Greece’s largest island has the dubious distinction of playing host to a quarter of all visitors to Greece.
It’s still possible to find some peace by visiting the undeveloped west coast, the rugged mountainous interior and the villages of the Lassithi plateau.
Crete was the centre of the Minoan culture, Europe’s first advanced civilisation, which flourished from 2800 to 1450 BC.
The palace of Knossos, just outside Crete’s largest city, Heraklio, is the most magnificent of Crete’s Minoan sites.
While Heraklio is a modern, wealthy but somewhat charmless city, the other large towns, Chania and Rethymno, are packed with beautiful Venetian buildings.
Paleohora, on the southwest coast, was discovered by hippies in the 1960s and from then on its days as a quiet fishing village were numbered, but it remains a relaxing place favoured by backpackers.
Many travelers spend a day trekking though the 18km-long Samaria Gorge to get to Agia Roumeli on the southwest coast.
Further along the south coast, which is too precipitous to support large settlements, are the villages of Loutro and Hora Sfakion, linked by boat. The climate on the south coast is so mild that swimming is possible from April to November.