Crete Island is among the top 5 Best Destinations in the world, according to Tripadvisor’s 2022 report. The home of Europe’s first great civilization is a world, the home of the ancient Minoans is now a “bucket list” destination for millions.
In line right behind Dubai, London, Cancun, and Bali, Greece’s biggest island is also one of the world’s most coveted destinations. Here is how the world’s top travel rating site describes our island:
“The birthplace of both the king of the Olympian gods and of modern European civilization, Crete is a Mediterranean jewel. It’s rich with archaeological and mythological history that’s reflected in its ancient ruins and cultural attractions. Soak up the charming atmosphere of Chania Town’s Old Venetian Harbor or the fortresses and monasteries of Rethymonon.”
As good as Tripadvisor is, sometimes the reviewers simply get things wrong because they’re not from here. A week or two does not allow much time to experiment with things like cuisine. So, rating one of the top 50 restaurants for traditional cuisine in the world #16 in Heraklion, is a kind of crime. I should know; I’ve dined at half the restaurants in town and hundreds on Crete. Peskesi is, by far, the best we’ve experienced for fine traditional Cretan food. My Insta share below does not come close to the real experience. The problem with TA in this instance is that throngs of tourists opt for tavernas and restaurants closer to the marina, their hotels, or popular haunts on the thoroughfares. Finding this restaurant in the pedestrian zone can be a challenge.
Tripadvisor goes on to suggest Minoan ruins dating from 1900 BCE at Malia and places like Mt. Ida, where legend has it, the god Zeus was born. For those of us living here, Zeus was actually born in a cave on Lassithi Plateau and played as a child in the Amari Valley in the shadow of Ida. Of course, there’s nobody left around to tell us which story is correct.
Tripadvisor’s No. 8 top thing to do on Crete is a lesser-known natural wonder known as Theriso Gorge. Most people think Crete is a desert rock in the middle of the Mediterranean, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is THE land of contrasts.
What we do know is that the fifth biggest island in the Mediterranean has everything. Crete is like its own continent if you visit for long enough to discover it all. While there’s no towering skyscrapers like Dubai sports or the Big Ben clock London brags about, Crete’s beaches more than compete with Cancun, and the Indonesia island has nothing on us either.
No. 2 on Tripadvisor’s list of top attractions is perhaps the most underrated museum in the world. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum holds treasures to rival any historical or cultural repository. This is where the treasures of the Keftiu (popularized as Minoans) ruled the seas without war for over 1,000 years. It’s also the place of safekeeping for artifacts from neolithic times through Classical Greece, Rome, the Venetian Era, and Ottoman rule.
Beaches? Do you want beaches? Crete has more Blue Flag beaches than any place in the world. Choosing which ones to explore and enjoy, now there’s the tough part. Tripadvisor reviewers rate magnificent Balos Lagoon or Elafonisi as their top picks, but there are so many others. Some are even more beautiful. TA folks put Triopetra and even Georgioupoli ahead of spellbinding Falasarna – but the deep sands of this far-west Crete wonder are magic. Come on, the five-star all-inclusive resorts at Georgioupoli are nice, but the beach does not even come close to ancient Falasarna. The Instagram share below does not fully illustrate one of Europe’s all-time best seascapes, but you get the idea at sunset.
Known as Keftiu to the ancients, Crete has more history, spirituality, magnetism, and friendly people per square kilometer than anywhere on the plant. We’ve added a few Instagram attractions just to give you an idea. But for the real skinny on Crete, visit the official tourism site here.
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