Crete is the fifth largest Mediterranean island, 160 km south of mainland Greece. In the eastern part of the surface of 8336 km 2, it takes second place only giving the size of Cyprus. Crete has a clearly elongated shape covering 260 km of length along the parallels and a variable width from 60 to approx. 12 km in the narrowest place located in the area of the city of Ierapetra. The shoreline, with a length of about 1046 km, is in contact with the following water bodies: from the north with the Cretan Sea (Κρητικό Πέλαγος), from the south with the Libyan Sea (Λιβυκό Πέλαγος) and on the Mirtean Sea (Μυρτώο Πέλαγος).
Crete is an island with a very mountainous terrain. This is probably due to the relatively young geological origin. It was created as a result of the raising of the Aegean Plate pushing towards the African Plate. Even now, Crete is still moving, friction between discs is revealed by earthquakes haunting this island from time to time. In addition to the horizontal movement towards the south, the island is also in vertical motion. The eastern part of the island is immersed in the sea and the west is upward.
Three mountain massifs dominate in Crete which bear the following names:
The photograph shows a visible scratch of the west coast elevation in the Gramvousa area
A large number of caves is a large attraction of the mountainous regions. The most famous caves include Idi, Dikte , Melidoni. In the southern part of the island there are many wonderful gorges, of which there are worth mentioning such as Imbros, Kotsifou, Kourtaliotiko and Aradena. However, by far the most famous of them is Samaria, which is the longest gorge in Europe. Equally interesting and charming are planes located high in the mountains. In particular, the plateaus Lasithiou and Nida are beautiful.
Crete is situated at the interface of two climate zones: the Mediterranean and North Africa with a definite predominance of the influence of the first of these zones. The dominant climate is moderate. Depending on the proximity of the sea, the air may have very high humidity. Winters are usually mild, however in the mountains snowfalls are normal and occur from November to May. In the areas located below, snowfall is very sporadic. Near the coast, the snow usually does not last longer than a few hours. In the summer, the average air temperature is around 20-30'C, with maximum values in the range of 35-40'C.
Far more hot areas of Crete are the southern ends of the island under the stronger influence of the North African climate. It is not surprising, therefore, that in this region date palms bear fruit and the swallows living here do not migrate to Africa in winter. The height of temperatures that are noted in this part of Crete may indicate that the city of Ierapetra here boasts the warmest city in Europe (average annual temperature over 20'C and over 3,000 sunny hours).
When in 2008 we went to Crete for the first time, we did not think that this island would enter our life so much, changing it even from the kitchen. Since then, along its roads, we have driven a total of over 6.5 thousand kilometers, we went several dozen kilometers on footpaths and visited several places using local public transport. Over the two months that we spent together in this cradle of civilization, we traveled this island along the length and breadth of sightseeing not only the most famous and described places in guidebooks, but also those mentioned by only a few sources.
For those who are going to Crete for the first time, we have prepared a set of basic information useful during the stay on the island. The following topics are important from our point of view and we have described them on the basis of our own experience. Of course, this article does not cover all topics and it is very likely that this toolbox will grow over time.