There are many places to visit in Crete during your holidays with friends or family. Specifically, the largest Greek island is surrounded by more than 1.000 kilometers of coastline, with breathtaking beaches and towering mountains. Undoubtedly, there is no shortage of amazing places to visit here and unforgettable moments to experience! Whether you love the sea or prefer the mountains, there is always a destination waiting for you to explore.
Here are our top suggestions for places to visit during your time in Crete.
Picture by: Constantinos-Iliopoulos
The incredible beaches around the island are among the main reasons why Crete attracts thousands of tourists annually. With crystal clear waters in all shades of blue, there is not a single beach that isn’t worth your time. Our favorite ones include: Balos Beach, Vai Beach and Preveli Beach.
One of the most famous and picturesque beaches in Crete is Balos. Located on the northwest coast of the island, it features turquoise waters, a lagoon, and stunning pinkish-white sand. Balos is accessible by boat or by car, but the last stretch of the journey requires a short hike. The views from above are breathtaking and well worth the effort. On the other hand, for those looking for a quieter beach experience, Vai Beach is a perfect choice. Located on the northeast coast of the island, it is home to one of the largest palm tree forests in Europe. The beach’s clear waters are ideal for swimming and water sports, and the palm trees provide ample shade for sunbathers.
Another popular beach is Preveli Beach, situated on the south coast of Crete. It is surrounded by a gorge and has a river running through it, creating a unique and breathtaking landscape. The beach is perfect for relaxation and offers many opportunities for hiking and exploring.
Picture by: Saro17
Did you know that Crete is also popular for its rugged and diverse landscape that is dominated by impressive mountain ranges? The island has several mountain ranges, including the White Mountains or Lefka Ori, Ida Range, and Dikti Mountains, which are popular among hikers, climbers, and nature enthusiasts. Moreover, there are numerous beautiful dramatic gorges ending up to amazing beaches that will simply take your breath away!
Everyone has probably heard about Samaria Gorge in Chania, the longest hiking trail in Europe. The endpoint of the gorge leads to Agia Roumeli, a tiny fishing village which is definitely among the best places to visit in Crete.
Additionally, traveling up to the mountains will give you the opportunity to explore the authentic Cretan lifestyle. Many villages remain traditional even nowadays, preserving thus customs that date back to many centuries ago. In fact, villages like Omalos, Therisso, Sfakia, Argyroupolis, Anogeia, Archanes and many more will definitely leave a lasting impression! Their simplicity and rural atmosphere will simply dazzle you. The food in the local tavernas is delicious and on top of that, a bottle of tsikoudia will put a smile upon your face.
Picture by: miv123
One of the most famous archaeological sites in Crete is the Palace of Knossos. The latter is located just outside the island’s capital city, Heraklion. Knossos was the capital of the Minoan civilization, which flourished on Crete from around 2700 BC to 1450 BC. The palace complex, which covers an area of around 20,000 square meters, was the political, economic, and religious center of the Minoan civilization. Visitors can explore the palace’s many rooms, including the throne room, the queen’s apartment, and the storerooms. The palace is decorated with colorful frescoes depicting everything from bull-leaping to religious ceremonies.
Another must-visit archaeological site on Crete is the ancient city of Gortyna, located in the center of the island. Visitors can see the remains of the city’s Roman forum, the Odeon, the Temple of Apollo, and the Basilica of St. Titus. The city also has a fascinating history of its own, having been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries.
The ancient city of Aptera, located near the town of Chania in western Crete, is another fascinating archaeological site. Aptera was an important city in ancient times, known for its strategic location and its commercial and cultural connections with other civilizations in the Mediterranean. Visitors can explore the city’s ruins, including the Roman cisterns, the Hellenistic fortifications, and the remains of a Roman villa.
Picture by: milangonda
The Charming, centuries-old, Venetian cities of Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, and Agios Nikolaos await exploration. Along with their amazing and famous harbors, fortresses and architectural interest, these cities are definitely among the best places to visit in Crete!
Chania is a picturesque city known for its charming Venetian harbor, narrow alleys lined with colorful buildings, and ancient monuments. The old town is particularly noteworthy, with its many landmarks. Some of them include: the Venetian lighthouse, the 16th-century Firkas Fortress, and the magnificent 14th-century Venetian-style church of San Francesco. Visitors can also explore the Archaeological Museum of Chania, which houses a fascinating collection of artifacts.
Moving on to Heraklion, this bustling city is home to many of the island’s most famous landmarks. As mentioned above, the most notable of these is the Palace of Knossos. Other must-visit sites in Heraklion include the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, which contains an extensive collection of Minoan artifacts, and the imposing Venetian fortress of Koules, which dominates the harbor.
Agios Nikolaos is a charming seaside town known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere. One of the most popular attractions in Agios Nikolaos is the Lake Voulismeni, a small lagoon in the heart of the town. Visitors can also explore the ancient ruins of the nearby city of Lato, which was once a powerful city-state during the Greek Classical period.
Finally, Rethymno is a lovely city with a rich history and culture. One of the most notable landmarks is the imposing Venetian fortress that dominates the old town. Visitors can also explore the Rimondi Fountain, a beautiful Venetian-era monument and the Venetian Loggia, a stunning 16th-century building that was once used as a meeting place for the local nobility.
In conclusion, there is an abundance of places to visit in Crete, each with its unique charm and history. Whether you enjoy learning about history, nature, or simply relaxing on the beach, Crete is a destination that will leave you with unforgettable memories.