Friday, 28 May 2010 12:00 AM
The Mediterranean may be packed with sunshine holiday destinations, but few can compete with the attractions of Greek villa holidays in Crete.
As well as offering everything you would expect to find on a European beach holiday, Crete has a fascinating history to explore and a unique culture to experience.
The island enjoys consistently high temperatures and very little rain throughout the summer, making it the ideal choice for a relaxing holiday in the sun.
There are beaches all round the island's coastline, meaning that the Greek island villas available to rent are never more than a few miles away from a secluded spot by the sea.
Head inland and you will discover that Crete's landscape soon turns into something very different, with breathtaking mountains and green valleys.
You may find that hiring a car is the best way to explore the mountains, which are home to picturesque villages, ruins of castles and ancient monasteries, as well as some beautiful views of the olive groves and vineyards.
If you choose a Greek island villa in the west of Crete, you will be close to the rugged beauty of Samaria Gorge, the unspoiled beach at Paleochora and the ancient city of Chania.
Built on the site of a 3,000-year-old Minoan settlement, Chania is a treasure trove for anyone with an interest in history.
Whether you spend your time wandering around the Venetian port in the beautiful Old Town or visiting its fascinating museums, you are sure to find plenty to interest you in Chania.
Central Crete is home to a vast array of archaeological sites and ruined buildings, which help to tell the story of the island's rich history.
A visit to Knossos will allow you to see the remains of a Bronze Age palace thought to be more than 3,500 years old, while excavations at Gortyn have discovered evidence of a Neolithic settlement.
Both sites are located within easy travelling distance of the capital Heraklion, which itself has plenty of stunning architecture dating back to the periods of Venetian and Ottoman rule.
With so much to see and do, you may want to consider hiring a car and staying in more than one Greek island villa during your holiday in Crete to make sure you have time to experience everything the island has to offer.