10 things to do in Crete: guide to the Greek Island
The Greek island of Crete has long been recognized as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Here travelers will find a wealth of natural beauty, sandy beaches for relaxation and many attractions. Crete is an island with a rich culture and a long history. Find out more about what to do and where to go in Crete
Crete is the fifth largest island of the Mediterranean, whose history dates back to 2700 BC. It is rich in interesting historical places, fantastic nature and fabulous beaches.
How long does it take to explore Crete? A week, two? Probably, several trips will not be enough to learn all its secrets.
However, we have prepared for you a list of must-see places during your trip to Crete. Use this quick overview and plan your next fantastic trip.
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What to do in Crete?
● Visit Chania
It is worth starting the study of Crete from one of the most beautiful cities of the island - Chania. It is located in the northwest and can be a great starting point during the journey. Nearby is the international airport of the same name, and from Chania it is very close to the most famous beaches of Crete - Balos Lagoon, Elafonisi Beach or Samara Gorge.
Places of interest: the old Venetian port, Fort Fikas, the Maritime Museum of Crete, the covered market, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the Archaeological Museum of Chania.
Helpful tip: Chania is not a very big city, so it can be explored on foot.
● Go to Knossos Palace
Knossos Palace is one of the most visited tourist places in Crete. It is located just 10 minutes by car from the center of Heraklion.
The ruins of the palace were first discovered by archaeologists in 1878, but real excavations began here only 20 years ago. The famous archaeologist Arthur Evans devoted 35 years of his life and most of his savings to the study of this place. It was Evans who discovered a new civilization here, which he called Minoan (in honor of the legendary Cretan king Minos).
Interesting places: the famous fresco with a bull, the throne room, the megaron (bedroom) of the queen, the fresco with dolphins, the fresco "Prince of Lilies".
Helpful tip: to avoid queues, book in advance a combined ticket that includes a visit to the Palace of Knossos and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. An audio guide will also be included in the price.
● Relax on Wai Beach
Wai is a beautiful sandy beach surrounded by palm trees in the northeast of the island. It is recognized as one of the most famous beaches of Crete. Be sure to stop here when traveling through Crete. Sunbeds and umbrellas for rent - from 10 euros.
Places of interest: ride jet skis or speedboats.
Top tip: Take the stairs to the right of the beach and enjoy the fantastic views.
● Go hiking in Crete
If you want to discover the wonderful wild landscapes of Crete, go for a walk on the island. There are a lot of tourist routes of different levels of difficulty. However, we advise you to definitely explore the impressive Cretan gorges.
Points of interest: Imbros gorges, Agia Irini, Aradena, Mili, Zakros, Richtis, Kritsa, Anidri, Rouvas and the Paleochora coastal path in Sougi.
For experienced tourists - climb the mountains of Gingilos and Psiloritis, explore the Tripita Gorge.
Helpful tip: The hiking trails in Crete are very rocky, so you'll need professional footwear. Take plenty of water, sunscreen and always check the weather before you go on a hike.
● Visit the botanical garden of Crete
In the vicinity of Chania, on the slope of a mountain, there is a small botanical garden of Crete. Many fruit trees from Greece and around the world and several varieties of plants grow here. A pleasant walk will take you about 90 minutes. If you are thinking about what to do in Crete with children, this is a good idea for a trip.
Points of interest: a small lake and peacocks that freely roam the grounds of the garden.
Helpful tip: the entrance ticket costs 6 euros and includes a small bottle of water.
● Swim in the freshwater Kurnas Lake
The only natural lake in Crete is located between Chania and Rethymno, just 5 km from Georgiopoulos, surrounded by mountains. The water here is crystal clear and very clean.
Points of interest: Rent a water boat (7 to 12 euros per hour) to go around the lake and see the aquatic turtles and fish that live in it.
Helpful tip: the first car park you see when entering the lake costs 2 euros per day, and a little further down there are free parking spaces.
● Explore the island of Spinalonga
This island used to be a fortress that was occupied by the Venetians in the 16th century and then by the Ottomans. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was generally used as a colony for lepers.
In our time, Spinalonga gained its popularity thanks to the novel "The Island" by Victoria Hyslop, the events of which take place here. The book became popular all over the world, and later a movie and TV series were made based on it. Entrance to Spinalong is paid - 8 euros.
Places of Interest: Walk through the ruins of the village, the fort, the leper hospital and the church.
Helpful tip: to get to Spinalong Island take a boat to Plaka or Elounda (€12). In summer, the shuttle runs every 30 minutes, the travel time is 15 minutes.
● Enjoy the Richtis waterfall
Go on a fantastic hiking trip to Richtis Falls. The 90-minute route will take a shady path through the forest along a small river. The hike is accessible even to unprepared travelers, the main thing is to have comfortable shoes.
The waterfall is very beautiful, if it is not cold, you can even swim in it. From the waterfall, walk to a small beach.
Entrance to the gorge is paid - 3 euros.
Interesting places: Richtis gorge.
Helpful tip: to shorten the walking route, park your car closer to the waterfall. To do this, take the small road to the left of the parking lot to the bridge. There are several parking spaces here, but to occupy them, you need to arrive earlier. You can also get to the waterfall from the beach in 30 minutes on foot.
● Relax at the seaside resort of Matala
Matala is a small seaside resort known for its caves carved into the rocks on the seashore. From here you can see a beautiful bay with crescent-shaped turquoise water.
The caves were formed in the Neolithic period and served as a Roman necropolis.
Entrance to the caves is paid - 4 euros.
Interesting places: red beach.
Helpful tip: at the beginning of the path that leads to Red Beach, on the right near the first stairs, be sure to pay attention to the wonderful view of Matala and the caves.
● Discover Cretan gastronomy in taverns
Dine in small tavernas to explore Cretan cuisine. They are often run by the same family for many generations and offer simple but delicious traditional dishes.
Be sure to try: pastizio, stifado, mezze, apaki, fish and seafood, keftedes, antichristo, souvlaki and gyros.
Helpful tip: attend a cooking class to learn all the subtleties of Cretan cuisine. Crete also produces excellent wines, olive oil and delicious cheeses.
The most interesting entertainment in Crete
The island of Crete offers many interesting activities for travelers.
You can discover traditional Cypriot villages and fantastic mountain landscapes while traveling on quad bikes.
Also in Cyprus, you can go on a safari on the Lasithi plateau or in the White Mountains with a visit to a vineyard and an olive oil production workshop. Tourists like to travel by buggy. Paragliding in Chania and horseback riding near Heraklion will give you special emotions.
For those who enjoy water activities, we recommend going on a cruise, snorkeling or diving, kayaking, riding a jet ski, taking a surfing lesson or just going to the local water park.
Crete is a fantastic vacation destination that will surprise even the seasoned traveler. In order to be calm and feel more secure while exploring the island, experts advise taking out a travel insurance policy before your trip.
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