Crete
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Things to do in Crete

Things to do in  Crete

Welcome to Crete

The largest of all the Greek islands, Crete entices travelers with its white- and pink-sand beaches, Mediterranean cuisine, laid-back coastal resorts, and ancient Minoan treasures. The island’s capital, Heraklion, is home to the most impressive of the Minoan ruins: the Palace of Knossos, where the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur originated. Separate fact from Greek mythology with a guided tour of the archaeological site—most excursions depart from Heraklion or Rethymno, roughly an hour’s drive from the capital. In Chania, Crete’s second city, a walking tour of the Old Town reveals Venetian and Ottoman architecture, and winding streets lined with craft stores and old-world tavernas and delicatessens. Chania is also an ideal jumping-off point for excursions to Samaria Gorge, one of Europe’s longest gorges and a popular (albeit challenging) hiking route. For a more relaxed walk, visitors can stroll through the winding alleys of the well-preserved old town of Rethymno, the capital of the Rethymnon prefecture. In the region of Lasithi, Agios Nikolaos—the go-to party destination before Malia—is a relaxed and charming spot. And only 6 miles (10 kilometers) away, is the fishing village of Elounda, from which travelers can cruise to Spinalonga Island. In between these major highlights, Crete's traditional villages, its music and poetry, and its fabulous food and wine is likely to enchant any traveler in Greece.

Top 15 attractions in Crete

#1
Old Venetian Harbor

Old Venetian Harbor

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Venice ruled Crete for more than 400 years and built Chania’s scenic port during the 14th century. Today, the Old Venetian Harbor is the beating heart of Chania Old Town, with restaurants, bars, and stores nestled beside landmarks from the Venetian Lighthouse to the Firkas Fortress, Grand Arsenal, and Hassan Pasha Mosque.More
#2
Venetian Lighthouse

Venetian Lighthouse

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Perched at the end of the breakwater, the Venetian Lighthouse—constructed around 1570 when Chania was under the control of the Republic of Venice—is the most striking building on the town’s Venetian Harbour. One of the oldest lighthouses in the world, its spectacular architecture makes it one of the most photographed landmarks in the city.More
#3
Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi Beach

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With shallow waters, pale pink-tinted sands, and sweeping dunes, Elafonisi is frequently and deservedly listed among Europe’s best beaches. The beach is connected to a protected island nature reserve, which is home to a variety of rare plants and animals, including loggerhead sea turtles.More
#4
Palace of Knossos

Palace of Knossos

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Once the glorious capital of Minoan Crete and one of the most powerful cities in the eastern Mediterranean, ancient Knossos is a place steeped in legend. Today, it’s Crete’s largest and most important archaeological site, crowned by the hilltop Palace of Knossos—built around 2,000 BC—which reveals a fascinating history that stretches all the way back to the earliest European civilizations.More
#5
Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos

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Spread across three hills overlooking the crescent-shaped Mirabello Bay, Agios Nikolaos is a picturesque and cosmopolitan seaside resort. By day, visitors flock to the beaches, while at night, patrons fill chic waterfront restaurants and bars in the harbor and Voulismeni Lake—connected to the harbor via a narrow channel.More
#6
Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge

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Samaria Gorge, in southwestern Crete, is one of Europe’s longest canyons. A popular hiking destination, its rugged river valley trail runs 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Xyloskalo in the White Mountains to he coastal village of Agia Roumeli. The gorge is part of Samaria Gorge National Park, which enjoys a seat along the Libyan Sea coast.More
#7
Balos Beach and Lagoon

Balos Beach and Lagoon

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Bridging the gap between the wild Gramvousa Peninsula and the idyllic Cape Tigani, Balos Beach is a startlingly blue lagoon, framed by jagged sea cliffs and pristine pink and white sand beaches. A pocket of paradise, Balos Beach is one of Crete’s most photographed natural beaches.More
#8
Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

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With artifacts covering some 5,000 years, from the Neolithic era (c. 7000 BC through to Roman times (c. 300 AD, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete is second only in size and importance to Athens’ National Archaeological Museum. It’s also widely regarded as one of the most important historical museums in Europe.More
#9
Archaeological Museum of Chania

Archaeological Museum of Chania

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Archaeology buffs can trace Crete’s history from the Neolithic and Minoan to late Roman times at the Archaeological Museum of Chania, with its collection of treasures found during excavations around the town and across western Crete. Located in the historic Church of St. Francis, the museum is a highlight of Chania’s old town.More
#10
Spinalonga

Spinalonga

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The now-uninhabited island of Spinalonga (Kalydon) sits in the Elounda Gulf along Crete’s northeastern shore. During the 16th-century Venetian occupation, the invaders built a defensive fortress here protecting Mirabello Bay. Today visitors can tour the massive structure and the abandoned buildings that sit along its turreted walls.More
#11
Kournas Lake

Kournas Lake

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Situated in a valley surrounded by dramatic mountains, Lake Kournas offers a picturesque alternative to Crete’s many beaches. It’s the only freshwater lake on the island, and its warm, turquoise, spring-fed waters reflect the rocky peaks above like a mirror. Summertime visitors come to swim, boat, or just loll on the beach.More
#12
White Mountains (Lefka Ori)

White Mountains (Lefka Ori)

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Crete is renowned for being a divinely sun-baked Greek Island, boasting great beaches and hot weather—but it’s less known for its spectacular White Mountains (Lefka Ori). Found in the west of the island, the mountains are a paradise for hikers and nature spotters when not dusted with snow in winter and early spring.More
#13
Frangokastello

Frangokastello

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Discover a historic landmark dating back to the 1370s during a visit to Frangokastello, a well-preserved castle. Built by the Venetians when their empire ruled Crete, this fort is known for its sawtooth walls and square towers at each corner. Nearby beaches are also a draw for visitors, and the small town offers peaceful seaside accommodation.More
#14
Limnoupolis Water Park (Aqua Creta Limnoupolis)

Limnoupolis Water Park (Aqua Creta Limnoupolis)

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Chania’s most popular water park, Limnoupolis Water Park (Aqua Creta Limnoupolis) offers 11 large slides, including steep “free-fall” options, plus a lazy river, a kids’ pool with smaller slides, and a big central pool with a zipline. The park also has sun loungers, a bar, a restaurant, fast-food options, and a minimart.More
#15
Imbros Gorge

Imbros Gorge

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Located in southwestern Crete, Imbros Gorge is the second most popular gorge on the island. A less strenuous and less crowded alternative to the more famous and imposing Samaria Gorge, Imbros Gorge offers beautiful scenery and some spectacularly narrow sections along a 4.9-mile (8-kilometer stretch suitable for hiking.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Chania

How to Spend 3 Days in Chania

How to Spend 3 Days in Heraklion

How to Spend 3 Days in Heraklion

Top activities in Crete

Chania Old Town Private Tour

Chania Old Town Private Tour

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12
From
$391.45
per group
Snorkeling and Boat Tour in Crete

Snorkeling and Boat Tour in Crete

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115
From
$65.11
Crete Wine and Olive Oil Tour
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Crete Wine and Olive Oil Tour

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100
From
$100.51
Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Crete

star-5
Great day to see other side of island.
Darren_A, Oct 2022
Full-Day West Crete Tour from Heraklion
Great way to see Crete.
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Unforgettable
Magali_L, Oct 2022
Zeus Cave & Lassithi Plateau (Safari Adventure Offroad Excursion)
Best effective way to see this part of Crete.
star-5
A must!
Jacqueline_D, Oct 2022
Rethymno Land Rover Safari with Lunch and Drinks
Great way to see the villages and mountains of Crete.
star-5
Lovely experience
Kyla_S, Oct 2022
Full-Day Small-Group Tour in Crete
It was nice to see local sides of Crete rather than just the touristy things.
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Awesome experience
Jodi_W, Aug 2022
Crete Wine and Olive Oil Tour
The wine was delicious and we were able to see a bit of Crete.
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Old Town
Christo_K, Jul 2022
Rethymno Old Town
Our wonderful guide took us to see the Fortress and the history behind it.
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Excellent Private Tour of Crete
Russell_P, Jun 2022
Private Full-Day Knosos-Lasithi Plateau-Cave of Zeus from Heraklion
Overall, highly recommend to see the hidden spots of Crete.
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This is a great hike with awesome stunning views
tnguye8618, Oct 2022
Samaria Gorge Hiking from Chania
Even though mid October but it was crowded, I could not imagine if it’s summer.
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What a great experience!
Curtis_A, Oct 2022
Ecobike tour in historic Heraklion
Marina (A) did a great job touring us around town to see the sites.
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Wonderful Visit to Crete
Robert_B, Oct 2022
Private Full-Day Knosos-Lasithi Plateau-Cave of Zeus from Heraklion
He kept checking with us to see if there was anything we wanted to see or do that we had not done.
star-5
Perfect Tour Despite the Time Crunch
christopherlee0214, Oct 2022
Experience Crete Wine & Olive Oil Tour
I had really wanted to see the oldest Olive tree in the world which was on this island, but Adonis recommended walking around the Old Port instead since it would take 2 hours round trip alone to see the tree.
star-5
Excellent Tour by Cretan Local
Marita_T, Oct 2022
Winery Tour and Kourna's Lake from Rethymno
She was a charming, friendly and informative tour guide with excellent English and we felt safe in her car.
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Amazing tour!!
Kathleen_F, Sep 2022
Zeus Cave- Traditional Villages-Old Wind Mills-Olive Oil Factory-Private Tour .
Eddie spoke perfect English, was very knowledgeable and informative, and kept us in stitches for 6 hours!
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See Crete from a non-touristic view
Enrico_S, Sep 2022
Zeus Cave-Traditional-Villages-Old Wind Mills-Olive Oil Factory-Small Group.
Walking down to see the birth place of Zeus, learning about windmills, farming on Crete and their problems and end up with a traditional food from the island.
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Simply the best…
Lani_C, Aug 2022
Ecobike Food Tour Tasting in Heraklion
I would definitely recommend any of Alex’s tours to anyone looking for an exciting way to see the local sights…
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Great day in Crete !
JeanFrancois_D, Aug 2022
Zeus Cave-Traditional-Villages-Old Wind Mills-Olive Oil Factory-Small Group.
We did like the stops around the plateau to see local plantations and small villages.
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The Elafonisi Beach, Falasarna Beach and Vouves Village tour was the best!
Cynthia_A, Jul 2022
Elafonisi-Falasarna-Vouves village - (All inclusive) Full Day Tour from Chania
It’s nice to see a part of the country side and also to see the oldest olive tree in the world!
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Fantastic day!
James_A, Jul 2022
Elafonisi-Falasarna-Vouves village - (All inclusive) Full Day Tour from Chania
One of the best aspects of this tour was that it took us to Elafonisi beach first, and early, meaning we got there before the other tours arrived, giving us a chance to see the beach (and grab an umbrella/bed) before it was overcome with people, and the beds/umbrellas were snapped-up.
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Best Day of Our Holiday
Anna_K, Jul 2022
Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Heraklion with Lunch
The island is beautiful and if you want to see some of its most breath taking views this is the tour for you.
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WoW. A sunset not to be missed
Darren_C, May 2022
Sunset Jeep Tour in Crete
If you are in Crete and want to see probably the best sunset in Greece I would definitely recommend this Jeep Safari.
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All about Crete

When to visit

Crete draws the most visitors between May and October, when it earns its stripes as one of Greece’s hottest islands, with temperatures that hover around 75°F (24°C). Visit in August if you’re looking for maximum heat and a party atmosphere. High season also brings cultural events, including Chania’s Summer Festival and Rethymno’s Cretan Diet Festival. Crete is also great in spring and fall, when the warm, pleasant weather creates ideal conditions for exploring the island’s historical treasures and flower-filled countryside.

Getting around

Cities like Chania, Heraklion, and Rethymnon are easy to explore on foot or in a cab; if you hail a cab, make sure to agree to a price before you take a ride. Every Cretan city also has local buses. To get from town to town along the north coast, take KTEL buses, which are cheap and frequent. That said, to explore Crete’s countryside, south coast, and hidden beaches, you’ll want to rent a car; just be prepared for frenetic urban traffic and narrow, unpaved rural roads.

Traveler tips

While tourists pack the Knossos ruins outside of Heraklion, most miss another of Crete’s ancient sites: the archaeological remains at Aptera. Perched on a hillside overlooking Souda Bay, east of Chania, these ruins mark what was once a Greek and Roman city. For a small fee, you can explore several Roman cisterns, which offer a powerful sense of history, a crumbled amphitheater, a Roman villa, and other structures. Take sunscreen and a hat; there’s no shade at the site.

Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
EET (UTC +2)
Country Code
+30
Language(s)
Greek

People Also Ask

What is Crete best known for?

Crete is famous for offering some of the hottest summers, beautiful beaches, and history-steeped ruins in Greece. Its headline sights include Knossos, home to the UNESCO-listed, 4,500-year-old remnants of the ancient Minoan civilization. Don't miss the charming Venetian-built harbor city of Chania, top-tier archaeological museums, Samaria Gorge, mountains, or rural wineries.

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How many days do you need to see Crete?

Allow for at least a week, with any number of days on top, depending on your interests. Seven days is enough to cover Crete’s highlights including Knossos and Chania, the island's White Mountains, villages, and wineries; and the Samaria Gorge. Go for longer to delve deeper or add some beach downtime.

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What is the best part of Crete to stay?

For city sightseeing, consider Heraklion, the capital, for its Venetian-era walls, fortress, museums and proximity to Knossos. For additional history, dining, and shopping, both Chania and Rethymnon boast boutique-filled lanes, medieval mansions, and a restaurant-hemmed harbourfront. For family fun, stay at Hersonissos, or for beaches and partying, Agios Nikolaos or Malia.

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Is there a lot to do in Crete?

Yes. History enthusiasts have plenty of ancient and medieval gems to explore—think Knossos and Chania—while nature-lovers can immerse themselves in the wild White Mountains, Lassithi Plateau, and Samaria Gorge. Plus, all along Crete’s north coast are resorts offering beaches, watersports, and restaurant and nightlife scenes.

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Is Crete touristy?

Yes. Resorts like Hersonnisos cater squarely for sun- and fun-loving tourists with stacks of amenities, restaurants, and nightlife. Yet Crete still has many uncommercialized havens. Find the quieter pockets of Chania and Rethymnon; explore the White Mountains or Lassithi Plateau; or escape to Crete’s remote, rugged south coast.

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Is English spoken in Crete?

Yes. Although the prevalence of English speakers depends on location. Unsurprisingly, English is widely used in the hotels and restaurants of Crete’s resorts. And while English is less spoken in rural areas and the south, you’ll still find it's fairly well understood. It’s polite, however, to speak some Greek, wherever you are.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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What are the top things to do in Crete?
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