Unforgettable Travel Company

The 10 Best Things to Do in Crete

The enchanting island of Crete, which is Greece’s largest island, boasts a captivating blend of culture, history, and nature that lures travelers to its borders year after year. 

Its rich historical timeline is one of the many reasons why travelers flock to the island. From being the home of the legendary Minotaur to spectacular archaeological sites including the Sacred Monastery of Arcadi, as you explore Crete you’ll be amazed as you catch sight of its relics from a bygone era. 

Worthy of a mention alongside Crete’s history is the island’s enticing natural landscapes, which are dotted with crystal blue lagoons and swathes of golden shorelines, leaving nature lovers in awe. And not to mention Crete’s unique culinary delights, which are enough to make any person’s mouth water. 

So, from history to nature and gastronomy, if you’re planning your next getaway to the island, you’ll be in need of some inspiration for things to see and to do in Crete. At Unforgettable Travel . we want to make sure that you make the most of your next vacation here, which is why they’ve revealed the 10 best things to do in Crete to help you have an unforgettable Greek trip that you aren’t soon to forget.

Balos Beach

Swim at Balos Beach

First on our list of the best things to do in Crete is to take a leisurely swim at Balos Beach. Situated on the northwest coast of the island, this breathtaking shoreline is known best for its otherworldly bright blue waters and its pink sands. If you ask locals on the island where the best beach lies, chances are Balos Beach will be mentioned in their top three. In fact, it’s often ranked as the most beautiful beach on the island, making it a must to venture to for all who are visiting Crete.

The beach has a unique geographical formation and borders Balos Lagoon, which is situated between the headland of Cape Tigani and the Gramvousa Peninsula. It has shallow and warm waters that are perfect for snorkeling, paddling, and swimming without travelers having to venture out of comfortable depths. 

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Chania Old Town

Roam Around Chania and its Old Town

Nestled on the island’s northwestern coast, Chania is a captivating location that many regard as one of the best cities in Crete. With its own rich past, much of the city’s charm is a result of the many nuggets of history that great empires and civilizations have left behind. For example, the Ottomans and the Venetians with their spectacular architecture, including the Venetian Harbour and the Yali Mosque – two of the most visited sites in the city.

Not to mention that whilst you’re discovering these nuggets of history, you can do this in the city’s heart itself, referred to as Chania Old Town. Sightseeing in Crete is not complete without visiting this area’s maze of narrow alleyways and admiring its sensational architecture.

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Heraklion

Visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

During any trip to Crete, it’s without question that you should be visiting the island’s capital of Heraklion. It is the largest city on the island and has been influenced by an array of cultures over many centuries, including the Ottomans, Byzantines, and Venetians. Nowadays, visitors can admire the many historical artifacts and antiquities that they left behind, and one of the very best places to do this is the Archeological Museum of Heraklion

The museum is like Crete’s very own time capsule, housing a collection of spectacular artifacts and artworks from over 5,000 years. Many of its most iconic pieces include frescoes from the Palace of Knossos, one of Crete’s most notable historic sights, beautiful snake Goddess figurines, and even the Phaistos Disc.

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Samaria Gorge

Hike Through the Samaria Gorge

If you consider yourself to be a nature enthusiast, stopping by the Samaria Gorge in Crete will offer you an adventure unlike anything else you may have experienced. The gorge itself stretches over 16 kilometers, making it one of the longest in Europe, which demonstrates just how marvelous nature can be. 

Samaria Gorge is a popular place amongst locals and tourists alike to hike through, where you can expect to pass by ginormous limestone cliffs and a crystal-clear river that weaves its way through the gorge. 

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Arcadi 

Explore the Sacred Monastery of Arcadi 

As the most historic monastery in Crete, the Sacred Monastery of Arkadi is undoubtedly one of the things to see in Crete during your next vacation to the island. It is an Eastern Orthodox monastery situated to the southeast of Rethymnon, with much of its structure being heavily influenced by the Rennaisance, including its central dome and intricate archways. 

The monastery played a significant role in the Cretan struggle for independence from Ottoman rule, which is largely what the monastery is now known for. It became a safe haven for Cretan rebels and their families whilst the country was revolting against the Ottomans. Thanks to its defenders, who decided to sacrifice themselves to defeat the Ottomans, it represents the loyalty Crete’s inhabitants had to their faith and freedom.

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Knossos 

Marvel at Knossos 

Knossos dates back to the Bronze Age and is an archaeological site that was an important center for the Minoan civilization. On the outskirts of Heraklion, this palace complex is an intriguing archeological site that is one of the best things to see in Crete, hence why it has made our top 10 list.

Of everything, many know the site best for its association with Greek mythology, as it was said to be the home of the Minotaur, slain by Theseus. The site is steeped in this legend which only adds an additional layer of captivation and interest for those looking to uncover the many mysteries that Knossos beholds. 

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Rethymnon Town

Stroll Through Rethymnon Town

Also making the list of our top 10 things to do in Crete is taking a stroll through the town of Rethymnon. This coastal town in the northern part of the island is oozing with charm and character, blending natural beauty with Cretan culture and history effortlessly. Much like many other Crete settlements on the island, you’ll find many well-preserved examples of Ottoman and Venetian architecture, and a vibrant old town center that will transport you back in time to a bygone era. 

Here, follow the maze of narrow streets lined with wooden chairs and tables where locals perch with a morning beverage, and venture through arched doorways into boutique shopfronts and tavernas. Get a feel for the town’s relaxed atmosphere in its old center, but venture outwards to its harbor to experience its lively side, where you can sample fresh seafood and watch the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea. For a complete Crete sightseeing experience, be sure to also head to the town’s historic sights, including the Venetian Fortezza which overlooks Rethymnon, and the opulent Rimondi Fountain.

Cretan Delicacies

Sample a Selection of Cretan Delicacies

For all gastronomes and lovers of diverse cuisine across the globe, you’re in for a treat during your next trip to Crete. The island is home to a rich gastronomic scene, meaning one of the top things to do in Crete is to sample a variety of its most coveted delicacies. 

Crete’s cuisine is known for having distinctive flavors compared to other cuisines across Greece, with many dishes being deep-rooted in culture and traditions whilst making the most of the bountiful crops and ingredients found across its lands. 

 

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Elafonisi Beach

Soak in the Sun at Elafonisi Beach

Nicknamed ‘Pink Beach’, Elafonisi is a jaw-dropping coastal location found on the southwestern coast of Crete. It is known for its gentle pink-colored sands and the bright turquoise waters that lap against its shoreline in contrast. It draws visitors from far and wide to its shores, and is undoubtedly one of the most photographed beaches on the island, making it an Insta-worthy destination on your next trip to Crete.

Its color is a result of many crushed coral and shell pieces that wash up on its shoreline. It is now a designated protected area under Natura 2000’s protection program, and so is much appreciated by nature lovers looking to experience the rare flora and fauna and breathtaking natural beauty of Crete.

Whether you’re hoping to sunbathe, snorkel, paddle in shallow lagoons, or simply stroll along its pink-hued sands, whilst you’re traveling in Crete you need to stop by this magical setting. 

Local Vineyard

Raise a Glass at a Local Vineyard

For wine lovers and connoisseurs alike, one of the unmissable activities in Crete is having a wine-tasting experience at a local vineyard. Given the island’s ancient winemaking traditions and diverse microclimates, you can sample some of the very best wines in Greece whilst visiting Crete.

With a plethora of wines available to tantalize the palette, including the fresh Vilana whites and the ruby Mandilaris, you can engage all of your senses by sampling their flavors whilst also learning of the island’s agricultural heritage and wandering through its row upon row of vines to connect with the wine-producing landscape. 

So, during your next trip to Crete, why not raise a glass and support local winemakers as you make lasting memories within the island’s gorgeous wine-growing regions?

With a rich historical heritage, a mouthwatering gastronomic scene, and natural landscapes that will take your breath away, Crete truly has it all as a Greek island destination. We hope this article has offered you the insight you need to start planning your trip to Crete, whether you’ve been inspired to spend a day soaking in the sun at the pink-tinged Elafonisi Beach, or you want to stroll through the ancient streets of Chania’s old town. 

If you’re wanting the professionals to take the reins in planning your perfect Crete itinerary, why not opt for our carefully crafted Signature Cyclades & Crete Cruise-Tour? This experience not only takes you to discover the many wonders of the island of Crete, but also extends your Greek adventure to other gems in the Cyclades including the likes of Milos, Santorini, and Mykonos, to name but a few. 

For all of your holiday needs, you can get in touch with our team of experts when you’re ready to start planning your next Greek adventure.