Steeped in history, rooted in tradition and rich in folklore, Crete was the home of Europe's first great civilization and is today populated by a relaxed and friendly people, equally as proud of their unique ancestry as they are of their reputation for warm hospitality.
Crete's most famous asset is Knossos. At the height of the Minoan civilisation this remarkable ancient site once accommodated more than 100,000 people and a 3,500 year old palace still stands as its centrepiece. It is world famous and an essential place to visit.
You will not fail to be impressed by the beauty of the imposing White Mountains (Lefka Ori) that dominate the landscape. These fascinating peaks offer a variety of stunning walks and trails in, over, along and around numerous ridges, gorges and valleys. The Samaria Gorge, said to be one of the deepest and, at 16km, longest in Europe has been declared a national park and is a paradise for keen walkers, ornithologists and lovers of 'the great outdoors'.
Over to the east side of the island and a fifteen minute boat ride from the sophisticated north east coastal village of Elounda takes you across to one of Crete's most captivating attractions; Spinalonga is a tiny island that was, reputedly, physically cut away from the mainland by the Venetians back in 1579 before being turned into a formidable fortress. By the early twentieth century the outcrop had become one of Europe's last surviving leper colonies, caring for patients until finally closing in 1957. Many will be familiar with the best selling novel "The Island" by Victoria Hislop which powerfully evokes Spinalonga's fascinating history through the eyes of a fictional family.
Crete is extremely rich in local produce and especially well known for its tasty seafood, wide variety of locally grown vegetables and fresh fruit.
Justifiably proud of their naturally fresh cuisine, more and more of which is being organically cultivated, Cretans have one of the longest life expectancies in the Mediterranean and this is widely believed to be due to their healthy and nutritional diet.
Cretan cuisine makes full use of the island's many fresh, seasonal herbs to add rich and vibrant flavour to dishes.
Desserts, sweets and cakes tend to be made with natural sweeteners such as honey and grape-juice syrup, while the excellent and chemical free Cretan wine is considered an 'indispensable' accompaniment to many meals.
Crete, the largest of all the Greek islands has countless hamlets, villages and towns where the local church is named after a famous saint. All churches in Greece acknowledge the anniversary day of their saint with many organising colourful processions and celebrations. Indeed, so widespread and popular are these events that it is more than likely you will witness one during your visit.
Crete also claims its very own ancient hero, Zeus, who aspired to become the King of all Greek gods. According to mythology, Zeus dethroned his own father, the then King of the Titans and began the task of dividing the world. He pronounced his brothers, Hades and Poseidon Kings of the Underworld and the Seas respectively, while Zeus himself kept the title King of the Heavens and the Universe.
Being the most southerly island in Greece, Crete enjoys a delightfully warm and sunny climate. The early summer and autumn months will be comfortably warm with temperatures gradually rising to a peak in July and August that can sometimes reach as high as 40°C.
At all times of the year there will often be a refreshing breeze which is particularly cooling the closer to the coast you are. Generally speaking sea temperatures, even in early and late season, always remain pleasant enough to swim.
The magnificent and easily accessible White Mountains (Lefka Ori), which create a mesmerising backdrop to most of our Cretan properties, offer a cooler (and wonderfully scenic) retreat during the summer months.