Sightseeing in Crete
Crete's ancient Greek history means that there is plenty to see across the island from ancient monuments and ruins to palaces and churches all with their own unique history and legends attached.
The Palace of Knossos is one of the most amazing sightseeing experiences in the world and is the most significant attraction in Crete. Formerly home to King Minos, it is the location of the legend of the Minotaur where a monster, part man and part bull, was said to have been contained within the labyrinth at the palace. Parts of the palace are in ruin and others are still standing to give a fantastic impression of what a vast and beautiful estate this used to be.
Nearby to the Palace of Knossos is the Archeological Museum, containing many exhibits of ancient Greek archeology, artifacts and art for an intriguing insight in to Minoan history.
The Cave of Zeus, also known as the Dictaean Cave, is said to have been where Rhea took baby Zeus to hide from Cronos. The cave is truly fascinating and has much evidence of it's history as a former Minoan shrine for the people who came to worship the Greek god Zeus.
Also well worth a visit is the Monastery of Arkadi which is a fortress like building and dates back to the Byzantine era. It houses a museum with several religious icons and is one of the best of many stunning religious buildings in Crete.
It is recommended that you visit each of the four prefectures in Crete: Chania, Rethymno, Iralklio and Lasithi as each has its own distinct charm and attraction. Admire the Venetian and Turkish architecture in Chania, visit the many churches, mosques and remains of ancient cities in Rethymno, walk through the Venetian port in the main town of Iraklio and admire the Venetian town walls and morozini fountain of Lisithi. You can do all of this on a holiday to Crete as the island is only 260km at its longest point, so no corner is out of reach.
Fun Seekers in Crete
The main coastal resorts cater for an array of water sports including jet skiing, scuba diving, windsurfing and water skiing. You can also try your hand at these water sports at the Star Beach Water Park, which also has several pools, a lazy river and of course a banana boat.
There are also many activities you can take part in away from the water including, horse riding, climbing and paragliding. You could also hike up the mountains and visit the Samaria Gorge which is a truly fascinating sight.
If climbing isn't your thing and you prefer trekking around shop filled streets and warming up your credit card then head to the main resorts such as Chania which are bursting with souvenir shops. For chic harbour front boutiques visit Aghios Nikolaos and for jewellery and handicrafts head to the streets of Elounda.
For even more fun visit Crete during one of its many festivals or carnivals. The Rethymno Carnival is held every February and is Crete's grandest carnival. The streets are filled with performances of art, theatre, dance, games, activities, costumes and of course the grand parade for three entire weeks during the month.
July and September are also great times to visit as it is during these months that the Heraklion and Chania Summer Festivals are held. It is a great showcase of live music and theatrical performances and a great opportunity to sample some local food and wine.
Crete enjoys a healthy tourist trade and doesn't disappoint in the standard of its nightlife. The town of Heraklion has an intense nightlife with an array of modern bars and nightclubs to choose from as well as the more traditional pubs and tavernas, so there really is something for everyone. The nightlife around the lively resorts of Malia and Hersonissos is also excellent as are the bars and tavernas around most of the coastal resorts throughout Chania, Rethymno and Lassithi, so you have no excuse not to enjoy a night out.
Activities in Crete
Top Tours in Crete:
Castaway Cruise to Gramvoussa
Set sail for the island of Gramvoussa, where pirates once lurked and revolutionaries plotted...
Shopping Tour of Agios Nikolaos and Kritsa
Shop to your heart's content in two quaint towns where Crete's most alluring crafts await you...
Tale of Two-and-A-Half Cities: Rhodes, Lindos, Monte Smith
Spend a day exploring the city walls, castle towers, and crumbling acropolises of ancient Greece...
Elafonissi Island Paradise
The beauty and serenity of Elafonissi Island put it in a league of its own among Greece's beaches...
Family Fun in Crete
Children will love to visit the ruins of ancient cities in Rethymno where the scale and detail of the towns will fascinate them as they play ancient Greeks among the relics. However if your children are more water babies than history buffs then head to Limnoupolis Water Park. The water park is home to many slides and flumes including the Black Hole, Triple Twist and Kamikazee as well as several pools, a jacuzzi and a lazy river. The park also has a restaurant and bar so it would be easy to spend a whole day if not more at the water park. The kids can splash about in the pool and whizz down the rides while adults soak up some rays with a cocktail or two.
Crete also has miles of clean sandy beaches which are perfect places for a family beach holiday. The beaches in Rethymno and Malia are the most family friendly with lifeguards patrolling the beaches and a vast choice of cafes, restaurants and shops along the waterfront for when you need to refuel. You might even spot a turtle or two on the beach as turtles return to these beaches every year to lay their eggs.
If you fancy a trip then hop on a Pirate Ship Tour or a Dolphin Tour. The Pirate Ship Tour takes you to either Marathi or Bali, which is great for parents who will enjoy the beautiful scenery and great for kids too who will be fascinated by the games on offer by the pirate crew. Dolphin Tours set off four times a day from Rethymno and take you around local areas that are well known to be great places for spotting dolphins. It is sure to be enjoyed by parents and children alike with the thrill of spotting one of these beautiful animals frolicking in the sea.
Romantic Breaks in Crete
Crete is a great destination for a romantic break with your loved one. From the beautiful mountainous scenery to pretty coastal villages, Crete has plenty to offer away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist resorts. You could stay in your own private villa or quaint hotel and spend your days discovering the true Cretan way of life, wandering the streets and shopping for original Cretan produce.
If you fancy a romantic break with a faster pace then head towards the main resorts where you will be spoilt for choice for shopping, eating and drinking. You could visit a spa hotel for a day of pampering and then head to one of Crete's many sandy beaches for a romantic stroll along the crystal clear water on a warm summer night.
Visit a traditional taverna on the waterfront for dinner to sample some traditional Greek food including Souvlaki, Dolmadakia and of course Greek Salad with real Greek Feta cheese. The seafood in Crete is also delicious with one of the main specialties that you must try being calamari. Wash it down with local Cretan Raki, also known as Tsikoudia, which is crystal clear yet full bodied and very strong for a traditional taste of Crete.
Top Tips for Crete
Seafood is readily available at a price to suit everyone's pockets. Favourites include calamari, shrimp saganaki, mussels, octopus and small fried fish and are all well worth a try.
Visit Chania Market for a huge choice of local produce to buy. You can stock up on Feta cheese and Raki as well as chestnuts, bread, honey, bananas, leather items, ceramic souvenirs, fabric and jewellery.
Cost of a pint of beer: £2.00