Welcome to the stunning island of Crete, Greece’s largest island (3,219 sq. miles / 8,336 sq. km) and one of the most popular summer destinations in the Mediterranean. With its turquoise waters, pristine beaches, and rugged mountain landscapes, Crete is an absolute paradise for travelers seeking adventure, relaxation, and a taste of Greek culture.
From Athens, you can fly direct to Heraklion (the largest and the capital city) or Chania International Airport. Before Heraklion, Chania was the capital city, until 1971.
You can also book a ferry to Heraklion or Chania, Crete
The best way to get around in Crete is by car. There is public transport to the major cities, but Crete has much more to see than the major cities.
Crete offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Luxury hotels can be found in popular tourist areas such as Agios Nikolaos and Elounda, while budget-friendly hostels can be found in cities like Chania and Heraklion. For a more authentic experience, travelers can stay in traditional Greek guesthouses, known as “kryivés,” or rent a private villa with a pool.
To make the most of your time in Crete, it’s important to plan ahead and prioritize your activities. Some areas of the island can be crowded during peak season, so it’s best to visit popular sites early in the day or later in the evening. It’s also a good idea to rent a car or scooter to explore the island’s remote beaches and villages.
The currency in Crete is the euro (€), and credit cards are widely accepted. The best time to visit Crete is during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is warm and sunny. However, this is also the busiest time of year, so be prepared for crowds and higher prices. For those who prefer a quieter experience, the months of May and September offer pleasant weather and fewer tourists.
In case of emergency, the European emergency number is 112. For medical emergencies, visitors can go to the nearest hospital or medical center. For more information about Crete, visitors can check the official website of the Greek National Tourism Organization or the local tourism board.
Here are some reviews and testimonies from travelers who have visited Crete, other than our own experience (we love Crete!):
“Crete is an amazing island with beautiful landscapes, friendly people, and delicious food. We had a fantastic time exploring the beaches, hiking in the mountains, and learning about the island’s history and culture.” – Maria, Spain
“Chania was our favorite city in Crete. The old town is absolutely charming, with its winding streets, Venetian buildings, and great restaurants. We also enjoyed visiting the nearby beaches and taking a boat tour to Balos Lagoon.” – John, USA
“We stayed in a traditional guesthouse in a small village and it was a wonderful experience. The owner was so friendly and welcoming, and the food was delicious. We loved being able to explore the countryside and learn about the local way of life.” – Emma, UK
Visit the Palace of Knossos – This ancient Minoan palace, located just outside of Heraklion, is considered one of Crete’s most important archaeological sites.
Hike the Samaria Gorge – This 16-kilometer (10-mile) hike through Europe’s longest gorge offers breathtaking views of the White Mountains.
Explore the old town of Chania – This charming city is known for its Venetian harbor, narrow streets, and colorful buildings.
Relax on the beaches of Elafonisi – This beautiful beach on the southwestern coast of Crete is known for its pink sand and crystal-clear waters.
Visit the Arkadi Monastery – This historic monastery in Rethymno played a significant role in the Cretan resistance against the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.
Learn about Cretan culture at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum – This museum houses some of the most important artifacts from ancient Crete.
Go wine tasting in the countryside – Crete is home to several wineries that offer tastings and tours of their vineyards.
Take a boat tour to Balos Lagoon – This stunning lagoon, located on the northwestern coast of Crete, can only be accessed by boat.
Try scuba diving – Crete’s clear waters are perfect for exploring the underwater world and discovering marine life.
Visit the island of Spinalonga – This small island near Elounda was once a leper colony and is now a popular tourist attraction.
Crete is known for its delicious and healthy Mediterranean cuisine. Traditional dishes include moussaka, lamb with herbs, and stuffed grape leaves. Seafood is also a popular choice, with grilled octopus and fresh fish being some of the island’s specialties. Don’t forget to try the famous Cretan cheese, such as graviera and anthotyros, and the local wine and raki.
The island’s major cities offer plenty of shopping opportunities, from traditional handicrafts to designer clothing. Chania’s old town is a popular shopping destination, with narrow streets lined with shops selling handmade ceramics and leather goods. When it comes to nightlife, the cities of Chania and Heraklion offer a lively scene with bars, clubs, and music venues. For a more relaxed evening (which is what we did), head to one of the island’s beach bars or taverns to enjoy a drink while watching the sunset over the sea.
In conclusion, Crete is a fantastic destination for anyone looking for a mix of relaxation, adventure, and culture. With its beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and delicious food, Crete is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler. So pack your bags and get ready to explore the best of what this beautiful island has to offer!