Hersonissos, Crete

By Vikki Austin from Northamptonshire

Last updated at 12:20 21 June 2007

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and the inhabitants are passionately proud of its 8000 year history, not least because it is the home of the first high-level civilisation in Europe: the Minoans.

The villages of Koutouloufari, Peskopiano and Old Hersonissos sit side by side along one long road lined with tavernas and shops. The area looks quite new and seems to have been regenerated to make it more welcoming for tourists without losing any of its local charm. And of course, there are plenty of unfinished buildings nestled on the mountain to give it a proper Greek feel!

With stunning sea views, the three villages also look down over the town of new Hersonissos, which appears deceptively far away and yet is only a short walk down the mountain road. Hersonissos boasts a pleasantly busy town centre with plenty of shops to satisfy everyone's shopping needs. The sea front is lined with more tavernas so there is always ample choice for somewhere to eat.

You will also find plenty of local tour operators offering day trips to many of the islands sights, including the Minoan Palaces of Knossos and Malia and Spinalonga Island (a former leper colony), and it's only a half hour drive from Heraklion.

A recommended attraction is the Aquaworld Aquarium in Hersonissos featuring local sea life and reptiles. Some of the 'residents' have been rescued by fishermen, others are from further afield, including a young Nile crocodile and a rather large Burmese python.

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