In Greek myth, Zeus was born on Crete, Theseus killed the Minotaur in the labyrinth, Daedalus, builder of the labyinth, escaped from Crete with feathered wings, but his son Icarus fell into the sea. Historically, Crete is home of the Minoans, the earliest civilization in the Aegean, which flourished from 2200 BC to 1450 BC.

Iraklion and Knossos

Lasithi Plateau (Lassithi Plateau) - The Lasithi plateau is the spot to see windmills, traditionally used for irrigation. Keep your eyes peeled for windmills (they look like big pinwheels) on the passes into the plateau, as well as the windmills dotting the valley.

Neapoli (Neapolis) - This is just a cute little town, a place to get out and walk around, have a bite to eat, escape the crowds on the coast. Stop into the Folklore Museum of Neapoli to see what a traditional schoolroom, grocery, family kitchen, cafe looked like, plus lots of farm tools.
Diktean Cave (Psychro) - In myth, the Diktean Cave (Diktean Andro) is where Rhea, goddess of the earth, hid Zeus after his birth, to protect him from Cronus. The cave was used by the Minoans, where many offerings were found. The largest chamber of the cave has spectacular stalactites and stalagmites, in the smallest room there's a little pool and the "cloak of Zeus" rock formation - you can just imagine the baby Zeus splashing away.
Beaches - In eastern Crete, you'll find plenty of good family beaches with sparkling blue waters. At Agios Nikolaos, there are resorts and public access to the beach. Vai is a famous beach with palm trees (crowded but the beach is beautiful). Xerokambos is a great uncrowded beach, with clear water, rocks and sand. Matala has a nice beach and the added attraction of artificial caves.
Gorge of Samaria - For older kids and teens, the Gorge of Samaria is well worth the trip. It's a longish hike, about 13km from the entrance of the national park to the beach, but it's all downhill and the scenery is spectacular - the trail drops down into the gorge, flanked with dramatic cliffs (especially at the narrowest point, the "Gates"), winds along a river, ending up at the beach. Rather than hiking back up, take a boat to new Agia Roumeli, or other towns on the coast.
The Gorge of Samaria is open for hiking from May to October, and is crowded in summer. Get an early start (the trail opens at 6:00am), or leave later in the day, and plan to spend the night at the new Agia Roumeli. The trails are good, but wear closed shoes (no flip flops). Along the way are springs, but you should also bring bottled water and snacks.
If you have little kids and may not want to hike the whole length of the gorge, take a boat to Agia Roumeli, and hike from Agia Roumeli up the gorge to the sheer-walled cliffs, the "Gates."
Tip: Ask at your hotel for a guide to make your arrangements, getting to Samaria National Park, boat ride and return.

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