48 hours in Crete: An insider guide to Greece’s most storied isle (photos)

Mountains, museums & the Minotaur’s lair…

Variety is the spice of life on the largest Greek island. Crete, home of the Minotaur legend and birthplace of Europe’s first evolved society, is a vivid and sensual mosaic of contrasts: from lofty mountains and pink-sand beaches, to buzzing nightlife and traditional kafeneia (coffeehouses). Standing at the crossroads of three continents, the atoll described by Homer in his Odyssey as ‘a fair land … in the midst of the wine-dark sea’ has been invaded countless times over the centuries. The traces of successive invasions can be found in Turkish bathhouses, Venetian fortresses, and Byzantine architecture.

However, Cretans refuse to dwell on the past: any and every occasion is an excuse for a glendi (party), usually revolving round food: home-grown vegetables, locally produced olive oil, fat snails gleaned in the mountains, or raki brewed in the local still. And (as any Greek will proudly tell you) Crete is the country’s most hospitable island, so you can expect plenty of invitations to join in the fun.

Hot right now…

Heidi Fuller-Love, our resident expert, offers her top tips on the hottest things to do and places to eat and stay this season.

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