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The Minoan Palace of Knossos in Heraklion
The gorge of Samaria in Chania
The seaside village of Loutro in Chania
Things to see & do in Crete are unlimited and ideal for all preferences. All regions of Crete offer something special to visitors all year round. Certainly, most tourists visit Greece in summer and stay on the northern coasts, but the island offers many off-season activities even in winter, such as hiking or sightseeing drives.
There are many boat trips that depart from various ports around Crete. Very popular is the trip to Balos and Gramvoussa. These boats depart from the old port of Chania Town and from Kissamos. With its Caribbean waters, Balos amazes visitors, while on top of a huge rock stands the Medieval Castle of Gramvoussa.
Also popular is the excursion to Spinalonga, with boat departing from Plaka, Elounda and Agios Nikolaos. The small island of Spinalonga hosts a Venetian Castle, while from 1905 till 1957 it was turned into a leper colony. Another great trip is the boat excursion from Ierapetra to Chrissi (or Gaidouronisi as it is called), an island with amazing crystal waters and golden sand.
Although Crete is crossed from one side to the other by the E4 European walking route, the most famous hiking route is the path of Samaria Gorge. Located on the southern side of Chania, this 16-km long gorge has been declared a National Park. Much endemic flora and fauna species are found there as well as an abandoned village in the middle of the route. Hiking in Samaria is allowed from May to October, as in winter it is usually snowing there and rockfalls may occur.
Crete has more than 250 small or long gorges, more than any other region of Crete. Many of these gorges are inaccessible and dangerous to cross, while others are more accessible and various activities have developed there over the last years, such as hiking, rock climbing or even bungee-jumping. In fact, the only bungee jumping spot in Crete and the highest in the Balkans is the bridge over Aradena Gorge in southern Chania.
The regions of Sfakia and the White Mountains in Chania have impressive gorges. In the prefecture of Rethymno, gorges are smaller and easier to access, such as Myli and Kourtaliotikos Gorge. Heraklion has many gorges running Psiloritis Mountain, while Lassithi has the most dangerous gorges in Crete, including Ha Gorge and the Gorge of the Dead.
As Crete was the base of Minoan civilization, many Minoan sites have been excavated all around the island. The most famous is the Minoan Palace of Knossos, close to Heraklion Town. As scientists say, this palace was destroyed by the large tsunami waves that buried it under the lava from the volcanic eruption of Santorini around 1,500 BC. The destruction of Knossos gradually led to the decline of the entire Minoan civilization.
The Minoan Palace of Phaestos, located on the southern side of Heraklion, on the way to Matala, is most famous from the Phaistos Disc, a disk of fire clay of stamped symbols that archaeologists have not deciphered yet. Other Minoan sites in Crete are the Palace of Zakros, Ancient Vassiliki and the site of Gournia.
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