Are you looking for places to go in Crete for your  next vacation? This Greek island has sublime landscapes and contrary to popular belief, it is not just about beaches.

You will discover a remarkable cultural heritage and superb natural places during your hikes. What are the best places in Crete to discover? We suggest 16 must-see places in Crete during your trip.

1. Heraklion

where to go to crete

Heraklion is one of the main cities to go to in Crete . There is a pleasant historic center with certain monuments such as the Agios Minas cathedral and the Koules fortress.

If you only spend one day in Heraklion, you absolutely must go to the Archaeological Museum , which is one of the largest museums in Greece. There are objects dating from the Neolithic period to the Roman period as well as some of the original frescoes from the palace of Knossos.

 2. Chania

chania chania best places to visit in crete

The one that is also nicknamed “Chania” is a magnificent city to go to in Crete. Indeed, it is located in the northwest of the island, close to important places of interest such as Elafonissi beach and the Samaria gorges. If you are wondering where to go in Crete , do not miss the city of Chania.

You will find there a picturesque old town, an ideal covered market to discover the local specialties, but also the Firka fortress which offers a superb panorama on the sea. Then, if you are looking for a place to spend the evening, go to the Old -Venetian port where there are many bars and restaurants.

Many beaches are also present in the vicinity of Chania, which makes this city an ideal base to stay in Crete.

 3. Rethymnon

where to go to crete with family rethymnon

This small town is an unmissable place to go in Crete. It has an incredible charm and we take pleasure in strolling there . Indeed, Rethymnon has a city center filled with cobbled and colorful streets.

There are shops, taverns and cafes. In addition, you can discover the Venetian fortress of Rétyhmnon which is worth a visit as well as an Old Port.

 Where to go in Crete to the beach?

4. Elafonissi Beach

where to go in crete elafonissi beach

This stretch of pink-colored sand is known to be the most beautiful beach in Crete. If you are looking for where to go in Crete to the beach, that of Elafonissi is therefore a must. Indeed, we discover transparent water, a unique natural setting and this so photogenic pink sand.

On the other hand, the beach is far from the cities, so you will have to go there by car or opt for a day trip to reach it.

5. The Lake of Balos

where to travel in crete

This is a wonderful area to discover in Crete! Balos Lagoon is located northwest of Kissamos. We discover a sublime panorama with a very pretty sandy beach.

Its turquoise blue waters will seduce you and you will have only one desire: to swim there! With its romantic aspect, it is also an ideal destination to go to in Crete as a couple.

6. At the peninsula of Akrotiri

best places crete

This peninsula located close to Chania hosts the international airport of this second city of Crete. However, that’s not why you have to go there! There are also beautiful beaches such as:

  • Stavros beach: a small, quiet beach
  • Seitan Limani beach: a must to discover for its unique panorama
  • La plage de Marathi
  • On the beach of Loutraki

Moreover, if you pass by the peninsula of Aktrotiri, you will be able to discover the monastery of Agia Triada dating from the Byzantine era.

7. Vai Beach

ou aller en crete a la plage

This long sandy beach is one of the longest on the island. Well appointed, it will be ideal for enjoying water activities or simply sunbathing and relaxing. You can rent deckchairs and parasols at a lower cost.

This beach is well known to travellers, but it is wide enough to be able to enjoy it without fear of being on top of each other. It is a good destination to go to in Crete with friends, to enjoy the sea.

8. Preveli Beach

Are you looking for places to go in Crete to the beach ? That of Préveli is a superb stretch of sand surrounded by palm trees. It is famous for its strip of sand separated on one side by a fresh water reserve and on the other by the sea. Préveli beach will be accessible after a short 15-minute walk from the car park. On the other hand, for the return, it climbs a little!

In addition, after your day at the beach, you can discover a pretty monastery close by: Moni Preveli.

The must-see places to go in Crete

9. The palace of Knossos

where to go to crete on vacation

This palace is located at the entrance of Heraklion, about a 10-minute drive from the city center. It is the most visited place in Crete . The ruins of the palace of Knossos were found in 1878, but it was archaeologist Arthur John Evans who brought this marvelous palace to light. This research, to which he devoted a large part of his life, enabled him to discover a new civilization which is called “Minoan civilization” in homage to King Minos.

If you find it difficult to project yourself among the ruins of the Knossos palace, the ideal will be to take a guide in order to have all the information on the history of this unique place. In particular, you can discover the remains of certain rooms and various frescoes.

10. Kournas Lake

where to go to crete to hike

Are you wondering where to go in Crete, but you are afraid of getting tired of the beaches and the seaside? Then, you can travel to the heart of the lands of Crete to discover Lake Kournas.

This expanse of fresh water located in the heart of the Cretan reliefs, in the west of the island, offers an ideal place to practice water activities such as kayaking, pedal boating or simply lounging. With its calm waters, it is a perfect destination to go to in Crete with the family.

11. Les gorges de Samaria

where to go to crete with samaria friends

If you are looking for where to go in Crete for hiking, you will have to opt for the west of the island and in particular the gorges of Samaria. Indeed, these gorges, which are among the largest in Europe , can be discovered through trails of varying difficulty .

Unfortunately, you will often have to start your hike downhill, but the beauty of the views along the way will motivate you for the return. You will need plenty of water if you are traveling in the summer and shoes suitable for hiking.

12 – The Lassithi plateau

Still looking for where to go in Crete? The Lassithi plateau corresponds to a wilder and more authentic area of ​​Crete. If you rent a car during your stay, you can imagine going around this area on a road trip for a day. Located in the east of the island, this area is home to:

  • Various petits villages, dont la charmante commune de Tzermiado
  • The cave of Zeus , so nicknamed because it is here that Zeus is said to have been born. The entrance is paying and will allow you to access the heart of the cave after a good climb.
  • The ancient city of Latho and its vestiges of the Minoan civilization.
  • The Greek Mythology Thematic Park which explains Greek mythology.

13 – Agios Nikolaos

Head for eastern Crete with the discovery of Agios Nikolaos. This small town has a certain sweetness of life. With its many cafes and restaurants , it will be ideal for sitting on the terrace by the sea.

On site, you can visit Lake Voulismeni, a curiosity that is worth the detour. Then you can walk along the coast and why not take a boat to observe the fish at sea.

Where to go in Crete: the most beautiful landscapes 

14 – Open

where to go to crete as a couple

Matala is mainly known for its caves which overlook the sea . They were dug hundreds of years ago and notably served as a Roman necropolis.

The Matala caves offer a truly original panorama, enhanced by a turquoise sea. The nearby beach is one of the most beautiful on the island. Matala is thus an essential destination to go to in Crete.

15 – L’île de Spinalonga

where to go to crete on vacation

This island has become a major tourist attraction in Crete since the release of Victoria Hislop’s novel “The Island of the Forgotten”. The story takes place on this island, which today is uninhabited.

There is a fortress dating from the 16th century which was occupied by the Venetians and the Ottomans. Then, this island was a place of reception of lepers at the beginning of the 20th century . It has an important heritage with ruins, a church and the old hospital. Visiting Spinalonga with a guide will allow you to learn more about this fascinating history.

You can get there on a day trip from Plaka and Elounda.

16 – Les gorges et la cascade de Richtis

secret places crete

If the heat overwhelms you during your stay in Crete, you can cool off in the heart of the Gorges of Richtis. To do this, you will have to park in the car park located at the exit of the village of Exo Mouliana.

Then, a one and a half hour hike in the Gorges awaits you. You will thus be able to reach the pretty waterfall of Richtis . The hike is an out and back, but you will enjoy hiking this trail at different times of the day when the landscape changes with the daylight.

You now have something to inspire you if you were wondering where to go on vacation in Crete . I hope that thanks to this article Crete no longer holds any secrets for you and that you will be ready to plan your stay! To reach this destination, you can take direct flights from many French airports to Chania or Heraklion.

On the other hand, if you are already on holiday on a Greek island , it is also possible to connect the island of Crete by ferry! 

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