'Cree-ti' (Sea of Crete)
Crete, on the 35 parallel, is the largest Greek island and the 5th largest in the Med. Its land mass is 8,261 sq. km. and its coastline 1,046 km. The population is about 250,000.
The island is divided by the Greek government into 4 prefectures with 4 major towns/cities.
The major towns all lie on the north coast of the island. The South coast is less developed and a better bet to get away from the crowds. Heraclion is the best base for viewing antiquities such as Knossos and the Heraclion Archeological Museum where the major finds of the island are under safe keeping and on display.
Hania (Chania) is the furthest east, then Rethimno, Heraklion, and Aghios Nicolaou, the westernmost, in the Gulf of Mirabelo.
Because Crete is such a large island, I am only going to describe it very briefly at this point, it could easily have devoted to it, its own large book. I do recommend the 'Blue Guide' to Crete however. I have personally spent over 2 months on Crete and it has a lot to offer. The major thing being that it is so big, one forgets that its an island at all which can be a very good thing somtimes. Many Greek Islands are so small there is little to do besides party or work on your tan.
As you probably know, the first European civilization, the Minoan, was born in Crete. The worlds oldest flushing toilet (3000 BC) was in the Queens Bed Chamber at Knossos as is Europes' oldest paved road, not to the bed chamber but outside. (Queens dont have bed rooms they have bed chambers.) El Greco was from Crete as was Nikos Katzanzakis of Zorba the Greek Fame. Eleftheros Venizelous was a Creten also.
The island is most developed on its northern shore.
The southern coast is where to get away from the throngs.
Heraklion, built by the Arab Saracens, in 824, is the capital of the island with a population of 130,000. Its the most modern and bustling city and not as appealing it could be. Of course its been modernized and its museum houses most of the major archeological finds from sites around the island. The old town also remains with its Venetian walls and fortress.
Next comes Chania with 65,000 residents, a lot more character and a charming old Venetian quarter.
Rethimno is the 3rd largest city and has a Venetian quarter as well.
Aghios Nicolaou is the 4th largest and perhaps the most charming with its lovely lake.
There are several flights a day to Crete with Olympic and Air Greece (see links directory for their sites) as well as many ferryboats to its various ports. It is a 22 hr. voyage. You can see the many ferry schedules by clicking here
By clicking the inquiry link below you can have ferry or air tickets bought and delivered to you at your Athens Hotel and any other travel service you require anywhere in Greece, including car rental at reduced prices.
Crete general phones
Code +30 831 Prefectural Committee for the Promotion of Tourism 55765 - 52160 Police 100 Police Department 25247 Tourist Police 28156 -29148 Traffic Police 28891 - 22589 EOT (Greek Tourism Organisation) 29148 - 56350 Rethymno Town Hall 22245 Fire Brigade 199 Hospital 27491 Post Office 22303 Taxi 24316 - 25000 Olympic Airways 22257 ANEK Ferry Lines 29221 Minoan Ferry Lines 22941 KTEL (Buses) 22212 Organisation of Hotel owners in the Prefecture of Rethymno 55873 Organisation of Hotel owners in Aghia Galini 0832- 91380, 91333 Organisation of Hotel owners in Plakias 0832- 31280 Organisation of Mountaineering 57760 Archaeological Museum of Rethymno 54668 Folklore Museum of Rethymno 23398 Centre of Contemporary Art of Rethymno 52530 - 52689