Crete is the perfect mix of stunning scenery, golden beaches and ancient culture; meaning there’s something for everyone to get excited by. Whether you want to spend your days leaving your footprints on sun-drenched beaches or hiking up the cliffs to where Zeus was born, Crete is the most beautiful island you will ever visit. Here are just 10 the best things to do on your Crete holiday
Arkadi Monastery – Thought to have been founded in the 12th century by Emperor Arkadios, Arkadi Monastery is located near the village of Amnatos and is surrounded by lush greenery such as vineyards, olive groves and oak trees. The most historic monastery in Crete, it was central to the history of Crete’s freedom.
The Cove of Seitan – The Cove of Seitan, which translates to Satan’s Port, is far more heavenly than its name suggests. This hidden paradise of a beach can only be reached by car; from there you can walk down the steep cliffs to reach the white sands and crystal waters. Plus, the cliffs provide shelter making it a total suntrap.
Cave of Sfendoni – Near the village of Zoniana is Sfendoni Cave, a magical cave that covers around 3000 square metres. Visitors can explore the cave on a special route and admire the stunning formations and labyrinths nature has created over the years, as well as colourful stalagmites and stalactites.
Cave Diving – Blue cave diving is the perfect way to get closer to the underwater delights of Crete. Depending on experience, diving guides will take you as far as 31 meters below the surface where you can see the reef and wild fish that live in the mouth of this cave. During April to June you’re also likely to see lobsters.
Malia Minoan Palace – The third-largest Minoan palace in Crete, the Minoan Palace of Malia is situated beside the sea and some parts were constructed circa 1900 BC. These days you can walk around the palace ruins and imagine what it would have been like in the Minoan times – the ceremonies and festivals that would have been held here.
The Palace of Knossos – Another Cretan archaeological site, the Palace of Knossos was discovered in 1878 and is a Bronze Age site, making it one of Europe’s oldest cities. As you travel around the ruins you can learn the history of the site by opting for a guided tour.
Rethymno Old Town – Rethymno, one of the most romantic places in Crete, has the charm of a truly historical town ready to be explored, but also has a gorgeous beach. Appealing to everyone, the town itself has the amenities of a city, paved with cobbled streets and Venetian architecture, making it feel like something straight out of a fairy-tale.
Samariá Gorge (National Park) – One of the most popular tourist attractions in Crete; in peak seasons, as many as 3000 people a day make the hike through the picturesque Samaria Gorge, Crete’s national park. Attracted by the raw beauty of the scenery, you can opt to make the hike yourself or join in on a guided tour. Just make sure to wear appropriate shoes.
Museum of Nikos Kazantzakis – If you adore literature, then a trip to the Museum of Nikos Kazantzakis should absolutely be on your itinerary. Known as one of the best writers in modern history, the author of ‘Zorba the Greek’ has his life detailed in this incredibly interesting museum. Attractions include original notes and manuscripts as well as some of the writer’s personal items.
Botanical Park and Gardens – Once a family home, four brothers transformed the 200 acres of family-owned land into a park filled with beautiful trees from around the world. This includes fruit, tropical and medicinal trees – all signposted so you can learn their names. There’s even a restaurant on-site that uses locally sourced ingredients; some that were grown in the park itself.
Just So You Know…
- Go snorkeling around Elafonissi beach, where the sea is crystal clear and the sand is white pinkish in color.
- There are various camping sites located close to the beach – Camp Elizabeth being one of the oldest but has plenty of modern facilities.
- Stay in a traditional Cretan old stone house; many of these historical stone buildings have now been converted to luxury villas with modern amenities.
- Take a safari around the Cretan mountains and explore its wilderness.
- Although the most popular time to visit Crete is June to August, the island is best experienced in spring and autumn when the weather isn’t too hot.
- Go and discover the birthplace of Zeus, rumored to be in the Dikteon Caves complex in Lasithi; this vast cave system is fascinating to explore.
- Get Some Culture
- Heraklion Archaeological Museum – Covering 5,500 years of Neolithic to Roman history, this is one of the largest and most important museums in Greece.
- Historical Museum of Crete – located near Heraklion town centre, this museum highlights the art and history of Crete and how it has changed over the years.
- Grab A Bite:
- Kyria Maria – a small family-run tavern restaurant serving traditional Greek specialties amongst the hustle and bustle of Old Town.
- To Pigadi – located in the charming alleyways of the Old Town, serving traditional Greek dishes and platters.
- Methexis – Popular for it’s unusual but delicious foods, expect to see dishes such as goat and lamb liver roulade on the menu.
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