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15 Best Things To Do In Crete

Crete is a beautiful island located in the Mediterranean Sea. It is known for its picturesque beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine and vibrant culture. With so much to explore and discover, it can be hard to know where to start when planning a trip to Crete. To help guide your itinerary, here are some of the best things to do in Crete that you won't want to miss.

1. Knossos

Knossos Palace in Crete

Knossos is an ancient palace located in present day Crete. It is believed to have been constructed by the Minoan civilization and dates back over 4,000 years ago. The palace of Knossos was said to extend over 20,000 square meters and contained workshops, stores and living quarters for the affluent citizens of Knossos. Archaeologists believe that the city of Knossos played a key role in trade routes between Europe and Africa during its heyday.

An elaborate drainage system can be found throughout the Knossos palace which is thought to have been used for hygiene purposes as well as for collecting rainwater during times of drought. This complex network of tunnels even featured what are believed to be flush toilets all those thousands of years ago! The grandeur of Knossos has made it a major tourist attraction with many visitors coming from around the world each year to explore its ruins.

2. Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a must-see destination and definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in discovering the culture and history of Crete. Located on Xanthoudidou street, this museum houses artifacts from the Minoan Civilization of Crete, one of the earliest civilizations in Europe that dates back to 2600 BC. Visitors can admire rare artworks, ceramics and sculptures as they learn about ancient Cretan life.

Particularly impressive are some of the findings discovered at Knossos Palace, a Bronze Age Minoan palace located just southwest of Heraklion city. The museum features an extensive collection of Knossos finds such as seal stones with engraved images and symbols, frescoes depicting scenes from everyday life during the Minoan era, clay tablets with Linear A writing and much more.


Address: Chatzidaki 1, Iraklio 712 02, Greece

Phone: +30 281 027 9000

3. Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi Beach is one of the most stunning places I have ever seen. Located on the southwest corner of Crete, it’s a beautiful combination of sea and sand, divided by a small strip of shallow water. The sand is powdery white, so fine that your feet sink into it when you walk.

The water is amazing - an unbelievable turquoise color, incredibly warm in the summertime. Elafonisi also has many fascinating wildlife species like flamingos and other species of birds, as well as wildlife such as turtles and donkeys roaming around on the beach.

The area itself is absolutely breathtaking – framed by limestone cliffs covered in pine trees, with a deep lagoon to its north side which provides shelter for swimmers from big waves.

4. Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge on the island of Crete

Samaria Gorge is a legendary hiking experience located on the Greek island of Crete. The hike itself is usually done during a day trip, but can extend up to two days depending on the pace of the hiker. At 13 miles long, it is considered to be Europe's longest gorge, and looks over some of Greece's most breathtaking scenery.

Starting from the small village of Omalos, hikers have access to three different routes that all lead through stunning scenery such as waterfalls, wildflowers and rocky terrain. Along their journey they will get to witness many different species of birds and animals which are unique for Samaria Gorge.

At the end of the hike lies a tranquil beach with shimmering turquoise waters called Agia Roumeli where you can take a refreshing dip after your challenging journey.

5. Rethymno Old Town

Rethymno Old Town

Rethymno Old Town is a stunningly preserved example of an old Venetian fortified city, and one of the best places to visit in Crete. The walls that surround it date back to the 16th century, making it one of the oldest cities in Greece.

Its streets are filled with traditional Greek architecture, including a number of churches and mosques built during its period as an Ottoman city. This combination of European and Asian architectural styles creates a unique atmosphere that can't be found anywhere else in Greece.

The fortifications around Rethymno are made up of five gates, each providing access to different parts of the city, which makes exploring all the more interesting. Inside these walls lies an abundance of traditional Greek tavernas offering delicious dishes prepared using local ingredients - perfect for sampling some authentic Cretan local cuisine.

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6. Balos Lagoon

Balos Lagoon

Balos Lagoon is a stunningly beautiful landscape situated in western Crete, Greece. It's a unique combination of crystal-clear water and stunning white sand, set against the backdrop of steep cliffs and lush green hillsides. The lagoon also includes several small islands that are just as remarkable to explore.

From walking along the beach, you can marvel at the turquoise waters lapping onto the pristine shoreline. A short boat ride will take you out into the middle of Balos Lagoon where you’ll be immediately surrounded by breathtaking views in every direction. You can even jump off your boat for a swim in its warm waters, which have been known to have healing properties.

7. Chania's Venetian Harbour

Chania's Venetian Harbor

Chania's Venetian Harbor is one of the most beautiful and historically significant harbors in Europe. Located in the old town of Chania, it was first built in 1320 by the Republic of Venice. The harbor boasts a unique blend of Venetian, Ottoman, and Greek architecture located around the waterfront area. Its stone walls that still remain today give visitors a sense of what life was like during these different times.

Visitors can take in views from cafes and restaurants that line up along the waterfront or venture out into one of its many shops where they can find traditional souvenirs and various items from local vendors. Tourists can also go sightseeing at places such as the old lighthouse or take a boat tour around its bright blue waters to truly appreciate the beauty of this historical monument.


Address: Ag. Markou 8, Chania 731 32, Greece

8. Arkadi Monastery

Arkadi Monastery

The Arkadi Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery which is famous for its role in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire in 1866. The monastery was used as a stronghold by Cretan rebels, and it has become widely known for the heroic acts that occurred here during that time.

Built in 1587, the Arkadi is situated upon a hillside surrounded by wild olive trees and other foliage. Inside are many colorful frescoes, icons, and artifacts from various centuries. There is also an old stone courtyard where monks and visitors can meditate or take refuge from the scorching summer sun. When you visit this site you will also find modern amenities such as cafes, shops, and art galleries surrounding the area.


Address: Arkadi 741 00, Greece

Phone: +30 2831 083136

9. Falassarna Beach

Falassarna Beach

Falassarna Beach is a stunning stretch of sand on the west coast of Crete, Greece. Located in the Chania region, it is well-known for its pink sand and crystal clear waters that range in color from deep blue to turquoise. The beach is framed by lush vegetation and offers spectacular views of the Aegean Sea. It’s easy to spend an entire day here taking in the sunbaked landscape and swimming in its cool waters.

The beach has year-round appeal as it is often uncrowded and features a number of tourist amenities including plenty of umbrellas, sunbeds, showers, tavernas and food stands. During summer months there are lifeguards on duty during peak season hours so visitors can feel safe while enjoying their time at this beach.

10. Phaistos Palace and Archaeological Site

Phaistos Palace and Archaeological Site

Phaistos Palace and Archaeological Site is a Minoan palace located on the south coast of Crete. This remarkable site is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Mediterranean region, showcasing an impressive range of artifacts from the early Bronze Age period.

The palace was constructed around 2000 BCE and served as a center for religious and administrative activity for many centuries. It consists of several buildings that are arranged around a large square court.

The Phaistos Palace has been divided into two sections: the west wing and east wing, both with their own distinct architectural styles. The west wing contains some of the best-preserved frescoes from this era and is considered to be one of the most important palatial sites on Crete, which makes it one of the best places to see when traveling to Crete.


Address: Epar.Od. Faistou - Kalon Limenon, Ag. Ioannis 702 00, Greece

Phone: +30 2892 042315

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Quickly search the best flights from the widest selection of airlines flying to Crete. Regardless of what airline you go with, you can save money by comparing. Skyscanner is the best airline price comparison service specifically for Crete.

11. Lake Voulismeni

Lake Voulismeni

Off all the places to see in Crete, Lake Voulismeni has a long and interesting history, and is one of the best things to see during your visit to Crete. It is located in the city of Agios Nikolaos, and believed to be as old as 4,000 years. It is a large freshwater lake in Crete that reaches depths of 64 meters, making it one of the deepest lakes in Europe. Its unique circular shape has made visitors overlook its actual depth since it resembles more like a lagoon than an actual lake.

The legend surrounding Lake Voulismeni says that ancient gods used to bathe in its waters. Additionally, this spot was also used as a meeting place for important political decisions in Ancient Greek times. Today, there are still remains from the past found at the bottom of the lake, such as anchor stones from ships and pottery dating back to 400 BC which confirms its historical importance over time.

12. Malia's Minoan Palace

Malia's Minoan Palace

Malia’s Minoan Palace is one of the most remarkable sites in Crete, Greece. Located near the town of Malia, it is an ancient Bronze Age palace that was first built during the 17th century BC and was later destroyed by a major earthquake in 1450BC. The entire site covers nearly five acres and consists of three large courts surrounded by several gates and walls. One of these courts is home to some massive stone pillars known as poros, which are believed to have formed part of the main entrance to the palace.

What makes the Minoan Palace so unique is its intricate architecture. In addition to its grand entrances, there were also many beautiful frescos on display throughout various parts of the palace complex, hinting at its former glory days.

13. Holy Trinity Monastery

Holy Trinity Monastery in Crete

The Holy Trinity Monastery in Crete, situated on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, this monastery dates back to the 1700s when a monk named Father Vasileios established it. It is considered one of the best preserved examples of Venetian architecture and stands as a symbol of faith in this region.

The monastery consists of two main buildings: The main church and a guesthouse for visitors. Inside, guests can admire beautiful frescoes and mosaics that were painted between 1711 and 1714; these include depictions of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints, and angels among other religious figures. Other features include an ornately decorated courtyard with olive trees along its walls and wooden doors that have been carved into intricate shapes.


Address: Αkrotiri, Chania 731 33, Greece

Phone: +30 2821 063572

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14. Lychnostatis Open Air Museum

Lychnostatis Open Air Museum

The Lychnostatis Open Air Museum is one of the most unique attractions in Crete. Located in Hersonissos, it's home to a wide variety of Cretan folk culture and tradition. The museum showcases traditional artifacts, tools and costumes from the island, along with buildings that reflect different architectural styles from various periods in history. One of the highlights is an old olive press that dates back to 1872; tourists can learn about how olives were processed during those times.

Travelers can also explore a beautiful botanical garden which houses over 500 species of plants and flowers from all around Crete, many of them being rare or endangered species. There are also pathways lined with stone sculptures and artworks made by local artists; these add to the museum's atmosphere, making it an even more special place for guests to visit.


Address: Chersonisos 700 14, Greece

Phone: +30 2897 023660

15. Aquaworld Aquarium

Aquaworld Aquarium in Crete

Visiting the Aquaworld Aquarium in Crete is an experience like no other. As soon as you enter the aquarium you feel a sense of awe and wonder at the beauty and diversity of the creatures living within its walls. From seahorses to dolphins, there are all kinds of sea animals inhabiting this underwater world.

The main tank houses a variety of colorful fish, as well as sharks, rays and turtles. The aquarium is also home to two species of endangered sea turtles- loggerhead turtles and green turtles- that were rescued from nearby beaches.

The Aquaworld aquarium also boasts an interactive program which allows visitors to touch various aquatic organisms such as starfish or jellyfish under expert guidance from experienced personnel. There is also a wide variety of educational activities for both children and adults that focus on conservation projects run by the aquarium itself.


Address: Filikis Etirias 7, Chersonisos 700 14, Greece

Phone: +30 2897 029125

Best Flights To Crete

Quickly search the best flights from the widest selection of airlines flying to Crete. Regardless of what airline you go with, you can save money by comparing. Skyscanner is the best airline price comparison service specifically for Crete.


Q: What is Crete best known for?

A: It is best known for its rich archaeological sites that date back to ancient civilizations such as the Minoans. The Minoan Palace of Knossos is perhaps Crete's most famous attraction. This extraordinary palace complex was once the center of civilization during the Bronze Age and offers visitors a glimpse into an advanced society that flourished over 4,000 years ago.

Another significant aspect that Crete is renowned for is its stunning beaches. With crystal-clear turquoise waters and powdery golden sands, it’s no wonder this island has been dubbed a beach lover's paradise. From popular resorts like Elafonisi and Balos to hidden gems such as Preveli Beach or Vai Beach with its iconic palm tree forest, there is a coastal haven to suit every taste in Crete.

Q: What is the most famous food in Crete?

A: Among the vast array of traditional dishes that tantalize the taste buds, one delicacy stands out as the most famous food in Crete: Dakos. Dakos is a traditional Greek salad made with barley rusk, ripe tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, olive oil, and aromatic herbs. The key ingredient that sets this dish apart is the barley rusk. It is made by baking barley bread twice until it becomes dry and crunchy. When combined with juicy tomatoes, tangy feta cheese, and flavorful olives soaked in local olive oil, Dakos creates a perfect harmony of textures and tastes on your palate.

Q: Do you need a car in Crete?

A: Crete is the largest Greek island and offers a wide range of attractions spread across its vast landscape. While public transportation options are available, they may not provide easy access to all the places you want to explore. Having a car gives you the freedom to visit remote beaches, ancient ruins, and picturesque mountain villages at your own pace.

Additionally, it is essential to consider your travel preferences and plans. If you prefer organized tours or staying within major cities like Heraklion or Chania, then relying on public transportation might suffice. However, if you have an adventurous spirit and wish to venture off the beaten path by exploring hidden gems in more rural areas of Crete such as Samaria Gorge or Elafonisi Beach, having a car is highly recommended.

Q: Is Crete an expensive holiday?

A: The answer to this question largely depends on personal preferences and budget, as well as the time of year and specific location within Crete.

In general, Crete offers a wide range of options when it comes to accommodation, dining, and activities. From luxury resorts with incredible views to budget-friendly guesthouses in charming villages. Similarly, dining options vary from high-end restaurants serving gourmet dishes to local taverns offering traditional Cretan cuisine at affordable prices. Moreover, the cost of transportation around the island can be quite reasonable if planned carefully or if you opt for public transportation instead of renting a car.

Q: What is the least touristy part of Crete?

A: If you're looking for a less crowded and more authentic experience, head towards the southeastern part of the island, where you will find the least touristy region of Crete. This hidden gem is known as Sitia.

Sitia is a small coastal town nestled on the northeastern coast of Crete. Its picturesque harbor and charming streets offer a glimpse into traditional Cretan life. Unlike its bustling counterparts, Sitia has managed to retain its authenticity and charm without succumbing to mass tourism. Here, you won't find overcrowded beaches or long queues at restaurants; instead, you'll be greeted by friendly locals who are always eager to share their culture and traditions with visitors.

Q: Are beaches free in Crete?

A: Beaches in Crete are indeed free to access and enjoy. Unlike some other destinations where you may have to pay for beach entry or rent a sunbed and umbrella, the beaches on this Greek island can be accessed by anyone without any cost. Whether you are staying at a hotel, villa, or even just passing through as a day visitor, you can stroll down to the shore and find yourself a spot in the sand. This makes it easy for tourists of all budgets to experience the beauty of Crete's coastline without having to break the bank.


Book Your Hotel In Crete

You can book your hotel in Crete with as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hotel, they also return the cheapest rates for accommodations like guesthouses, hostels and apartments.

Book Your Flight To Crete

Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights to Crete. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know you get the best rates.

Need a Rental Car In Crete?

Here is a budget-friendly car rental resource. No matter where you’re traveling, you’ll be able to find the best — and cheapest car rentals in Crete here.

Looking for an Airport Transfer Service In Crete?

If you are looking for a convenient and affordable option to get to and from the airport in Crete, here you will find all the answers to book your next airport transfer in Crete.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will protect you against illnesses, an injury, luggage theft, and even trip cancellations. It’s a comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong during your trip. I never travel to Crete without it as I’ve had to use it several times in the past. My favorite travel insurance companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Travel Companies to Save Money With?

Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you visit Crete. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m taking a trip. They will save you money when you travel too.

Want More Information on Greece:

Be sure to visit our Greece Travel Guide for even more travel tips.

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