12 Facts About Crete You Need To Know Before You Go
From the capital Heraklion to the port of Chania, these are the facts about Crete you need to know before you visit this mesmerising Greek island destination. The secret locations you need to visit and the traditional food you need to try from the people who know it best!
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1 Crete Is The Biggest Island In Greece
Crete is the biggest island in Greece. With an area of 8,336 km2 this is one of the most important facts about Crete you need to know because the sheer size of the island means that it takes a very long time to explore. A few days in Crete means you simply won’t be able to really indulge in everything this beautiful island has to offer. Make sure you give yourself enough time to explore as there are so many things to do and see in Crete.
2 The Ferry Takes A Long Time
Crete is a fair distance from the mainland. This is an important fact about Crete you need to know because unless you’re prepared to spend an entire day on a ferry you may want to look at catching a flight. Crete is one of the many Greek islands with an airport (multiple in fact) so it is easily accessible.
Island hopping is another way to reduce your travel time but remember to plan carefully because even some of the islands are not as close together as you might think. Don’t be caught spending your precious holiday time on a ferry when you could be out enjoying the sun! You can always talk to us if you need help planning your Greek holiday.
3 Crete Has Great Weather
Because Crete sits further south it is generally warmer than its northern counterparts. This means that your window for great weather is larger than other places in Greece. You can visit later or earlier in the year and the climate is still beautiful. Even winter in Crete is much milder than the rest of the country.
4 Crete Is Home To A Famous Olive Tree
Cretans take olive oil very seriously. In fact, all Greeks do. The Greek diet is partly attributed to being so healthy because of olive oil! And one of the fun facts about Crete is that it is home to a very famous olive tree. This tree is estimated to be between 2,000 and 4,000 years old, the oldest on the planet. The trunk perimeter of the Monumental Olive Tree of Vouves is 12.5 meters and it continues to be productive to this day.
This traditional Greek alcohol is in a league of its own. One of the well-known facts about Crete is that this drink is not only strong (with a minimum concentration of 37%) it is also considered a rite of passage. To sit down amongst friends and family and share some raki (as well as good conversation) after a meal is special a way to connect and relax. You will have to try some for yourself when you visit the island. You will often be given some as an aperitif after a meal in a traditional taverna.
6 Crete Has A Secret Waterfall Village
This is one of the best facts about Crete to know because not many other people know of its existence! In Rethimno lies the beautiful waterfall village of Argyroupoli. Have your lunch under the cool shade of the plane trees and listen to the peaceful trickling of the waterfalls that surround you. We will leave the rest for you to discover!
7 Crete Is Home To World Famous Beaches
As well as secret destinations there are also some very famous destinations on the island. The following are some important facts to know about Crete if you love the beach. And if you are choosing to holiday in Greece then it’s likely you do! Elfonisi beach is famous for its gorgeous sand with pink hues. This phenomenon is caused by microorganisms in the water and there is no denying the natural beauty of the area.
The other spot is Balos Lagoon which is a place of unparalleled beauty with turquoise and shallow warm waters that receives thousands of visitors each summer. A fact to keep in mind though is that because of its shallow waters it can often appear muddy as the sediment is stirred up in strong wind. The area also offers little protection from the sun unless you come prepared with umbrellas. A similar and less populated option to consider is Gramvousa.
8 Crete Has Some Delicious Traditional Food
This fact is true for Crete and for every other island in Greece, wherever you go you will stumble upon an ‘island speciality’. While there may be similarities between the cuisine there will always be a special twist that makes this version unique. Some examples of some traditional Cretan food are antikristo. Antikristo is a traditional way of cooking seasoned lamb pieces by a fire, and it is only found in Crete. Another of the important food facts about Crete is that it is well known for its traditional cheeses, so be sure to try a few and find a favourite.
9 Crete Is Home To Zeus
Zeus may be known as one of the ‘bad’ Greek gods, but his father Kronus was worse. Worried that his children would overpower him Kronos had a horrible habit of swallowing his children whole as soon as they were born! So, in order to protect Zeus, his mother Rhea, sent him to Crete to hide.
On Crete, he was raised in a cave and cared for by nymphs and the goat Amalthea that provided him with milk and honey. The exact location of the cave is still disputed with two possible options being the Dicteon and Ideon caves on the island. Keep this fact about Crete in mind if you are interested in indulging in some Greek mythology.
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10 World War II
This one is a fact about Crete for the history buffs, while Crete was not the only island involved in World War II, it was the site of some intensely tragic battles during the German occupation. There are many ANZAC cemeteries dotted across the island. These soldiers from Australia and New Zealand who were joined by the Greek partisans, shed their blood on Greek soil to free Crete from the Nazis will forever be remembered and revered for their sacrifices.
One of the ancient facts about Crete you need to know is that it is home to the Palace of Knossos, one you might recognise from Greek mythology. Knossos has been referred to as the oldest European civilization as well as the oldest European city. Knossos is also the place where two ancient scripts were found. Excavations brought to light, Linear B, the first form of written Greek (Mycenean Greek) ever discovered. It is descended from the older Linear A which unfortunately still remains undeciphered.
12 Crete Is Home To Nikos Kazantzakis
Crete was home to the famous Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature a whopping 9 times! One of his most famous and well-known works is the novel “Zorba the Greek”. But his talents didn’t end there as Kazantzakis wasn’t just a novelist, he was a traveller, a poet, a playwright and a philosopher. In Zorba the Greek Kazantzakis often describes scenes from everyday Cretan life, such as wine-making, in the liveliest colours. If you fly into the airport in Heraklion you’ll see that it’s named after him!
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