Powered by Guardian.co.ukDenna artikel med rubriken “Grekiska ön semester guide: Kreta” skrevs av Andrew Bostock, för theguardian.com på onsdag 23 juli 2014 05.00 UTC

Kreta är exceptionellt på många sätt. Det är den största grekiska ön, har den mest skiftande blandning av landskap, och står långt söder om de flesta av resten av landet. Bitar av det påminner om andra delar av Grekland, men på det hela taget står ensam och har sin egen omisskännliga kultur och atmosfär.

Den norra kusten av ön är den mest befolkade området, och mest kända för turister. Heraklion (eller Lion) är öns huvudstad och ingångspunkten. En arbetsgrupp stad, det kan vara stötande först, men det har en världsklass museum. Rethymnon och Chania i väster är mycket trevligare och behålla en distinkt venetiansk inflytande. I öster Agios Nikolaos, eller Ag Nik till Brits, är en av öns största resort, men ändå behåller vissa tecken.

Interiören är hem till Vita bergen, som stiger till över 2.000 i den västra delen av ön, och erbjuder några spektakulära vandringar och enheter. Bergen är lite mer skonsam mot öster, och i deras mitt de dölja extra bassängen i Lasithiplatån prickade med vita väderkvarnar.

Den södra kusten är mycket mer robust och mindre besökta än i norr. Det är crisscrossed med raviner och prickade med isolerade byar och vikar. Det är också ett fördjupat off för de isolerade öarna söder om Kreta.

Det sista som gör Kreta skiljer sig från de andra öarna är bredden av dess historia: från den mystiska mino med sina labyrintiska palats, genom venetianska kontroll, de djärva handlingar under den tyska ockupationen.

Alla priser är för en veckas boende för två i augusti och inkluderar frukost om inte annat anges. Priserna utanför denna månad kan vara betydligt billigare. Priset på mat på grekiska tavernor är anmärkningsvärt lika oavsett var du är, och om något har gått ner under de senaste åren. Du kan oftast räkna med att äta bra för € 15-20 per person. Om matställen är billigare eller dyrare än detta, det anges i texten.

Makrigialos (sydöstra Kreta)

The White Houses, Makrigialos
The White Houses

Var de ska bo: The White Houses

Dessa vitkalkade fiskestugor är rätt på hamnen i denna lugna fiskebyn. De består av tre, större, "hus" och två lägenheter, som alla är smakfullt inredda och välutrustade. Påverkan av den norska ägaren är vanligt att se, och den lokala färgen ges av Nikos som hanterar egenskaperna med en vänlig öga.
+30 28430 29183, makrigialos.com, lägenheter från € 650 för två, hus börjar på 1550 € för fyra, Frukost ingår inte. Familjevänlig

Var ska vi äta: Spilia tou Drakou
Det finns bra tavernor som kantar hamnen, men för bästa utsikt över solnedgången huvudet 3 km från byn till "Dragon grotta", som ligger inbäddat under eponymous grotta. När solen går ner grottan är upplyst, och du kan stoppa in välgjord, traditionell kretensisk mat.
+30 2843 051494

Missa inte
Makrigialos känns redan ganska isolerad men för att verkligen få off the beaten track se om några båtturer kör till ön Koufonissi. nu övergiven, Det brukade vara en av källorna till skaldjur som tillhandahålls lila färg till romerska kejsare. Den överraskande antal gamla och bysantinska ruiner, plus fantastiska stränder, gör för en fantastisk dag av utforskning.

elounda (nordost)

Elounda Gulf Villas
Elounda Gulf Villas

Var de ska bo: Elounda Gulf Villas

elounda, som en av Kretas större orter, är inte allas smak, men om du har pengar dessa villor är säker på att konvertera dig, med lyx inklusive mycket privata pooler och butlerservice. Bakom deluxe yttre ligger ett familjeägt plats med traditionell grekisk gästfrihet.
+30 2810.227721, eloundavillas.com, sviter från 2600 €, villor är betydligt dyrare

Var ska vi äta: Kantoyni
Det kan vara svårt att slita dig från din butler, men området har gott om restauranger. Denna traditionella taverna, ovan Mavrikano, har en fantastisk utsikt, vänlig service, och lokal mat.
+30 2841 042206

Missa inte
Båtturer går från Elounda till ön Spinalonga. Det är atmosfär, slingrande gator är nu övergivna, men ändå verkar full av historia. Venetianarna byggde en fästning här i 1579 och ön användes som en spetälsk koloni i 20-talet. Det har inspirerat konstnärer och författare genom århundradena, och var inställningen för Victoria Hislop roman The Island.

Neapel (öster)

Windmills på Lasithiplatån, Kreta
Windmills på Lasithiplatån. Fotografera: Alamy

Var de ska bo: Archondiko Spiti
Kreta är full av villor att hyra. Den "Handsome House" är ett bra exempel på ett gammalt hus i en muromgärdad trädgård med egen pool. Att vara borta från kusten innebär att omgivningen är mindre kommersialiseras, och Neapoli är ett bra exempel på en fungerande kretensiska town.
020-8847 8700, cachet-travel.co.uk, £3,700 based on four sharing and including flights but not breakfast. Familjevänlig

Var ska vi äta: Koudoumalos
On the mountain road between Neapoli and Plaka on the coast by Elounda, this taverna is located in the small village of the same name. The food is based round hearty portions of grilled meat, stews and local products such as cheese.
+30 28410 31280

Missa inte
The Lasithi plateau is a bizarre dinner plate of a landscape surrounded by a lip of high mountains. It used to be highly populated due to its fertile soil and you can still see examples of the white-sailed windmills that irrigated the land (there used to 10,000 of them). Don’t miss exploring the Diktaean Cave near the village of Psychro, the reputed birth place of Zeus, king of the gods, which provides a slightly spooky thrill.

Heraklion (central)

Lato Boutique Hotel, Heraklion, Kreta
Lato Boutique Hotel

Var de ska bo: Lato Boutique Hotel

The Cretan capital is not a first choice for many, but it has an honest charm. The Lato is also something different for Crete, offering futuristic chic with views overlooking the town’s old harbour. It is worth upgrading your room to ensure the view.
• +30 2810 228103 lato.gr, €570

Var ska vi äta: Elia & Diosmos
The Lato offers three well-regarded restaurants with surprisingly reasonable prices. For a contemporary take on Cretan cooking its worth heading out to the “Olive & Mint” in the village of Skalani just to the south of Heraklion. The ingredients are all sourced locally and the food has won several awards. The mainly Greek wine list is also exceptional.
+30 2810 731283

Missa inte
Knossos, to the south of Heraklion, was the heart of the Minoan kingdom. Its reconstruction, by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, remains controversial to this day, but there is no doubting that the rocks still seem to be haunted by the ghosts of the minotaur and his labyrinth. You should also check out some of what was uncovered here in the superb Heraklion Archaeological Museum.

Anoyia (central)

Aris Hotel, Anoyia, Central Crete
Aris Hotel

Var de ska bo: Aris
No trip to Crete is complete without a visit to the mountains. The large village of Anoyia sits in the White Mountains below Psiloritis (previously Mount Ida), Crete’s highest peak at 2,456m. The village is attractive and was a centre of resistance during the second world war – if you look carefully you’ll see that few buildings date from before this as they were destroyed by the Germans. The rooms at the Aris are simple, but boast magnificent views.
+30 2834 031817, arishotelanogia.gr, €300

Var ska vi äta: Aetos
Anoyia relies not on tourism but sheep farming to make ends meet, and trying the local lamb is a must. The best place for this is the Aetos, with its large charcoal grill standing outside.
+30 28340 31262

Missa inte
Hiking in the mountains is always rewarding but should not be taken lightly; take local advice. An easy short walk (around quarter of an hour) takes you to the Idaean cave, another candidate for the birthplace of Zeus. Certainly a cult to the god once existed here and plenty of finds have been dug up (you can still see the remains of the archaeologists’ rail tracks). Nyligen, it provided a hideaway for the Cretan resistance and British agents during the second world war.

Zaros (central)

The ancient city of Phaistos.
The ancient city of Phaistos. Fotografera: Alamy

Var de ska bo: Eleonas
This complex of 20 cottages in the mountains of central Crete is set within a working farm, and guests are welcome to help feed the animals and even milk the goats. The individual cottages continue the rural theme, and the overall setting is superb, offering plenty of opportunities for exploration and hiking.
• +30 28940 31238, eleonas.gr, €735. Familjevänlig

Var ska vi äta
Eleonas is a bit out of the way, which is part of its charm. The nearby village of Zaros offers simple eating, but you needn’t stray far from the complex itself, which hosts a popular taverna that shows off the products of the farm. Alternatively another branch of the family that owns Eleonas has set up a taverna by the banks of Lake Zaros, a 1km walk away – the lake trout are excellent.

Missa inte:

If you want to visit a Minoan palace in a more authentic state than Knossos, then nearby Phaistos is for you. The ruins of this 4,000 year old structure are still spectacular and much less visited than their famous sibling.

Rethymno (west)

Avli, Rethymno, Western Crete
Avli

Var de ska bo: Avli
Rethymno vies with Hania for the title of Crete’s prettiest town, and Avli nestles in the centre of the old Venetian quarter amongst pedestrianised streets. The theme that unites the 12 rooms is a note of extravagant luxury and romance that extends into the bougainvillea-clad courtyard.
+30 28310 58250, avli.gr, from €595 for a standard double

Var ska vi äta: Mesostrati
Avli was once just a restaurant, and is still famous for its food (and now has an attached deli which sells local produce). But if you want to go further afield, Mesostrati is worth seeking out. It is just off Martiron Square and is squeezed between two streets, as its name suggests. The draws here is the local meze and the live music, including traditional lyra players.
+30 28310 29375

Missa inte
The main attraction of Rethymno is the city itself, and you could happily spend a day just wandering around it. Make time for the old Venetian fortress, reputed to be the largest the city state ever built and still thoroughly atmospheric.

Rethymno (west)

Var de ska bo: Camping Elizabeth
Just to the east of Rethymno, and right on the beach, is the oldest and one of the best campsites on the island, with plenty of shady trees, all the facilities you would expect, and access to the sea that many high-priced hotels would kill for.
+30 28310 28694, camping-elizabeth.net, from €140 for two people in a small tent. Familjevänlig

Var ska vi äta: To Pigadi
The campsite has a basic taverna, but you really need to head into Rethymno to eat well. To Pigadi has a lovely courtyard in the old town and serves Cretan dishes with a twist, such as beef fillet with strawberry and mint sauce.
• +30 28310 27522

Missa inte
To the south-east of Rethymno, and set in beautiful countryside, the Arkadi monastery is worth visiting for its 16th century buildings alone. The monastery also has a special place in Cretan hearts. In November of 1866 almost a thousand Greeks sought refuge here from the besieging Ottoman Turks, then the overlords of the island. As a final act of defiance, and rather than be captured, they blew themselves up as the Turks entered the monastery.

Loutro (south-west)

Loutro village beneath the White Mountains, Kreta
Loutro village beneath the White Mountains. Fotografera: Alamy

Var de ska bo: Blue House
Loutro has an idyllic location in a cliff-backed cove on the rugged southern coast. What makes it even more special is that it is only accessible by foot or boat. Plenty of people visit the village by day, but only a few can stay in the limited accommodation overnight. The Blue House lives up to its name and has simple, but comfortable rooms – the ones in the top floors are the best.
+30 28250 91035, bluehouse.loutro.gr, €320

Var ska vi äta: Blue House
The taverna downstairs, right by the water’s edge, is the perfect place to while away the evening once the crowds have disappeared on the last boat. With a captive audience it would be easy to let standards slip, but the Blue House gets it just right.
+30 28250 91035

Missa inte
The famous gorge in these parts is the Samariá, which is just along the coast and apparently is Europe’s longest. Unfortunately tours run to it from all over the island and, whilst still worth it, it can be rather crowded. The more adventurous should try Aradaina gorge, which is just as spectacular but much less known. Walk up the snaking path from Loutro, and then down the gorge to the lovely pebble beach of Marmara where you can wash the sweat off – this is an all day hike.

Hania (west)

Porto del Colombo
Porto del Colombo PR

Var de ska bo: Porto del Colombo
An old Venetian building at the heart of Hania’s old town houses this small but exquisite boutique hotel. The interior carries on the historical theme with plenty of dark wood and red velvet.
+30 28210 70945, portodelcolombo.gr, €686

Var ska vi äta: Portes
Just around the corner a string of tavernas put their tables out onto the narrow street of Portou. Portes, despite being small, stands out for its more adventurous take on Cretan dishes, including treats such as fennel pie.
+30 28210 76261

Missa inte
The western coast of Crete consists of a few relatively sleepy settlements and some of the beast beaches on the island. While no longer the secret they once were, these are still well worth the trek to get to them. The sands of Falasarna in the north sit near the ruins of an ancient Greek city, whilst the small island of Elafonisi in the south lies in a azure blue lagoon set off by pinkish white sand.

Getting There

From Athens, Crete can be reached by a 9-10 hour ferry or year round flights. From April to October numerous airlines fly direct from the UK to Heraklion and Hania from around £70 each way

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