Crete (Κρήτη / Kriti, sometimes spelled "Krete" in English) is the largest of the Greek islands and is the fifth largest in the Mediterranean Sea - after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. It is located between the Sea of Crete and the Libyan Sea, south of the Peloponnese. It contains the southernmost city within the European continent, Ierapetra, which is located only about 400 miles (about 645 kms) from the coast of Libya. Crete is approximately 260 km long and 60 km wide. The island is divided into four prefectures: from west to east, Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, and Lasithi. Crete's population is approximately 650,000.
While all Greek islands have their own charm and beauty, Crete is undoubtedly one of the most diverse, blessed with a remarkable amount of truly spectacular natural beauty and a wide variety of varied architecture that pays tribute to its ancient Minoan past and chronicles its history of conquest from the Greek mainland, the Venetian era, and the Turkish/Ottoman period.
Certainly, the island has its share of magnificent beaches and ritzy beach resorts, but there is plenty more to explore - from rugged mountain peaks (some of which remain capped with snow throughout much of the year) and breathtaking gorges to metropolitan cities and sleepy traditional villages where it is not uncommon to see donkeys carrying vegetables being led past cars and scooters. There are miles of olive trees and vineyards, palm trees, and desert-like landscapes. There are beautiful Byzantine churches and monasteries, many of which are open to visitors. There are ancient ruins scattered everywhere. In fact, just about everything that can be found anywhere in Greece can be seen here.
Crete is divided in four prefectures. From west to east:
- Heraklion — is the largest city and capital of the island, with the archaeological highlight Knossos. Not the most attractive city, as it was built haphazardly with little planning oversight. Although there are a number of attractive old buildings and churches, the Old Town has largely disappeared. The harbor (a major cruise and ferry port) boasts Venetian walls and a Venetian fort.
- Agios Nikolaos — the charming capital of Lasithi Prefecture. Once known as a partying hot-spot for northern Europeans (especially Brits), it is today much more sedate, with only a handful of disco-type establishments.
- Chania — largest city and capital of Chania Prefecture. Its Old Town is largely intact, and located both on the port side (another major cruise and ferry port) and the harbor side. The harbor boasts an old Venetian lighthouse (faros) and old Turkish mosque. Many of the Old Town structures are from the Venetian and Turkish period, including a few old Turkish hammans ((Turkish baths). Souda Bay, just outside of Chania is an important NATO naval base. As such, you will run across many Americans (mostly military personnel) in the city. This is unusual, as Americans are definitely in the minority of tourists elsewhere on the island.
- Chersonissos — a charming harbor town in winter, and very popular with tourists in the summer. While there are many "party" spots, this town is more sedate and refined than its neighbor Malia. The Old Town of Hersonissos is very charming, with many old stone buildings.
- Elounda — once a small fishing town, this is now the "jet set" area of the island visited by celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, with many four and five-star resorts and exclusive villas. It's located on Elounda Bay with the abandoned Spinalonga Island, a former Turkish fortress and leper colony. The town virtually closes down during the winter, as do many of the smaller cities and towns dependent on tourism.
- Hora Sfakion — coastal town in the southwest with white houses and the ferry to and from the Samaria Gorge
- Ierapetra — the southernmost city of Europe with some of the longest and finest sandy beaches on the island. Also site of an old Venetian fort. A short ferry ride from the city is the small, uninhabited island of Chrysi, which is protected as an area of intense natural beauty; it shelters the largest naturally grown group of Lebanese cedar forest in Europe. There is a small taverna near the ferry landing. It is forbidden to camp on the island so only day trips are allowed.
- Malia — Today, Malia has taken over as the "party capital" of the island, popular mostly with young (especially British) travelers, and with a fairly unsavory reputation for drunken tourists staggering around the streets and beaches until dawn. The town is filled with discos and music bars, as well as many restaurants catering specifically to tourist tastes, including Mexican and Indian restaurants and British pubs. There is even a McDonald's and KFC. Virtually all of these establishments arre open only during the tourist season.
- Rethymno — capital of Rethymnon Prefecture, with a fascinating and well-preserved Old Town, which is a maze of lanes and alleys mostly reserved for pedestrians. The Old Town sits at the foot of a massive Venetian fortress.
- Sitia — medium-sized harbor city on the eastern tip of the island, with access to some very unspoiled beaches. It has a very good sandy beach right in town near the harbor, which is lined with traditional tavernas. It is quite popular with French tourists, and there are direct charter flights during the tourist season. Ferries also put in here.
- Archanes — medium-sized mountain city to the south of Heraklion. It is the center of a heavy viticulture area, and is surrounded by vineyards. Its Old Town features some lovely old Turkish and Venetian buildings.
- Houdetsi — a small mountain town just south of Archanes, with some nice old stone buildings, a few small hotels, and tavernas and kafeneions. It is notable as the home of the internationally respected musician, Ross Daly, and the site of his annual musical workshop (Labyrinth) that draws musicians from around the world. Here also is his museum, located in a lovely old Turkish manor house in the center of town. The museum houses a few hundred rare instruments from around the world.
Other destinations 
- Samaria National Park — A breathtaking gorge in the southwestern part of the island in Chania Prefecture. A hike through the complete gorge takes five to seven hours, and is only for the physically fit. The park can be visited from May 1 through mid-October.
- Lasithi Plateau — is a large fertile plateau in the mountains in the center of the Lasithi Prefecture. It is the site of numerous old stone windmills, which once provided the power and water for the agriculture that is based here. Some of these windmills are ruins, and some have been beautifully restored as private homes or as interesting features next to a taverna. These old windmills once provided views of thousands of white sails carpeting the floor of the valley; active windmills today are made of metal and powered by diesel and electricity.
Except for the major port cities and towns, settlements near the coast were built on the hills above the water. This practice dated to ancient times, and the purpose was for residents to be able to see pirates and other invaders from afar. They could then rush to the sea to challenge them or flee higher up in the mountains. Today, there are many settlements right on the water that began to develop as tourism exploded in the 1960s and 1970s. These new, lower villages are called "kato" (κάτο) while the old upper villages are called "epano" (επάνο). Most towns and villages, especially along the coast, will be in two sections - the upper and lower. When asking for directions, let them know if you are going kato or epano.
Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization, a sophisticated Bronze Age culture from 2600-1150 B.C.: the island bears witness to their achievements in the form of palaces, tombs and sacred sites. This civilization was so sophisticated that they even had a large navy. The Minoan decline was likely initiated by a by tsunami wave from the eruption of a huge volcano in Santorini, Greece in 1450 B.C. Towards the end of the Late Bronze Age, the Minoans were superseded by Mycenaeans from the Greek mainland. Thereafter, Crete very much followed in the classical mainstream of Greece and - much later - Rome.
Crete was invaded by Romans from 69-330 A.C. and this period of time plus the Byzantine era actually brought much wealth to the Island. The beauty and wealth of this time can still be seen today by mosaics and monuments around the island.
Crete was the site of an airborne invasion by German troops, and a spirited resistance by Allied (mainly British, New Zealand and Australian) troops and the people of Crete during the 1941 Nazi invasion of Greece. The invasion and fierce resistance is called "The Battle of Crete." During this invasion many Cretans were executed for initially resisting the Germans and the cities of Chania and Heraklion were bombed so heavily that you may still see the destruction even today.
There is much mythology related to the island. The most important is the myth of the King of Crete, Minos, who refused to sacrifice a bull to the Greek gods. Poseidon in turn forced Minos's wife to fall in love with a bull which created the mythical beast, the Minotaur. It is said the palace of Knossos is the site of the famous labyrinth with the Minotaur slain by Theseus.
Agriculture is the most important industry of the island, although tourism is also extremely important to the economy. The island has begun to rely on tourism more and more since the 1970s; many towns serve no other purpose, and virtually close down during the winter. There are only about 60 days of rain per year, and just about every single home and business is topped with solar panels. The west part of the island is more forested and receives more rain than the east. The entire island was once completely covered with forest, primarily cedar and pine. It has been largely deforested for firewood and to make room for the olive trees and vineyards.
Different areas are known for different crops. The soil around Malia is particularly good for potatoes and bananas, and to a lesser degree oranges. The Malia bananas are particularly sought after. They are small and very tasty. As you drive through the town, you will see many roadside stands selling potatoes and bananas. The bananas are hanging on one large stem. Point out how many you want, and the vendor will slice those off for you. In many supermarkets, there will be a large branch propped up on the floor in the produce section. A sharp knife will be stuck in it and you can slice off your own bunch. Oranges from the area between Rethymnon and Chania are sought after. Driving that stretch of the National Road will reveal many stalls along the side in the apparent middle of nowhere, being attended by old men or women. Ierapetra is well known for its large nurseries, some of which have important export businesses for cut flowers - particularly long stemmed roses and lilies. Many other kinds of flowers, herbs, and strawberry plants are grown here for export and purchase around the island. Herbs of all kinds, walnuts, almonds, chestnuts, and honey are grown and produced everywhere on the island, and you can find stalls along roadsides everywhere marketing their fresh, pure goods.
When Greece entered the European Union, smoking was also addressed - sort of. "No smoking" signs are required inside all restaurants, bars, and tavernas. You are entirely likely to see the owner sitting under one of those signs and smoking, as well as many of the patrons also smoking. The main tourist season is during warm weather. Virtually every eating and drinking establishment has an outdoor area. People will be smoking in those areas, but at least you are outside. Better hotels and restaurants (especially small, enclosed ones) will enforce bans if asked, and better hotels will have non-smoking rooms.
Get in 
By plane 
The island has three significant airports:
- Nikos Kazantzakis at Heraklion. There are long term plans to replace Heraklion airport, which is too close to the city, by a new inland airport at Kasteli, southeast of Heraklion. It is a small airport located at the edge of Heraklion. Has basic facilities and a small parking lot.
- the military airport Daskalogiannis at Chania. Chania airport is much smaller and far less busy than Heraklion airport. Located on the Northwestern part of the island and the airport is also known as the K. Daskalogiannis Airport.
- a new public airport in Sitia. Sitia airport serves a small number of domestic flights, mainly to/from Athens, and charter flights from Europe (mainly France) during the summer.
There are daily flights from Athens airport by Olympic Air , Aegean Airlines  and Athens Airways (hich take about 35min.) to Heraklion and Chania. Sky Express operates flights from Athens airport to Sitia. During the months of July and August Astra Airlines  flies from Thessaloniki to Heraklion and Chania.
From April till early November charter airlines fly directly to Sitea, [Heraklion], and [Chania] from many European airports.
Flights going from Heraklion and Chania to Thessaloniki take about an hour and a half. The airport at Heraklion also has daily flights to Rhodes which takes 1 hr.
By boat 
Get around 
By car 
Hiring a car is easy, as long as you have your driving license with you. Gas stations often close around 9PM, particularly in villages. Most gas stations expect you to pay cash - they serve you, so you can choose for them to fill the tank or put in gas to a cash value. On the National Highway, there are service stations, but they are often 30 miles or so apart - make sure you fill up with gas before bank holidays and Sundays when you may have more difficulty finding an open station.
Be careful when driving in Crete, as Cretans haven't got used yet as of driving in a more-than-one lane road (national roads were recently upgraded near Heraklion to two-lane roads) and will easily drive in the middle between the lanes, trespass the double-line or flash the headlights to drive you into safety lane for them to pass. Stop signs are rarely respected by locals, and the best way to avoid accidents is to reduce speed to the point that you could easily stop the car and avoid collision whenever you approach a crossroad. Stay on the safe side legally in order to maintain your rights in case of accident. Despite the fact that most roads are slippery, Cretans usually drive aggressively. You certainly wouldn't have to follow their example.
Taxi services are another great way to get around Crete because they are very cheap throughout Greece. They are a very accessible and easy way to get around large cities like Heraklion and Chania. Greek taxis all work under the Greek State and the Taxi driver must always charge by the meter price which he must turn on as soon as you get into the cab.
There are 2 taxi tariffs in Greece: Tariff 1 is day hours ranging from 5:00am to midnight and Tariff 2 is night hours ranging from midnight to 5:00am.
By bus 
Public transportation is fairly frequent and timetables  quite trustworthy. Bus drivers usually divert from their marked routes to enter little villages if asked to do so. Bus services along the north coast and towards the south coast are excellent, reliable, frequent and cheap.
Most of these bus services are run by Kino Tamio Eispraxeon Leoforion, KTEL, which are groups of families which individually run their own bus companies. This, in turn, creates a much more homely environment for Cretans and tourists and these families provide excellent service and show off their great deal of pride.
Cretan bus stations are very simple for the most part, except for in Heraklion which has two major bus stations (one for local buses in town and one for long-distance KTEL buses).
By ferry 
Crete has many ferry connections for example: You can go from Pireaus to Heraklion with Minoan Lines, to Chania with ANEK Lines or Hellenic Seaways, to Ayios Nikolaos and Sitia with LANE Lines. LANE also operates routes from Ayios Nikolaos/Sitia to Rhodes and other greek islands. In the summer, there are daily catmarans (hydrofoils) from Heraklion to Santorini. The trip takes about 2.5 hours. Hellenic Seaways and SeaJets offer these sailings. You can also go to Crete by ferry from the Peloponnese (Gytheio) and Kythira island. This ferry lands on the west part of Crete, in Kissamos port.
The main ports in Greece that ferries come into are in Heraklion, Chania, Rethymno, Sitia, and Kastelli-Kassamos. Since there are no roads along the southwest coast there is a ferry line, with connections between Paleochora, Sougia, Agia Roumeli, Loutro and Hora Sfakion (Sfakia). There is also a connection with the islet of Gavdos, Europe's southernmost point (Cape Tripiti).
All Cretans speak what is called Modern Greek, as opposed to the more formal Classical Greek, which is still spoken in churches. Since Cretans are quite religious, many know at least some Classical Greek, as do highly educated people. There is a distinctive Cretan dialect Greek, that is much like Modern Greek, but with a number of differences. Most native Cretans will know this dialect, and older people (especially is small mountain villages) will still speak it. An example is the word for "no." It is oxi (όχι), pronounced "oshi" in Modern Greek. In the Cretan dialect, it is simply "oy."
You will have little trouble if you only speak English, as the majority of the people speak at least some. A large number of people, especially in the tourist industry, are quite fluent. The education on the island is excellent, and English is taught from the first grade. However, it is a good idea to learn at least a few basic phrases, so you can greet people in their own language. Many people will consider it rude if you march into a shop and simply ask if they speak English. This kind of approach might get you a firm "no," even if the person does speak English. An effort to say good day in Greek first, will break the ice.
Many Cretans speak other languages because of being in the merchant marines and traveling the world, because they studied in another country, or simply took extra language courses in school. The island welcomes a large number of tourists from around the world, especially northern Europe, and many in the tourist industry will speak other European languages. The menus in tavernas that cater to tourists are usually in several languages - Russian, French, Italian, English, and German. Certain areas are more popular with particular nationalities, and there the people in the tourist industry are apt to be proficient in that language.
- The ruins of the ancient Minoan civilization in Knossos, Phaistos and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
- The variety of landscapes in a short distance: the wilderness and solitude of the Cretan mountains some hundred meters away from the coast.
- The traditional cafes (kafeneia) of Crete.
- The Gorge of Samaria
- The southern coast of Rethimnon prefecture. There are some beautiful beaches, many accessible only on foot. The monastery at Prevelli is of particular historical interest as the site from where Abbot Agathagelos Lagouvardos sheltered and assisted the evacuation of Allied troops during WWII. There are also several museums and an ancient Minoan cemetary.
- Crete Avril Mona Mountain is a historical place in Western Crete popular with tourists.
- The Lasithi Plateau. A large plateau located in the mountains where due to its altitude of a few thousands feet is cooler than the coast. Its a flat area full of irrigated fields and a road runs round the perimeter. Here you can find the "Zeus Cave" (Ideon Andron) where according to greek Mythology the infant god Zeus was hidden as a child from his father.
- The palm tree lined beach of Vai. The east coast of Crete a few kilometres from Sitea has a valley containing Europe's only native growing wild palm trees. This tree-lined valley terminates in a fabulous sandy beach and bay and is possibly the most scenic beach on the island. To the south (right) of this over a small cliff is another large beach that due to having no road access is often completely deserted.
- Zakros Gorge - south of Sitea and Vai lies the Zakros Gorge (also known as the "valley of the dead" due to the ancient neolithic tombs in the valley wall). This gorge runs several kilometres down towards the sea and ancient palace ruins of Zakros and can be walked comfortably there and back in a few hours unlike is larger cousin the Samara gorge.
- Spinalonga - a small island containing an old leper colony located near Elounda and offshore from the quiet village of Plaka. This island achieved fame in the novel "The Island" by Victoria Hislop and there are many boat trips running from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda and Plaka to this island.
- Gramvousa - an inhabited island, reachable by boat (plenty of organized excursions). You can see there a splendid old fortress and a lovely beach.
- Every year in May the local Cretans commemorate the great Battle of Crete which was a battle against invading paratroopers
- See the vast ancient city of Gortyna: has many ancient Roman ruins, Byzantine Cathedrals, and a tree where supposedly Zeus and Europa first made love
- Go to Lasithi Plateau, which has ancient caves, and sacred sites. The plateau also has many thousands of old windmills, once used to pump water for agriculture, and very picturesque.
- Elounda Lagoon- Clear turquoise lagoon that conceals the sunken city of Olous. There is also a ancient Greek myth that mermaids live here
- Myrtos. An agicultural traditional village 8k west of Ierapetra, few tourists, endless empty beaches. Archaeological sites and donkey tracks to hill villages. Warm all year round, warm sea until late January. Good bus service, local butcher, baker etc.
- Agia Roumeli. A coastal village near the Samaria Gorge.
- The Minoan archaeological sites of Knossos, Phaistos, Gournia and Mallia
- Spinalonga Island - information and history
- The Roman archaeological site of Gortys
- Byzantine churches
- Monasteries (Arkadi, Triada, Preveli) with interesting histories
- Lasithi Plateau
- Palekastro area in Eastern Crete
- The White Mountains ('Lefka Ori'), Crete's largest mountain massif, with over 100 gorges, and peaks of over 2,500 metres
- Paleochora Located on the South coast of Western Crete and is a large village. The village itself is not pretty but the beaches are beautiful and there is an abundance of restaurants, bars, hotels, and rooms
- Bali village close to Sises
- Plakias is a small, quiet resort on the South coast of Crete. It has a magnificent beach and is backdropped by stunning mountainous scenery that offers good walking.
- Elafonisi is a small island just off the southwestern tip of Crete. It is so close to the main island that it is possible to walk through the shallow waters. It is a protected nature reserve, therefore the landscape is breathtaking and pure. It only has two places to stay and is an excellent location to spend the day at the beach, which is one of the most famous all over Crete. Parking is available close by and is free.
- The Beaches West of Chania Long stretch of sandy beaches that has now made this area a huge tourist attraction. Also has many hotels, apartments, bars, and tourist shops
- Georgioupolis 9Km. long of sandy beaches on the Northern end of Crete. Many new hotels are being built on the island to sustain the growing tourist population
- Falasarna Located on the Western part of Crete, has many nice beaches and the water there was voted second cleanest water in all of Greece
- Gramvoussa Located on the westernmost peninsula of Crete. Used to be very secluded only accessible by private boat but the turquoise lagoon and white beach now has to deal with tar on rocks and frequent rubbish on the beach but it is still a beautiful site.
- Sougia 1200 meter long pebble beaches located in a very small village where it is never crowded. The landscape and waters are beautiful and nuditiy on the beaches is acceptable
- Visit the Archaeological Site of Knossos - and its famous palace, major city of the Minoan civilization 4,000 years ago.
- Check more sites of interest to visit by consulting the Hellenic Minister of Culture web-site 
- Listen to traditional Cretan music: Lýra is the dominant folk instrument on the island; it is a three-stringed fiddle, direct descendant of the ancient Lyre, which is held vertically, resting on the thighs of the player and is played with a bow like a violin. It is often accompanied by the Cretian lute (laoúto), which is similar to both an oud and a mandolin. The film Zorba the Greek helped to expand the audience for Cretan folk music; popularity peaked from about the middle of the 1970s to the middle of the 1980s.
- Complete the walk down the Samaria Gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea, at which point tourists sail to the nearby village of Hora Sfakion and catch a coach back to Hania. The walk takes between four and seven hours and can be strenuous, especially in high summer.
- Avoid overcrowded and touristic places as they are ugly and don't offer any of the qualities of Crete. In general, the North coast is much more busy and touristic than the South coast.
- Go walking in the mountains.
- Yakinthia Festival-this is an anual festival of music and dance, which also features presentations on Greek mythology
- Excellent beaches: Balos Lagoon, Kissamos/ Red Sand Beach, Matala/ Palm Beach, Plakias/ and Elafonissi Beach, Elafonissi
- Visit museums: Historical Museum of Crete, Heraklion/ Museum of Cretan Ethnology, Heraklion/ and the famous Lychnostatis Open Air Museum, Hersonissos
- Shopping Centers: Idolio, Hersonissos (specialty museum shop) and Faestos, Hersonissos
- The night life is great too; Bars: Ya Bar, Farbrica, and the White Lion which are all located in Hersonissos. Along with bars there are Dance/Disco Club: Camelot, Enigma, and Amnesia clubs all in Hersonissos
Crete is famous for its tasty and healthy cuisine. The Cretan Diet was the subject of study that revealed its great health benefits and nutritional value. Studies have actually shown that Cretan peoples' diets are so nutricious that it has prevented the population from having heart attacks and some cancers which are caused by unhealthy eating habits.
A good tip is to join any of the hundreds of traditional fiestas in villages which offer great food, wine and live folk music.
Unlike in most regions in Greece, Feta is not produced and is not very popular in Crete. However you will find a very good variety of delicious locally produced Cretan cheeses, such as:
- Graviera: (Greek: Γραβιέρα) The standard hard cheese; there are many types and tastes. Taste before buying, as early cheese (cut before mature) will have a spicy taste, when a mature one will be salty and milk-sweet.
- Myzitra: (Greek: Μυζίθρα) A fresh cheese made of ewe's milk. It is sometimes made of goat's milk (in which case it is called "katsikisia") or mixed milk. A good goat's one will taste like these expensive French "chèvre frais".
- Anthotiros: (Greek: Ανθότυρος) from the words "anthos" (flower) and "tiros" (cheese) it is a very mild, soft spring cheese made when the sheep pastures are still full of flowers. The closest popular cheese is the Italian mascarpone as they are both high in fat and are both creamy in texture (unlike mozzarella which is high in protein and chewy in texture).
Snails cooked in various ways (one of the most traditional dishes of Crete), Smoked ham (apaki) and smoked sausages (loukaniko), traditional mountain goat or lamb cooked in various ways, cretan pilaf (chicken and lamb risotto served with goat's butter), souvlaki (pork meat, lamb, chicken or fish on skewers).
Side dishes 
- Dips and sauces
- Salads and Vegetables:
Dakos (Greek: Ντάκος - Cretan rusk with tomato, feta cheese, olives, oregano and olive oil), Horta vrasta (boiled greens with olive oil and lemon juice). Xoriatiki Known as the Greek Salad, Sheperd's Salad Salad with a east style twist, Salata Marouli Romaine Lettuce Salad, and Lahano Salata A traditionally tart cabbage salad are other types of Cretan salads.
Kotosoupa A chicken based soup with a lemon sauce Fakkes Tomato soup in a lintel base Fasolatha A hearty been soup in a tomato base Nisiotiki A hearty seafood soup
The Cretans themselves eat out late, after 10 or 11 PM, and often in a group. They prefer dinner in a good taverna, a small local restaurant offering the local cuisine. Most dishes are fresh from that day. The menu is only for tourists, Cretans ask the waiter for specialties, and have a look in the kitchen or in a 'vitrine', glass display case. Dinner is usually outside.
Fresh fish becomes more and more rare, and is expensive, priced by its weight. Restaurants and tavernas by law have to display if the fish that they offer is fresh or frozen. Thus, always ask your waiter to show you the fish and weight it in front of you before you order.
- Common Appetizers:
Tsatziki Famous cucumber dip that can go well with almost anything Taramosalata Cod roe-based dip Kalamari Deep fried squid Skorthalia Greek garlic mashed potatoes Gigantes Lima beans in a tomato sauce (can be spicy or not)
- Common Entrees:
Bifteki Greek hamburger patties Souvlaki Sticks of meat served in or without a pita bread Fricasse Lamb and garden beans in a creamy lemon sauce Pilafi Greek style rice Psari A way to prepare Black Grouper or other types of fish Moussaka Famous eggplant casserole Greek people seldom have breakfast. They do enjoy a copious lunch.
There are options of cheap Greek fast food Called "gyropitta" by Cretans (mainland Greeks call it "giros pitta" as two separate words, and their definition is somewhat different as a single mainland Greece "giros pitta" is usually too small to replace a decent meal, instead of Cretan Giropitta which is bigger by far, having almost a serving of french fries added and with bigger pitta). As always, there are tourist-traps among those. Prefer those that locals do.
Raki is the predominant alcohol drink produced and consumed by the locals. This drink is also known as Tsipouro or Tsikoudia and is made from the left over distilled wine. Raki alcohol precentage varies a bit, usual average is 20%-45%. It has a grapey taste and is usually served with some "meze" (accompaniments) like hard cheese, olives, cucumber or cold cuts.
Raki usually is a "goodbye gift" from many restaurants, that serve it along with dessert or fruit right after you ask for the bill. Not every restaurant follows this tradition, but the trend tends to expand.
Raki production is strictly controlled by alcohol taxing laws, who permit production for a single 48-hour period each year, for which authorities issue licenses for distilleries operation.
If you happen to fall within the period (August - September - October) and you are into local fiestas, try to visit a "rakokazano" which is local a raki distillery. This could be an experience to remember. Arrange for returning to hotel beforehand. Usually "rakokazano"'s are located away from tourist vacances, deep into the mainland near vineyards. Due to the nature of the event, raki production escalates to a fiesta, where freshly produced raki is tested, between feasts of unpeeled oven potatoes w. margarine or lemon and salt, lamb meat and wine. You are not expected to be sober after visiting one of those, but usually a local has to invite you along (and drive you home afterwards).
Cretans also love to drink Ouzo which is an alcoholic drink made by distillation of grapes. It looks milky when water is poured in and mixed with, but it doesn't contain milk or derivates of milk! During the distilling process it is made with ginger, cinamon, aromatic seeds, plants, and fruits which give it a distinct taste.
Apart from local drinks, a great variety of wines are produced locally, and can escort supper or dinner. Most restaurants would serve varieties of local wines or even resaurant's owners own production as "barrel wine".
Youth can enjoy their booze at dancing bars, which are open till late along the coast line near tourist places, like in Malia and Hersonissos (30km from Iraklion) or Platanias (25km from Chania)
Many package holidays in Crete are available, especially from the UK, but many visitors prefer to travel on their own, as the beauty of Crete is located at small hidden villages and not in the crowded/touristic places. Most package tours cater for those who want to go to Eastern Crete, which is very lively. One or two cater for Western Crete (much quieter) and Southern Crete (eg Paleochora).
There are also many holiday specials for villas in Crete. Look at local guides for specific listings.
Stay healthy 
The quality of professional medical care on the island (as it is throughout Greece) is extremely good. Physicians, nurses, and medical technologists are highly trained. Many have studied and/or practiced in places like Scandinavia, Germany or the United States. Virtually everyone in any medical facility will speak English, and many will be fluent in other languages. If you come from a modern, industrial country, you will find the routine of nursing in a hospital is different - as nurses practice their medical profession, not act as bedpan emptiers and sponge bath givers. In national hospitals, someone who is hospitalized and not ambulatory will have family and friends with them pretty much around the clock to help see to their personal needs. As a tourist who may have broken a leg or had a heart attack requiring hospitalization, you will probably receive more attentive nursing care. This is also true if you require hospitalization and choose a private hospital.
National hospitals are generally run down buildings with creaking elevators, peeling paint, broken chairs, and other things you would never see in a medical facility in northern Europe or the United States. Additionally, the Western notion of protocol and privacy are different. Waiting patients and other staff feel free to knock on closed doors and stick their heads in the room while you are being examined. The door may be left open or you may be asked personal questions in public areas. People will interrupt to ask questions while you are talking to a doctor or receptionist. This is normal, and remember that the level of professional care you are being given is excellent.
If you are on vacation, it is a good idea to have your medical insurance information with you. As a member of the EU, Greece has reciprocal medical care agreements with all other member nations. Any medical needs you have on the island should be free or available for a very small fee, so long as you carry your IKA card with you and visit a national hospital. There are a number of private clinics, where you will probably have to pay the bill and seek reimbursement when you return home. If you are not from an EU country, you will also probably need to pay and seek reimbursement when you return home. Be sure to keep all invoices and written prescriptions. If you do not have insurance, you will still most probably be surprised at the very reasonable cost of going to even a private clinic.
Almost any medication that normally requires a prescription from a physician at home is available over the counter in pharmacies - everything from asthma inhalers and antibiotics to diabetes tablets. Strong pain killers and a few other drugs (like insulin) will require a prescription from a physician. However, as a tourist, you may be able to get your needed medication if you have the empty container with you. If you require medication that is regulated, it is a good idea to carry a written prescription from your physician. All pharmacists speak English. Pharmacies are marked by a green star, usually neon; they generally cose at 2:00 p.m. and are closed on Sundays. In towns with heavy tourist traffic, you will find pharmacies open longer hours and on Sundays during the tourist season. A pharmacy will not accept your insurance card. Pay cash and seek reimbursement when you return home. Keep receipts and written prescriptions.
Travelers with Physical Disabilities 
Since entering the European Union, there have been some efforts to make access for the disabled easier. However, a combination of factors has made this far from comprehensive. The major factors are the topography of the island, the nature of its most import sites, and the economy. Many hotels and other types of accommodations are in historic buildings, without elevators and often with many stairs to various facilities. This is especially true in small villages, and in the Old Town sections of cities. Getting into most public establishments (and to the toilet, once you're in there) usually means stairs.
Historic sites like the ancient ruins of Knossos will be very difficult to fully explore for those confined to wheelchairs and who have difficulty walking, although many of them (including Knossos) have significant sections that can be explored to create a rewarding experience. The Old Towns of cities (like Chania) and small mountain villages are hilly, often with steps from one area to another. Nonetheless, there are still places in most of these that can be explored. A wheelchair-bound person or one with walking difficulty will not be able to see everything, but they can still see a rewarding amount of things.
Most government buildings, hospitals, museums, and office buildings in cities and large towns have elevators and wheelchair ramps. You will also find wheelchair ramps at many restaurants and hotels in areas that cater to tourists. Virtually all of the four and five-star hotels have ramps, elevators and/or handicapped accessible rooms and facilities. Sidewalks in cities and larger towns will have ramps at intersections. Even able-bodied travelers should take care whenever crossing a street, as cars rarely stop for pedestrians in crosswalks - although they usually stop at red lights. Sidewalks are often uneven and have gaping holes. All pedestrians need to watch their feet. If you want to gaze up at something, stop; do not gawk while walking or you're apt to step in a hole.
If you have physical difficulties with walking or are confined to a wheelchair, it is important that you research your prospective lodging carefully and ask clear questions. Ask the advice of people who live on the island or go on one of the expat forums to get questions answered. Even with the obstacles that exist, it is possible to enjoy a rewarding visit.