Visit Crete- the largest Greek island has mild weather, pristine beaches, great offerings for foodies and wine lovers, hundreds of ancient sites, breathtaking landscapes and hiking paths and wild nightlife. It is the largest island in Greece, but has its own unique history and culture. One trip to Crete may not be enough…
Crete is vast, stretching 260 km (162 miles) from east to west, and it really warrants at least one week, ideally two. Here are ideas for fitting the highlights – including ancient and modern sites, and indoor and outdoor activities – into a tight schedule. You’ll need a car to keep up with these densely packed itineraries.
Here are 10 sights that grace Crete:
Knossos Palace was the ceremonial and political center of the Minoan Civilization during the Bronze Age. Considered as Europe’s oldest city, Knossos was once the city-state of Crete, with the town surrounding the hill the palace is on.
A good place to see a slice of everyday Greek life, Crete’s capital is an eclectic mix of medieval Venetian fortifications, bustling markets and modern streets. t is famous for the Disk of Phaestos, which has not been decoded till. Discover some tours organized around the area and to Santorini island. The Archaeological Museum in Heraklion Town hosts exhibits from various excavations in Crete.
hania in Crete is located on the westernmost side of the island. Although some places have developed in tourist resorts, most beaches and villages in Chania keep their authentic style. The northern side is more developed and lined up with luxurious tourist resorts and organized beaches. This is where the most popular beach villages of Chania are found. On the contrary, the southern side is secluded and more traditional, with small seaside villages and unorganized beaches.
Phaistos, or more correctly the Minoan Palace of Phaistos, is located in the Messara Plain in south-central Crete, 55 kilometres south of Heraklion and a short distance from the archaeological site of Agia Triada, the archaeological site of Gortys and Matala. Phaistos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Crete, with many thousands of visitors annually. Phaistos is “Φαιστός” in Greek and you may find it also written as Phaestos, Faistos or Festos.
Rethymno is among the most popular carnival destinations in Greece through the last century. During the carnival period the locals create a magical atmosphere and turn the central streets into an endless party.Rethymno prefecture lies on the western side of Crete, between the prefectures of Chania and Heraklion. Full of beautiful beaches, archaeological sites, Byzantine churches, quaint villages, and cosmopolitan resorts, Rethymno is one of the most beautiful places in Crete.
Gortyn is located at the Messara Valley, near the village of Agioi Deka, on the 46th km of the main road from Iraklion to Tibaki that traverses the island from north to the south.
Gortyn is crossed by the river Lithaios, today called Mitropolianos, that dominates the valley of Messara.
The significance of the great ancient city of Gortyn is recognized and recorded in its rich mythological and religious tradition. Great gods, like Zeus, Europe and Demeter, but also semi gods, heroes and kings like Minos, Gortys, Rhadamanthys, as well as Iasion and the Minotaur play a leading role in its myths. Gortyn is also associated with the major figures of Christianity; the Apostles Paul and Titus, and the Holy Ten Martyrs.
The gorge of Samaria is situated in the National park of Samaria, in the White Mountains in West Crete. This majestuous gorge is considered one of the great attractions of Crete and many tourists want to visit it. But you must realise that it is a long (5 to 7 hours) walk on rough terrain so you will need to have a certain degree of fitness and walking experience in order to enjoy it.
You need to be physically fit to hike the whole gorge, as the first few kilometers descend steeply and can take a toll on the knees. If you’re not in the best shape, or only want to hike a short distance, you can take the ferry to Agia Roumeli and hike two miles up the final portion of the trail on an easy gradient.
The Amari Valley and Mount Idi
The Amari Valley is a fertile valley on the foothills of Mount Ida and Mount Kedros in Crete. The valley was known as a center of resistance to the Germans during the Battle of Crete and the German occupation. After the abduction of General Heinrich Kreipe the Germans destroyed a number of villages in the area, killing many of their inhabitants.
Gournia” is the modern name for the town; we don’t know what it was called in ancient times. Because it is situated near Crete’s narrowest point, a lot of traffic must have flowed through it, and the finds from the site certainly suggest it was important. The Minoan town itself occupies a large hill, with a large and impressive building complex at the very top, Gournia’s “palace”. Like the other Minoan palaces, this structure must have served as the town’s administrative centre.
A place of tranquillity with a tragic past, the 16th-century Moni Arkadiou is Crete’s best-loved Greek Orthodox monaster.
Villages in Crete 🛤
Elos– one of the settlements known as the Enea Choria (“Nine Villages”), which are set among the chestnut forests of the Selloni region. At 600 m (1,970 ft) above sea level, it can be pleasantly cool
in summer. Elos has a 14th-century Byzantine chapel and a ruined Ottoman aqueduct.
Kritsa– Sweeping views downhill and a reputation as one of the best craft centres of eastern Crete ensures that Kritsa sees its fair share of tourism. Its main street is packed with shops selling leather satchels and sandals, embroidery and brightly patterned rugs. About an hour’s walk from Kritsa is the minor archaeological site of Lato, where you can see the remains of a Classical Greek city.
Hamezi– Above the Bay of Siteia, Hamezi has been inhabited since the Minoan era. Remnants of Minoan buildings can be seen on a hilltop from the present village, which is a peaceful cluster of whitewashed stone cottages, offset by colourful displays of flowers.
Ethia– During Venetian occupation, this now desolate hamlet was the fief of the De Mezzo family. Their family manor has been admirably restored and has a small display on life in Venetian Crete.
Beachs in Crete 🌅
Some Crete beaches are organized and others are secluded, but all are very clean with crystal waters. Occasionally in August, strong winds blow on the northern side of Crete creating large waves.
Bali has four beaches, which are formed in sandy coves with nice greenish waters. The beaches are almost always calm, since the bay of Bali faces to the west. They all are suitable for children and well organized.
Paleochora is worth a visit for two or three days, but probably not interesting enough to stay for an entire holiday. For many, Paleochora is a good place to catch ferries for the many beaches nearby.
A huge sweep of clean grey sand attracts visitors to this small southcoast resort, but there are even better
nearby beaches just west at Souda (backed by palm trees) and east around Damnoni, where there are
three coves to choose from. Plakias is one of the island’s quieter beach resorts, and its accommodation is mostly self-catering apartments.
One of the most important wetlands of western Crete, Georgioupolis is famous for its natural water lake, Kournas which is home to many unique and endangered species of birds and aquatic plants. Georgioupolis offers a warm and relaxing holiday experience for all ages, where guests can enjoy authentic Cretan hospitality in a laid back and inviting environment. Read our guide to everything you need to know about Georgioupolis to help you plan your perfect Cretan holiday.
It has many popular attractions, including Matala Caves, Matala beach, Red Sand Beach (Kokkini Ammos), making it well worth a visit. Matala is a city in Crete, Greece. It has many popular attractions, including Matala Caves, Matala beach, Red Sand Beach (Kokkini Ammos), making it well worth a visit.
Overlooking the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mirabello and Spinalonga island, Elounda lies 11 km (7 miles) north of Agios Nikolaos, in eastern Crete. Formerly a peaceful fishing village, it is now one of Greece’s most luxurious destinations, with the highest concentration of five-star resort hotels after Santorini.
This is a great little beach, away from the madness and other busier beaches that is very relaxing, lovely breeze and nice sun loungers. Great spot with love;y views and across the road from the restaurant that serves good food and drinks. I would recommend a day or two here.
Limin Chersonisos 🏖
The biggest and busiest of the island’s resorts, Limin Chersonisos straddles the north coast highway – a long double strip of hotels, bars, restaurants, dance clubs and shops.
Food and Drink
The national drink of Crete is Raki. Tsipouro is a real Greek product closely related to the Greek lifestyle, hospitality and entertainment of the Greeks. The Cretan raki, originally called tsikoudia in Crete, is the same in production and taste as tsipouro, the pomace brandy known in Greece.
The main foods the Ancient Greeks ate were bread, made from wheat, and porridge, made from barley. They used lots of olive oil to cook and add flavor to dishes. They also ate a range of vegetables, including chickpeas, olives, onions, garlic, and cabbage.
Although it belongs to Greece, Crete has its own clearly defined history and folklore. The Minoans flourished here over 4,000 years ago. Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Venetians and Ottomans also left their mark. This rich heritage is set against magnificent mountain scenery and beaches lapped by a deep-blue sea.
Greece- here are perhaps your most beautiful sunrises and sunsets
Visit Crete- the largest Greek island with mild weather, pristine beaches, great offerings for foodies and wine lovers, hundreds of ancient sites, breathtaking landscapes and hiking paths and wild nightlife.