The north coast of the island is the most populated area and the most well-known to tourists. Heraklion is the island’s capital and main entry point. A working city, it can be off-putting at first, but it has a world-class museum. Rethymnon and Hania to the west are much more pleasant and retain a distinct Venetian influence. To the east, Agios Nikolaos (or Ag Nik to Brits), is one of the island’s major resorts but still retains some character.
The interior is home to the White Mountains, which soar to over 2,000m and offer some spectacular hikes and drives. The mountains are a bit more gentle to the east and, in their midst, they hide the extraordinary basin of the Lasithi plateau with its white windmills. The south coast is much more rugged and less visited than the north, criss-crossed with gorges and dotted with isolated villages and coves. It is also the stepping off point for the solitary islets to the south of Crete.
Getting there and deals
For details of how to get there, the best places to stay and the best tavernas see our online guide: gu.com/p/4v5g7.
Hotel Splanzia (doubles from £99 a night B&B or £624 for seven nights, splanzia.com) has eight rooms with neo-classical furnishings in an authentic Venetian building set in the quiet maze of back streets behind Hania’s harbour.
Sunvil Holidays (020 8758 4758, sunvil.co.uk) has 15% savings on a week’s stay at the Mimayia Apartments in the delightful village of Paleochora in the south-west, near a kilometre-long golden beach and wide range of tavernas, and access to inland walking. Departing on 28 July, seven nights’ self-catering now costs £639pp (two sharing), down from £754pp, including flights from Manchester and transfers.
People wanting to travel alone could choose a week with Solos Holidays (0844 371 8860, solosholidays.co.uk) at the Iraklis Apartments in Gouves. It includes three dinners, welcome drink and information meeting, and costs from £859pp including flights from Gatwick, transfers and accommodation for single use. The 11 August departures are from £875pp and the 18 August departures from £869pp.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN