Aptera Apokoronou, Box 411, Chania, Khania Crete, Aptera 730 03, Greece
Photo by Marc-André Desanges / age fotostock
Ancient ApteraWhile the (admittedly stunning) Minoan Palace of Knossos is overrun with bus tours, ancient Aptera—once the most powerful city-state in western Crete—is mostly, miraculously empty. Surrounded by two miles of fortified walls, the huge site is a trove of treasures from different periods: a Roman amphitheater, baths, and cisterns; fragments of a Doric temple; the Byzantine Monastery of Agios Ioannis; and a fortress that dates from the Turkish occupation. With the bay of Souda below and snow-frosted White Mountains above, the views alone are worth the trip, especially in spring, when the fallen columns and tombstones are surrounded by a carpet of poppies and daisies.