Crete Travel Guide | Best Things to See & Do


Travel & holiday guide to Crete


About this Crete Travel Guide

Crete is one of those magical places that caught you by surprise and steal your heart without you even noticing. This is my personal opinion, and yes, it’s totally biased, but I don’t really think that any other place could match the authenticity of this land.

Am I passionate about Crete? Yes, I am! You won’t find lukewarm experiences on this blog. That’s also why I stopped writing often about other destinations. There’s so much to see on Crete, that my wanderlust has shifted and it’s taken the local travel bug.

I wake up every morning thinking about making this a unique place for you to find the best experiences on Crete. This guide and this blog are not other collections of articles written by someone who’s been on Crete for a week… Yet, it’s neither a boring, endless list of literally everything without any soul in it.

This travel guide is my Crete, it’s my experiences and my tips to plan a visit and discover the things I’ve seen again and again… because I can’t live without them.

Who’s this guide for?

This Crete Travel Guide will be really handy if…

  • you’re planning your own itinerary,
  • you’re a fan of road trips & independent travel,
  • it’s your first trip to the island, or
  • you keep coming back year after year!

I’ve put all my passion, my experience, and a good dose of research into every post. And I know I will make you enthusiastic about the island. The island is a universe of its own… Discover the best of Crete with me!


This article has affiliate links to products and services that I use. If you make a purchase through these links,
it might earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you.


Why a Travel Guide to Crete

The fantastic island of Crete has turned into my home just a few years ago. After coming back season after season, I couldn’t stop thinking that there was no other better way to write about it than living here?

That’s how I naturally transitioned from being a travel blogger to being a travel writer mostly focusing on just one destination: Crete. After four years on the island, there’s no way I feel comfortable writing about a place I visit for just a couple of days. I can only be comfortable writing about what I know, and that’s this island.

So there you have it. This is a different travel guide to Crete. Everything I share comes from direct experience, from my own road trips, hotel stays or visits, restaurant nights, and from hosting a lot of returning friends and tourists on my gastronomic tours.

Disclaimer: Photos are in general mine unless I mess up the camera settings (which I often do). I also suck at Photoshop, so let God bless those good friends with better skills coming to the rescue!

Ok, now that you know why this blog can show you a different side of Crete, let’s get to it…


CRETE DESTINATION GUIDE

Best places to visit in Crete

If the island of Crete has been on your radar for a while now, and since you’re visiting this guide, chances are that your trip to Crete is about to happen. If you’re not so sure about why you should visit this fantastic Greek island, these articles below will certainly ignite your curiosity.

Crete is an island gathering a variety of stunning landscapes and outstanding traditions, pristine beaches, imposing mountains, and some of the most hospitable people in the world. Here are some generic guide that highlight the best of Crete.

BEST BEACHES IN CRETE
Pink sand, white pebbles, unique sunsets, and hidden shores are some of the distinctive traits of Crete’s beaches.
Best things to do in crete
There are endless things to see and do in every region of Crete. These are some of the top highlights on the island.
Crete off the beaten path
Despite being such a popular holiday destination, Crete is also a huge island hiding unique unknown jewels.
Archaeological sites in crete
There are endless ruins and archaeological sites to visit all over the island of Crete.
monasteries & churches
Monasteries, churches, but also mosques and minarets had a key role in the history of Crete.
beautiful villages in crete
Traditions, rituals, and unique customs are treasured in Crete’s beautiful mountain and coastal villages.

Best beaches in Crete

Crete is home to hundreds of shores of stunning beauty. In every region of Crete, you’ll be able to find beaches that have been attracting tourists for years: exotic landscapes, pink sand, palm tree forests, the beaches of Crete are among the prettiest in Europe.

Here, you will discover everything about the most famous beaches of Crete as well as about unique hidden bays known only to the locals. Discover the best beaches in Crete in the following posts.

POPULAR BEACHES OF CRETE
BEACHES OF CRETE REGION BY REGION
HIDDEN BEACHES IN CRETE

Cities in Crete

Crete is divided into four different regions. Heraklion, Chania, Lasithi, and Rethymnon. Each of these regional units is home to an important capital city. However, there are more villages and important towns worth a visit on Crete.

Heraklion
Heraklion, the capital of Crete, is usually the gate to enter the island.
Chania
The city of Chania is a vibrant center on the west coast of Crete.
Rethymnon
Rethymno is a gorgeous city on the north coast of Crete.
Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos is the capital of Lasithi, on the Gulf of Mirabello.
Matala
Matala is a famous hippie village south of Heraklion.
Ierapetra
Ierapetra is Crete’s most important city in the south of the island.

Map of Crete

Here’s a generic map of Crete with the four different regions, the most remarkable cities, and some of the best places you can check when touring the island.


Crete with kids

Check these guides to plan a family holiday on one of the most kid-friendly destinations in Greece.

FAMILY HOLIDAYS IN CRETE
Crete is a great destination for families with kids. Shallow beaches, soft sand, and sunny days make everyone happy!

Tasty and healthy food and endless attractions turn Crete into a great family holiday destination.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN CRETE WITH KIDS

In the following articles you can find detailed information about some fantastic places you can visit in Crete. Check these facts and tips and get ready to include them in your next Crete itinerary.


Planning the trip

Check these practical guides with essential information that you need when planning your trip to the island, before booking where to stay, and when deciding if you might need to rent a car.

USEFUL TIPS TO VISIT CRETE
  • General information about the island.
  • Currency, language, insurance, internet.
  • Activities & places to see.
  • Ports, airports & moving around.
  • Where to stay & when to go.
  • Health & insurance.

Where to stay in Crete
  • Map & regions of Crete.
  • Where to stay in Crete for beaches.
  • Best places to stay for families & couples.
  • Nightlife & outdoor adventures.
  • Traditional villages.
  • Types of accommodation.
  • Bonus: 2-week itinerary.

Driving in Crete
  • Crete on the road.
  • Tips for car rental on Crete.
  • Basic rules to remember.
  • What vehicle to rent.
  • Highway and other roads.
  • Safety tips.
  • Documents to rent a car on Crete.

Best Books About Crete
  • Travel guides.
  • Books about Crete’s Ancient History.
  • Books about Crete’s Modern History.
  • Novels and other stories.
  • Books for kids.
  • Travel maps of Crete

MORE ABOUT CRETE

Wine & food guides

Crete itineraries

Frequently Asked Questions About Crete

These are some of the many questions you send me via e-mail about Crete and how to plan a visit.

Where is Crete?

Crete is a Greek island located in the southern part of the Aegean sea. It’s Greece’s largest and the fifth-biggest island in the Mediterranean. The northern coast faces the Sea of Crete while the southern side of the island is bathed by the Libyan sea.

What’s the landscape like in Crete?

A large part of Crete’s landscape is made of high mountains and a very rugged terrain, there are deep and long gorges, plateaus, and caves, but also soft valleys, rivers, lakes and some of the most spectacular beaches in the Mediterranean.

When it the best time of the year to visit Crete?

Crete has a fairly good climate all year round. Winters can sometimes be cold and rainy, but on some seasons it can be surprisingly warm. In spring everything blossoms, fields get covered with beautiful flowers and lush trees, but the sea has still not received enough sun to be really warm. The central summer months of July and August tend to be extremely hot and super crowded, but if that’s something you don’t really mind, summer is a great season to discover the beaches of Crete. The best months are certainly September and October. The sea is warm, the extreme heat subsides and the atmosphere is pleasant and very quiet. 

Is Crete a dangerous destination?

Crete is a still a very safe place to visit. You should always be careful, as in any crowded or very touristic place, but there’s not high crime rate on Crete, especially if you compare it with other destinations in Greece and in the rest of southern Europe.

Is Crete a family-friendly destination?

Crete is one of the best family destinations in Greece. Not only your kids will find super safe beaches, with shallow waters, fine sand, and protected from the winds, but they will also be able to enjoy a very friendly atmosphere. Cretans love kids to the point of spoiling them. Besides, there are countless entertainment opportunities, dedicated museums — sometimes even interactive, interesting archaeological sites, water parks and theme parks, and hotels specially thought for children. Besides, Greek food in general, and Cretan in particular is not only tasty and appealing for kids, but also extremely healthy.

Is Crete a romantic destination for honeymooners?

Crete is ideal for a romantic holiday, a honeymoon, or a couple escape. There’re even themed and adult-only hotels if that’s what you’re looking for too. On Crete, you’ll find romantic shores every step you take, perfect spots for sunset or sunrise, cozy mountain stone-houses, and romantic views.

Can I see all Crete in one week?

You might be able to have a quick panoramic view of the best of Crete in a week, but 7 days aren’t enough to see such a huge island. We recommend to plan to spend at least 10 days on the island. If you have more time, even better! If you have just a few days and travel to Crete for a short city-break, don’t try to rush around from one region to the other, just concentrate on one city and the surrounding area and if you like it, plan a second trip. Second and even third-time visitors to Crete are quite the norm in every season.

What are popular places to visit in Crete?

The most popular places include archaeological sites such as the Minoan Palace of Knossos and Festos, the pink sand beach of Elafonisi, Balos Lagoon and the coastal town of Paleochora. The old town of Rethymnon and of Chania, Falassarna beach, Matala beach, the palm beaches of Preveli and Vai, the seaside village of Loutro, and the gorge of Samaria are other of the most visited places on Crete.

E-Book: West Crete

Tips & Resources

GREECE
Still not sure if you should visit Greece or not? Worry no more! This list of reasons why Greece should be your next holiday destination will certainly convince you to book your next trip.

CAR RENTAL
When in Greece, I always recommend choosing a local rental company over an international one. With Rental Center Crete fees are more convenient, there’s a zero-excess insurance policy (as well as no hidden costs, free mileage, and extra driver). Check this car rental website and use my promo code to get a 5% discount.

ACCOMMODATION
Whenever I need to book accommodation in Crete I personally use Booking.com. Their Genius Loyalty Programme allows me to find better fees. As they say, the more you stay with them, the more rewards you get.

TOURS & DAY TRIPS
For organized activities, I usually book my tours GetYourGuide. From transfer to cooking lessons, including archaeological site visits, skip the line attractions, and boat trips, both platforms help you save time and money.

FERRY TICKETS
Getting to Crete can be really comfortable with an airplane, but nothing beats the romantic experience of traveling by sea. Choose Let’s Ferry to visit several Greek islands or to travel directly to Crete.

Are you coming to Crete any time soon?
Let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author

Hola! I’m Gabi. I moved to Crete to explore the island all year round.
I love taking pictures and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.
I’m a beach freak and on this island, I’ve found heaven on earth!

Gabi Ancarola
The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog

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