CRETE


Crete

Discover Crete, Greece’s most stunning island!

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.

About this Crete Travel Guide

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 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.

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

General information about Crete

Map of Crete

Greece - Crete - Map - Regions

Travel guide essentials: Planning the trip

These practical guides are easy to check and include 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.

TIPS TO PLAN THE TRIP

GREECE - CRETE -CHANIA PORT
  • 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.

DRIVING & CAR RENTAL

ROAD 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.

WHERE TO STAY IN CRETE

GREECE - CRETE - CHANIA - OLD TOWN
  • 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.

HOW TO TRAVEL TO CRETE

AIRPLANE. SKY - SUNSET
  • Traveling from Europe.
  • Traveling from the US, Canada…
  • Getting to Crete by plane.
  • Ferries.
  • Getting to Crete from Athens
  • Island hopping.

Travel inspiration

These articles contain suggestions, tips, and curious information about Crete! Read books to get inspired, learn some curious and fun facts about the island, or check what fils you can watch to see some of the local landscape before landing on Crete

FUN FACTS ABOUT CRETE

GREECE - CRETE - LOUTRO - SUNSET
  • Historical facts about Crete.
  • Myths & Legends.
  • Stunning nature.
  • Curiosities about Crete.
  • Surprising numbers.
  • Controversial data.

BOOKS ABOUT CRETE

READING A BOOK AT THE BEACH
  • Travel guides.
  • Books about Crete’s Ancient and Modern History.
  • Novels and other stories.
  • Books for kids.
  • Travel maps of Crete.

MOVIES SET ON CRETE

POP CORN
  • Classic movies.
  • Best war movies about the Battle of Crete.
  • Movies about Crete’s mythology.
  • The best thrillers filmed on Crete.
  • Bonus: Two series set on Crete.

The four regions in Crete

There are four different regions in Crete, each of them with its own unique characteristics, fantastic landscape, and a collection for great things to do.

The most important region is Heraklion, which also hosts the capital of the island. Next up in importance comes Chania, one of the most beautiful places in Crete, with stunning beaches, mountains, and a traditional old town.

Rethymnon comes right after, a land of beautiful scenes and nature, churches, monasteries, villages, and a pristine South coast to discover. Finally, the Lasithi region, often overlooked and forgotten, Lasithi treasures arguably the most authentic side of Crete.

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 travel guides that highlight the best of Crete.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN CRETE

GREECE - CRETE - BALOS BEACH

There are endless things to see and do in every region of Crete. These are some of the top highlights on the island.

BEST BEACHES IN CRETE

GREECE - CRETE - MATALA BEACH - SUNSET

Pink sand, white pebbles, unique sunsets, and hidden shores are some of the distinctive traits of Crete’s beaches.

CRETE OFF-THE-BEATEN PATH

GREECE - CRETE - GEORGIOUPOLI - AGIOS NIKOLAOS CHAPEL

Despite being such a popular holiday destination, Crete is also a huge island hiding unique unknown jewels.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

Minoan ruins, archaeological site, Malia, Crete

There are endless ruins and archaeological sites to visit all over the island of Crete.

CHURCHES & MONASTERIES

Monasteries, churches, but also mosques and minarets had a key role in the history of Crete.

CRETAN VILLAGES

GREECE CRETE LOUTRO

Traditions, rituals, and unique customs are treasured in Crete’s mountain and coastal villages.

Cretan cities you should visit

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, CAPITAL OF CRETE

Heraklion, the capital of Crete, is usually the gate to enter the island.

CHANIA

port, houses, Venetian Harbor Chania

The city of Chania is a vibrant center on the west coast of Crete.

RETHYMNON

GREECE - CRETE - RETHYMNON LIGHTHOUSE

Rethymno is a gorgeous city on the north coast of Crete.

AGIOS NIKOLAOS

GREECE - CRETE - AGIOS NIKOLAOS

Agios Nikolaos is the capital of Lasithi, on the Gulf of Mirabello.

IERAPETRA

GREECE - CRETE - IERAPETRA AT SUNSET

Ierapetra is Crete’s most important city in the south of the island.

MATALA

Matala beach, Crete, Caves, Sunset

Matala is a famous hippie village south of Heraklion.

Stunning beaches…

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.

Crete for families

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

Popular places to see in Crete

Food & wine guides

GUIDE TO LOCAL WINES

GLASSES OF WINE - WINE TASTING

Best itineraries to discover Crete

Genius packing guides to travel to Crete

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 Travel Guide

Resources

Coming to Crete any time soon? These fantastic resources will help you organize an unforgettable hassle-free trip to the island!

  • I never move around the island with any of these… my Osprey backpack has been the most loyal travel partner over the last 5 years. It’s sturdy, light, roomy, and super comfortable! I just love it. To visit the old town, archaeological sites, and museums, this little crossbody bag is always around.
  • When driving around Crete, I always pack my Michelin map, clear, accurate, and easy to read and my Nikon D7200, I’m lost without any of them. In summer I also carry good sunscreen lotion, the sun on the island can be pretty aggressive.
  • Greece, and especially Crete, is a fairly safe destination, however, I’m sure you know that it’s always better to travel with an insurance policy for complete peace of mind. My favorite? World Nomads. Already left home? Buy your travel insurance online now!
  • Always bring with you a good travel guide to Crete! The best Crete Travel Guide I’ve found so far is the one published by Lonely Planet. It has all the information you need.
  • Airfares to Crete can vary immensely from one airline to the other, make sure you always compare ticket prices with a powerful search engine. Getting to Crete can be really comfortable with an airplane, but nothing beats the romantic experience of traveling by sea. I always choose Let’s Ferry to visit other Greek islands or to travel directly to Crete from Athens. It has a powerful search engine to get the right ticket you need!
  • If I need to book accommodation in Crete or anywhere else, 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.
  • Road trips in Crete are the most authentic way to explore the island. Find the cheapest rental car using a good car rental search engine. Discover Cars searches over 500 trusted rental companies for you to find the best deal. Compare prices for rental cars in Crete here.
  • Sometimes, the best way to get to know a place better and make the most of your time on Crete is to join an organized tour. GetYourGuide has a great selection of proposals that help you save time and money. From cooking lessons to archaeological site tours, skip-the-line attractions, and even airport transfer!
  • To have updated information about the island, join my private group on Facebook about Crete, and download a copy of my West Crete Travel Guide to have it always with you on the island!

Do you have everything you need? Then you just have to get ready to discover Crete, Greece’s most beautiful island!

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

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

About the Author

Hola! I’m Gabi. Welcome to The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog! 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!