Crete is the biggest Greek island, the furthest south island of Europe, the cradle of European Civilization. Its people, some 600000, have a reputation for being tough, proud, –ask the ghosts of any of its invaders– yet they are also famous for their hospitality and their loyalty to family and friends. They are genuinely friendly people, who are going to welcome you and wish you a wonderful stay!
The mythology tells that Zeus was enamored of Europa (=the wide-eyed) and decided to seduce or ravish her, the two being near-equivalent in Greek myth. He transformed himself into a tame white bull and mixed in with her father's herds. While Europa and her helpers were gathering flowers, she saw the bull, caressed his flanks, and eventually got onto his back. Zeus took that opportunity and ran to the sea and swam, with her on his back, to the island of Crete. He then revealed his true identity, and Europa became the first queen of Crete. Minos, the legendary king was her son.
Crete is one of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide and not without reason. Should you be interested in culture, the widest spectrum of monuments of all times passed is at best represented by excavations of its minoan past –the cradle of Europe, second millennium BCE–, sites reminding its classical and roman past, the early christianization of the island, byzantine architecture and art through the middle ages, imposing venetian renaissance buildings still in use, a variety of ottoman mosques, remnants of the Turkish occupation.
Crete is a paradise for naturalists, nature-worshipers and scientists that are interested in studying its fauna and rich flora with the impressively large number of endemic species. The imposing mountains of Crete, quite a few summits over 2000 m high, promise exciting experiences of hiking, climbing, hang-gliding, crossing of gorges, and exploration of caves. There are opportunities of riding, mountain biking or even renting a vehicle for explorations beyond the common routes. It is an island but it's over 8000 km2 of stunning countryside! Should you be a turquoise sea-water lover, a coastline over 1000 km long offers you numerous endless beaches with all amenities or isolated bays to enjoy alone.
Rethymno is a centrally located town with a fascinating old quarter of venetian-ottoman character, where you can enjoy the night life, and Gonia, 15 min drive from it, is a traditional village. The greatest part of the island is accessible on one day excursions, so you can visit innumerable sites, churches, monasteries, you can hike on the highest summit of Crete –Ida or Psiloritis, 2456 m–, you can enjoy walking through sort or longer gorges, while incredible beaches of the north or the south coast are easily accessible.