Please Word: we’re not encouraging folks to journey throughout Covid-19. Use this information to plan for future journey to Crete.
Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, is commonly described as a universe by itself. Being house to beautiful seashores and mountains, a posh historical past, and scrumptious gastronomy, it may be actually laborious to decide on the place to start exploring.
This information is full of sensible particulars and insider ideas. It’s going to make it easier to plan an ideal Crete itinerary and determine what are the greatest issues you may see and do while you go to Crete. Let’s begin with some fundamental details about Crete Island.
FAQs for a Crete Trip
The place is Crete?
Crete is the southernmost island of Greece, it’s situated in the course of the Mediterranean.
What’s the climate like on Crete?
The island has very lengthy, sizzling, and dry summers, whereas winters are typically quick with gentle temperatures. Some areas have little or no rain throughout the 12 months.
How massive is Crete?
Crete is the largest island in Greece, it will probably take you from four to six hours to journey from the west coast to the east.
The island is split into 4 totally different areas; Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, and Lasithi, all of them price seeing.
Greatest Issues to Do in Crete
Uncover Crete’s Previous within the Minoan Palace of Knossos
The second most visited archaeological website in Greece (after the Acropolis in Athens), the Minoan Palace of Knossos is a must-see place while you go to Crete.
Knossos was house to the mysterious Minoan civilization that lived on the island hundreds of years in the past.
Apart from, based on Greek Mythology, the palace was house to the well-known labyrinth of the Minotaur.
Resulting from its recognition, the palace may be jammed in any given season. For that reason, it’s a good suggestion to go to early within the morning or at sundown, this fashion you received’t solely keep away from the crowds however the scorching solar of the island.
You possibly can simply attain the archaeological website by bus from the middle of Heraklion (bus quantity 2, ticket €1.50).
You possibly can e-book a guided tour and it’s an amazing concept to mix the go to with a tour of the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
Try the Capital, Heraklion
Because you’re already in Heraklion, take a look at the landmarks on the town. Begin with a stroll alongside the outdated port to succeed in the Koules, the magnificent Venetian Fortress that stands reverse the ocean.
Then, transfer in direction of the middle of city, strolling alongside 25 of August Avenue. It’s going to take you only some minutes to get to the busy Liontaria Sq..
Right here, cease for a cup of Greek espresso and take a look at one in all Crete’s scrumptious pastries, bougatsa. Bougatsa may be crammed with goat cheese or custard, and it’s scrumptious with a drizzle of native honey on prime.
Additionally within the space, pay a go to to Saint Titus, a former mosque reworked right into a church when the Ottoman Empire ceased the rule on the island.
Go Again in Time within the Hippie Caves of Matala
One of the best ways to go to such an enormous island is to journey by automotive. Driving on Crete is pretty simple when you observe some fundamental guidelines.
In the event you drive south from Heraklion, it is possible for you to to spend a day on the unbelievable seaside of Matala which is thought for its caves the place an enormous neighborhood of hippies used to reside throughout the seventies.
In the event you’re within the temper for a hike, observe the indicators till you attain the Crimson Seaside, about 20 minutes from Matala. It is a hidden naturist seaside with reddish sand and pristine waters. It’s additionally a great place for snorkeling.
Discover the Alleys within the Previous City of Chania
Arguably one in all Crete’s most lovely cities, Chania is on the northern coast of Crete, about 2.5 hours from Heraklion. You possibly can journey from Heraklion by bus (ticket €15.10).
Chania boasts a powerful outdated city with cobblestone pedestrian alleys, distinctive Venetian mansions, and a shocking outdated port with one of many oldest lighthouses on the earth.
Among the many greatest issues to do in Chania, don’t miss a go to to the mosque of the Janissaries, the outdated Jewish quarter and its 15-century synagogue or the church of Agios Nikolaos.
Agios Nikolaos is a really peculiar church. Inside its courtyard it’s doable to see not solely a bell tower but in addition a minaret. The truth is, throughout the Ottoman rule of the island, most non secular buildings on the town had been reworked into mosques.
Try this strolling tour and meals tasting tour of Chania.
Spend a Day on the Pink Sand of Elafonisi Seaside
Elafonisi is a powerful extensive shore on the Southwest coast of Crete. To get to Elafonisi seaside you may journey by bus from Chania (ticket €9.00) or drive by the spectacular gorge of Topolia.
The shores of Elafonisi are identified for the distinctive pink sand in addition to for the shallow lagoon, very best for households with children.
The shades of blue of the ocean are merely beautiful and distinction with the cruel mountainous panorama of the island.
Elafonisi is in a relatively remoted space, there are a couple of seaside bars the place you may get the fundamentals, nevertheless it’s all the time a good suggestion to pack sufficient drinks and lunch.
Trek Alongside one in all Europe’s Longest Gorges: Samaria
Outside adventures have a spot of their very own on Crete. There are spectacular mountain ranges on the island with peaks reaching greater than 2000 meters.
The area of Chania is house to the White Mountains, which counts over 15 spectacular ravines
Probably the most well-known of them, the gorge of Samaria, connects the Omalos plateau, within the north of Crete to the Agia Roumeli, a small village on the southern coast of the island, on the Libyan sea.
The hike alongside Samaria is likely one of the greatest issues to do in Crete.
The trail is about 13 kilometers lengthy and it takes about 5 hours to cross. It’s one in all Crete’s hottest sights, with hundreds of vacationers visiting every summer time.
In the event you’re not a seasoned hiker, it’s a good suggestion to e-book an organized tour.
7. Hike All the way down to Balos Seaside and Lagoon
One other seaside it’s best to go to throughout your Crete holidays is the unique seaside of Balos, on the acute west of the island.
The seaside has usually been described as Crete’s Caribbean and for good purpose. The white sand and distinctive emerald colour of the ocean give the lagoon an unique feeling.
Nevertheless, a visit to Balos shouldn’t be solely in regards to the seaside. The journey additionally features a drive alongside an notorious filth street on the sting of a cliff, in addition to a 20-minute hike which may be very tiring in summer time.
Nevertheless, regardless of how tough the street is likely to be, it’s one in all my favourite issues to do on the island. The views of the calm, shallow lagoon are an amazing reward as soon as you allow the street behind.
In the event you don’t really feel like driving, it’s additionally doable to go to Balos with a day cruise that departs a number of occasions a day from the close by metropolis of Kissamos.
8. Take an Insane Street Journey down the Mountains
There are a number of spectacular drives all around the island. In the event you get pleasure from winding mountain roads and breathtaking cliffs, driving on Crete may be an unforgettable expertise.
Among the most scenic drives are those that take you from the north of Crete to the south, passing by a really rugged panorama
The street between the villages of Kapsodasos and Kallikratis, for instance, is taken into account to be one of the harmful roads on the earth, with 11 kilometers of steady hairpin turns with a precipitous descend in direction of the ocean.
Keep away from it when you endure from vertigo!
Take pleasure in Cretan Gastronomy
Crete is a paradise for foodies! The Cretan eating regimen principally consists of contemporary seasonal merchandise, that produce easy and wholesome tasty dishes.
The highest-quality additional virgin olive oil produced on Crete is the primary staple of the native gastronomy. It’s used on salads, to cook dinner and bake, and even on freshly baked bread as a fast chunk, with some contemporary oregano on prime, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Regardless of being an island, nevertheless, stewed or grilled goat and lamb are much more well-liked than fish.
Different native delicacies embody cheese, each aged and mushy, honey, and a wide range of greens and fruits equivalent to grapes, figs, and oranges.
10. Style Crete’s Olive Oil in a Monastery
Crete is the second largest producer of olive oil in Greece. The island has greater than 30 million olive timber, a few of them over 3,00zero years outdated.
There are two fundamental olive tree varieties rising on the island they usually produce very small olives which are in a position to stand the dry, sizzling summers of Crete.
The style of the native olive oil may be very concentrated, fruity, and generally even spicy.
Among the greatest olive oil comes from the native monasteries. Within the area of Lasithi (east Crete), Toplou monastery produces a few of the highest quality olive oil in Greece.
In the event you’re staying within the west coast, as an alternative, you may style genuine Cretan olive oil within the historical monastery of Agia Triada.
Snap a Selfie above Seitan Limania Seaside
The lightning-bolt form of Seitan Limania put this seaside on Instagram not so way back and made it a well-known place to go to in Crete.
Seitan Limania is a seaside with pretty tough entry that entails a zigzag street and a hike down a steep hill.
The seaside shouldn’t be organized, so it’s higher to take with you all the pieces it’s worthwhile to spend the day. Keep in mind that the cove is topic to sturdy currents so it’s not all the time protected to unskilled swimmers.
12. Take a look at Your Dancing Abilities with Pentozali
Crete is a land the place customs and traditions are just about alive, and dancing is likely one of the issues that locals and guests alike get pleasure from essentially the most on Crete.
Pentozali is the normal Cretan dance you can witness throughout festivals and native celebrations all around the island.
Regardless of pentozali actually that means “5 steps”, the dance is a mix of 10 totally different steps wherein totally different dancers take turns to place their expertise to the check with jumps and complicated figures that observe the rhythm of the Cretan Lyra, and historical musical instrument with Byzantine origins.
Be taught Concerning the Leper Colony of Spinalonga Island
There are loads of issues to do on Crete while you journey to the east of the island. Near the town of Agios Nikolaos, it’s doable to go to the island of Spinalonga.
This small, fortified island may be visited in lower than an hour and it’s well-known for its turbulent previous as one of many final leper colonies of Greece, which closed its doorways in 1957 when a treatment for the illness was found.
At present, you may take a ship from the seaside village of Plaka and uncover Venetian fortifications of Spinalonga.
As you move the doorway tunnel, you’ll uncover the world the place the sufferers lived an remoted however affluent life.
Their retailers, their deserted homes with gardens, the church buildings, and the hospital of Spinalonga.
Get Misplaced within the Previous City of Rethymnon
Rethymnon is one other necessary metropolis of Crete, situated between the areas of Chania and Heraklion.
Most likely the best-preserved Venetian metropolis on Crete, the outdated city of Rethymnon has an enthralling outdated port with a lighthouse and several other tavernas lining the promenade.
Within the outdated city, you may go to a few of the most spectacular minarets of Crete, lovely mansions with Turkish balconies, and the stays of the star-shaped Venetian fortress or Fortezza, situated on prime of a hill overlooking the ocean of Crete.
Rethymnon has a number of fascinating museums, such because the Archaeological Museum and the Historic and Folklore Museum the place it’s doable to find out about conventional native crafts, equivalent to pottery and embroidery.
Spend the Night time in a Mountain Village
Those that need to expertise an genuine Crete vacation spot shouldn’t miss a visit to any mountain village on the island.
Probably the most conventional villages are identified for various causes, some have performed an necessary position within the battles for the liberation of the island, whereas others produce distinctive crafts or staple merchandise.
One factor is definite, although, time appears to have stopped nonetheless. Life may be very easy within the mountains, and there’s nothing like one in all these villages for these desirous to loosen up throughout their Cretan vacation.
Go to the Historic Arkadi Monastery
Probably the most well-known monastery of Crete is Moni Arkadi, within the area of Rethymnon. It’s a phenomenal fortified constructing, with a baroque church and beautiful gardens.
Again in 1866 tons of of locals sought refuge from the Turks contained in the monastery however after weeks of siege, they determined to commit suicide as an alternative of surrendering.
This occasion performed a key position within the closing liberation from over 200 years of Turkish occupation of the island, resulting in Crete’s unification with Greece.
At present, traces of that battle are nonetheless seen within the partitions in Arkadi.
But, regardless of its tragic previous, this is likely one of the most lovely and peaceable buildings you may see on Crete Island.
17. Sail to one in all Crete’s Smaller Islands
There are a couple of lovely islands surrounding the coast of Crete. In the event you’re staying within the area of Lasithi, it’s doable to take a ship and sail to the uninhabited island of Chrissi.
Often known as Gaidoruronisi or the island of the donkeys, Chrissi is a really small island off the southern coast of Crete, on the Libyan sea, simply an hour away from the coastal metropolis of Ierapetra.
Chrissi island hosts Europe’s largest juniper tree forest, a uncommon tree usually confused with cedars. It’s a protected reserve, not more than 2 km extensive and seven km lengthy.
There are a couple of totally different bays, the closest to the pier is Chrissi Ammos, nevertheless, it’s normally crowded with daytime guests arriving from Crete.
For a extra remoted expertise, head to the east of Chrissi Ammos. Right here, the seaside of Kataprosopo is an ideal spot for snorkeling and it’s normally abandoned.
Keep in mind that it’s not doable to spend the night time on Chrissi, there aren’t any accommodations, retailers, or something!
A number of canteens promote meals and drinks on the seaside however they’re fairly overpriced. It’s not a foul concept to pack a lightweight lunch for the day.
The boats to Chrissi depart every day from the port of Ierapetra if the climate circumstances permit.
In the event you actually need to go to this abandoned island, it’s clever to e-book multiple night time in Ierapetra, simply in case you encounter sturdy winds and the boat to Chrissi is canceled for the day.
Drive across the Lasithi Plateau
The 23 km street that circles the Lasithi Plateau is a unbelievable drive you can get pleasure from throughout your Crete trip.
The plateau stands about 805 meters above sea degree and has nice views of the mountains and the fertile plain beneath.
When driving across the space, it’s a good suggestion to find any of the 18 villages of the plateau, one of the well-known is Psychro, identified for the magnificent Cave of Zeus.
In keeping with the parable, that is the place the place the God Zeus, born on the island, was raised by a goat whereas his mom was making an attempt to cover him from his father, Chronos.
The cave is fabricated from a number of chambers with lovely columns of stalactites and stalagmites. In keeping with analysis, this is likely one of the many historical Minoan locations of worship of Crete.
Right here, archaeologists have discovered non secular figures and different objects related with historical non secular rituals.
Go Wine Tasting in one in all Crete’s Wineries
Whenever you go to Crete, you can’t go away the island with out first tasting one of many 13 distinctive grape forms of the native winery.
A really outdated wine press discovered within the wine area of Heraklion proves the island’s lengthy historical past in wine making, an business constantly energetic since at the very least way back to the Bronze Age.
At present, there are over 35 wineries open to the general public the place you may style the wines of Crete.
In the event you love reds, go for the kotsifali and the liatiko varieties. In the event you desire the whites, as an alternative, undoubtedly attempt the vidiano selection, one of many oldest white grapes, often called the rising star of the native varieties.
Try this vineyard and olive oil day tour from Chania.
Drink a Shot of Tsikoudia
Not all the pieces is wine on Crete! Tsikoudia, often known as raki, is Crete’s hottest drink and a transparent expression of the native hospitality.
Even when you’re not a lot into sturdy drinks, chances are high that you’ll expertise all the pieces about raki from day one on the island.
Raki is a neighborhood distillate, with a relatively excessive alcoholic gradation (about 45 levels), served in any given restaurant or taverna as a complimentary deal with on the finish of each meal.
It’s normally paired with contemporary fruit or a small dish of yogurt and honey, additionally on the home, and it’s the proper excuse to study your first phrases in Greek (Gia mas! Or Cheers!), make a toast, and have interaction in pleasant dialog.