Why should you travel to Crete? Sights like this ... photo by CC user Lourakis  on wikimedia

It’s no secret that Greece has gone through some tough times recently, but that’s no reason to turn it down as a holiday destination – in fact, it’s an extra reason to make it this year’s choice.

Prices there are low, and the local people, keen to rebuild their tourism industry, have never been more welcoming. Crete is far away from any political upset, and its golden beaches are as appealing as ever.

You won’t find anywhere else with quite this combination of natural beauty and genuine friendliness. With much more to see and do on this fascinating island, it’s a must for this year’s vacation.

What to see

Crete has been inhabited since the Stone Age, at various times held by the Minoans, the Romans and the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, as well as the Greeks themselves.

This has left it with a wealth of ancient ruins, and the archaeological museums in Heraklion and Chania are full of fascinating artifacts. It also has remarkable natural beauty.

The gorge of Samariá, the spectacular waterfall at Exo Mouliana, and the palm forest at Vai are all fascinating places to explore. There’s also an old Venetian citadel, the Fortezza, at Rethymno; and if you want to do some sailing, there are several nearby islets you can head out to in order to soak up the sun and enjoy the dazzling beauty of the Mediterranean Sea.

What to do

Not everybody has the same idea of relaxation, and if you’re looking for a more active vacation, Crete still has plenty to offer. Explore the wilder parts of the island on horseback, go scuba diving in the clear blue water, descend into stunning caves full of stalactites and stalagmites, or climb in the mountains where legend has it that Zeus was born. Amaze your kids with these splendid sites or go with friends to challenge each other’s limits.

Where to stay

You’ll find no shortage of big resort hotels on Crete, most of them family friendly and equipped with great facilities. There are also hostels ideal for budget travelers.

To experience all that the island has to offer, however, you really need to live like a local. WorldEscape apartments in Crete provide a great alternative to the hotel approach.

You can come and go as you like, and there’s no shortage of great little cafés and restaurants to eat in, plus you’ll have space to entertain guests and you’ll really feel like part of the island community.

How to get around

Most visitors to Crete fly to Heraklion or Chania. Once there, you’ll find that the local buses make it easy to get around and to visit most of the main tourist sites, but if you’re keen to explore further afield and see more of the island’s natural wonders, you’ll really need to hire a car.

This gives you complete freedom to do as you please, and it’ll get you into the easygoing Cretan mindset that’s part of what makes this place so appealing.

Every vacation in Crete is different and there never seems to be enough time to see and do everything – but that just means you’ll have to visit a second time!