DISCOVER THE NATURAL MIRACLES OF CRETE
Road signs outside the village of Skotino will lead you to the cave of Aghia Paraskevi, otherwise known as Skotino Cave. Walk down the short footpath until you reach the imposing entrance. Offerings found in the cave suggest it was a sacred shrine dedicated to Britomartis in Minoan times and to Artemis in the Classical Greek and Roman periods.
The village of Kapetaniana is the most beautiful in the Asterousia Mountains and serves as an ideal base for exploring this part of southern Crete. Most of the houses have been lovingly restored and now, as Thalori Guesthouses, they offer not only accommodation but also an overall travel experience.
The most important of Cretan archaeological sites, Knossos is a great starting point as you begin to acquaint yourself with the extraordinary history of ancient Crete. This was the Middle/Late Bronze Age Minoan central palace (ca. 1900-1375 BC), first excavated by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900, containing more than 1,000 rooms and winding corridors in a maze-like layout that may originally have inspired the myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur.
The dramatic gorge of Samaria is the most-trodden canyon in Crete and with good reason. Starting near Omalos and running down through an ancient riverbed to the Libyan Sea, it’s home to soaring birds of prey and a dazzling array of wildflowers in spring. It’s a full day’s walk (about six hours down) but the jaw-dropping views make it worth every step. To get more solitude, try lesser-known Imbros Gorge, which runs roughly parallel to Samaria and is around half the length.
With its heart-shaped boulder lapped by the bluest waves just offshore, Crete Preveli Beach is one of Greece’s most iconic. Bisected by a freshwater river and flanked by cliffs concealing sea caves, Preveli is a thick ribbon of soft sand on the Libyan Sea, with clear pools of water along its palm-lined riverbank that are perfect for cool dips.