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"Heraklion is the capital of Crete. It is rich in our culture and our history, people have wanted to come here for centuries."
Heraklion, a port town on the north of the island is indeed the capital and does have plenty to see, but there are a lot of attractions outside Heraklion. Don't listen to the residents there who will tell you otherwise, every Cretan is fiercely proud of their town.
The major towns are busy and can feel chaotic, but drive out of them into the rural villages and the vibe is a relaxed, hospitable one.
The Cretans consider themselves independent, strong, generous and welcoming people.
Coastal areas are warm or hot all year round. Summer temperatures range from the late 20s to early 30s, yet in the mountainous regions at the island's centre, skiing is possible in the winter.
There are plenty of great dishes to try in Crete. Try a lamb cake. This locally made, slow-cooked pie is pastry heaven.
There may not be a lot of celebrities coming out of Crete, but there's no shortage of them going in. Lady Gaga, Tom Hanks and Madonna have all been seen there.
According to ancient mythology, Zeus, God of sky and thunder was born on this island.
"Crete is an island with an exquisite 1,000 kilometre-long coastline dotted with numerous coves, bays and peninsulas, which afford a multitude of soft, sandy beaches along the beautifully blue Mediterranean Sea"
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This ancient city was unearthed in 1900 and some believe it to be the lost city of Atlantis. It's one of the most important finds in European history and one of the island's major attractions, arrive before the tour busses.
There is a mixture of free, and fee-paying parking spaces at Knossos, so look carefully before you leave your rental car anywhere.
Reported to be the birthplace of Zeus, this cave which covers over 2200m of space has an eerie, mystical air to it. The path to the entrance is steep but if that poses a problem, just hire a donkey. Sadly, we don't do donkeys, only hire cars, but a local can arrange one for you.
Parking is available near the site for approx. 2 Euros.
The waters of Crete are said to have excellent visibility -as much as 40 metres in some places. There aren't many places in the world where you can try your hand at diving in such great conditions. Scuba operators can be found in the major coastal towns to hire equipment, or arrange lessons.
Parking is available in all of the major towns.
Anyone who's eaten at Maria's in Piskopiano will tell you that the food is superb, the hospitality is second to none and the experience is one you'll want to repeat. If you'd like to go and smash some plates while others applaud, this is the one for you.
Street parking is widely available in Piskopiano.
Tucked away on the island's west coast, this shallow lagoon of clear water and white sands is the kind of beach you see pictures of and long to go to. When you've got a hire car, you can.
This is a conservation area but parking is available a short walk from the beach.
For a truly unique holiday experience, head to the Sasteria Astronomy and Art centre for some star-gazing. Paint a canvas in the afternoon, take a moonlit stroll in the evening and then under cover of darkness, look through telescopes to the heavens. Magical.
Head to Makry Gialos on the south coast. From this small town, follow the winding 4.5 mile road inland to Agios Stefanos, The observatory is behind the last house in the village, look for the yellow sign outside that says 'Sasteria' and you have arrived.
You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd driven out of Crete and into the Caribbean. This picture-postcard beach on the eastern coast of the island, complete with palm trees and aqua-blue waters is like a scene from the tropics. No wonder they filmed the Bounty ad here.
Follow the E75 highway east towards Sitia and keep going until you reach paradise
This beach on the western coast of Crete has a couple of tavernas but apart from that, no bars, no sun loungers and no bus stops or hotels nearby. Just wide, soft sand beaches and the remains of a lost city in the hills behind it.
Follow signs west towards Kissamos, and from there take the EO90 highway all the way to the end of the road.
Sometimes it's not the destination, but the journey. Described as one of the most scenic drives in Europe, this route takes you from Chania in the north, through craggy mountains, past the Samaria Gorge - the largest in Europe, and all the way to the beaches of the south coast. Take your time, your camera, and a picnic.
Follow the E65 highway out of Chania towards Kissamos. Take the exit towards Epar. Od. Tavronitis/Palaiochora and follow these signs all the way to the sea.