "been there, done that," Crete remains an endlessly fascinating and satisfying destination.
Few travelers need to be sold on the glories of the Minoan culture of Crete. But Crete also offers cities layered with 4,000 years of continuous inhabitation, including the vibrant heritage of centuries-old Orthodox Christianity and the distinctive imprint left by almost 700 years of Venetian and Turkish rule. Not to mention endless beaches, magnificent mountains, intriguing caves, resonant gorges, and countless villages and sites that provide unexpected and unforgettable experiences. An elaborate service industry has developed to please the many thousands of foreigners who visit Crete each year. Facilities now exist to suit everyone's taste, ranging from luxury resorts to guest rooms in villages that have hardly changed over several centuries. You can spend a delightful day in a remote mountain town where you're treated to fresh goat cheese and olives, then be back at your hotel within an hour, enjoying a cool drink on the beach. To be frank, Crete isn't always and everywhere a gentle Mediterranean idyll -- its terrain can be raw, its sites austere, its tone brusque. But for those looking for a distinctive destination, Crete never fails to deliver.