Steeped in Homeric history and culture, scented by wild fennel and basil, Greece's largest island now hosts a quarter of all visitors to Greece. The north is overdeveloped, but it's still possible to find some peace by visiting the west and south coasts or the ruggedly mountainous interior.
The relatively small island of Crete has given the world some pretty big potatoes, not least of which is a traditional costume of baggy pants tucked into high boots which the New Romantic movement foisted on an unsuspecting public back in the 1980s.
Other accomplishments include Europe's first advanced civilisation; the mythical Minotaur and its labyrinth; King Minos himself (the semi-fictitious sacrificer of maidens and youths); the palace of Knossos; El Greco; an enduring linguistic mix-up between Cretans and cretins; and the ultimate definition of 'family vendetta'.
Facts for the traveller
Off the beaten track