Crete’s portside capital, Heraklion, sets the tone for a stay on this beautiful island. Dating back 7,000 years, it’s rich with Venetian architecture and sleek modern squares. History lovers should head to Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Minoan artefacts.
Crete’s Minoan civilisation was the spark for the rise of urban European culture. Art, politics, architecture and philosophy can all find their roots here. Evidence of this productive period in Greek history can be found at the vast Bronze Age Palace of Knossos, near Heraklion. Now in ruins, this mystical palace is thought to have been the political centre of the Minoan civilization.
Many of our luxury villas in Crete lie close to Chania, which, as the locals proudly proclaim is the capital in spirit, if not in name, of Crete. It’s certainly the island’s most pretty city - if you visit in spring the White Mountains’ peaks will be topped alluringly with snow and offer a dramatic backdrop to the Venetian streets that line its harbour. Hidden within these the old town’s history leaps out at you with an archeological layer cake of Ottoman, Byzantine and Minoan ruins.
From the sleepy harbour of Plaka, we recommend a boat excursion to the island of Spinalonga. Here, a vast 17th-century Venetian fortress creeps right up to the water’s edge, providing a fantastic photo opportunity.
However, the main attraction in Crete has to be the endless array of sandy beaches and secluded coves. Lounge beneath a sunshade and cool off with a dip in Crete’s temperate ocean waters at Elounda beach. You could also indulge at one of its famous natural spa facilities - you’re on holiday after all.