Follow the encircling Venetian walls to soak up the city’s medieval past, then spend a few hours boning up on Minoan history at the city’s archaeological museum. With your head spinning with images of bulls and topless goddesses, make your way to the excavated ruins of the legendary Palace of Knossos, just outside Heraklion.
Head out of the city to visit a classic example of a Venetian castle at Frangokastello, or explore yet more Minoan ruins to the east of the capital at Malia. Then get a taste for big town life on Crete at Hania or Rethymno. Both towns boast a stunning mix of Venetian and Ottoman architecture, with lovely old town centers to explore, Venetian harbors, museums, churches and mosques. Perhaps the best thing to do in Hania and Rethymno is to sit back and soak up the village atmosphere from a waterfront taverna looking onto the port.
For active types it’s time to dust off your hiking boots and walk Europe’s longest gorge hike, the Samaria.