It all starts with the palace of the legendary king Minos of Knossos, a place which has seen 600 years of Minoan history, dating from the Bronze Age. A fantastic window onto the ancient world, Crete is home to the most significant collection of Minoan objects, kept at the Heraklion museum.
Towards the West, there's Rethymno, whose port and elegant houses in the Venetian style mixed with Turkish architecture are well worth seeing. If you have the time, visit the town on market day at the foot of the fort and soak in the incredible ambiance. Also, visit Chania (the duck), the island's former capital, with a beautiful Venetian port. Its little streets and cul-de-sacs lead out onto small squares where you'll find quaint hotels.
Crete also boasts magnificent beaches, particularly the Balos lagoon, a real jewel. Towards the South, after a seemingly endless winding road, discover Elafonissi, a paradise that's unfortunately a bit too well-known. There are no roads along the South coast, so there's immense opportunity for hiking through virgin countryside, for example taking a path that joins up with a pretty little cove in the port of Loutro.
Head to the classic village of Houdesti, completely off the beaten track, where every year, the Labyrinth festival takes place. Visit the Samaria gorges on the Olamos plateau and the windmills on the Lassithi plateau. Towards the East, stop off at Agios Nikolaos, the beautiful seaside resort, then push on towards Sitia and the Vaï palm grove.