ONCE home to the Minoan civilisation who believed the half bull, half human Minotaur creature lurked beneath its crust, the Greek island of Crete is now a must-see tourist destination for travellers wanting to explore more of the Mediterranean’s historic gems.

The largest of the Greek islands, and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean Sea, Crete is renowned for its ancient remains, golden beaches and impressive mountainscapes.

The prefecture best known for its tourist appeal is Heraklion, thanks to its vast array of archaeological sites, vineyards and coastal villages. The area is the most densely populated on the island and therefore has the most abundant tourist infrastructure. Attractions to look out for are the Venetian and Turkish fountains scattered throughout the city, and the famous Archaeological Museum noted for its incredible number of Minoan relics unearthed at Knossos, Phaistos and Malia.

Crete’s smallest prefecture is Rethymno, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Greece. The area is famed for its mountain views (it is nestled between the White Mountains and Mt Psiloritis) and luxury holiday resorts. Venetian architecture, arches and cobblestone streets are all dominant hallmarks of the city, which help to create a classical feeling of antiquity for wanderers of its streets. Must sees include the village of Argyroupoli, built on the remnants of the ancient city of Lappas and famous for its springs. Another popular attraction is the Wine Festival held in July annually, an event that features the fresh produce of the region’s best wine producers and chefs.

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