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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

Palace of Knossos

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The best place to capture the mystery and magic of Crete’s ancient Minoan civilization is the ruins of Knossos, just outside Heraklion. The secrets of this enigmatic civilization were only unraveled in the 20th century, by the man who would go on to restore the palace ruins, Sir Arthur Evans. The Palace of Knossos was built at the height of the Minoans’ glory, in around 3400 to 2100 BC, reflecting their wealth and sophistication. Best known for their incredibly naturalistic frescos and exquisite ceramics, the Minoans traded with other contemporary great powers in Egypt and Asia Minor. The original palace was destroyed by an earthquake in around 1700 BC, and a more sophisticated complex was built over the ruins. Knossos was eventually destroyed by fire in 1400 BC. Minoan pottery, jewelry, frescos and sarcophagi from Knossos are displayed in Heraklion at its fabulous archaeological museum.More
#2

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

Venetian Lighthouse

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#4

Imbros Gorge

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Imbros Gorge is located in the countryside of western Crete. It is one of the most popular gorges for hikers on the island. It's popular for many reasons including its beauty. The hike is also easier than some others in the area, making it a good choice for almost anyone who wants to spend a few hours exploring nature. The trail is about five miles long with a descent of less than 2,000 feet and usually takes two to three hours. There are some spectacular sections along the trail, including some narrow passageways. Along the hike, you will pass several small villages.More
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#6

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
#7

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

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Second in size and importance to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum houses the most magnificent collection of Minoan art and culture in the world. The museum's exhibition contains more than 15,000 artifacts from all periods of Cretan prehistory and history, covering a chronological span of over 5,000 years, from the Neolithic era to Roman times.More
#9

Marathi Beach

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#10

Frangokastello

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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

Recent reviews from experiences in Crete

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An fun and educational trip into the countryside
JennyandMargi, Sep 2020
Wine & Olive Oil Tastings - Semi Private Safari Tour
A special thanks to Nasos for adapting the tour to take a Kiwi and an Aussie to visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Souda Bay to pay our respects to our countrymen who gave their lives trying to defend Crete from the Nazi invasion.
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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
star-5
An excellent day out, Jason our driver...
Brian B, Nov 2016
Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Heraklion with Lunch
Made a real change from the typical tourist activities, would definitely recommend.
star-5
A great bus tour and we were able to...
Rachelle P, Jul 2017
Heraklion Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
A great bus tour and we were able to see some beautiful views of Heraklion, which is an absolutely amazing part of Crete.
star-5
This is a very highly recommended...
Martin H, Oct 2017
Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Rethymno with Lunch Swimming
It was really interesting to see the completely undeveloped and dramatic south coast of Crete.
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Great tour. Our guide, Simon, was...
Meredith L, Sep 2016
Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Heraklion with Lunch
We got to see parts of the island your typical tourist doesn't go.
star-5
Amazing experience on the holiday in...
John P, Dec 2016
Off-Road Buggy Adventure in Crete
The buggies are great fun to drive around the off road course, can't wait to visit Crete again to go and do the full day out once more!
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wonderful safari
Curious457907, Nov 2019
Georgioupolis Safari Off Road Tours Outdoor Activities Land Rover Defender
We saw gorges, mountain springs and waterfalls.
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Wonderful day with great food in the real Greece
Carnickel, Oct 2019
Traditional Cooking Class at Vatos Village Crete
It was a long trip, but we got to see more of Crete on the way.
star-5
Great place, great guide!
dgreenarc, Oct 2019
Knossos Palace Exclusive Tour (small group)
It's fascinating to see work done 1000 years before the birth of Rome.
star-5
A great snapshot of the Cretan countryside and villages.
angelakat, Sep 2019
Full-day Apokoronas Culture, Cuisine and Wine Tour from Chania
It was interesting to see wine and cheese production and I found the visit to the museum particularly enjoyable.
star-4
well organised and interesting day
Turtlebay59, Aug 2019
Spinalonga island
Pick up (and drop off ) from our hotel in Sisi was well coordinated, the guide was totally bi-lingual (English and German) and that was not a problem because there were no long monologues in either language.
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WWII Battlefield Tour of Crete
douge708, Jul 2019
WWII – The Battle of Crete Day Tour
Instead we were high on a hill where the Allied HQ was located and we looked at maps to see how the battle flowed.
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Womderful Tour
Alan H, Jul 2019
The Gourmet Wine Tour of Heraklion area
We were particularly interested in this tour because we were staying at a beach resort on the north coast and wanted to see some of the interior of the island and the countryside, which was very beautiful.
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Fantastic Day!
Escape29518914676, Jun 2019
Zeus Cave-Traditional-Villages-Old Wind Mills-Olive Oil Factory-Small Group.
If you're looking for a smaller tour and want to see something other than Crete's beaches I would definitely recommend this tour with Eddie!
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We pre-booked the safari online using...
GERARD P, Aug 2016
Off-Road Buggy Adventure in Crete
We would certainly book again if we visit Crete in the future and we would highly recommend this safari to everyone else who visits, you get to see sights you will not experience any other way and in a really fun way.
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The guide was fantastic and spoke in...
Krista H, Aug 2017
Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Rethymno with Lunch Swimming
But we did not had opportunity to see Preveli beach as after the delicious lunch we had a bit time just at Libyan sea not at Preveli beach.
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The husband and wife team I feel...
ChicagoGretchen, Aug 2017
Lonely Planet Experiences: Rethymnon Morning History & Local Food Tour
The husband took care of navigating the emergency room, made sure she was taken care of, translated everything from English to Greek, and ensured she received excellent medical attention.
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If you are staying in Crete just for...
Mayerulan S, Jul 2016
Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Heraklion with Lunch
If you are staying in Crete just for a few days around the Heraklion area, this is a great tour to see the Crete country side.
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This is a MUST in terms of...
D C, Sep 2017
Katharo Route Tour from Agios Nikolaos
This is a MUST in terms of activities to do on Crete!

Frequently Asked Questions