Greece, a beautiful country on the southeastern coastline of Europe, has many islands. The country is well known for its ancient philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and Pythagoras, and it is the native home West’s Democracy.
Greece is a beautiful nation, with the most mountain ranges found only in entire Europe. Mount Olympus is the highest Greek mountain, rising 9570 ft. It is the hub of ancient volcanoes and has more than 1400 islands.
Crete is the most oversized island, a heavily populated island of Greek islands, and the 88th largest island in the world.
It is the fifth most significant island in the Mediterranean, where one can go for several things to do in Crete. It is the most diverse and dynamic island, with many amazing things to explore.
The island has surged with historic forts, beautiful sights, mesmerizing beaches, and several cafes and restaurants providing delicious Greek food. Overall, it is a complete package of incredible things to do in Crete.
Crete Island is the place where western civilization began, and also it is the home to discovering Greek mythology.
Ancient Minoan Knossos is said to be Europe’s oldest city. Knossos Palace is the most considerable Bronze age historic site for history lovers.
Things to do in Crete
In the following article, we will get information about all the fantastic things one can know about the island of Crete, Greece. So let’s begin making it easier for you! If you are visiting Crete with your partner or family, here’s a perfect guide to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Where is Crete Island?
Crete is located between three continents, Asia and Africa, and the southernmost part of Europe. Crete island is divided into four regions, Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, and Lassithi.
Crete is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea. It covers an area of 8336 kilometers, with a population of 6,35,000.
History and Background
During 2700-1420 BCE, the old European and Minoan Civilizations began. Mycenaean Civilization took over the Minoan Civilization after destructing earthquake. During the time of World War II, the island was ruled by Nazi German, who later worked as the battleground for the Battle of Crete.
A Must-Visit Attractions in Crete, Greece
A vibrant island with a rich history, mysterious places, famous beaches, and natural wonders, Crete has all the fantastic things to explore compared to all the Greek islands.
There are many more things to do on Crete island, whether you’re a history freak, nature lover, adventure enthusiast, or beach lover. Rival to other Greek islands, Crete stands at the top!
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Suppose you are fond of history, eager to learn about Europe’s oldest civilization and more about the people of Crete and ancient history. In that case, Heraklion Archaeological Museum is an excellent archaeological site to visit!
Located in the city center, it is the oldest and the most reputed historical museum in Europe. It has artifacts covering 5,500 from the Neolithic period to the Roman eras.
It has an eccentric Minoan collection, which includes jewelry, sculptures, arms & ammunition, weapons, and Minoan art.
The Heraklion Archaeological Museum also organizes short-term exhibitions in Greece and abroad, studies educational programs, participates with scientific institutions, and hosts several cultural events.
On the south coast of the Heraklion region, you would witness some of the rejuvenating beaches, which is undoubtedly one of the most incredible things to do in Crete that is worth your time.
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The Minoan Palace of Knossos
Along with many other things to do in Crete, visiting the historical site, the Palace of Knossos, makes it stands out from the other Greek Islands. Knossos Palace is the leading Bronze age ruins site on Crete Island.
It is Europe’s oldest city and, at times, was the political epicenter for the Minoan Civilization. Knossos Palace is a mesmerizing archaeological site representing the Greek mythological stories of King Minos and his son Minotaur.
Located close to the capital city, Heraklion, Knossos Palace annually attracts more than 6,00,000 tourists. Therefore it is one of the most crowded places in Crete, Greece.
The Minoan Palace of Phaistos
The Minoan palace of Phaistos is considered the second largest and bit less crowded historical site after the palace of Knossos in Crete, Greece.
Situated at the south of Heraklion, on the western end of Messara Plain, close to Matala beach, was the palace of Minos brother’s Rhadamanthus.
It is a perfect example of a Minoan palace, known for its excellent infrastructure construction. The famous Phaistos Disc was first discovered here, which is placed in Heraklion Archaeological Museum, on which you can find inscriptions of some Minoan characters.
Beautiful beaches in Crete Greece
There are many other things to do in Crete, Greece, and the best is to visit the Beaches. Overloaded with beaches, Greek islands have something for everyone. So let’s dig into some of the famous beaches in Crete.
Pink Sand Beach of Elafonisi Beach
Elafonisi beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is located approximately 70 kilometers to the south coast region of Chania, in western Crete. The beach is known for its soft pink sand.
The beach’s water is clear and deep, making it suitable and safe for kids. It is a perfect place to spend your holidays with family and friends. As the beach is located in a small village, it is easy to reach there by public transport or car.
Seitan Limania Beach
Also known as Stefanou beach, Seitan Limania beach is nearly a 20- 30 minutes drive from Chania city. The beach is relatively small and offers less crowd making it a fantastic sight of Crete, Greece.
Situated at the brink of Akrotiri Peninsula, the sea has currents and waves with a beautiful sight of excellent colors, making it a picturesque place for beach lovers.
Tip: Don’t forget to carry your stuff as the beach lacks proper organization.
Preveli Palm beach is located on the south coast of Rethymnon, nearly 35 kilometers from Rethymnon city. The palm trees forests of Theophrastus on the banks of the river give it a soothing and relaxed experience.
You can visit the famous Monastery on Preveli beach, which has a hostel, 20 cells, a library, and a museum. The monastery has a great height, which gives you a spectacular view.
You can also try original wine tasting in the monastery’s winery, or you should also taste extra virgin olive oil that smells superb!
Don’t forget to visit the beautiful heart-shaped colossal rock formation on Crete’s southern coast, making it a suitable tourist spot.
You can check the villas and resorts near Preveli beach here.
Situated on the north coast of Chania, on Gramvousa Peninsula, Balos lagoon is a competition to the Elafonisi Beach. It is a shallow lagoon that offers the dazzling turquoise waters in the Mediterranean.
Balos lagoon is merely a two hours drive from Chania town, which is also the most prominent attraction to see in Crete, Greece.
You can plan for a boat tour and explore Gramvousa island, near a fantastic beach. Gramvousa Fortress, 3.2 kilometers from Balos lagoon, Kalo surf- surf school, Gramvousa beach, and B-crew sailing are all nearby places you can discover.
Also known as Crete’s Hippie beach, hippies and expatriates occupied the beach in the early 70s. The seaside caves are a prominent place to visit in Crete, Greece.
It is a popular destination among visitors and also a serene fishing village where all early bohemian inhabitants began.
There are several fun activities like kayak Crete, paddling adventures, and sports facilities that you can enjoy at Matala beach along with your children.
Places on the north coast like Heraklion and Rethymnon make a perfect tour plan from Matala. You can relax and chill over there!
Vai beach, Vai palm beach or also called Finikodasos, is the most popular beach in Crete as the beach has the most extensive palm forest with more than 6,000 palm trees.
Located on the northeastern coast of the Lasithi region, you can go by car as it is close to Sitia town and takes a few hours from Agios Nikolaos.
You can also explore a small beach, Psili Ammos, which can be reached after a short hike to the right side of the beach.
You can visit the beach with children as the water is quiet and shallow. The best time to visit Vai beach is in April and May.
Other Fun Things to do in Crete, Greece
As of now, we have discussed a lot about beaches, archaeological sites, and historic sites. Other than this, many never-ending activities and places to consider while visiting Crete.
With theme parks, ancient ruins, hiking trails, Venetian Harbour, boat tours, cruise visits, day trips, and much more, the choice of things to do in Crete is so exciting.
Situated in the eastern city of Agios Nikolaos, this lake is usually surrounded by the boats on its banks. You can also find good waterfront restaurants and coffee cafes and enjoy a stroll around the lake.
Capital of the Lasithi region, lying on the northern coast of Crete, Agios Nikolaos is a prominent tourist destination and resort. However, it is no longer a lake as a channel was built in early 1870, connected to the town’s Harbour.
Samaria Gorge National park
When someone asks about what things to do in Crete, visiting Europe’s longest Samaria Gorge is an incomparable site of Crete as compared with the other Greek islands.
Tip: Don’t miss the highlight of the place: Gates of Samaria Gorge.
Samaria gorge begins from the mountain village of Omalos plateau and makes its path via landscape to the seaside village of Agia Roumeli. It is about a 10 miles stretch through Chania’s white mountains, the longest gorge in Europe.
Samaria Gorge National park is a perfect place for all those who enjoy outdoor adventure. Samaria Gorge provides 16 kilometers long hiking trek.
Rethymnon Old Town
Old town on the Rethymnon island is the third-largest city in Crete, Greece. The old town comprises small streets flooded with stunning restaurants, cafes, and unique shops and also, and check Venetian Harbour.
It does not face a much crowd compared to Chania old town, as it is people’s usual choice. The ambiance is friendly, and locals welcome tourists with gay.
Rethymnon old town is a perfect location for a day trip or enjoying the night, making it a picturesque place for photographers!
History freaks don’t miss the chance to visit Neratze Mosque, which sums up Rethymnon’s history.
Mere a 30 minutes boat tour can help you reach this tiny beautiful Spinalonga island which is quite close to Crete island. Located in northeastern Crete, in the Gulf of Elounda, one can explore the Venetian history of the island.
The place has a disturbing past, with great Arab raids and invasions, Ottoman business and occupation, and Venetian conquering, which formed into a leper colony.
People worldwide come only to see the ruins and remains of Venetian castle and a former leper colony.
You can explore the lavish beach hotels and villas of Elounda close to Agios Nikolaos. You can reach there by boat on the Venetian harbor in Agios Nikolaos.
The fishing village of Sissi
When you think about what things to do in Crete, many also love fishing. This beautiful fishing village is located on the north coast of Crete, Greece.
As Sissi is on steep coast, it is hard to find beaches in this place. Therefore, locals have built cafes and restaurants facing the beautiful Mediterranean sea.
You can go to Sissi by boat and enjoy a day trip there. It costs merely 25 euros for such a day trip. During summertime, Agios Nikolaos also gives several day trips to Sissi.
There are many other things to do in Crete, Greece. Also known as the south Cretan sea, you will find Asterousia mountains and Messara plain on the southern coast of Crete, the coastline to the Libyan sea.
Paleochora, also called the Nymph of the Libyan sea, is a small town situated on the peninsula surrounded by the Libyan sea. This small town welcomes many visitors, and the customs and traditions, artworks, and antiquity are some of the place’s highlights.
The significance of the place is that it is the birthplace of the most important Greek god Zeus. Situated on eastern Crete in the region of Lasithi, this is a small hike from where you can enter the cave.
A staircase will lead you down the cave, where you will find exciting stalagmites and stalactites.
As discussed earlier, there are many amazing things to do in Crete. A change from historicity, ruins, beaches, lakes, and mountains let us explore the Aquaworld, and it is one of the three aquariums in Greece.
You will be welcomed friendly by the authority, and they will let you touch and get a closer look at the creatures. It is a hub of sea life where you will get to explore reptiles and aquatic animals from all over the world.
If you plan your day and spend a few hours in this place, it will be one of the best fun-loving things to do in Crete. It will be a great adventure for kids.
Chania Venetian Harbour
The Venetians started constructing Chania’s old town Harbour in early 1320, which took 300 years to complete.
You should also check out the town’s lighthouse, which is a symbol of the old city. It is also the host of the Center of Mediterranean architecture.
Interesting facts to know and things to do in Crete
Crete’s accommodation costs are comparatively cheaper than all the Greek islands.
Learn more about the booking options and availability here.
In western Crete, Lana Law Chania is the prime city. The town looks beautiful during the winter, facing the Aegean sea and the white mountains formed the background of the old city.
Municipal Market of Chania
One should not miss a visit to the Municipal Market of Chania, constructed in 1911, which vends gifts and seasonal produce of cheese and honey.
Food in Crete
Greece, the nation, is the third-largest producer of Olives globally. Therefore, the food on Crete island, known for cooking every meal, is super healthy extra virgin olive oil.
Crete offers from tasty street foods to luxurious scrumptious restaurants where dishes in both cases are cooked by using fresh products grown locally.
Check the popular lists of food in Crete here!
Santorini is the hub of colorful beaches. Red, black and white is some popular shades on the beaches.
The fun fact about visiting Greece is that tourists come more in number as compared to the total population of Greek, as the country render numerous things to do in Crete and other Greek islands.
Sea life and wildlife
You won’t believe many unique species are only found in some Greek islands. Tourists from all over the globe come especially to discover and experience a comprehensive look at them! No wonder the demographic profile of Greece makes it a suitable place for wildlife and sea life to find shelter.
Small mountain Village
A small mountain village is a traditional village located in Anogeia that holds the conventional customs of the island. The village is the heart of a few superb musicians in Crete.
Climate in Crete
As Crete is the largest of the other Greek islands, the place is a bit warmer comparatively. If we check the MSN weather report, Greek has almost 300 sunny days. Therefore, one must go through the climatic conditions before planning a trip!
Check here for some general information about the Greek island Crete.
After learning about several things to do in Crete, you must make a trip to Crete, Greece. Crete has become tourists’ favorite location on an island filled with so many enormous hidden treasures.
As the country is not only famous for its mountain ranges but also for the archaeological sites and heritage Greece hold. You will not find this wide range of ancient ruins and museums anywhere else except in Greece!
Greece’s most loved island offers a variety of things to do in Crete. So, please spare some time to see the magic of Greece and its most liked island Crete and have fun among the dazzling sunshine and eye-catching locations! In this article, we have covered possible things to do in Crete and amenities one can avail of when planning a holiday trip in Greece.
Things to do in Crete, Greece
- Heraklion Archaeological Museum
- The Minoan Palace of Knossos
- The Minoan Palace of Phaistos
- Pink Sand Beach of Elafonisi beach
- Seitan Limania beach
- Preveli beach
- Balos lagoon
- Matala beach
- Via beach
- Lake Voulismeni
- Samaria Gorge National park
- Rethymnon Old town
- Spinalonga island
- The fishing village of Sissi
- Libyan sea
- Psychro Cave
- Aquaworld Aquarium
- Chania Venetian Harbour
Don’t forget to visit 10 fun things to do in Santorini.