Useful tourist information Crete, including all the things to know before leaving for travel or vacation in the magnificent island of Greece.
Crete in a nutshell
- Capital: Heraklion
- Area in sq km: 8336
- Population: 623,000 (first half 2001)
- Religion: Greek Orthodox with Muslim and Catholic minorities.
Where is it
Crete is the largest island in Greece, is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea, its territory is mainly mountainous with peaks that go beyond 2000 meters above sea level (in winter they are snowy), the flat areas are few, the most important plain is Mesara which is located in the south-central part of the island.
The island's coast is made up of rocky coves and sandy beaches.
The climate of Crete is Mediterranean, with many sunny days and approx. 60 rainy days a year.
The population is made up of Greeks and a Turkish minority.
Thanks to its strategic geographic position, the island of Crete has had several rulers in history (from the Greeks it passed to the Roman Empire, to the Saracens, to Venice and then to Turkey; the Greek flag was raised for about a century).
On the island of Crete compared to Italy, the clock hands must be moved one hour forward throughout the year.
The official language of Crete is modern Greek.
English is mainly known in tourist areas.
Crete's economy is mainly based on tourism and thriving agriculture.
When to go
The best months to visit the island of Crete are May, June (preferable), September and October.Recommended readings
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In these spring and autumn months the weather is beautiful and there is no crowding of tourists, as it happens in the months of July and August.
The remaining months of the year are suitable for cultural visits to archaeological sites and museums.
In the months of November and December, although there is a good chance of good weather, there is also a high risk of days characterized by very intense rains.
Citizens who come from the Schengen area, including states that are part of the European Union, are not necessarily checked upon their entry into Greece, however they must be in possession of an identity card valid for expatriation or passport.
The stay with these documents is allowed for a maximum of 3 months.
The international dialing code to call from Italy to Crete is: 0030 2 followed by the local prefix without the 0 and the desired number.
The international dialing code for calling from Crete and Greece to Italy is: 0039
The official currency of Crete in Greece is the euro.
Credit cards are accepted and there are ATMs, with the exception of a few smaller centers.
How to get
The two civilian airports of Crete are located in Heraklion (main airport) and Chania.
During the summer, there are numerous charter flights to the island.
From Italy some scheduled flights are directed to Athens, then with Olimpic Airlines or Aegean Airlines it is possible to continue to Crete.
Ferries depart from Piraeus for various seaside resorts located along the coast of Crete.
Herakleion, or Candia according to the translations, is the capital of Crete and is located in the central-northern part of the island overlooking the Aegean Sea.
In addition to the beautiful beaches and the crystal clear sea, among the places of greatest interest on the island is the Archaeological Museum, which is unique in its kind, useful for an in-depth knowledge of the Minoan civilization, corresponding to the Cretan one of the Bronze Age.
This museum was opened in 1883 to house ancient objects of important historical value.
The accessible rooms are arranged on two floors in chronological order.
Among the objects exhibited on the first floor there are some rythoi vases, used in religious services, as well as some models that reconstruct the Minoan palaces of the past.
The second floor is dedicated to the famous frescoes of Knossos, partially restored.
The city of Knossos, which represents the largest archaeological area, concerning the Bronze Age in Crete, is located in the central part of the island of Crete, at a distance of about six kilometers from the sea and five kilometers from Heraklion.
The palace of Knossos is in close connection with the ancient myths belonging to classical Greece, including that of Minos, of the labyrinth built by Daedalus, of Theseus and of the Minotaur.