Crete is the biggest Greek island and one of the most beautiful in the whole Mediterranean Sea. This wonderful land is far more than the home of the ancient Minoan civilization because it also hosts stunning beaches and incredible villages. Shortly, whether you’re looking for a break to discover the wild nature, to relax or to get lost on the traces of ancient cultures and people, Crete will certainly satisfy your needs!
In this post we’ll discover together the top 10 places you can’t absolutely miss if you’re planning a trip to Crete!
What you will find in this article
Heraklion, also known with the Venetian name Candia (due to the white color of the stones, with which the houses were built since the XVIth century) is the heart of Crete. Here history, nature and beautiful beaches find their harmony. In Heraklion you can find the most meaningful museums of Crete and it couldn’t be otherwise: after being the cradle of Minoan civilization, Heraklion was dominated by Arabs, Venetian and Ottomans, and all these peoples have left traces of their cultural and architectural heritage.
Heraklion hosts a variety of things to do and see: tourists will be spoilt for choice between the old fortified city, the old marina and fortress, the Archaeological museum, the not-to-be-missed Cnosso palace and lots more!
2) Palace of Knossos
Located less than 5 km from the center of Heraklion, you can find an astonishing stop in your trip in Crete: Cnosso Palace! This is the most important archaeological site of Crete and of the ancient Minoan civilization (the Cretan civilization of the Bronze Age). All classical Greece’s myths are linked to this place, including the legend of the Labyrinth of Knossos, wanted by King Minos to lock up the Minotaur. This wonderful building also houses stunning frescoes, painted by Cretan on its walls.
One of the most beautiful beaches of Crete is Elafonissi. Its white and soft pink sand has made it both a perfect set for some movies and spots and a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, in addition to making it known as the Caribbean of the Maditerranean sea. It’s a real paradise also for nature lovers, because flora and fauna have found here a perfect habitat: among others, it is possible to find caretta turtles and more than a hundred rare plants!
4) Samarià Gorge
Samarià Gorge is one of the most well-known gorges in the island and should be one of the first spots to visit while you’re in Crete. It is located in Samarià National Park – the only natural park in the whole island – and is more or less 16 km long. The fame of Samarià Gorge becomes clear while walking: forest gradually vanish, leaving space to two walls of rock which get more and more close until the so called “Iron Gates”, a very narrow passage (of only 3 meters of width!). This breath-taking experience is an unmissable walk during your stay in Crete!
5) Falassarna beach
Falassarna is considered one of the best beaches in western Crete, and is perfect for sea and sun lovers. Here the sea is clear and the beach has a considerable extension in length and is also very wide (lifeguards actually use quads to move!). This destination should be included in your stay in Crete if you are looking for a relaxing break.
6) Arkadi monastery
Rich in history, the Arkadi monastery is so famous because it represents the Cretan resistance against the hegemony of the Ottoman Empire dominating the island of Crete from 1646 until the end of the 19th century. The Arkadi monastery is Pprfectly preserved and together with the small Monastery Museum, deserves a visit!
7) Preveli beach
Are you looking for an amazing experience during your time in Crete? If so, you should visit the famous Preveli beach! This is a perfect destination either if you want to relax or go hiking in nature thanks to its palm trees, to the scenic little stream that, from the mountains runs toward the sea, to its beaches and crystal clear waters.
8) Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos is the most popular center in the northeastern area of Crete. This little and old fishing village should be visited slowly, to taste all its beauties. All the periods of the day are recommended for a visit: both during the day, at sunset and in the evening this place offers unique atmospheres and details. In the small town center, an Archaeological Museum allows an immersion in the Minoan civilization. For rest moments, there are lots of beaches, which make this place a paradise able to satisfy all tastes!
9) Kournas Lake
Kournas Lake, representing the only stretch of freshwater of Crete, is located near the homonymous village. Its tranquility, the beauty of the landscape and the variety of fauna make it an ideal place for walking in nature. Near to the shores there are some cafeterias and restaurants. There are also some small white sandy beaches where it is possible to rent umbrellas and deck chairs.
10) Chrissi Island
The island of Chrissi is a natural paradise of breathtaking beauty. This location, quite isolated and not so easy to reach, allowed flora and fauna to spread without limits: junipers, Lebanese cedars, corals, sea turtles, Mediterranean seals are just some of the species hosted in this habitat. 49 different species of fossils have been discovered here, and many of them are still in the sea around the island; for this reason a lot of beaches in the north coast are covered by shells, another peculiarity of the island. The northern slope is the most picturesque (and windy!): accessible only through a cedar forest, you’ll not regret the adventure!
All the experiences of this article
Crete's attractions don't end here.
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