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What to do in Crete

Explore the island with the local air

Crete is the largest Greek island and where one of the most ancient civilizations was developed

There’s no wonder why the island of Crete is on peoples’ bucket lists the world over. With its magnificent beaches and the mouthwatering food, travelers have loved the Mediterranean paradise for years - some have even decided to stay there permanently.

You may wonder “What to do in Crete?”. There are various things to see and do, from swimming in crystal clear waters to visiting remains of the Minoan era. Engage in outdoor activities like gorge walking, and go on local wine and olive oil tasting tours. Whether you’re a foodie, a cultural enthusiast, or a nature lover, there is a perfect Crete point of interest for everyone.

1. Swim in the most popular beaches in Crete

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Best Crete beaches from Chania

Elafonisi & Falassarna

Beach Perhaps the most sought-after beach in Crete is the famous Elafonisi. Loved by children and grown-ups alike, it is the ultimate seaside spot to relax for endless hours and take pictures that will serve as precious memories in the future. The pink or coral shades of the sand at Elafonisi serve as a perfect backdrop for beach walks and no-filter photos. Kids can play for hours on end near the shallow waters and parents can relax under the Greek sun. Also, pay a visit to Falassarna, another beach close by, where a long stretch of a sandy shore leading to the crystal clear beach, never fails to amaze.

Pro tip:

Kids love making pink sandcastles on the Crete island of Elafonisi. Always carry a camera or your phone to capture the beach’s matchless colors.

Balos Lagoon & Gramvousa Beach

The inspiring Balos lagoon and Gramvousa offer scenic beach settings with pink-hued sand and a 16th-century fortress, on a rocky islet. Both beaches feature on instagram pictures for Crete holidays and there’s a reason for that. Wild beauty contrasting with turquoise waters in Balos Lagoon and deep blue waters with a Venetian fortress view in Gramvousa aren’t easy to forget. Make the most of these Crete beaches by making time to visit them on the same day.

Seitan Limania & Kiani Beach

Another exciting option is the small and quaint Seitan Limania, a beach between two enormous cliffs with white sand. A narrow beach which seems to derive straight from a movie. Also pay a visit to Kiani beach where the shore is covered with sand and offers an extended area for walks with your feet in the water. Kids have lots of space to play, even during the busiest months for Crete holidays.

 

Pro tip:

Heading towards the south of Crete, you can also find a local favorite beach, Paleochora, and Loutra Sfakion, a coastal village accessible only by sea or on foot.

Best Crete beaches from Rethymno

Preveli Beach

Does the idea of swimming in the sea by a palm forest sound intriguing? Then Preveli beach is a must-visit in Rethymno. The exotic scenery makes for a whole different experience, especially with the view river running into the sea. Did we mention you can also swim in the river? Preveli beach is truly one of a kind and perhaps the most unique beach on the island of Crete.

Agia Pelagia Beach

If it’s a fun-packed holiday you’re after, then Agia Pelagia, close to Heraklion, is a long and narrow sandy beach with watersports galore. You can swim in the green waters, dive, or engage in a water activity with the whole family. Its golden sand under the bright sun paints a summer picture. Families and groups of friends have the time of their life on Agia Pelagia beach. Matala beach A 300-meter beach shore, Matala, is a distinctive beach in Crete, with fine gravel, deep clear waters, and a large cave on the north part, for diving or taking impeccable pics. Known as a hippie resort in the 60’s, today the sense of freedom associated with the beach is still there. There are restaurants and taverns close to Matala for having lunch after a long day at the beach.

Best Crete beaches from Heraklion

Chrissi island beaches

For deep relaxation at the setting of a Crete beach, the eastern part of the island offers secluded beaches abounding in natural beauty. Such are the beaches on Chrissi island - with Belerinina and Golden beach being top choices. Their light blue waters, the sand with coral shades and the numerous shells are one of a kind.

Maheredia Beaches

Hire a boat and visit a series of three Crete beaches under the name Maheredia. Crystal clear waters and high cliffs are a sight for sore eyes. Since they are only accessible by boat, make a day trip out of it with friends or family and enjoy the beaches as well as the fresh air blowing in your hair while getting there.

Galini Beaches

Near Agios Nikolaos, there is a picturesque village named Galini. Its beaches are known for the small pebbles on the shore, a somewhat rocky seabed, and calm waters. They might take a while to track, though, since large rocks hide the shores from the main road. Feel like true adventurers as you discover a beach behind the rocks.

Pro tip:

If you’re traveling with young children and plan on spending the whole day on the beach, contact us to recommend one with family eateries in a short distance.

2. Visit the UNESCO Heritage Palace of Knossos 

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A touch of history

The legendary palace of Knossos is one of the major Crete points of interest. Both a historical building and the place of a mythological tale, its importance for the island is undeniable. The Bronze Age site, Europe’s oldest city, is a place you can’t forget easily. A 3500-year-old palace with royal chambers, grand staircases, storerooms, and workshops.

A legendary myth

King Minos lived in the palace, while the monster Minotaur dwelt at the Labyrinth. His daughter, Ariadne was in charge of the labyrinth. According to myth, she was the one who helped Theseus kill the Minotaur by handing him a ball of thread to tie when entering the labyrinth, to be able to find his way out.

The archaeological museum

Visit the archaeological city museum with the largest collection of exhibits from the Neolithic era to the Roman times, covering 5500 years. Witness the materials used so many years ago and precious artifacts that give you a better understanding of the Minoan culture and the importance of the palace.

Pro tip:

Book e-tickets in advance to secure your spot and avoid long queues.

3. Taste the extraordinary Cretan olive oil

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The taste of the Cretan olive oil

One of the main perks of olive oil is its taste. Of course, its health benefits are substantial, as it can reduce the risk of heart disease, among other conditions. However, the taste is what makes it a must-use ingredient in local dishes. The most premium product is the extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil, with a rich taste and low acidity levels. Using it in Greek salads, like the “choriatiki” meaning village salad, gives them a distinguished taste. The Mediterranean diet is based on its use and most - if not all - Cretan foods include it.

Pro tip:

After trying the Cretan olive oil, purchase a small bottle of your favorite variety to take back home and use in your kitchen. Cook with a taste of Greece.

The traditional uses and applications

The Cretan olive oil is an exquisite product made by local producers for centuries and among the best olive oil varieties in Greece. Ever since antiquity, natural products like cosmetics and therapies were based on olive oil. Burns and skin problems were treated with Cretan olive oil, and today you can still find various products using it as a main ingredient. The locals have a few stories to share on how it was used as a natural remedy. Buy olive oil made soap, or even better yet, book a spot in an olive oil soap-making workshop.

The serenity of walking in the olive groves

Olive groves are where the Cretan olive oil comes from. Chania and Rethymno are gifted with huge areas of olive trees and driving past the green silver shades of the leaves and the hanging olives can provide a feeling of serenity and abundance. Walk among the trees and feel the soil underneath your feet, which is very well cared for by local farmers. Time seems to stop as you sit under the olive tree shade and let the world pass you by.

Pro tip:

There are many olive oil tasting tours around the island, pairing it with snacks and food from Crete. Book a spot and experience a tailor-made tour with the whole family.

4. Discover traditional villages and socialize with local people

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Chora, Sfakia & Loutro

Travelers who love discovering special corners of the earth and mingling with locals are always fascinated by Crete, especially from its small villages. Chora in Sfakia is a small fishing village with hearty residents. Few tourists visit each year, and it is mostly popular for its rich history. A seaside village, Loutro is famous for its share of pure white buildings and the nonpareil sea color, resembling that of an emerald.

Pro tip:

If you’re wondering what to do in Crete to explore the lifestyle from a local perspective, don’t miss out on these adorable settings.

Archanes & Anogia

Visit Archanes, a traditional village with architectural gems and a lovely plane tree offering shade all summer long. Anogia, in the district of Rethymno, is a secluded village of rare beauty on the mountain of Psiloritis. Walking among the locals, one can pick up the old Cretan dialect and observe traditional customs and clothing. Both villages feature people living traditional day-to-day lives and engaging in provincial activities.

Villages in the district of Apokoronas

Around the Apokoronas district, a region with lush vegetation, many villages await to be discovered. Located in the north-eastern corner of Chania at the White Mountains foothills there are hidden treasures. Vamos village seems to keep a time-honored nature, similar to Cretan villages in the past. The ruins of ancient Aptera, one of the largest city-states of ancient Greece, are also worth a visit. Georgioupolis is a verdant coastal town surrounded by rivers and springs, ideal for walks with your loved ones.

Pro tip:

Make sure you plan ahead so that you have time to travel to various villages of different styles during your stay.

5. Admire infatuating old towns of Crete

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Crete old town of Chania

The historic old town of Chania is a pleasure to walk around, with its pedestrian-only streets, tangled in a maze. Little shops, cafes, and restaurants are dotted all around, as well as stairways that sell souvenirs. The Venetian harbor, significantly bigger than the ones in Rethymno and Heraklion, features an Egyptian lighthouse - such architectural diversity is found all around the city. Take a romantic walk along the harbor that connects with the old Venetian town.

Pro tip:

Enjoy the Crete old towns like a local by catching a movie at an open-air cinema or Having dinner at a local restaurant with live Cretan music.

Crete old town of Rethymno

The medieval ambiance of the old town of Rethymno is visible on every narrow street and corner blooming with flowers. It is colorful and vibrant, but with great mystique attached to it - you can find orthodox and catholic churches mingling with mosques, Venetian-styled mansions, and a fortress. The 13th-century Venetian pier protected the city from big waves and is a romantic pathway to stroll along, leading to the 17th-century Turkish lighthouse. Well-preserved and picturesque, Rethymno is truly one of a kind and has the most beautiful old town in Crete.

Pro tip:

You don’t have to go around carrying a map. Contact us and we’ll book exclusive guided tours for you in a luxury vehicle.

Crete old town of Heraklion

Featuring a quaint harbor, the old town of Heraklion is stylish in its own way. The defensive walls around the old Town of this part of Crete are destroyed in parts, but still, give you a sense of their initial protective role. The tomb of the famous author, Nikos Kazantzakis overlooks the city from the Martinengo bastion. Admire the aristocratic buildings, beautiful churches and a Venetian harbor, with the fortress of Koules. From this point, a long pier extends on the new harbor.

Pro tip:

Each town features a harbor where locals and foreigners take long evening walks. Explore the harbors on foot to fully appreciate their beauty.

6.Explore wonderful museums around the island

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Aquaworld Aquarium

Starting from the Aquaworld Aquarium, Crete is a wonderful place to explore nature and wildlife. This natural history museum also serves as a reptile rescue center - in fact, it is the only one on the island. Visitors can meet up close rescued animals who have found their new home and learn about different species from Crete.

Pro tip:

Contact our agency to find out more about museum schedules and essential attractions in the areas you’re visiting.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is a real educational experience since the natural wealth of Crete is on display, as well as the rest of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean. Under the auspices of the University of Crete, it is an important museum with interesting facts about natural history that both children and adults are amazed by.

Maritime Museum

Chania has its share of museums, too, and some of the most educational points of interest in Crete. The Maritime museum in the old town takes visitors on a historical journey to past years and ancient Crete. As many as 2,500 exhibits can be admired featuring relics, models of ships, ancient nautical instruments, but also maps, paintings, photographs, and objects hauled.

Pro tip:

Check out the Folklore Museum - a great way to discover what life was really like in the 18th and 19th century, through traditional exhibits and folk art.

7. Marvel at the natural scenery of Crete island

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Lake Kournas

Lake Kournas, the largest Cretan lake, changes dimensions depending on the season. Filled with water during winter, it gradually gives way to sandy banks in the summer. The lake holds rare natural beauty and makes visitors feel gratitude and peace of mind. Two underground springs give water to Lake Kournas, which is located at the northern foothills of the Lefka Mountains. Following the Delfinas or the Almiros river flow, the lake eventually reaches the Cretan sea.

Pro tip:

Have your bathing suit on, as swimming in the lake is quite refreshing.

Lake of Agia

The landscape around the ecological Lake of Agia is a place where you can admire nature at its finest moments. A setting of colorful flora and fauna surrounds the lake. Capture species of aquatic plants with your camera and, if you’re lucky, observe birds, frogs, and other animals. Designated as a protected area, the lake of Agia is an amazing Crete point of interest and a sight that can’t be missed.

Springs of Argyroupolis

If you thought that freshwater springs surrounded by lush vegetation only existed in exotic places of the world, then you’re up for a surprise. The Springs of Argyroupolis features many little waterfalls while the landscape reminds visitors of a small paradise. Each part is unique, including the waters that flow into the claimed-to-be miraculous chapel. The photo-friendly lake is definitely worth your while.

8. Trek to the most famous gorges in Crete

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Samaria Gorge

The essence of traveling is, according to many, a visit to the provincial wonders of a place. The Samaria Gorge is perhaps the most beautiful natural sight in Crete. If you’re feeling up to the task, hike the 18km distance between the settlement of Omalos on the northern side of the plateau and the village of Agia Roumeli.

Pro tip:

Samaria is the biggest Crete gorge, so if you’re planning on hiking across, make sure you‘ve had a good night’s sleep before going.

Imbros Gorge

Smaller though it may be than Samaria, Imbros Gorge is still quite impressive. A hike through its narrow passages and charming surrounding will make you feel rejuvenated. This beautiful Crete gorge is open all year round, making it a very popular point of interest in the spring when Samaria is closed.

Gorge of Agia Irini

The Gorge of Agia Irini is rich in forest vegetation, with trees, shrubs, brushwood, and herbs lined as you walk, and home to the Cretan wild goat. Much less crowded than the most popular gorges in Crete, Samaria, and Imbros, it’s sublime for long peaceful walks with your significant other and for finding the perfect spot to perfect your photographing skills.

Pro tip:

Always wear a hat and comfortable shoes, like sneakers or trekking shoes. Also, have a bottle of water with you at all times when going to a gorge in Crete.

9. Savor mouthwatering recipes and food from Crete

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Dakos

The famous Cretan salad, “dakos” is made with crumbled feta cheese, chopped tomatoes, olives, capers, and herbs, such as oregano on a bed of traditional Cretan rusk of dry barley. The rusk is an excellent example of the Mediterranean diet, as it is double-baked bread from barley or whole wheat flour. Of course, it is topped with Cretan olive oil.

Pro tip:

Book a traditional cooking class with a local cook to learn new Cretan recipes and eat the Crete food you made yourself.

Apáki

For meat lovers, this dish might just become your favorite. “Apáki” is made of cured pork loin smoked on wood with oregano, marjoram, thyme, and sage herbs. One of the island’s delicacies that are sold around Greece, but taste better in Crete! Pair it with some raki to fully savor the splendid taste of the famous Crete food.

Antikristo

Referring to the cooking technique, “Antikristo” is a dish consisting of mutton cut into four pieces. Salt is added before being placed on big wooden skewers which are then arranged in a circle around the fire. Aspects like the direction of the wind, the fire intensity, and the distance between the fire and the meat are all taken into consideration. Try the traditional dish at least once during your stay.

Pro tip:

“Scaltsounia” is a pastry snack that can be found around Crete in all shapes and sizes. Either savory or sweet, this local snack will have you licking your fingers.

10. Discover the amazing monasteries and castles of Crete

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Mystical Monasteries of Crete

Toplou

On the northeastern tip of Crete stands a beautiful monastery, Toplou. Amazing beaches in the area, as well as the site of ancient Itanos and the lovely palm grove of Vai, are all chances to make a day trip out of your visit there.

Arkadi

The Arkadi monastery is of historical importance since, due to its wealth, Greek manuscripts were printed there. It also served as a workshop for church embroideries. Situated in the hilly Rethymno countryside, the whole ride towards it is bewitching.

Kapsa

Tucked away in the hills between Perivolakia Gorge and Makry Gialos, the Kapsa monastery in the southeastern part of Crete holds a divine location. A visit here promises an enticing spiritual experience while overlooking the Libyan sea and the Koufonissi island.

Alluring Castles of Crete

Frangokastello

The well-preserved Frangokastello is a graceful castle encircled by colossal Cretan mountains watching over the sea. Take the chance to explore this castle as it is a divine point of interest in Crete and find out the turbulent historical facts and figures around it.

Castello del Molo or Koules

Castello del Molo, otherwise known as Koules, is an architectural jewel in Heraklion. The sea fort castle is crowned with the Lion of St Mark right above the entrance. Nowadays it operates as a summer open-air theatre at festivals.

Kales

The beauty of Kales might not be what it once was, due to its demolished walls. However, the 13th-century castle in Ierapetra is located superbly by the sea, offering a majestic view. One of the most seductive points of interest, Crete has to offer.

Castles on islets off the coasts of Crete

Castle of Gramvousa

It might be the crystal clear waters around the castle of Gramvousa or the Venetian architecture. One thing is for sure though, this castle stands out as a ravishing sight in Crete. For those of you who are willing to try walking up the steep path to the castle, you can count on a bewitching view.

Spinaloga

A cultural trip to Spinaloga castle will have you talking for days. The island of Spinaloga is located at the natural Elounda harbor in Lassithi. Up to 1957, it served as a residence for lepers in quarantine. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful sight and a very interesting destination to visit. One of the points of interest in Crete that allure locals and foreigners.

Pro tip:

The castles and monasteries of Crete bear the best-kept secrets of the island. Find out more info on each site before visiting, to fully grasp their value.

11. Try the traditional alcoholic drink, raki

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Interesting facts about raki

Part of experiencing the Cretan lifestyle is drinking its most outstanding drink. Raki is more than just a drink, though. It’s a symbol of the island’s culture and hospitality - even ancient civilizations used to drink it. The Minoan and Mycenaean people paired it with their meals, as found in ancient pottery. Produced from the must residue from the winepress, it’s a fully sustainable product. No additives or artificial flavors are used for this strong distilled spirit.

Pro tip:

If you’re visiting in the fall, the festival “kazanemata” takes place towards the end of October or early November. The entire village gathers to celebrate the first year’s raki production and it will be super fun to attend.

How to drink raki

Raki drinking is in big part a ritual, as it is a drink shared in the company of other people. You can drink it ice cold in the summer, just like the locals, or cool in the winter, any time of day, with delicious food from Crete. Sometimes it is served with food, along with other drinks. Visitors usually enjoy raki while grabbing a bite to eat. Both its taste and alcoholic content tends to be intense.

Raki in Cretan culture

Serving raki in households indicates a warm welcome to guests and a social gesture, a lack of which can be seen as rudeness. A glass of raki - or two - is a means of communication between people and friends, it isn’t a means to get drunk. Every Cretan family used to make their own raki in the past, so many different tastes were to be found.

12. Drive through entrancing points of interest in Crete

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Chania region

Visitors in Chania have splendid chances to drive around and explore the most prominent points of interest in Crete. Taking the south road towards Therissos, you will come across a road fork. There are no signs, but keep in mind to take the left road. Get ready for a spectacular 15km ride to the village Therissos with green meadows and rugged cliffs. Discover the gorge in the area and the river Kladisos. Keep driving to Meskla, a traditional village ringed by immense mountains.

Rethymno or Heraklion region

Whether you’re staying in Rethymno or Heraklion, the marvelous central Crete is waiting to be discovered. Zoniana is a quaint village with an enticing cave by the name of Sfendoni. Stalactites and stalagmites fill the cave, a natural wonder you’ll want to see with your own eyes. Keep driving towards Anogia, the village of Xilouris, a Cretan musician and composer who captured the Greek spirit in his songs and became famous in all of Greece. Don’t forget to taste the “galaktoboureko”, a traditional Greek pastry dessert in the village square.

Pro tip:

A mountainous drive to the Nida plateau is a rewarding ride, due to the luscious green scenery. A 600-meter walk on the west side of Nida takes you to another Crete point of interest, the Ideon Andron Cave, where, according to myth, Zeus was raised by his mother Rhea.

North coastline

The north coastline of the island connects Heraklion with Chania. It is a suggested route to take, as you pass by sensuous scenery. Your first stop can be the village of Fodele. Both the village and its surroundings are filled with opulent sunshine and flora. Extraordinary landscapes are found around the area, as you keep driving to the old town of Rethymno. You can combine the ride with a stop at the old town, but keep in mind that the area might have some traffic in comparison to other driving routes.

Pro tip:

Grocery stores and tents are plentiful along the way, with fresh produce. Make a stop to buy fruit or vegetables. (Producers selling under tents are likely to accept cash only).

B. Practical guide to Crete

B1. How to get around Crete

Crete is quite big with lots to see and do. Moving around efficiently and within sensible time frames can elevate your whole experience. An island of 8,336 km² will have you wondering how to get around. That’s where we come in. Our knowledgeable team will give you tips and insights on getting around. Crete is divided into four prefectures: Heraklion with its capital city Heraklion, Lassithi with its capital Agios Nikolaos, Rethymnis with its capital Rethymno, and Chania with its capital Chania. Keeping that in mind, and reading below, you’ll be able to move around the island like a local.

 

Which are the ports in Crete?

There are five ports on the northern coastline of Crete that connect the island with mainland Greece and the Aegean islands. Heraklion, Chania, Sitia, Rethymno, and Agios Nikolaos. You can easily reach your destination in Crete from Athens and other Greek cities by finding out all the information about port connections.

  • Where can you travel from Heraklion port?

    Heraklion is the most important port of Crete and is connected with mainland Greece and other islands, like Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, Ios, Milos, and Syros, Rhodes, and Kos.

  • How do I get from Heraklion airport to the city center?

    Heraklion airport is connected with the city center by bus unless you’ve hired a car. You can also take a taxi from the airport, but keep in mind that it’s a more expensive choice

  • How do I get from Chania airport to the city center?

    There is a regular bus shuttle connecting Chania airport with the city center, operated by the KTEL bus company. Alternatively, you can hire a car or take a taxi which is more expensive.

Which are the ports in Crete?

There are five ports on the northern coastline of Crete that connect the island with mainland Greece and the Aegean islands. Heraklion, Chania, Sitia, Rethymno, and Agios Nikolaos. You can easily reach your destination in Crete from Athens and other Greek cities by finding out all the information about port connections.

  • Where can you travel from Heraklion port?

    Heraklion is the most important port of Crete and is connected with mainland Greece and other islands, like Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, Ios, Milos, and Syros, Rhodes, and Kos

  • Where can you travel from Rethymno port?

    From the port of Rethymno, you can reach Athens, via the port of Rafina in summer, twice a week. It is a 13-hour journey. Ferries connect Rethymno with islands of the Cyclades, like Mykonos, Santorini, and Naxos.

  • Where can you travel from Agios Nikolaos and Sitia port?

    For the time being, you can only reach the port of Agios Nikolaos by ferry from Piraeus with intermediate destinations (Heraklion or Sitia). From the port of Sitia, you can travel to mainland Greece via the port of Piraeus.

How to get around Crete by bus

Traveling around Crete by bus is an inexpensive way to get around and bus lines are reliable and quite frequent. The biggest advantage, however, is not having to look for a parking spot, especially in popular sites, like Knossos and famous beaches.

  • Is there public transport in Crete?

    The local buses (KTEL) include reliable routes to most cities and villages on the island. In fact, it is the cheapest way to get from A to B in Crete. You can catch the bus at the bus stations in the city center.

  • Where are the bus stations located in Heraklion?

    The first bus station in Heraklion is located at the port. Buses depart from there to Rethymno and Chania in western Crete and Agios Nikolaos in eastern Crete. The second bus station is located in Chanioporta, a bit further from the city center. Buses take you from there to the south of Crete and destinations like Mires and Matala.

How to get around Crete by car

For those of you who don’t like waiting at bus stops and getting in line to hop on a bus, renting a car is a mode of transportation that provides the biggest comfort during your Crete holidays. Not to mention the flexibility of moving around at your own time schedule.

  • Is it safe to drive in Crete?

    Driving in the north is uncomplicated, as it has newly-built highways, whereas mountainous roads in the central part are a bit tricky. In other parts of the island, the traffic culture might seem disordered to visitors and it’s advisable to always be vigilant and stick to the right side of the road so people can pass.

  • Do I need to rent a car in Crete?

    There are a few places that can’t be reached by public transportation on the island. Driving is convenient in Crete and there are plenty of car rental agencies in the cities, the ports, and the airports.

Pro tip:

Most car rental companies require the driver to be 21 years of age with a valid driver’s license.

How to get around Crete by taxi

There are two ways of getting a taxi in Crete: Hailing one from the street and calling one from a 24 hour taxi service agency. The latter tends to be a more predictable choice, since you can ask the rate beforehand and avoid being overcharged.

  • Are taxis in Crete expensive?

    Taxis in Crete use a taximeter, and most drivers are honest and dependable but don’t hesitate to ask for an estimated price before hopping in. Make sure you are careful when specifying your destination because many places in Crete share similar names.

  • Is booking a private transfer a good idea?

    If you know exactly where you want to go, booking a private transfer is advisable because of the safety and reliability that comes with these services. Top-quality services can be found on the island to drive you to your destination on time. You’ll also know your fare in advance.

How to get around Crete by ferry

Crete is an island. This means that a vast majority of destinations can be reached by sea. Getting around by ferry is a surefire way to avoid busy - and noisy - roads, you get to spend more time viewing the wonderful Greek sea. Ferries stick to strict schedules, but you can always hire a boat to visit your favorite point of interest in Crete.

  • What are the routes and departure times of the ferries?

    Minoan Lines, Anek Lines, Lane Lines, and other ferry companies offer many different routes to and from Crete, daily. Aside from regular routes to Athens, during summer, you can also travel to other islands such as Santorini or Karpathos. Make sure to check the official schedule for up-to-date information on routes and departure times.

  • Are there any Ferries that can take me to smaller islands around Crete?

    Smaller services offer trips to the southern part of Crete. You can reach many smaller islands around Crete via ferry for a day trip, such as the islands Spinalonga or Dia. The timetables depend mainly on the weather conditions, so be alert for cancellations or delays.

  • What sea excursion can I take in Crete?

    You can find interesting and fun boat excursions in Crete, for example, Gouves to Agios Georgios bay or a boat trip to Sissi, the island of Dia. Lucky travelers get to see dolphins swimming around sometimes.

Pro tip:

Hire a boat with a skipper and put your feet up while traveling to must-visit places in Crete.

How to reach important locations in Crete

There are excursions and organised trips to Knossos and the gorge in Samaria, as well as to other points of interest in Crete. Alternatively, read on to find out how to reach the two most important locations on the island

  • How do you get to Knossos?

    You can reach Knossos easily if you hire a car during your stay. Another way is departing from the bus station in Heraklion. Catch bus number 2. It is a city bus line running 3-5 times per hour.

  • How do you get to Samaria Gorge?

    If you are situated in Chania, take the bus to Xyloskalo and then reach Agia Roumeli (the exit of Samaria Gorge) on foot. Several paths lead to the gorge. If you are in Hora Sfakion, take the boat that leaves up to 5 times per day to Agia Roumeli and Loutro, a small fishing village that can be reached on foot from Anopoli, Sfakia, or Agia Roumeli.

 

B2. How many days are enough to visit Crete?

What to do in Crete in 24 Hours?

A day is hardly enough to visit the biggest Greek island. However, if you only have 24 hours, Chania is the region suggested. Take note of the culture with three of the most wonderful things you can do in that time.

  • Visit a local bakery

    Start your day by visiting a local bakery and trying some of the delicious Cretan pastries. Sweet or savory, there is a delicacy for everyone and the pastries will give you enough energy to keep you going for hours.

  • Explore the museums

    Head over to some of the museums to get a better understanding of the culture. From aquariums to folklore and history museums, take your pick depending on your personal taste.

  • Stroll around the harbor

    In the afternoon enjoy a stroll along the harbor where locals go to relax and sit at a sea view bar for an evening drink or to dine on Crete food. Watch the people walk by and grasp the beat of the town.

What to do in Crete in 2-3 days?

Perhaps a few days in Crete are not exactly plenty, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t make the most of them and make every minute count. Read on for some exciting options if you’re staying for 2-3 days

  • Swim in crystal beaches

    A few days on the island of Crete are a great chance to swim in some of the most beautiful Greek waters. Choose the top Crete beaches that are closest to the area of your accommodation and dive in!

  • Visit the palace of Knossos

    The UNESCO Heritage Palace of Knossos is surely the only Crete point of interest you should visit, if you should only pick one. Its historical significance and mythology around it illustrates the Minoan culture perfectly.

  • Try the Cretan olive oil

    Feel like a local by trying the Cretan olive oil, both nurturing and delicious. Traditional restaurants cook their meals in it. If you prefer, partake in an olive oil tasting tour for a more exclusive experience.

What to do in Crete in 4-5 days?

Four or five days in Crete are sufficient for you to truly dig into the island, as you can explore towns, villages and the outskirts of the cities. Find out the top 5 things you can do in that time to live a fantastic trip in Crete.

  • Explore traditional villages

    Crete is known for villages with traditional architecture and locals who are welcoming and friendly. Visiting these places is a great chance to chat with locals and socialize, as well as walk in picturesque settings.

  • Trek through a gorge in Crete

    By trekking through a Crete gorge or two, you can live an experience to remember. Start with the gorge of Samaria and admire the rich landscape around for a refreshing day of fun and recreation.

  • Try local recipes

    In Crete you can find delicious food in local tavernas, restaurants and eateries. Flavorful recipes will blow your mind. Also, local products are for sale in souvenir shops and delicatessens that you can try and buy for your loved ones.

  • Visit the Botanical Park

    The Botanical Park is the heart of fresh produce of Crete. Taste delicious products straight from the gardens in a colorful scenery of herbs, trees, plants and flowers. Ideal if you love fresh fruit and vegetables

  • Take amazing photos

    Don’t forget to take some photos of the island’s natural landscapes. All the attractions look amazing when photographed and can fill your travel albums with special mementos and vibrant colors.

What to do in Crete in more than a week?

Are you visiting Crete for more than a week? Then let the island reveal itself to you one wonder at a time. Time is on your side and many surprises await. All you have to do is plan ahead. Here are six ideas!

  • Drive across the island of Crete

    The best way to discover all of the island’s sights is renting a car. You can drive in the outer regions of the cities through landscapes of mesmerizing beauty. Cities and villages can be reached easily and the route towards them is as captivating as the destination.

  • Visit castles and monasteries

    There are numerous castles and monasteries that shaped the local culture in Crete. Each one is its own story and having lots of days gives you the advantage to visit a handful of them. A highlight of your Crete holidays!

  • Take part in traditional events

    Depending on the season, different festivals and events held by locals take place on the island. Traditional events with raki, food or olive oil can get you mingling with the locals and tasting fresh products.

  • Visit the Botanical Park

    In Crete, the Botanical park is a place where fresh products are in abundance. By visiting you can walk among green gardens and explore leafy trees and plants from all over the world, before tasting juicy fruit and vegetables.

  • Photograph the island’s beauties

    Spending more than a week in Crete is a great way to take pictures of the most photographic sceneries. Always carry your camera on your trips and capture the beaches, the gorges and anything that catches your eye.

  • Walk the old town of Rethymno

    Stroll around the old towns of Crete, especially in Rethymno with the Venetian architecture. This town seems like a blast from the past and is absolutely gorgeous any time of day. Spend a whole day and fall in love with the old town of Rethymno.

B3. Where to stay in Crete

Where to stay in Crete for families and culture vultures with a lively nightlife

Families or groups of friends traveling together need so much more than just a hotel room. The magnetizing old towns of Crete include everything, from walkable alleys and educational activities to bars and restaurants with a view of historical monuments. Are you wondering where to stay in Crete to get a hold of all that? Then, read on.

  • Old Town of Chania

    The strikingly charming old town of Chania is popular all around Europe and according to some, the best part of Crete. Accommodation options are plenty with different types to choose from. If you book early enough, you can easily find a family room with a wonderful view of the lighthouse or a room in an exclusive boutique hotel housed in a Venetian building. Everything you might need is near the old town, whereas the town’s heart is the old Venetian harbor of Chania, with the mosque and the fortress.

Pro tip:

Chania combines points of interest in Crete like Samaria Gorge and Elafonisi. If you’re planning on visiting these places, the old town of Chania is an excellent choice for your stay.

  • Old Town of Heraklion

    The lively town of Heraklion combines traditional beauty with the glamour of an urban center. Vigorous and somewhat crowded at times, it is an extremely popular Mediterranean destination for fun-seekers. Since it’s the biggest harbor and the economic center of the island, traffic is visible in some parts of the town, however, the historical district enjoys much less noise. A plethora of shops sell Cretan olive oil in all shapes and sizes and you can find a wide array of local restaurants to dine in. What’s more, the ancient palace of Knossos is only 5km away.

  • Old Town of Rethymno

    The old town of Rethymno is an adorable place to choose for your stay in Crete, as a medieval aura is felt all over town. From the Venetian buildings and the Ottoman mosques to the Catholic and Orthodox churches, Rethymno breathes history at every step. A perfect destination for travelers who love taking a step back in time and appreciating cultural diversity. The Venetian harbor with fishing boats and traditional eateries will be a highlight of your stay there, as well as cute little souvenir shops and boutiques. Friendly locals make visitors feel welcome in Rethymno and its location in the center of the island is ideal for moving around Crete.

Pro tip:

Contact us to book day trips and excursions to important sites and beaches in Crete, departing from your place of stay, like a trip from Chania to Elafonisi.

Where to stay in Crete for beach lovers and romantic getaways

Are you dreaming of countless hours at the beach next to the sound of reverberating waves and the smell of freshly cooked fish at the nearby tavernas? Then check out the following seaside villages as a primary option of where to stay in Crete.

  • Sfakia & Agios Nikolaos

    A somewhat secluded village, Sfakia, is a wonderful option for those of you who are keen on avoiding large crowds and are dreaming of laid back beach holidays in Crete. The beautiful backdrop of wild mountains in contrast to the calm Libyan sea creates a unique natural landscape. Stay in a boutique room close to the newly renovated port with a choice of traditional tavernas. Agios Nikolaos might not be the biggest town in Crete, but it sure is cosmopolitan, with many fans revisiting each year for the seaside resort and the delightful harbor. Walking around the small town is a breeze, among locally-owned shops and the lake of Agios Nikolaos.

  • Palaiochora & Agia Pelagia

    Palaiochora at Chania is located on the southwestern coast. Beach lovers adore the vast blue color of the sea and the pure white on the paved streets and buildings. Popular though it may be, it hardly gets too crowded. Close to Heraklion, Agia Pelagia is a seaside village for total relaxation. Walking from your hotel room to the calm water beach and from the beach to a Cretan restaurant with a seaside view is what a typical day in Agia Pelagia looks like.

  • Georgioupolis & Loutro

    Georgioupolis is a modest seaside resort in Rethymno. Apart from the refreshing beaches, there is a heavenly village center featuring a small square with shade from a plane tree. Local cafes and tavernas will provide you with interesting dining choices during your stay. The southwestern fishing village of Loutro is a quiet and low key destination. Accessible only by sea, it is perfect for visitors who appreciate remoteness and serenity. Small hotels and apartments can be found in Loutro, and you will not hear the sound of a single car during your stay.

Where to stay in Crete for unwinders in pursuit of local experiences

Quality time with your partner or even yourself is a concept so hard to find these days. Travelers around the world seek secluded jewels on their trips to put their feet up and enjoy life to the fullest. If that sounds like you, we’ve found where you should stay in Crete. Our team has selected traditional Cretan villages that you’ll adore.

  • Archanes

    Archanes is a municipality in the region of Heraklion. Traditional architecture gives this village a great advantage, as you can even find hotels that blend in naturally with the scene. Spend your time visiting Byzantine churches, and the archaeological sites close by. Engage in hours of walking around to discover the natural landscape and the cultural physiognomy of the village.

  • Anogia

    For travelers who feel true wanderlust exploring the essence of a place’s culture, look no further. In the mountainous village of Anogia, you can capture the traditional Cretan life. Locals haven’t changed much from the previous years and cook, eat, play music, and dress in a time-honored way.

  • Vamos

    Vamos, a slightly elevated village in the region of Chania is yet another place where Cretan tradition is still visible these days. Small and warm, with authentic food and products, it won’t be long before you start feeling like a local. Visitors love the old olive mill, the churches, and the hearty people. The accommodation is part of the experience since century-old mansions and neoclassical buildings are among your options.

B4. When is the best time to visit Crete?

What is Crete like in spring?

  • The first days of spring in Crete

    Days in Crete start being longer on March 21st. Around that time of year, visitors start arriving on the island of Crete, as natural landscapes are much more enticing under a clear sky.

  • The temperatures in spring

    The weather in spring is perhaps the best throughout the whole year. The beaches are cool and the trees and plants are blooming everywhere on an otherwise quite dry piece of land. It is warm but without the great summer heat.

  • Why visit Crete in spring

    Answe text rIf you’re after small crowds and beaches with very few people, spring is the best time of year to visit Crete. Especially in March and April, it is much less crowded compared to May and June.

Pro tip:

Try to catch the Greek Orthodox Easter, a holiday with traditional events and thrilling customs. It is moveable and can land on any day between April to early May, so check the calendar before booking.

What is Crete like in summer?

  • The first days of summer in Crete

    Summer begins on June 21st and everything is on the rise - from temperatures and crowds to prices. However, the days are long, Crete gorges and historical sites are open, and local feasts usually take place.

  • The huge number of visitors in September

    Many visitors pick September to come to Crete because the sea is still warm, but the weather is somewhat less hot than summer. Keep in mind though that high season prices are still applied.

  • Why visit Crete in summer

    Summer is the best season for swimming in the beaches and engaging in water activities. All sports of watersports can be found and you can stay out all day without feeling chilly in the evening.

Pro tip:

On August 15th, there is a Greek Orthodox holiday that celebrates the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Music and dance events take place throughout the island.

What is Crete like in fall?

  • The first days of fall in Crete

    Answer textThe many visitors in September slowly start to depart as soon as October kicks in, resulting in a sudden change of scenery. Also, the sky is quite darker, with rain and clouds on many days.

  • The quiet setting of Crete in the fall

    Crete is relatively quiet in the fall, with many beachfront hotels starting gradually to close for the winter period. You can choose to stay closer to the city center or in an old town, where hotels are usually open all year round.

  • Why visit Crete in the fall

    Risk-takers choose to travel in October since no one knows if you’ll come across rain or sunshine. Prices are on the low, as well as tourist traps, and it is much more likely to meet and chat with locals - even have lunch with them. If you’re traveling on a budget, then fall is the best time to visit Crete.

What is Crete like in winter?

  • The first days of winter in Crete

    Crete is in the south part of the country, so the winter is much milder, compared to other places in Greece, but also Europe. Beach holidays are not an option, but winter in Crete is a wonderful time to visit picturesque towns and villages.

  • Things to do in Crete in winter

    The small crowds in winter provide the perfect opportunity to explore the island, especially popular sites like Knossos palace. Some hotels in the cities and in the old towns offer fascinating facilities, like spas and a fireplace, so it’s better to look for accommodation there.

  • Why visit Crete in winter

    In winter, blending in with the locals is much easier, and the snow-covered mountains paint a whole different scene. Natural landscapes seem ravishing, compared to the dry summer season, so it’s the best time to visit Crete if you want to discover the island by car as you pass the amazing scenery by.

We hope our comprehensive travel guide takes your stay in Crete to a whole new level. Don’t hesitate to contact us regarding any additional questions you may have. A knowledgeable operator is always there to assist you before or after booking your Crete holidays.

Safe travels,
The team of Travel 12

#travel12gr

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