Top (10) ten places to visit in Crete
It doesn’t really matter…Where you go in Crete. There is something to see in each nook and cranny of the island. Your best bet is to hire a vehicle and make sure it is a reliable car. A couple of these roads are among the worst we have ever been on before, and after driving through all these windy and bumpy roads for a while, it just gets exhausting. You can choose one of our cars at OKay rent a car. Our car rental has pick up/drop off locations all over the island. Also, you can pick your rental car up as soon as you will arrive to Crete in Heraklion or Chania airport and drop it off again at the airport.
It’s also important to remember that everything in Crete is very spread out. If you don’t really take that into consideration when planning you will quickly have to drop sites and certain beaches out of your day because it simply took too long to get to, even with the car in some ways.
Crete doesn’t even feel like it’s part of Greece. The island is massive and truly acts like its own nation. Greek, Cretan, Minoan, or Alien – Crete is full of incredibly friendly people and that truly adore their island country. You should spend years here and still, you would not have seen everything. So kick back and go to the lovely beaches, eat the delicious food, and meander through the traditional villages of Crete.
Located in the southwest corner of Crete, Elafonissi beach sparkles with pink-tinted sand and crystal-clear Mediterranean waters. If you're feeling adventurous, you can wade across Elafonissi's shallow lagoon to a small, uninhabited island, home only to a historic lighthouse, a chapel and more than 100 native plant species. Recent travellers hail Elafonissi as one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, if not in all of Greece.
However, Elafonissi's beauty comes with a few drawbacks. First, you must brave winding roads and harrowing mountain passes to get there. Once you arrive, your visions of pristine sandy stretches may be spoiled by the legions of tourists who have also made the trek, especially in the summer months. But never fear: You can avoid the throngs of visitors by venturing a little farther away from the parking lot. A short walk east or west and you will hit smaller yet more secluded shorelines bordered by a juniper forest. Another surefire way to beat the crowds is to visit in the off-season. From late October to April, you might just get the beach all to yourself.
Samaria gorge national park
Stretching for about 10 miles through southern Chania Prefecture's the White Mountains, Samaria Gorge is thought to be one of the longest canyons in Europe. The gorge trail begins on the Omalos plateau at Xyloskalo, perched high among the mountains. It then winds its way 10 miles between some 1,600-foot vertical walls to Agia Roumeli, a small seaside village. Speedy hikers can usually make the journey in four and a half hours, while more leisurely paced walkers can spend up to eight hours in the gorge. Fast or slow, you're going to want to get an early start to beat the heat and the crowds (about 1,000 people make the hike every day during high season).
Recent visitors strongly advise bringing plenty of water and sunscreen, wearing sturdy shoes and really assessing your fitness level before embarking on this long walk. Although not a hike, travellers reported very few areas where the surface is completely flat. Since it is a gorge, rocks are everywhere and traversing them for hours may be too much for those who aren't regularly active. Despite the challenge, many fawned over the beauty of the gorge. Make sure to observe the greenery, as there are hundreds of different plant species that populate the park. Also keep an eye out for the rare and endangered kri-kri, Crete's native goat.
Park entrance costs €5 EUR. Visitors are welcome from May through October 15th each year between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. You can drive yourself to the gorge, but that means you'll need to retrieve your car at the trailhead at Omalos a daunting prospect after a long hike.
Be smitten in white in Loutro
For the famous whitewashed houses that are so identifiable as “Greek” head to Loutro. Loutro is a small seaside village on the southernmost part of Chania. There aren’t many tourists here because Loutro can only be accessed by foot or boat. No cars, no large hotels, no overcrowded streets, just pure Greece.
Most trips to Crete will start or end in the capital. Heraklion is home to the main port in Crete and also the largest airport on the island. Heraklion is the capital city and has all the capital city things for an island nation. The central square of freedom, Lion’s fountain, Archaeological Museum, St.Titos, St Minas cathedral, the old city of Heraklion, the market and lots and lots of traffic. The city is a good place to visit for a day and ideal for shopping lovers!!
is the second-largest city in Crete and it is absolutely stunning. The old town is full of cute apartments with balconies overlooking the harbour and small back alleys to get lost in. Cretan street music fills the air, as local fisherman go about their daily routines. Souvenir, arts-and-crafts shops are scattered throughout the streets and the walls, adorned with plants & bright flowers. You will feel the atmosphere of Chania resemble similar to that of the small villages in Italy. Walk along the Venetian harbour. This Venetian harbour was built by the Venetians between 1320 and 1356. It doesn’t serve as a port for the large ships anymore now, you will find only fishing boats, yachts and sailing boats. There are many restaurants and cafes around the harbour where you can sit and enjoy the breathtaking sunset.
Rethymno old town
If you're in Rethymnon, then you shouldn't miss the opportunity to wander the narrow alleys of Old Town, a seaside neighbourhood that dates back to the 11th century. Here you'll find prime examples of Venetian Renaissance architecture along with splashes of Turkish influence spread throughout the city.
The food and shopping options in Old Town are seemingly endless, but the maze-like streets can be perplexing. If you do get turned around, don't despair: The area isn't huge, and once you see the Venetian Fortezza or the harbour, you can easily regain your bearings.
Old Town Rethymnon is simply beautiful.
The port of Agios Nikolaos is one of the prettiest and most popular places on Crete. Justifiably so as it is beautifully located on the Gulf of Mirabello, retains some of its old mansion houses, has a beautiful fishing harbour and another inner harbour which is in fact a lake: Lake Voulismeni. All these attractions, and many more in and around the town, do turn it into one of the busiest places on Crete in midsummer, yet despite all this it manages to cling onto its own character. The Lake that acts as the inner harbour, Lake Voulismeni, is known as the Bottomless Lake. It has very steeply sloping sides and is certainly deep for its size, but its depth has been measured at 64m (210ft), which is a long way from being bottomless. It links with the outer harbour by a channel that was built between 1867 and 1871.
Overlooking the channel and in the Port Authority building is the town’s Folklore Museum, which is worth seeing for the examples of Cretan folk costumes, as well as the crafts of the island. Being large and with a distinctive character, Crete has a strong and unique folk-art tradition.
Knossos Minoan Palace
Located about five kilometres (3.1 miles) from Iraklion, Knossos is considered Europe’s oldest city, and its Minoan Palace is a must-see. Discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos, Knossos was once a ceremonial and political hub of Minoan civilisation and culture. The palace featured over 1,200 rooms, with some of them reconstructed to portray the grandeur of the site. An earthquake destroyed the first palace – built sometime around 2000 BC – in 1700 BC. Constructed in its place was an even greater palace, but evidence shows that it was destroyed in 1450 BC, possibly by the Santorini eruption, the same one that ruined the ancient city of Akrotiri.
Visitors will find the Psychro Cave, also known as the Diktean Cave, in the eastern part of Crete, just outside the village of Psychro. If it weren’t for its mythological importance, the cave wouldn’t be much different from the other 3,000 caves located on the island. But the Psychro Cave is much more than a simple cave. Legend states that it was the place where the goddess Rhea gave birth to Zeus. With such significant importance, it’s no wonder that the cave still attracts thousands of visitors today.
If you think that Crete looks like one big beach… well, you might be surprised. Visit the Lasithi Plateau, where you can admire the views of authentic, agricultural Crete – full of olive and almond trees. Here you will find famous irrigating windmills with canvas – in the seventeenth century, there were as many as 10,000 of them! Unfortunately, nowadays they’re rather rare, but taking even a short break here, is definitely one of the most breathtaking things to do in Crete. If you are planning a holiday in Crete in June, chances to see them are higher.
Wish you a pleasant and a safe trip on Crete!!!