Crete is a land of legends and landscapes, sunshine and sand, mountains and myths, history and hospitality and so much more. Crete's sheer size and distinct history make it feel rather like a country in its own right than just another Greek island, and most visitors find that a single holiday is never long enough to do full justice to this unique land.

Tourism began here in a small way over three decades ago and during the intervening years the island has never lost its appeal and, more importantly, its very special identity. Just as the many invaders drawn to the island over the centuries have been unable to conquer the fiercely independent Cretan spirit, the tourist invasion has failed to submerge the island's timeless charm.

Inevitably, there are certain resorts which have become far too busy and boisterous for our liking, but these are largely confined to a few distinct pockets along the north coast. With hundreds of kilometres of coastline and thousands of acres of virgin countryside in the interior, it is easy to avoid the few black spots on the Cretan map, as long as you have a little guidance from someone who knows the island well, which is exactly what this brochure aims to provide.

Just because the first resorts to spring up on Crete were in the eastern half of the island, it is often assumed that the east is more spoilt than the west, but the true picture is rather less simplistic. Both sides of the island have gloriously unspoilt tracts, and each has its own band of dedicated supporters, so which particular corner you choose for your own holiday is largely down to what your main interests are.

The west boasts the island's most imposing mountain range, the majestic 'Lefka Ori' ('White Mountains'), which are at their most beautiful in springtime, when the snow-capped peaks provide a truly gorgeous backdrop to the carpet of wildflowers covering the foothills and the coastal plains. The west is also of particular interest to those who appreciate Venetian architecture, with the harbours of the former island capital Chania and of the port town of Rethymnon living showcases of the graceful proportions and aesthetic principles applied by the island's one-time rulers.

The east on the other hand contains the vast majority of the island's Minoan sites from the world-famous palace of Knossos to the lesser-known but very evocatively sited excavations at Gournia and Kato Zakros. Once you get past the stretch of development along the coastal plain east of Heraklion, the east also boasts some of the island's most beautiful coastlines, with the Gulf of Mirabello a particular favourite of ours. Those not deterred by the long drive from Heraklion will find that the far east actually remains Crete's wildest and least discovered region, as the distance from the airport has meant that this area is of little interest to the large mass-market tour operators. Similarly, much of the south coast has been shielded from any large-scale tourist invasion by the island's mountainous backbone, so that you can still find several scarcely visited hideaways here.

Wherever you choose to visit, you will encounter the famed Cretan hospitality, for Crete's inhabitants are proud of their island and consider xenophilia (the love of strangers) as a way of life. Whether you want to just relax and sun-worship in a peaceful setting, investigate the Minoan civilisation, study the indigenous flora, roam the mountain villages, contemplate the Venetian architecture or just enjoy the local hospitality we can help you find the ideal location. Our aim is to take you beyond the few well-known tourist resorts and introduce you to the many aspects of our Crete - the real Crete.