Best Places in Crete for Students: What to Visit in Crete if you’re a Young Traveler

Crete for Student travelers

Crete is a popular destination for many travelers coming to the Mediterranean region. The island has a rich history and culture, and the pleasant weather during many months of the year attracts those who want to relax and have a good time.

But Crete is also a great place for students with a limited budget and big dreams of seeing the world. Without further ado, here are the best places to visit and things to do on Crete for student travelers.

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🛎️ Find the best hotels in Crete here

📍 Top tours I recommend on the island:
Boat cruise to Balos Lagoon & Gramvousa
Ticket to Knossos Archaeological Site

🚘 The best way to get around Crete is by car. Check rental car rates for Crete here.

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Young travelers love Crete. It is a great place to explore, offering plenty of adventure opportunities, from spectacular hides to endless outdoor sports. If you’re a student and want to visit the island, you will find dozens of activities, entertainment, night fun, and interesting historical sites.

Besides, you can save money by staying in an affordable hotel or sharing a dorm in a hostel. These are my top picks in Crete for students!

Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge - Gorges in Crete
Samaria Gorge.

The Samaria Gorge National Park is a treasure of Crete. Its hiking route offers one of the most breathtaking views in the region. Many students lead active lifestyles and will love hiking along the roughly 13-kilometer trek.

This is not the only gorge you can hike in the region. Check out my guide to Imbros Gorge and other gorges in Crete.

>> Affordable Samaria Gorge hike.

Spinalonga Island

crete for students
Spinalonga Island.

Despite its dark and sad history, Spinalonga is an attractive destination for many travelers interested in Crete’s history and past.

Spinalonga is well-known for its Venetian fortress and the buildings remaining from its time as a leper colony. Students can take a guided group tour around the island, which is now an interesting archaeological site. Swimming is forbidden on the island, but you can head to the nearby beaches of Plaka and Elounda or explore the coastline in Agios Nikolaos to enjoy the sea.

Knossos Palace

Ancient settlement, Knossos, Crete
Knossos Palace.

The Palace of Knossos is Crete’s most important archaeological site and the second most visited in the country. It has survived since the Bronze Age and is a must-see destination on the island.

Thousands of Greek and foreign students visit the site every year. Just like regular travelers do when spending time in Heraklion. Therefore, it is one of the most popular places in Crete and tends to be crowded. Visiting early in the morning is always better to make the most of the experience. That way, you will beat the crowds and midday heat.

Students bringing a credential or other kind of credential get substantial discounts at the entrance. It’s also possible to purchase a discounted ticket package that includes access to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.

However, I always suggest spending money on a budget-friendly tour of Knossos to understand where you are and its significance as the birthplace of Western civilization. Many people don’t plan this visit accurately and leave thinking they visited just a bunch of colorful ruins. And nothing could be further from the truth, the site is a genuine gem!

Rethymnon Old Town

Rethymnon, Crete - the old harbor
Venetian port of Rethymnon.

Rethymnon’s Old Town houses numerous restaurants, cafes, unique stores, and beautiful local architecture. It offers an authentic experience that is a must for any tourist who visits the island.

However, the best part is that Rethymnon is known as a student city, with one of the most important universities in the country, you will find plenty of pubs and nightclubs, tons of things to do at night, and you will certainly feel at home!

Day Trip to Santorini

Sunset in Fira, Santorini.
Sunset in Fira, Santorini.

Perhaps one of the most well-known of the Greek islands is Santorini. If you’ve ever seen pictures of it, you can expect a place as beautiful as the one depicted in the photos.

You can connect with me to create an affordable (and feasible) traveling schedule and plan a visit to Santorini during your stay in Crete.

You can go on walks, taste local seafood dishes, and enjoy a romantic time with your other half. Can’t decide between Crete or Santorini? Check out this guide!

Elafonisi Beach

crete for students
Elafonisi Beach.

For active travelers who want to have fun but also to relax, Elafonisi Beach might just be the perfect place to visit.

The beach is unique thanks to its slightly pinkish sand and clear water. There are only one or two restaurants nearby, enough for students to hang out together in the evening.

There is no nightlife in the area—really, there is nothing to do! But do not worry, you will probably be so tired after a day of practicing water sports by the shore that you won’t want to go out in the evening. Besides, some peace can also be a great thing to enjoy on the island!

>> This budget-friendly bus trip to Elafonisi offers plenty of free time on the beach!

Balos Lagoon

Beach, sea plants, boat

Another option for swimming and sunbathing on Crete is the Balos Lagoon. The water is quite shallow, ideal for all kinds of travelers.

Since getting to Balos can be somewhat dangerous, booking an organized tour is always a good idea. However, it’s always more affordable to reach Balos with a day cruise from the port of Kissamos (about 45 minutes by car from Chania town. Here, you can get more details about the beach and how to get there.

Preveli Beach

Preveli Beach
Preveli Beach.

One more place to see in Crete is Preveli Beach, on the Southern coast of Rethymnon. Also, this beach is known for its crystal-clear waters (beaches on Crete are like that most of the time).

The famous “Heart Rock” is also located on the coast, near the mouth of the Kourtaliotikos Gorge. Preveli Beach is also famous for its unique palm tree forest and the river that ends on the beach. Despite being quite a ride from the town of Rethymnon, you can get there by bus. There are also a few organized visits to the area that include Preveli in their itinerary.

Chrissi Island

crete for students
Chrissi Island.

Chrissi Island is located about an hour from the coast of Ierapetra in the south of Crete and is considered an untouched piece of land.

Of course, it receives hundreds of beach enthusiasts every day. Chrissi is the ideal place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. You can get there from Ierapetra or the small port of Makrigialos, and the cruise to the island is quite affordable.

Aquaworld Aquarium

crete for students
Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Center.

The Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Center in Hersonissos, near Heraklion, specializes in presenting animals up close to visitors. They shelter turtles, lizards, and other unique creatures.

The animals are kept in perfect condition, and there are even cases when the staff rescues them, as the place is also an animal sanctuary. You can find out more on the official website or purchase tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line.

Winter Trips

White mountains in Winter in Crete
The White Mountains in Winter.

One great thing about the island is that you can visit Crete in winter. This can be the right decision for students because it will help them save money and experience a different kind of Crete.

Many things can be done during winter, such as hiking, visiting cities, tasting food, and discovering the local culture through festivities or celebrations, like Easter and Christmas. And the beaches completely differ from how they look in summer, offering the perfect setting for a picnic or a long, relaxing walk by the sea.

Acqua Plus Water Park

crete for students
Aqua Park Plus.

If you want to have even more fun when visiting Crete, visit the Acqua Plus Water Park in Hersonissos, near Heraklion.

This is one of the largest water parks in Crete. It features tall and fast slides for the most daring visitors. Other attractions in the park include the lazy river, hydromassage beds, wading pools, and more.

If you’re staying in the region of Chania, worry not! There’s no need to drive to Heraklion, Limnoupoli is a fantastic water park near the town center.

>> Purchase the entrance ticket in advance.

Matala Beach

street art Matala Crete

If you decide to visit some of Crete’s most popular beaches, you should check out Matala Beach, known for its golden sand and wavy, exciting waters. Every summer, usually in June, the spectacular Matala Beach Festival attracts young crows from all over Europe. So, if dancing on the beach is high on your list, don’t overlook this hippie-style experience.

While resting on the beach, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Paximadia islands, or you can visit the stunning Red Beach, just a short hike away. Not far from Matala, you can explore another impressive Minoan Palace, Phaistos, which may be more interesting than Knossos as there have been no restoration works, and everything looks pretty much as it used to be.

White Mountains

crete for students
White Mountains, Imbros Gorge.

Crete’s White Mountains are located in the western region of Chania and are popular among hikers.

Athletic students will be excited to choose among the incredible gorges (including the famous gorges of Samaria, Agia Eirini, and Imbros) and hiking paths featuring peaks soaring as far up as 2000 meters above sea level.

>> Check out my experiences and day trips in the White Mountains.

Heraklion Archeological Museum

crete for students
Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

If you are a student visiting Crete, your interest in the island might be related to your studies. In this case, you could be interested in visiting the Heraklion Archeological Museum, which is considered the best museum related to the Minoan civilization in the world. You can admire numerous artifacts such as jewelry, pottery, sculptures, etc.

Arkadi Monastery

greece - crete - rethymnon - arkadi - arkadi monastery museum
Arkadi Monastery.

The sixteenth-century Arkadi Monastery is another historical place to visit on Crete. With its beautiful architecture and rich history, this monastery is ideal for history enthusiasts, especially those who want to learn about Crete’s history.

You can join an organized tour to learn everything about its tragic past and the stunning construction details of the church and the building.


Things to do in Crete in Winter: Visit the CretAquarium

Last but not least, consider checking out the CretAquarium or Thalassókosmos. This aquarium is Mediterranean-themed and has over 2,5 thousand creatures ranging from sharks to jellyfish.

You will likely be very excited to see the glowing jellyfish at the aquarium, as they are quite a rarity.

>> Purchase the entrance tickets in advance.

In summary, Crete is a great destination to add to your list if you are a student looking for a different place to visit that feels a bit off-the-beaten-track, but not much!

Are you a student planning a trip to Crete?

I publish new content about Crete almost every day! Bookmark my Crete and Practical Guides pages to learn more before your trip.

Are you dreaming of a getaway to Crete but feeling overwhelmed with planning?

  • You can join my Facebook Group, Things to Do in Crete, a friendly gathering of Crete enthusiasts.
  • My personalized consultation calls assisted countless travelers in crafting the perfect Crete experience. Please email me your anticipated travel dates to turn your Crete dreams into reality!

Don’t forget travel insurance!

Although Crete is a safe destination, getting travel insurance is like having a safety net for your adventures. Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect yourself and your loved ones from unexpected situations.

>> Join our Facebook Group!

More resources to enhance your Crete adventure

Start by checking out my ultimate guide to planning your trip to Crete, packed with helpful essential information. Explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and insider secrets for an unforgettable experience.

When it’s time to plan, explore the best places to visit on Crete Island, discover my tours and activities, and be amazed at Crete’s incredible beaches. If you are exploring specific areas like Heraklion, Rethymnon, Lasithi, and Chania, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Crete

No time to read all my accommodation guides? Check out these places to stay:

More useful travel resources

  • Check out all the digital travel guides I’ve specifically written about Crete. They are affordable and practical to check from your mobile.
  • Find convenient ferry tickets with Ferryhopper.
  • Welcome Pickups offers a convenient pre-paid airport transfer service, while Discover Cars is my favorite engine for finding a rental car on the island.
  • To book adventures, tours, and cultural experiences, I recommend Get Your Guide for its flexible cancellation policy.

Pin for Later
Guide to Crete’s Top Sites for Students

crete for students

About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the Crete. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

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