Crete, one of the finest destinations all around the world for experiences that stay with you for a lifetime! Although Crete attracts thousands of travelers every year, it can be chaotic due to its size. Where should you go first, what should you include in your bucket list? To avoid confusion, we have created a list of the top 10 things to do in Crete and wish you wonderful travels!
Palace of Knossos
Starting out, the Palace of Knossos is definitely a place to be. One of the most significant civilizations of all time has flourished here. So this archaeological site just few kilometers from Heraklion is worth visiting. This is where the emblematic king Minos used to reside. Massive excavations have revealed the wealth and prosperity of the Minoan civilization. The palace is dated back to 6,000 BC and was brought to light only in 1878. If you are planning to visit the site during peak season, you should be armed with patience. There are many people wishing to take a glimpse at the past glory of the palace.
This is a marvelous place to swim, as well as enjoy nature’s marvels. This is why it has earned its place amongst the top things to do in Crete. Protected area by Natura 2000, Elafonissi is located in West Chania and offers visitors an amazing experience. You can see the corals scattered along the shore on the islet, turning the sand into warm pink or orange. It is home to some rare species of flora and fauna, while the shallow waters allow people to step from one reef to the next.
Archaeological Museum of Heraklion
Covering a huge span of the Cretan history of over 6,000 years, the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion is one of the most impressive museums in whole Europe. It was founded in 1883, although the artifacts on display have been added over the years. Nowadays, the multi-awarded museum boasts the most extensive collection of exhibits from the Minoan civilization. The rooms are air conditioned and ample, providing the perfect environment for a full exploration of the items of display.
The Old Venetian Harbor of Chania
In the picturesque Old Town of Chania, the harbor is the most precious jewel. Built by the Venetians during their reign on the island, the harbor was used as their hub for military and commercial purposes. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the road starting from the lighthouse and taking you all the way to the harbor and Kountourioti Coast. The walls that you see are part of Firkas Fortress, which was obviously built to keep the pirates and other enemies at bay. Sunset is absolutely captivating at the harbor, so do not miss that!
The small iconic islet near Elounda has been made famous due to its former state as the Leper Island. It was a place of quarantine for all the lepers and therefore it remained a huge mystery till 1957. Through the best seller “The Island” from Victoria Hislop, many people have come closer to the human aspect of Spinalonga and wanted to see where the lepers once lived. You can take a boat from Plaka and reach Spinalonga within a few minutes, for an emotional journey to the past.
A National Park of Greece and World’s Biosphere Reserve, Samaria Gorge is located in the southwestern part of Crete. Operating from May to October, this is a huge park that offers a unique experience to all visitors. Unspoiled wildlife, landscapes of unmatched beauty and species such as the kri-kri (goats that only live on the island of Crete) will fascinate you. The whole hike stretches up to 16 kilometers, but those who prefer something less extreme there is the alternative of a much shorter route.
A lovely beach of soft, silky and light pink sand and turquoise waters is formed between the Capes Gramvousa and Tigani. Thousands of shells have been crushed, leading to the exotic sand spreading along the beach. The waters are quite shallow and crystal clear, while you can indulge in snorkeling due to the rich seabed. It is definitely worth taking pictures from this fabulous landmark, one of the top things to do in Crete!
Do you know where Zeus was born? According to myths and legends, Zeus was born in Lassithi and more particularly at Dikteon Cave. Ever since antiquity, this was a sacred place where worshipers flocked to pay their respect and show Zeus how much they cared. It is one of the most impressive caves on the island and definitely beats all other caves as top things to do in Crete. Stalactites and stalagmites have been formed over the years, turning this cave into a true masterpiece of underground nature.
Seitan Limania Beach
Seitan Limania beach is one of the well hidden treasures on the island of Crete. It is located on the peninsula of Akrotiri, about 20 kilometers from Chania. Although you have to climb down a path to reach the beach after driving to a specific spot, you will be compensated for that. The scenery is purely breathtaking, with the tiny beach forming a watery path and resembling an extraordinary private swimming pool. Due to its size, you are encouraged to visit Seitan Limania during low season, on weekdays or early in the morning.
Kedrodasos is the Greek name for Cedar forest and is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete. Pretty close to Elafonisi, the beach is mostly sandy with just few rocks scattered around. The Cedar forest covers a vast area of 110 acres and offers the ideal setting for campers and nature enthusiasts. You can enjoy your swim at the crystalline waters and then rest under the generous shade of the trees. Some of them are very old, having survived centuries.And this completes our list with the top things to do in Crete! – or maybe not?
A Plethora of Things to Do in Crete
Of course 10 is a pretty fair number for a list. However, for a magnificent island such as that of Crete this cannot be enough. So when you are in Crete, be sure not to miss a visit to Phaistos Palace. Head to Arkadi Monastery and visit Agios Nikolaos settlement, take a daily cruise to Koufonissi and search for the Gorge of the Dead. Once you are in Heraklion, take a picture of Morosini Fountain at Lions Square and pay your respects to Kazantzakis Tomb.
But above anything else, enjoy your stay in one of the genuine destinations of the world. Mingle with the locals and take part in festivities and special events. Have a taste of Cretan gastronomy and clink your glasses as you are wishing “Yammas” sipping on raki! Crete is a hospitable place, a place you fall in love with and come back again and again…Crete is inside you, no matter if you visit the island for a couple of days or decide to relocate there! So in a nutshell, when somebody asks about the top things to do in Crete, the proper answer would be to live the Cretan way!