The Grecian island-state of Crete can rightly claim to a legendary cultural heritage. Here are a few must-see destinations for your visit after a Crete flight with airlines like Jet2.com, to make sure you make the most of your once in a lifetime holiday. The centre of the ancient Minoan culture, pre-dating even the ancient Greek civilisation, Crete is amply furnished with significant historical sites and artefacts.
Even the Greeks once sent tribute to the capital city, Knossos, whose ruins survive to this day. An easy journey south from Heraklion, Crete’s first city, the site of Knossos simply demands that its visitors lose themselves along ancient alleyways, avenues and arcades for hours at a time. Once a thriving metropolis home to 100,000 people, the streets of Knossos are now yours to trace, from the Horns of Consecration, marking the entrance to a colossal palace, to the remains of a grand Throne Room, surrounded by crumbling pillars and beautiful reconstructed frescoes.
Archaeologists and fortune-hunters have discovered treasures by their thousands in excavations at the Knossos site, and many of these are on fine display at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, in Heraklion’s city centre. A superbly presented counterpoint to the raw remains of Knossos itself, the museum houses artefacts that span over 5,500 years of Greek and European history, curate within an award-winning masterpiece of modernist architecture.
Explore the wider districts of Heraklion a little further, and you are sure to find treasures and hidden gems to call your own. Truly Heraklion is a city where the modern day exists side by side with ancient history and culture, wearing its heritage on its sleeve. Itself a bustling capital city, contemporary shopping arcades and familiar labels sit comfortably alongside such wonders as the Agios Minas church, one of the largest such churches to be found. St Marks Basilica has stood since 1239, and yet is still in use today as a lecture theatre and municipal library.
Leave the city far behind and hire a boat trip out onto the cool waters of the Mediterranean. The Cretan coastline is littered with sandy beaches and hidden coves, many of which can only be accessed by sea. Boats can be hired for day trips from many of the island’s ports and fishing villages, and offer a breathtaking and unique view of the country.
Terminating on Crete’s south coast, the Samaria Gorge is the longest gorge in Europe. Stretching over 18km through a protected national park, the gorge is rich with plant and animal life. Start at the top, and with a stout pair of boots and some good company you will soon arrive at Agia Roumeli, a picturesque fishing village where the gorge opens out onto the pristine coastline and the clear blue water of the bay. A perfect tonic for a weary hiker!