Best places to visit in CRETE
Planning a trip to Crete and wondering what are the best places to visit in Crete?
Crete is a Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands. Boasting a mild Mediterranean climate, the island attracts sun-seekers from all around the world. Besides the great weather, Crete is known for its splendid views, gorgeous beaches, ancient towns and amazing hiking options.
Crete won’t leave you disappointed as it’s full of surprises.
Check out our list of some of the best things to do in Crete for some travel inspiration!
7 best places to visit in Crete
Knossos is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site in Crete.
It has a very long history (circa 7000 BCE) and is considered Europe’s oldest city. Knossos was the capital of the Minoan empire. The first complex palace was built around 2000 BCE, but later it was destroyed by an earthquake.
Back in the day, Knossos palace had over 1000 rooms, but now you can see only fragments of it. One of the highlights is the restored North Entrance with the charging bull fresco. The centrepiece of the palace is the so-called Throne Room with columns and distinctive frescoes.
Elafonisi is one of the most famous beaches on the island.
Located on a little island just off the south-western coast of Crete, Elafonisi is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Crete.
It’s a lovely beach with rose coloured sand and crystal clear aquamarine water. The sand gets its pink hue from shells that have been washed up over the years.
In the high season, the beach gets crowded, so come early.
Balos is one of the most beautiful and iconic beaches in Crete.
A walk from the parking lot to the beach, down the rugged hillside, is one of the best walking routes in Crete. It is very short, but it has many viewpoints offering breathtaking views of the lagoon.
Just like Elafonisi, Balos beach has shallow turquoise waters which make the beach perfect for families with small children.
Chania is the second-largest city in Crete.
It is known for its pretty Venetian Harbour which is rich with history. Visit the historic Firka Fortress which dates back to the 16th century. The fortress features the Maritime Museum and offers scenic harbour views.
Walk along the pier to visit the Lighthouse, also located at the Venetian Port of Chania.
Explore the narrow streets of Chania’s Old Town, a historic neighbourhood encircling the Old Venetian Harbour. With its pretty colourful buildings with bright wooden window shutters, Chania Old Town is one of the most picture-perfect spots and one of the best places to visit in Crete.
Seitan Limania Beach
Seitan Limania is one of the most scenic beaches in Crete.
It is a remote sandy beach located in a cove, accessible via trail. The trail offers spectacular views of the cove and the beach.
Close proximity to Chania makes Seitan Limania Beach a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
The Samaria Gorge is a UNESCO-listed gorge in southwest Crete.
With a length of 16 km, it is one of Europe’s longest gorges and a World’s Biosphere Reserve.
You can explore the gorge on foot. The trek starts at Xyloskalo at an elevation of 1200 m and descends to sea level and terminates at the village of Agia Roumeli. The route is about 15 km long, and it takes a few hours to complete. As you descend, the trail offers spectacular views of the White Mountains. Located at the end of the trail, the village of Agia Roumeli has a lovely, secluded beach where you can rest once you’ve finished the hike.
While the hiking is not hard (only downhill/flat), the trail is rocky, and the rocks may be slippery. Wearing sturdy hiking shoes is a must.
Trekking along the Samaria Gorge is one of the best things to do in Crete.
Mount Ida is a sacred mountain, also called the “Mountain of the Goddess”.
With an elevation of 2456 metres, Mount Ida is the highest summit on the island of Crete. Mount Ida has the highest topographic prominence of all the mountains in Greece. The mountain is a part of Psiloritis Natural Park which is a member of UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network.
You can hike to the top of Mount Ida. The trail starts at Mygero refuge and is 9 km long. As the elevation gain is about 900 m, the ascent is quite steep. You will need comfortable footwear for this hike (hiking shoes are your best option).
Crete travel tips
- Crete is an island in Greece (a member country of the EU). You don’t need a visa to travel to Crete if you come from the EU or one of the Schengen visa waiver countries.
- As Crete is a popular holiday destination, it may get very crowded, especially during the high season. Visit Crete during the shoulder season when the island experiences fewer crowds.
- The shoulder season in Crete is — April to May and September to October. High season — in summer.
- If you travel during the high season, book your flight and accommodation well in advance.
- Crete is one of the most significant wine regions in Greece, and one of the oldest wine-producing areas in Europe. There are many great wineries around the island. Local travel agencies offer wine tours to these wineries. A wine tour is one of the best things to do in Crete.
- You can rent a car in Crete. Just remember, that roads are narrow and winding. Rent a small car — it will be easier for you to park and drive in these conditions.
- Renting a scooter is also a good option.
- Greek cuisine is amazing. The food is mouth-watering and super filling. For the best dining experience – go where the locals go. The greatest meals travellers have had while travelling in Greece were from local tavernas.