Hiking through Samaria Gorge is considered one of the ‘must-do’ experiences of Crete, which is why you’ll almost never be without company. In peak season, up to 3000 people per day tackle the stony 16km-long trail, and even in spring and autumn, it’s rarely fewer than 1000 hikers. The vast majority arrive on organised coach excursions from the big northern resorts.
Iraklio Wine Country
Cretan wine is, in a word, superb. While this has long been known among viticulturalists, wine drinkers are beginning to take notice, too. Winemakers cultivate unique indigenous Cretan grape varieties, such as Kotsifali, Mandilari and Malvasia. About 70% of wine produced in Crete comes from the Iraklio Wine Country, which starts just south of Knossos.
Vaï beach, 24km northeast of Sitia, is a tiny inlet of turquoise sea lapping soft sand backdropped by a forest of palm trees. Out in the tiny bay perches a small island. You may have to manually shut your jaw it’s that gorgeously pretty, all the more so for the incongruous presence of Phoenix theophrastii palms (the word Vaï is a local word for palm fronds).