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Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and is known for its beautiful seashores, turquoise waters, and year-round good climate.
Being house to waves, mountains, a posh historical past, and scrumptious gastronomy, it may be actually onerous to resolve what issues to do in Crete.
However don’t fear, in case you’re undecided what points of interest to take a look at, we’re right here to assist. On this information, we’ve shared our prime points of interest in Crete in addition to some hidden gems. We’ve additionally shared some sensible suggestions for visiting Crete that can assist you profit from your trip.
Is visiting Crete price it?
However first, is it price it to go to Crete? The quick reply is, completely! Crete is a really totally different atmosphere from the remainder of Greece.
It has some scrumptious Greek meals, loads of vineyards and wineries to discover, and naturally, probably the most lovely seashores.
We discovered the locals to be pleasant and the small villages have a relaxed vibe.
Finest Issues to Do in Crete
For those who’re in search of the perfect issues to see and do whenever you go to Crete, check out the under ideas!
1. Uncover Crete’s Previous within the Minoan Palace of Knossos
The second most visited archaeological web site in Greece (after the Acropolis in Athens), the Minoan Palace of Knossos is a must-see place whenever you go to Crete.
Knossos is Europe’s oldest metropolis and was house to the mysterious Minoan civilization that lived on the island 1000’s of years in the past. At the moment, a lot of town is in ruins, however you possibly can nonetheless see the remnants of buildings and roads.
In keeping with Greek Mythology, the palace was house to the well-known labyrinth of the Minotaur.
As a result of its reputation, the palace might be jammed in any given season. Because of this, it’s a good suggestion to go to early within the morning or at sundown, this manner you gained’t solely keep away from the crowds however the scorching solar of the island.
You may simply attain the archaeological web site by bus from the middle of Heraklion (bus quantity 2, ticket €1.50).
2. Take a look at the Capital, Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Because you’re already in Heraklion, try the landmarks on the town. Begin with a stroll alongside the previous port to achieve the Koules, the magnificent Venetian Fortress that stands reverse the Mediterranean sea.
Then, transfer in direction of the middle of city, strolling alongside 25 of August Avenue. It’s going to take you just a few minutes to get to the busy Liontaria Sq..
Right here, cease for a cup of Greek espresso and take a look at one in every of Crete’s scrumptious pastries, bougatsa. Bougatsa might be crammed with goat cheese or custard, and it’s scrumptious with a drizzle of native honey on prime.
Additionally within the space, pay a go to to Saint Titus, a former mosque reworked right into a church when the Ottoman Empire ceased its rule on the island.
3. Go Again in Time within the Hippie Caves of Matala
The easiest way to go to such an enormous island is to journey by automotive. Driving on Crete is pretty straightforward in case you observe some fundamental guidelines.
For those who drive south from Heraklion, it is possible for you to to spend a day on the implausible seashore of Matala which is understood for its caves the place an enormous group of hippies used to stay throughout the seventies.
For those who’re within the temper for a hike, observe the indicators till you attain Pink Seashore, about 20 minutes from Matala. It is a hidden naturist seashore with reddish sand and pristine waters. It’s additionally a great place for snorkeling.
4. Discover the Alleys within the Previous City of Chania
Arguably one in every of Crete’s most lovely cities, Chania is on the northern coast of Crete, about 2.5 hours from Heraklion. You may journey from Heraklion by bus (ticket €15.10).
Chania boasts an impressive previous city with cobblestone pedestrian alleys, distinctive Venetian mansions, and a surprising previous port with one of many oldest lighthouses on this planet.
Among the many finest things to do in Chania, don’t miss a go to to the mosque of the Janissaries, the previous Jewish quarter and its 15-century synagogue, or the church of Agios Nikolaos.
Agios Nikolaos is a really peculiar church. Inside its courtyard, it’s doable to see not solely a bell tower but additionally a minaret. In truth, throughout the Ottoman rule of the island, most spiritual buildings on the town have been reworked into mosques.
5. Spend a Day on the Pink Sand Seashore of Elafonisi Seashore
Elafonisi is an impressive extensive shore on the Southwest coast of Crete. To get to Elafonisi beach you possibly can journey by bus from Chania (ticket €9.00) or drive by the spectacular gorge of Topolia.
The shores of Elafonisi are recognized for the distinctive pink sand in addition to for the shallow lagoon, superb for households with youngsters.
The shades of blue of the ocean are merely beautiful and distinction with the cruel mountainous panorama of the island.
Elafonisi is in a slightly remoted space, there are a couple of seashore bars the place you may get the fundamentals, however it’s all the time a good suggestion to pack sufficient drinks and lunch.
6. Trek Alongside one in every of Europe’s Longest Gorges: Samaria
Outside adventures have a spot of their very own on Crete. There are spectacular mountain ranges on the island with peaks reaching greater than 2000 meters.
The area of Chania is house to the White Mountains, which counts over 15 spectacular ravines
Probably the most well-known of them, the gorge of Samaria, connects the Omalos plateau, within the north of Crete to the Agia Roumeli, a small village on the southern coast of the island, on the Libyan sea.
The hike alongside Samaria is likely one of the finest issues to do in Crete.
The trail is about 13 kilometers lengthy and it takes about 5 hours to cross. It’s one in every of Crete’s hottest points of interest, with 1000’s of vacationers visiting every summer time.
7. Hike All the way down to Balos Lagoon and Seashore
One other seashore you need to go to throughout your Crete holidays is the unique seashore of Balos, on the intense west of the island.
The seashore has typically been described as Crete’s Caribbean and for good motive. The white sand and distinctive emerald coloration of the ocean give the lagoon an unique feeling.
Nevertheless, a visit to Balos is just not solely in regards to the seashore. The journey additionally features a drive alongside an notorious dust highway on the sting of a cliff, in addition to a 20-minute hike which might be very tiring in summer time.
Nevertheless, irrespective of how troublesome the highway is likely to be, it’s one in every of my favourite issues to do on the island. The views of the calm, shallow lagoon are an incredible reward as soon as you allow the highway behind.
8. Take an Insane Highway Journey down the Mountains
There are a number of spectacular drives all around the island. For those who take pleasure in winding mountain roads and breathtaking cliffs, driving on Crete might be an unforgettable expertise.
Among the most scenic drives are those that take you from the north of Crete to the south, passing by a really rugged panorama
The highway between the villages of Kapsodasos and Kallikratis, for instance, is taken into account to be one of the harmful roads on this planet, with 11 kilometers of steady hairpin turns with a precipitous descent in direction of the ocean.
Keep away from it in case you endure from vertigo!
9. Take pleasure in Cretan Gastronomy
Crete is a paradise for foodies! The Cretan weight loss program largely consists of recent seasonal merchandise, that produce easy and wholesome tasty dishes.
The highest-quality further virgin olive oil produced on Crete is the principle staple of native gastronomy. It’s used on salads, to prepare dinner and bake, and even on freshly baked bread as a fast chew, with some recent oregano on prime, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Regardless of being an island, nevertheless, stewed or grilled goat and lamb are much more common than fish.
Different native delicacies embody cheese, each aged and comfortable, honey, and a wide range of greens and fruits reminiscent of grapes, figs, and oranges.
10. Style Crete’s Olive Oil in a Monastery
Crete is the second greatest producer of olive oil in Greece. The island has greater than 30 million olive bushes, a few of them over 3,000 years previous.
There are two most important olive tree varieties rising on the island and so they produce very small olives which are in a position to stand the dry, sizzling summers of Crete.
The style of the native olive oil may be very concentrated, fruity, and typically even spicy.
Among the finest olive oil comes from the native monasteries. Within the area of Lasithi (east Crete), Toplou monastery produces a few of the highest quality olive oil in Greece.
For those who’re staying on the west coast, as an alternative, you possibly can style genuine Cretan olive oil within the historical monastery of Agia Triada.
11. Snap a Selfie above Seitan Limania Seashore
The lightning-bolt form of Seitan Limania put this seashore on Instagram not so way back and made it a well-known place to go to in Crete.
Seitan Limania is a seashore with pretty troublesome entry that entails a zigzag highway and a hike down a steep hill.
The seashore is just not organized, so it’s higher to take with you every little thing it’s essential to spend the day. Keep in mind that the cove is topic to robust currents so it’s not all the time protected for unskilled swimmers.
12. Take a look at Your Dancing Expertise with Pentozali
Crete is a land the place customs and traditions are just about alive, and dancing is likely one of the issues that locals and guests alike take pleasure in probably the most in Crete.
Pentozali is the standard Cretan dance that you would be able to witness throughout festivals and native celebrations all around the island.
Regardless of pentozali actually that means “5 steps”, the dance is a mix of 10 totally different steps through which totally different dancers take turns to place their expertise to the check with jumps and complicated figures that observe the rhythm of the Cretan Lyra, an historical musical instrument with Byzantine origins.
13. Be taught Concerning the Leper Colony of Spinalonga Island
This small, fortified island might be visited in lower than an hour and it’s well-known for its turbulent previous as one of many final leper colonies of Greece, which closed its doorways in 1957 when a treatment for the illness was found.
At the moment, you possibly can take a ship from the seaside village of Plaka and uncover the Venetian fortifications of Spinalonga.
As you go the doorway tunnel, you’ll uncover the world the place the sufferers lived an remoted however affluent life.
Their retailers, their deserted homes with gardens, the church buildings, and the hospital of Spinalonga.
14. Get Misplaced within the Previous City of Rethymnon
Rethymnon is one other necessary metropolis of Crete, positioned between the areas of Chania and Heraklion.
In all probability the best-preserved Venetian metropolis on Crete, the previous city of Rethymnon has an enthralling previous port with a lighthouse and several other tavernas lining the promenade.
Within the previous city, you possibly can go to a few of the most spectacular minarets of Crete, lovely mansions with Turkish balconies, and the stays of the star-shaped Venetian fortress or Fortezza, positioned on prime of a hill overlooking the ocean of Crete.
Rethymnon has a number of attention-grabbing museums, such because the Archaeological Museum and the Historic and Folklore Museum the place it’s doable to find out about conventional native crafts, reminiscent of pottery and embroidery.
15. Spend the Night time in a Mountain Village
Those that need to expertise an genuine Crete vacation spot mustn’t miss a visit to any mountain village on the island.
Probably the most conventional villages are recognized for various causes, some have performed an necessary position within the battles for the liberation of the island, whereas others produce distinctive crafts or staple merchandise.
One factor is definite, although, time appears to have stopped nonetheless. Life may be very easy within the mountains, and there’s nothing like one in every of these villages for these eager to loosen up throughout their Cretan vacation.
16. Go to the Historic Arkadi Monastery
Probably the most well-known monastery of Crete is Moni Arkadi, within the area of Rethymnon. It’s a fantastic fortified constructing, with a baroque church and beautiful gardens.
Again in 1866 a whole lot of locals sought refuge from the Turks contained in the monastery however after weeks of siege, they determined to commit suicide as an alternative of surrendering.
This occasion performed a key position within the closing liberation from over 200 years of Turkish occupation of the island, resulting in Crete’s unification with Greece.
At the moment, traces of that battle are nonetheless seen within the partitions of Arkadi.
But, regardless of its tragic previous, this is likely one of the most lovely and peaceable buildings you possibly can see on Crete Island.
17. Sail to one in every of Crete’s Smaller Islands
There are a couple of lovely islands surrounding the coast of Crete. For those who’re staying within the area of Lasithi, it’s doable to take a boat and sail to the uninhabited island of Chrissi.
Often known as Gaidoruronisi or the island of the donkeys, Chrissi is a really small island off the southern coast of Crete, on the Libyan sea, simply an hour away from the coastal metropolis of Ierapetra.
Chrissi island hosts Europe’s largest juniper tree forest, a uncommon tree typically confused with cedars. It’s a protected reserve, not more than 2 km extensive and seven km lengthy.
There are a couple of totally different bays, the closest to the pier is Chrissi Ammos, nevertheless, it’s normally crowded with daytime guests arriving from Crete.
For a extra remoted expertise, head to the east of Chrissi Ammos. Right here, the seashore of Kataprosopo is an ideal spot for snorkeling and it’s normally abandoned.
Keep in mind that it’s not doable to spend the night time in Chrissi, there are not any motels, retailers, or something!
A number of canteens promote meals and drinks on the seashore however they’re fairly overpriced. It’s not a nasty concept to pack a lightweight lunch for the day.
The boats to Chrissi depart each day from the port of Ierapetra if the climate circumstances enable.
For those who actually need to go to this abandoned island, it’s smart to guide multiple night time in Ierapetra, simply in case you encounter robust winds and the boat to Chrissi is canceled for the day.
18. Drive across the Lasithi Plateau
The 23 km highway that circles the Lasithi Plateau is a implausible drive that you would be able to take pleasure in throughout your Crete trip.
The plateau stands about 805 meters above sea stage and has nice views of the mountains and the fertile plain under.
When driving across the space, it’s a good suggestion to find any of the 18 villages of the plateau, one of the well-known is Psychro, recognized for the magnificent Cave of Zeus.
In keeping with the parable, that is the place the place the God Zeus, born on the island, was raised by a goat whereas his mom was making an attempt to cover him from his father, Chronos.
The cave is made from a number of chambers with lovely columns of stalactites and stalagmites. In keeping with analysis, this is likely one of the many historical Minoan locations of worship of Crete.
Right here, archaeologists have discovered spiritual figures and different objects related with historical spiritual rituals.
19. Go Wine Tasting in one in every of Crete’s Wineries
While you go to Crete, you can’t depart the island with out first tasting one of many 13 distinctive grape styles of the native winery.
A really previous wine press discovered within the wine area of Heraklion proves the island’s lengthy historical past in winemaking, an business constantly energetic since at the very least way back to the Bronze Age.
At the moment, there are over 35 wineries open to the general public the place you possibly can style the wines of Crete.
For those who love reds, go for the kotsifali and the liatiko varieties. For those who favor the whites, as an alternative, undoubtedly attempt the vidiano selection, one of many oldest white grapes, referred to as the rising star of the native varieties.
20. Drink a Shot of Tsikoudia
Not every little thing is wine on Crete! Tsikoudia, also called raki, is Crete’s hottest drink and a transparent expression of native hospitality.
Even in case you’re not a lot into robust drinks, likelihood is that you’ll expertise every little thing about raki from day one on the island.
Raki is a neighborhood distillate, with a slightly excessive alcoholic gradation (about 45 levels), served in any given restaurant or taverna as a complimentary deal with on the finish of each meal.
It’s normally paired with recent fruit or a small dish of yogurt and honey, additionally on the home, and it’s the proper excuse to study your first phrases in Greek (Gia mas! Or Cheers!), make a toast, and have interaction in pleasant dialog.
21. Take a Day Journey to Santorini
Since most of Greece is island, you’ll discover ferries function frequently to lots of the close by islands. When you have time and have seen all the opposite prime points of interest in Crete, a day journey to a close-by island is an effective way to spend a day.
A well-liked day journey from Crete is to the island of Santorini, which is known for its sunsets and romantic ambiance. The winding streets are lined with whitewashed buildings with iconic blue roofs, and there are views of the ocean from each nook.
It takes two hours by ferry to get from Crete to Santorini.
From Santorini, it’s straightforward to get to the Greek island of Mykonos, in case you propose on doing any extra island hopping in your trip.
22. Hit the Bars in Malia
Malia is a surprising, coastal city with a harbor and boutique retailers. Within the day, it’s quiet and cosy, however at night time, it involves life with vibrant bars, golf equipment and stay music venues.
You’ll discover the nightlife scene on The Malia strip to be fairly loopy, and it’s not for everybody.
It’s a preferred place to go to for college college students, bachelor and bachelorette events, and anybody seeking to go wild.
23. Go to Samaria Gorge Nationwide Park
For those who love mountain climbing, be sure you try the Samaria Gorge hike. The 9.0-mile point-to-point path goes from close to Lakki, Crete and finishes in Agia Roumeli.
It’s a surprising path with spectacular vistas and luxurious surroundings. You hike by the middle of the gorge and are surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs, lush greenery and even go by a river.
It’s a troublesome hike and might take 14 hours to get from one facet to the opposite, although many individuals simply hike a piece of it earlier than turning again.
24. Wander Across the Venetian Harbor of Rethymno
One other historic city in Crete is Rethymno which is understood for its harbor and lighthouse.
The previous harbour of Rethymno, referred to as the Venetian Harbor due to the city’s commerce enterprise with the Venetians, is a quaint, historical harbor in northern Crete.
The harbor circles round a bay crammed with small fishing boats. You’ll discover many eating places with al fresco eating right here, and it’s an incredible place to go to for sundown.
On the finish of the harbor is Rethymno Lighthouse, which was constructed within the 1830s.
Remember to try the remainder of the Previous City of Rethymno whilst you’re there. On the hilltop is Fortezza, a star-shaped, Sixteenth-century citadel that gives unbelievable views of town.
Across the city, you’ll discover many boutique shops promoting native crafts like textiles and ceramics.
25. Discover the Birthplace of Zeus
Crete is well-known for being the birthplace of Zeus, the God of Thunder and the Sky in Greek mythology. Zeus is the god of all gods and dominated because the King of Mount Olympus.
Although the precise location of Zeus’s delivery has been underneath debate, it’s thought to have been one in every of two caves within the mountains of Crete.
The Ideon Cave, which is positioned on the tallest mountain in Crete is likely one of the thought-to-be places. The second is The Dikteon Cave, on Crete’s southern coast.
Each caves are fairly unbelievable and have spectacular rock formations and caverns.
FAQs About Points of interest in Crete
Right here’s what folks normally ask us about visiting Crete…
What’s the climate like in Crete?
The island has very lengthy, sizzling, and dry summers, whereas winters are usually quick with delicate temperatures. Some areas have little or no rain throughout the yr.
The most effective time to go to is within the shoulder seasons of October and November and April and Could.
How large is Crete?
Crete is the greatest island in Greece, it may well take you from 4 to six hours to journey from the west coast to the east.
The island is split into 4 totally different areas; Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, and Lasithi, all of them price seeing.
From mainland Greece, it takes 8-11 hours by ferry from Athens.
What number of days in Crete is sufficient?
We advocate you spend at the very least every week in Crete to actually see all of it. For those who don’t have that a lot time, then 5 days is an effective sufficient period of time to go to Crete.
Last Ideas on Issues to Do in Crete
So there you could have it, these are the perfect points of interest in Crete for any customer! As you possibly can see, there may be a lot to see and discover in Crete.
For extra concepts about issues to do in Crete, Greece highlights, planning data, lovely pictures, and sensible maps that can assist you plan your travels, try ZigZag On Earth’s eBook: Road Trip Guide to Crete.
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