What to visit in Crete in 2023 – main attractions of the Greek island. Where they are located, and famous for, how to get to them, actual excursions prices. Also – the most interesting places in Crete that are worth visiting with kids – in the review of good Time for Trip.
Crete is the largest and probably the most interesting island in Greece. In fact, it’s a small country, and along the way the center of the ancient and extremely mysterious Minoan civilization.
However, you can visit in Crete not only what is left of it, but also many other historical monuments of great cultural value. Equally, there are enough natural attractions on the island: mountains and hills, picturesque coves and beaches – you can easilly feel really nirvana here.
Therefore, no matter how much you would like to settle on one of the beaches of Crete, and just relax, it makes sense to strain yourself and make a couple of excursions. Having visited several places, the likes of which are nowhere in the world to be found!
Trips along the local coasts will provide you with excellent panoramic views of the sea, picturesque bays and coastal cliffs. Going to the central part of Crete, you will see different attractions: winding serpentines of roads, endless olive groves, stormy mountain streams and literally pristine-looking gorges.
The settlements on the island are interconnected by roads of good quality, and traffic here, as in most European countries and in the USA, is right-hand.
So if you want to rent a car, you are unlikely to experience problems with driving. It’s really is – will you visit Greece in the summer, when there are especially many tourists, or decide to go on seaside vacation in Crete in September, when many have already returned to working days.
that for seeing the main attractions of Crete, you can book an excursion: both of group or individual formats. Well, or – if you aren’t afraid of amateur activity – try to explore the island, traveling everywhere by public transport. There is a well-established scheme of movement on intercity buses of the KTEL company.
Interesting Places in Crete
Crete covers an area of 8.5 thousand km2! So if you expect to see all its sights in one short trip (that will last for 7-10 days), then you will certainly fail.
However, with a properly designed route, you will be able to visit the “mandatory places” in a couple of days. Along the way, making a list of those attractions of Crete that you should return to later!
What to Visit in Heraklion
The Palace of Knossos on the north coast tops the list of the most famous sights in Crete. It’s located just 5 km from the center of Heraklion, the island capital. And therefore in 90% of cases – the first place a foreign traveler wants to see.
The vast Knossos Palace was built back in the 4th millennium BC, right here was located the famous Minotaur Labyrinth. Where is lived the monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man to whom human sacrifices were made.
The Palace of Knossos was repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes, but not so long ago it was thoroughly reconstructed. And today it looks too good for such an ancient building. This brings some dissonance to the perception of tourists, who have heard that King Minos lived a many ages ago.
Before going on an excursion to the Palace of Knossos, it will be useful to visit the Museum of Archeology of Heraklion in Crete. After examining the exhibits collected there (their number is constantly growing, as archaeologists continue to work), you can make a holistic impression of the Minoan civilization.
And also in general about the history of Crete. Which was once owned by the Achaeans, Dorians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Venetians and Turks.
It’s unlikely that you won’t see in Crete the fortress Kules, located in the heart of Heraklion. The citadel, which at one time protected the trade routes north of the island, was built by the Arabs. And the Venetians strengthened it, brought the thickness of some of the outer walls up to 9 meters!
Vacationers with kids should visit the Watercity Waterpark Crete, which occupies an extensive territory and has slides of different levels of complexity. Separate shallow pools and safe playgrounds have been created for small visitors. Adults will also find an adrenaline entertainment to their taste!
is located about 60 kilometers along the highway from Heraklion, in a mountainous area on the Lassithi plateau. It’s considered to be the birthplace of the main god of Greek mythology, Zeus.
It’s easy to visit the Diktaean Cave with the excursion. Paying about 90 €, you will be able to explore this island attraction as part of a small group, as well as visit ancient villages and a family farm for the production of olive oil.
You can get to the Psychro Cave, which is associated with the Diktaean Cave mentioned in ancient literature, and in a rented car. Moreover, such a solution allows to include in the route and
This small coastal town in the north of Crete, is also very popular among tourists. It’s alluring, full of an indescribably romantic aura, though doesn’t have any outstanding sights.
Low white houses, terraces descending to the coast and the man-made inner lake Voulismeni, cozy streets, everywhere – a sea of flowers – you want to live in Agios Nikolaos for a few days, or even settle down forever.
A walk along the well-groomed city embankment, which offers wonderful views of the Mirabello Bay, will also provide vivid impressions. According to many seasoned travelers – Agios Nikolaos is one of the best places to stay in Crete in May … or in any other warm month.
This town is also considered a convenient base for exploring the eastern part of Crete. Starting from here, you’ll get to the famous resort of Elounda very quickly and then take a cruise to Spinalonga Island! Even further east is the pretty city Sitia, an amphitheater facing the sea.
Going for a walk through the old town of Rethymno, you can make a real dip into the past of Crete. Mansions and ordinary houses, intricately decorated entrance portals, flowers on balconies – all this is unlikely to leave anyone indifferent.
We also advise you to visit the local fortress built in the 16th century by the Republic of Venice, enter the local Archaeological and Ethnographic Museums. And in the evening – treat yourself to original Greek cuisine in one of the authentic taverns in the port.
In order to diversify the impressions a little and to escape from antiquity, we recommend visiting the Arkady Monastery. It’s considered the oldest Christian monastery in the island, and glorified itself during the Greek War of independence from the Ottoman Empire.
The monastery is located 25 km almost due east of Rethymno.
The Mili Gorge, a few kilometers south-east of Rethymno, isn’t particularly known to foreign tourists. Although it’s a very beautiful, even a little fantastic place, surrounded by greenery. In this location in Crete you will see rocks overgrown with creepers, mountain streams with rapids, waterfalls and even abandoned water mills, rocks overgrown with creepers.
But Chania, unlike the Mili Gorge, on the contrary, is always mentioned in the list of top attractions of Crete. And no wonder – this original, very similar to traditional Italian towns, captivates even in photographs. What can be said about the feelings of those who were able to see him live!
The Venetian port and lighthouse, the Archaeological Museum located in the former monastery of St. Francis, as well as the Maritime Museum are the main visitings cards of Chania. Not far from the city, in the mountains, there is also the Botanical Garden of Crete, an attraction, which must be visited with a child!
It belongs to one of the most beautiful places and beaches in Crete and is located on the northwestern tip of the island. Where the Mediterranean, Cretan and Ionian Seas merge together.
Just to the north of the lagoon is Gramvousa, which is often called “Pirate Island” due to the fact that once there was a filibuster base on its shores. In Gramvousa, you can also visit the ruins of an ancient Venetian fortress.
You can only get to Balos by car, and the final segment of the way to the parking lot passes along a dirt road. After that, you will have to go down the hiking trail for at least another half hour.
Maybe that’s why a significant number of tourists prefer to arrive in Balos Lagoon by sea?
his well-known resort and beach town in Crete is located fifty kilometers west of Chania. It’s popular thanks to its beautiful sandy beach and the purest sea, even in season a small number of vacationers.
Despite this, we recommend booking rooms in Falasarna hotels in advance – inexpensive options with a good rating end long before the summer season.
History lovers will notice that once upon a time there was a rich and influential Greek polis on the site of modern Falassarna. Tourists can still see the remains of walls and other constructions.
The most popular in terms of mountain trekking place in Crete is located 40 km south of Chania. And during the season it sees at least 1-2 thousand visitors a day – bus tours even from Heraklion are carried here.
By the way, the Samaria Gorge is the longest in Europe. It stretches for more than 15 km, and can be overcome on foot, given the difficult terrain, in at least 6-7 hours.
The trip here is best undertaken by those who already lead an overly active life. And therefore, on vacation, strives for peace and solitude.
Well, the Monastery of Preveli on the southern coast of Crete will certainly help you to find both the first and the second. After all, here you will see ancient walls surrounded by palm trees, cypresses and pine trees, a bleached sky, such a close and blue sea – all this can impress even a cynical tourist.
Unlike Knossos, Phaistos Palace hasn’t undergone a thorough reconstruction. To this day it allows an inquisitive tourist to visually imagine exactly what the original residences of the Minoan civilization looked like. It was here that the Phaistos disk was discovered, which archaeologists had to work so hard to decipher.
The Phaistos Palace isn’t too often visited by tourists, so there in no need to rush when examining it. And the views from the top to the surrounding area are simply wonderful!
It’s curious that it will take just an hour to get there from Heraklion by car.
A great beach and fascinating views have made Elafonisi Beach famous far beyond the borders of Crete. Every year, tens of thousands of travelers come to this place on the southwestern tip of Crete in the hope of a serene holiday and memorable experiences.
And they get them! Although the reviews advise to pay attention not only to the famous pink sand beach, but also to the adjacent sections of the coast.
Note, that’s not too easy to get there – even from Chania you need to drive about 2 hours (from Heraklion about 4). But such a tedious journey in the summer heat is quite justified – Elafonisi belongs to one of the most beautiful places in Crete!