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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 10 attractions in Crete

#1
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
#2
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
#3
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
#4
Chrissi Island

Chrissi Island

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Measuring just 4.35 miles (7 kilometers) long and 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) at its widest point, Chrissi Island, also known as Gaidouronisi, is small but undoubtedly lovely. This protected nature reserve off Crete’s south coast is blessed with pristine beaches, shallow snorkel-friendly waters, and swaths of old cedar forest.More
#5
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
#6
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
#7
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
#8
Rethymno (Rethimno)

Rethymno (Rethimno)

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The third-largest settlement on the Greek island of Crete, the port town of Rethymno (Rethimno) has been occupied since the Late Minoan period. Its Venetian- and Ottoman-era old town—a knot of narrow, flower-bedecked lanes overlooked by a fortified Venetian castle—oozes history and character. A series of sandy beaches stretch out along the coastline to the east.More
#9
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
#10
Kourtaliotiko Gorge

Kourtaliotiko Gorge

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A vast canyon burrowing between the Kouroupis and Xiro Oros mountains, the Kourtaliotiko Gorge is among Crete’s most dramatic natural attractions – running for almost 3 km along the Kourtaliotiko River. Starting out from the village of Koxare, the scenic canyon winds through the cliffs to join the Libyan Sea coast, where it forms a glistening lagoon fringed by the sandy beaches and verdant palm forests of the Preveli Palm Beach.Most visitors choose to follow the road along the top of the canyon, enjoying the views over Kourtaliotiko Gorge and stopping to clamber down into the gorge and explore the many caves, streams and waterfalls, as well as the historic Church of St. Nicholas, perched on the hillside.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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5
From
US$380.39
per group
Chania Old Town and Countryside Private Tour

Chania Old Town and Countryside Private Tour

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1
From
US$495.66
per group
4x4 self drive adventure

4x4 self drive adventure

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20
From
US$74.92
Quad Safari Half Day

Quad Safari Half Day

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398
From
US$86.45
per group

Recent reviews from experiences in Crete

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Our tour guide Eddie was...
Kevin_M, Nov 2021
Zeus Cave-Traditional-Villages-Old Wind Mills-Olive Oil Factory-Small Group.
Definitely felt like we got to see the real side if rural Crete.
star-5
Amazing trip
Matthew_G, Oct 2021
Full-Day Small-Group Tour in Crete
Very enjoyable and great to see what life is like in crete away from the coast.
star-5
Fun Safari Day Out
Daniel_L, Oct 2021
Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Heraklion with Lunch
We had some amazing views from the Mountains of Crete and would highly recommend this tour to anyone in Crete on holiday who wants to see more of the island.
star-5
Great to learn about Crete
Tara_J, Oct 2021
Crete Land Rover Safari with Lunch and Drinks
We got to see lots of villages, learned a lot about Crete, it’s animals, plants, fruit and people.
star-5
Wonderful day
marykatharine_f, Oct 2021
Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Heraklion with Lunch
Really lovely way to see the mountains and a more intimate side of Crete.
star-5
Eddie the guide was...
Vivien_B, Sep 2021
Zeus Cave-Traditional-Villages-Old Wind Mills-Olive Oil Factory-Small Group.
Got to see some of the real crete.
star-4
Good tour with potential for improvement.
Jaguar, Aug 2021
Crete Full-Day Nature Trip from Rethymno
Guide spoke good English and German and gave good information.
star-5
A must do tour in Crete (Chania)
Dorothy_S, Oct 2021
Wine and Food Tastings Walking Tour
He spoke excellent English and was very passionate about Crete.
star-5
Amazing
Andrea_L, Sep 2021
Olous – Guided Snorkelling Excursion to Discover Olous Sunken Ancient City
A different way to see the past of Crete that you can´t miss!
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Incredible experience with Kostas!! Maximize your time on the island with an amazing guide!
Anna_D, Sep 2021
Private Full-Day Knosos-Lasithi Plateau-Cave of Zeus from Heraklion
We also enjoyed Zeus's cave, if only for the adventurous climb and to see the stalactites and stalagmites.
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Are you interested in Palace of Knosses
Timothy_S, Aug 2021
Half Day Private Tour to Knossos Palace (Skip the line) & Panoramic City Tour
I'm sure there are interesting things to do in Crete, but Knossos isn't one of them.
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Luxurious private tour of Crete
Melika-09, Aug 2021
Private Full-Day Knosos-Lasithi Plateau-Cave of Zeus from Heraklion
Combines luxury, main attractions, and the experience of seeing Crete from the perspective of a true local.
star-5
What an incredible trip...
Katelyn_H, Sep 2021
Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Heraklion with Lunch
It was amazing to visit some of the smaller Creten towns and receive such warm hospitality.
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Perfect Day Trip with Extra-ordinary Tour Guide
Matteo_C, Aug 2021
Full-Day Knossos and Heraklion Tour from Chania
Knossos Palace is impressively beautiful, thus making it a classic must-go for us first-time visitor in Crete; Herakolion Archaeology Museum shall not be missed as this is the only place to see this unique collection to have a glimpse into the mythical Minonian civilisation.
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Olive Oil & Wine - Great Combination
Jayk, Jul 2021
Uncharted Escapes: Crete's Wine and Olives Safari Tour from Chania
You will also make a brief stop to visit the world’s oldest olive tree.
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Samaria Is No Walk In The Park
Jayk, Jul 2021
Samaria Gorge Hiking from Chania
The money shot (the image you see in all the advertisements) is toward the end of the hike after the dry stream bed turns into running water from some hidden spring.
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Wonderful water afternoon!
Tarsi_D, Jul 2021
Boat Trip with Guided Snorkeling Tour & SUP in Chania
However, they switched our boats for the activities and then we needed to swim into shore with the SUP folks and leave our stuff on the boat (basically we could take it, but unless it's in a water sealed thing, it will get wet).
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Wonderful relaxing fun!
Tarsi_D, Jul 2021
Sunset - sailing cruise on yacht catamaran, Heraklion, Crete
Pro-trip, the title doesn't include the water activities you get to do.
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Cool trip, great guides, guaranteed fun!
Melissa_W, Jul 2021
Crete Real Inland 4x4 Safari with Lunch from Chersonissos
We got to see a lot of beautiful things and had a a great time exploring Crete.
star-5
Chrissi Island day trip
Gordon M, Oct 2019
Chrissi Island Cruise from Heraklion
Good way to see more of Crete on the way to visiting the peaceful nature reserve of Chrissi Island with it's excellent beaches
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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