The best places to visit in Crete, Greece
Crete – what to see and what to do?
Hospitable Crete is the largest island in Greece with the most developed tourism industry. It is certainly one of the most popular holiday destinations not only in Greece but also in all of Europe. We have prepared for you a Travel Guide with the best places to visit on Crete Island.
It is impossible to list all the benefits of a holiday in Crete. First of all, it is a sea of breathtaking beauty, everywhere is different. Only here, you can swim in three seas at the same time – the Libyan, the Cretan, and the Ionian. Crete consists of mountains, gorges, and caves. Its unique centuries-old history, myths and legends, traditional villages, and delicious local cuisine.
The locals, with their special spirit, should be mentioned separately. We are Cretans, they say proudly. The old Cretan traditions and customs are still honored here. For example, there is still a vendetta in Crete. At weddings, instead of fireworks, Cretan men often fire their guns into the air.
Geographically Crete is divided into 4 regions – Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Lassithi. Each region has its differences and features. Read on to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of each region so that, you know which region to choose when planning your trip.
The region of Heraklion, Crete
The region of Heraklion occupies the central part of Crete. The city of Heraklion is the capital of the island. In addition, it is the gateway to Crete, because here is the Heraklion International Airport “Nikos Kazantzakis” and the seaport of Heraklion. The majority of tourists arrive here, therefore this region is the most popular among tourists.
All along the northern coast of the region, there are several holiday villages with many hotels and a large number of villas and apartments for rent. The Heraklion region is suitable for history lovers as well as families with children.
Besides, the area is rich in archaeological finds. In Knossos, Phaestos, and Malia there are palaces from the Minoan period, while in Amnissos a Minoan sanctuary was discovered.
There is also plenty of fun for children – 2 water parks, a Minoan park, an aquarium, and a dinosaur park.
The region of Rethymno, Crete
The region of Rethymno, which lies to the east of Heraklion, is also popular with tourists. The attractions here are mostly natural wonders: the palm forest and the beach of Preveli, the impressive Psilorite Mountains, where Ida is located, the highest mountain in Crete, and the Idea Cave, which was the most important place of worship during the Minoan period.
The capital of the region is the city of Rethymno, which was built by the Venetians and has a unique flair and charm. Rethymno attracts guests with its unique architecture – Venetian portals, colorful houses with red-tiled roofs, narrow cobblestone streets, cozy courtyards, and a picturesque promenade in addition to well-equipped long city beaches. Certainly, one of the main attractions is the huge Venetian fortress Fortezza, which towers over the city.
The region of Chania, Crete
Chania is the westernmost region of Crete, washed by three seas – the Cretan, the Ionian, and the Libyan. First, it is famous for its unique beaches Balos, Falassarna, and Elafonissi. Also, for the White Mountains with the famous Samaria Gorge; endless orange and olive groves; rich history, and traditional way of life in numerous mountain villages.
The region’s capital is the picturesque city of Chania, one of the most beautiful cities in Greece. The city of many cultures, the Romans and Byzantines, Venetians, and Turks were involved in its creation. Near Chania, there is an International airport “Ioannis Daskalogiannis”, as well as one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean – the port of Souda.
The region of Lassithi, Crete
Lassithi is the easternmost region of Crete. The Cretan Sea washes it to the north and the Libyan Sea to the south. It is known both for its natural attractions (palm forest and Vai beach, Lassithi plateau with a cave where, according to legend, Zeus was born) and for its historical sites such as the island of Spinalonga.
Agios Nikolaos, the capital of East Crete, is located on the shores of Mirabello Bay. The city has an inexplicable attraction and draws you in from the first few minutes. You can stroll endlessly through the town or sit in one of the many cafes and enjoy the fantastic view of Mirabello Bay. The hallmark of Agios Nikolaos is Lake Voulismeni. Don’t forget to climb up to the observation point on the west side of the lake for the most breathtaking view.
The resort town of Elounda is located nearby. Here are the most expensive hotels in Crete with huge properties as well as the most luxurious villas. Elounda has long been popular with famous politicians and celebrities from different countries.
If you drive south from Agios Nikolaos, you will reach the town of Ierapetra. It is the southernmost town in Greece and all of Europe and is located on the shores of the breathtaking Libyan Sea. From here, be sure to swim to the uninhabited island of Chrissi – the golden island. The water here is an incredible turquoise color and the sand is golden and littered with shells.
Villas and apartments for rent in Crete
Crete Island is a unique destination for the summer holidays, offering plenty of opportunities. We offer a large selection of luxury villas, cozy holiday houses, and apartments in Crete.
Book a Villa for the holidays in Crete in 2024 right now. Remember that booking in advance allows you to choose a property according to your specific requirements, such as a beachfront, or private pool. Also, you can find early booking deals and discounts which could bring the price of your holiday down.
Book a hotel to stay on Crete Island
In case you prefer to stay in a hotel, then choose the best option in Crete using the map below. If you need some advice, just ask us!
How to get to Crete
Flight to Heraklion Airport, Crete
To get to Crete you should take a flight from your country or Athens to Heraklion International Airport. The airport of Heraklion is called Nikos Kazandakis and is located 5 km from downtown and the port. To find air tickets to Heraklion we suggest you use JETRADAR. It is one of the largest online search engines for flights all over the world. This service helps to compare airfares from many airlines, travel agencies, and systems, and book the cheapest tickets available.
Flight to Chania Airport, Crete
Also, you can take a flight from your country to Chania International Airport. The airport of Chania is called Ioannis Daskalogiannis and is located 15 km from the center of Chania and 14 km from the port of Souda. To find air tickets to Chania we suggest you use JETRADAR. It is one of the largest online search engines for flights all over the world. This service helps to compare airfares from many airlines, travel agencies, and systems, and book the cheapest tickets available.
Ferry from Athens (Piraeus) to Crete
Ferry boats depart from Athens (Piraeus) all year round to the Crete ports of Heraklion, Chania, Sitia, and Kissamos
Check the schedule and buy your ferry tickets here:
Crete Airport or Port transfer
Arriving in another country, it is important to see a person, who is waiting especially for you upon arrival at the airport. It gives you confidence that you will reach your destination, avoiding all troubles, long waits in the taxi queue, and possible overcharges. Our prices include all fares, VAT, and any lawful charge; therefore, you know that what you pay is the final price for your transfer. Comfort and safety will be provided, which is especially important if you are traveling with children. That’s why we offer transfer services with professional drivers and a modern car fleet. All cars and minivans are equipped with air conditioning and drinking water.
Crete Island car rental
During your holidays in Crete, you can rent a car from the Heraklion or Chania airport, from any of Crete’s ports, or from your Villa or Hotel. To find the perfect car for your trip, we recommend checking DISCOVER CARS. It is a leader in online car rental reservations. It compares car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. Many other websites hide fees and extra costs from you. DiscoverCars service includes all mandatory fees, taxes, and extras in the quoted price so there won’t be any surprises when you arrive at the rental desk.
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Please note that this small guide to the best places to visit in Crete contains some affiliate links. This means that we may receive a small commission to help us maintain this site at no additional cost to you. We only recommend services and products that we use and find helpful.
Updated: December 2023