Book Review: Lonely Planet's Crete


    Lonely Planet’s Crete is filled with 245 pages of information about Greece’s most hospitable island. Unlike most other travel guides, Lonely Planet focuses the first half of the book on understanding the history and culture of Crete. Then, with a solid background in this pertinent information, author Victoria Kyriakopoulos moves on to discuss the nitty gritty of traveling in Crete.

    The quick reference guide on the inside front cover provides great information that may be needed when traveling to Crete such as exchange rates, price ranges, business hours, telephone numbers and conversions.

    Beautiful color photos of white sand beaches, statues and rolling hills lure a reader into the wonders that is Crete.

    Kyriakopoulos stresses the importance of Cretan culture by explaining that Cretans often separate themselves from being just “Greek.” She explains that Cretans have a distinct culture of their own and have great pride for their homeland.

    The next section of the book focused on Cretan cuisine. Did you know that Cretans are some of the healthiest people in the world because of their diet? Cretans have the lowest rate of heart disease and cancer. According to Kyriakopoulos, “the mystery is attributed to a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, pulses, whole grains, olive oil and wine.” In this section, the author provides a useful dining language guide to help non-Greek speakers to speak at restaurants in Crete.

    There is much to do outdoors in Crete. The next section of the book focuses on the wildlife and environment of Crete. Hike through one of Crete’s famous gorges or take a bike ride from one end of the island to the other. If you aren’t quite so adventurous, you can simply enjoy a day at one of Crete’s beautiful beaches.

    Instead of throwing a whole bunch of information at the reader, Kyriakopoulos breaks the information up into manageable sections with interesting boxes with facts sprinkled throughout the pages. It also refers readers to multiple other guides and books that will help them to delve more deeply into traveling to Crete. I found these suggestions extremely helpful because instead of cramming all the information into one book, Kyriakopoulos points readers in the right direction to other useful resources.

    Thus begins the second half of the book. While the first half of the book overviews Crete’s rich culture, the second half discusses the many regions of Crete in detail. As I mentioned, this book is quite unlike many other guides I have come across in that it spends a great deal of time and space making sure the reader understands Crete’s history and culture. The second portion of the book reminds me of any other guide book with useful information about where to stay in a certain region, how to get around, where to eat, etc.

    The first region mentioned is Hania, which is also the biggest city in Crete. The next region mentioned is Rethymno, often called the cultural capital of the island. Next, Iraklio, home to half the islands population is explored. Finally, Lasithi, the most high-end tourism spot is detailed.

    The author makes sure to let readers know that while in Crete, you can either be a tourist, or immerse yourself in the culture. She specifically points out tourism spots, and explains how to get to the spots where you can truly become a Cretan.

    Lonely Planet’s Crete is a comprehensive guide to one of Greece’s most beautiful and culturally rich islands. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone traveling to Crete, or anyone simply interested in learning more about Crete’s history and culture.


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