The Best Things To Do In Crete
Though many typically think of Athens and the many ancient ruins when the word Greek comes to mind, some of the most beautiful islands in the world are situated nearby. Crete is one such island and in fact is the largest and contains a unique topography from one end of the island to the other. The Island of Crete is also very prominent in ancient Greek mythology – it is said that Zeus was born in the Ideon Cave, which is located within Mt. Ida, the tallest range on Crete.
Crete is a spectacular destination for a traveler who wants a little bit of everything on a holiday. From gorgeous Mediterranean views and seaside ambience to historical points of interest and everything in between, Crete is full of tradition, welcoming locals and astounding beauty. For those who like a little bit of adventure, the island also accommodates many interests. Whether you want to take a car and go out exploring on a driving tour throughout the island, or you want to go hiking and see firsthand important locations in Greek mythology, there’s always something to do that will take you up close and personal with the geography and ambience of the islands. Crete also has some of the best beaches in the region — luxurious fine sand and sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean are just two simple reasons why visitors opt to travel to Crete — not to mention all the possible water activities including kayaking, snorkeling and boating in such a fabulous location.
As beautiful and welcoming as Crete is, there is still so much culture and history to soak up during a stay. From a geographical standpoint, the island has been a vital part of Greece’s military history and its ocean ambience has been crucial for its traditions and customs. Walk around any number of the villages and feel welcomed in one of the coffeehouses, or plan to visit when one of the many festivals take place on the islands — or simply come visit Crete to see for yourself why it’s such a popular destination in Greece!
HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN CRETE…
Take a break and relax for a day on Elafonisi Beach, about 75-kilometres from Chania. Enjoy the magnificent coral pink and powder white sands, and the crystal-clear sparkling waters of this magical lagoon. Wade out to the island and walk along the pathways enjoying the plant life, then take in the lighthouse and views of the Mediterranean. This is a great day out for all the family!
Take a day trip from Chania and enjoy a magical day at Seitan Limania; a beautiful hidden beach in a protected cove that makes it perfect for swimming and diving. Be ready for a rough track down to the beach, and make sure you bring your own picnic, but rest assured, when you arrive you’ll be happy you made the effort!
Between May and October, hikers and lovers of beautiful countryside, flock to the Samaria Gorge, Europe’s longest, and arguably most picturesque gorge. The sixteen-kilometre hike starts at the top of the gorge at Xyloskalo, and is mostly downhill; admire the beautiful wildflowers and the majestic river, and experience the towering cliffs of either side, as they close in on you in parts of the trek. The scenery will hold you in awe, and when you reach the end at Agia Roumeli, you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the Libyan Sea!
Palace of Knossos
Just outside of Heraklion in northern Crete, is the Palace of Knossos, which was discovered and excavated in early the 1900’s. Explore the ruins and learn about the ancient Minoan civilisation, which is thought to date back to around 2,100 BC, but is still up for debate among many modern archaeologists. To fully appreciate the stories behind the mythology, take a guided tour and hear the fascinating history, then visit the Heraklion Museum with marvellous displays of pottery, jewellery and frescoes.
Chania Old Town
Sometimes history, natural beauty, and charming architecture combine to create a magical place to visit, and such a place is certainly found in Chania Old Town. Stroll the cobbled streets and explore the Venetian, Turkish and Jewish quarters, then head to the Old Port, where bars and restaurants line the waterfront and are surrounded by beautiful vistas.
Dating back to the sixteenth-century, in the inner harbour of Heraklion, Koules Fortress stood as a staunch defence against the Turks for several decades. However, when defeat eventually came, it quickly became a Turkish prison that held the captured rebels. Today, this well-preserved fortress holds a museum, and the embankments can be explored to take you back in time. Take in the beautiful views and ponder how it has changed over time, from a military threat of the past, to a modern-day port adorned with beautiful apartments.
Take a short boat ride and visit the small island of Spinalonga, to explore the massive Venetian fortress that was built in the sixteenth-century to protect the Gulf of Mirabella. Take a walk around the ruins and explore the life this fortress has had as both a military force and then later as a residence for those suffering from leprosy. This is a day out that really brings history to life!
Lion Square & Morosini Fountain
Once a slave market, and then the site where Heraklion’s rulers made their decisions, the Lion Square and Morosini Fountain is now a central meeting place for both locals, and visitors to the city alike. The fountain dates back to the seventeenth-century and was once the main water supply. Today it is surrounded by shops, and the hustle and bustle never seem to stop!
Cities & Towns