Are you planning your summer holidays and wondering what are some of the best places to visit in Crete? We are here for you. Crete is the largest Greek island and one of the most popular summer destinations in the country. With its beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, rich history and unique culture, Crete has something for every traveler. Whether you’re interested in ancient ruins, scenic hiking trails or simply soaking up the sun on a sandy beach, Crete has it all. Therefore, gather up your family members or friends and embark on a journey to the legendary island! Are you ready to live the most fascinating experience of your life?
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top places to visit in the island. In this way, you can plan your perfect trip to this idyllic Mediterranean paradise.
Top places to visit in Crete
Samaria Gorge in Chania, Crete
Samaria Gorge is a natural wonder located in the western part of the island of Crete, in Greece. In fact, it is the longest highking trail of Europe (approximately 16 km long), starting at an altitude of around 1,250 meters at the Omalos Plateau and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea. Furthermore, the gorge is a protected area, known for its natural beauty and diverse flora and fauna.
The landscape inside the gorge is breathtakingly beautiful, with lush vegetation, crystal-clear streams, and impressive rock formations. Visitors can also see various species of wildlife, including the rare Cretan wild goat, known as the Kri-kri. The hike through the Samaria Gorge is a challenging trek, taking around 5-7 hours to complete, depending on the pace of the hiker. The trek includes steep descents and ascents, as well as narrow paths and rocky terrain, so proper hiking shoes and gear are necessary.
Samaria Gorge is open to visitors from May to October, with July and August being the busiest months. Visitors can access the gorge by bus or car, and there is a small entrance fee. Overall, the Samaria Gorge is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and hikers in Crete.
Preveli Beach in Rethymno, Crete
Preveli Beach is a picturesque and secluded beach located on the south coast of Crete. With its crystal-clear waters, pristine sandy shores and breathtaking views, it is no wonder that it’s among the best beaches in Crete for holidays for tourists and locals alike. Its stunning natural beauty truly makes it stand out.
What sets Preveli Beach apart from other beaches is its location at the mouth of the Kourtaliotiko Gorge. The gorge, which is surrounded by dramatic cliffs and lush vegetation, leads down to the beach and creates a stunning natural landscape. As you make your way down to the beach, you’ll be struck by the beauty of the gorge and the peaceful sound of the stream that flows through it. Once you reach the beach, you’ll be greeted by a long stretch of white sand and turquoise waters. The beach has two sections: the main beach and a smaller cove known as “Lower Preveli.” Both sections are equally beautiful and offer plenty of space to relax and soak up the sun.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a hike up to the top of the gorge for some truly spectacular views of the beach and surrounding landscape. Along the way, you’ll encounter a variety of flora and fauna, including olive trees, carob trees, and wildflowers. The hike is moderately challenging, but the payoff is well worth it. One of the most striking features of Preveli Beach is the large palm tree forest that lines the riverbank, creating a lush oasis of greenery.
Finally, if you wish to explore Preveli Beach, you should definitely check out the nearby historical Preveli Monastery. The building dates back to the 16th century and offers complete serenity.
Knossos Palace in Heraklion, Crete
Discover a civilization that flourished considerably thousands of years ago and left its mark in history. A place that is also connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, as well as the story of Daidalos and his son Icaros. Who wouldn’t want to pay a visit to the mighty Knossos Palace?
Knossos Palace is an ancient Minoan palace located in the north-central part of the island of Crete, Greece. It is among the most important archaeological sites on the island and is famous for its impressive architecture, intricate frescoes, and historical significance. The palace dates back to around 1900 BCE, and it was the center of Minoan civilization for several centuries. The palace complex covers an area of approximately 20,000 square meters and includes several levels of buildings, courtyards, and storage rooms. The palace’s history is also significant, as it was destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout its history. The most notable destruction was due to a massive earthquake in the late 16th century BCE, which led to the palace’s ultimate decline.
Cretans are particularly proud of this important archeological site. During Bronze Age, it was a ceremonial and political center of the Minoan Civilization. Nowadays, it is undoubtedly one of Europe’s oldest city. Be ready to walk a lot, as the legendary castle is as huge as a village! If you have a soft spot for the Greek mythology and just visiting the palace isn’t enough, you should definitely check out the Archeological Museum.
Today, Knossos Palace is a popular tourist destination and an essential site for scholars studying ancient Greek history and culture. Its impressive architecture and intricate frescoes continue to fascinate visitors and offer insights into the lives of the Minoan people who built it.
As mentioned before, the list with places to visit in Crete is never-ending. However, we truly believe that the above are great starting points during your first time in the island. We would love to hear your impressions, thoughts and feelings after visiting these places.
What other places would you like to visit in Crete while staying with us?