Have you chosen to spend Crete holidays this summer? Your choice will reward you for sure, as Crete is a really magical place that will make you love at first sight! This big island of the Aegean has many beaches, many attractions and so many activities, that hardly will be anyone bored! In order for you to plan your stay in the best way, here they are:
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The Top 10 Things To Do On Your Crete Holidays!
1) Hike in the unique Samaria Gorge!
The virgin beauty of Samaria Gorge, perhaps the largest in Europe, is just something you should not miss! It is surrounded by high mountain peaks that delimit the area of the National Park Of Samaria which is 4,848 hectares. The protected environment, the abundance of water, the topography and the climate that ranges from alpine to subtropical, make Samaria a paradise for wildlife. The village of Samaria, in the middle of the gorge, was inhabited even until 1962, when the area was declared a national park.
Read here our guide for one-day trip in Samaria gorge!
2) Visit the popular archaeological site of Knossos in Heraklion!
5 km south of Heraklion stands the famous Minoan palace of Knossos. The most famous “attractions” in Crete, Knossos monuments, were discovered in 1900 by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. They reconstructed them in a way that you can walk in the many rooms of the palace and have a clear picture of the ancient life of the Minoans. You will admire all the numerous finds from the palace in Heraklion Museum: pottery, vessels, figurines, the archive of Linear B tablets, and the original wall-paintings.
Read here our guide for a visit at Knossos Palace!
3) Travel back in time, in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion!
You may combine your tour at Knossos, with a visit at the renovated Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. The museum is considered as one of the most important Archaeological Museums in Crete and one of the most popular in Greece! The museum exhibits archaeological finds from all over Crete, covering over 5500 years of the island’s history. A prominent position gain the treasures of Minoan civilization, the entire historical course of which can thus be appreciated. The museum houses the most important collection of Minoan antiquities over the world, that’s why it is considered as the home of Minoan civilization.
Read further information about the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion and other Crete Museums.
4) Take your swim in the pink sandy beach of Elafonisi!
One of the most stunning beaches in Crete is Elafonisi beach, famous for its pink and white sand. As soon as you reach there, you will see the tiny island and the glittering shallow lagoon that separates it from the main coast. Voted often as one of the top beaches, Elafonisi is very popular during the high season and is ideal for families, thanks to its shallowness. Exploring the island will reveal strange rock formations and quiet coves, perfect to relax in with friends or a partner. We would also recommend you to combine your swim with a visit to the nearby monastery of Chrysoskalitissa and the lighthouse of St. Irene.
Take a look at our post about Elafonisi beach.
5) Swim in Balos, the miracle of nature!
It is a stunning rocky formation that comes to the surface of Balos lagoon, surrounded by white sand and crystal clear turquoise water. It is also one of the most photographed places in Greece and one of the most visited by tourists spending Crete holidays. The shallow pools of sea water trapped in the sand are warm enough in the middle of the day to feel like you are bathing in hot springs. In contrast, the waters of the sea beyond the sand are constantly cool. There are two different ways to reach Balos. You can drive your car via a very rough dirty road. At the end of the road, you still have to park and walk the path down. Alternatively, you can take a day-cruise from Kissamos.
Take a look at our post about Balos beach for further information.
6) Explore Spinalonga, the “Island of the Living Deads!”
Take the “Happy Train” from Elounda village to Plaka and enjoy the breathtaking views from the promenade, including the view of Spinalonga. Then, take the boat from Plaka to Spinalonga island. One of their best preserved castles is the castle on the island of Spinalonga, opposite Elounda. Spinalonga is also known as the “island of lepers”, as the lepers were living there, isolated, until 1957. Spinalonga is the second most visited attraction by tourists on their Crete holidays. Thousands of visitors every year walk along its narrow streets, capturing their imagination. This unoccupied island is easily accessible by boat from Elounda and Agios Nikolaos.
Read more about a boat trip at Spinalonga Island.
7) Visit the unique Natural Lake of Kournas
The lake of Kournas village is the only lake with fresh water in Crete. It is situated in a magnificent location, just 4km away from Georgioupolis of Chania. The lake is an important part of the ecosystem in Greece and is considered as one of the most important Crete natural landmarks. In summer, you can see the white sand beaches and the different colors of the lake depending on sunlight. We would strongly recommend you to ride a pedalo boat in the lake that changes color due to the dense vegetation and the depth that reaches up to 22.5 meters in the summer. At the end, you may have a delicious meal at one of the traditional taverns on the coast of the lake.
Read our post for further information about Kournas Lake.
8) Stroll in the streets of the wonderful Old Town of Chania!
Chania is considered the cultural capital of Crete with many galleries to explore, a variety of museums and theaters. Chania Old Town is an impressive mix of Venetian and Ottoman buildings, taking you back in time. The most popular features of the Venetian Old Port are the Venetian Lighthouse and the Giali Tzami Mosque. This walk will allow you to visit the most important sites of Chania, during your Crete holidays: the Venetian fortifications, the Arsenals, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the Roman Catholic cathedral, the old Jewish and Turkish quarters behind the inner harbour. Of course, you should pay attention to the landmarks of the Old Town: the Venetian Lighthouse and the Giali Tzami Mosque.
Read our guide on how to explore Chania Old Town and the Venetian Port, in the best way.
9) Admire the majesty of Cretan nature in the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete
This wonderful Botanical Park of Crete, lies 20 km from Chania city, near Omalos. Nearly 20 hectares of land are waiting to welcome you, full of fruit trees from all over the world, herbs, medicinal and ornamental plants in a park different from others, where the land’s formation and the region’s micro-climate make it a paradise for hundreds of plants and animals! This adventure in nature which lasts one to two hours, follows paths of unique natural beauty. During the summer months, the best time for your visit is early in the morning, avoiding the strong heat. At the end of your tour, taste delicious Cretan food in the restaurant of the Park. It is certainly worth a visit on your Crete holidays!
Read more about this wonderful one-day trip to the Botanical Park of Crete.
10) Discover Dikti Cave in Lasithi, where Zeus was given birth!
Dikti Cave, located at the exit the village of Psixro, is the main attraction of Lasithi Prefecture. It covers an area of 2000 sq. meters, including a place of worship, revealed during the excavations. Also, according to the legend, Dikti Cave is the place where the goddess Rhea gave birth to Zeus in order for his father, Saturn, not to find and eat him, just like his other children. The cave is certainly worth a visit. Different stalactites and stalagmites make for beautiful and impressive impressions. Just keep in mind to be careful at the stairs, as they can be really slippery!
Probably, you will need more than one week in Crete in order to explore all these amazing places! If this is not possible, just pick the ones that suit you best and enjoy the ultimate Crete holidays!