Crete (Kriti in Greek) is the largest of the Greek islands, another country almost, and the Cretan people proudly call themselves Cretans first and Greeks second.
Mountains and Vineyards
And they have much to be proud of, as theirs is a stunningly beautiful island, with dramatic mountain scenery, some of the best beaches in Greece, a strong musical tradition, one of the healthiest diets in the Mediterranean, the amazing Minoan palace of Knossos just outside the capital, Irakleio, the Samaria Gorge, four UNESCO sites, and some of the chicest Greek hotels in pretty harbour towns such as Chania and Rethymnon.
The Old Venetian Harbour in Chania
There are popular holiday spots like Agios Nikolaos and Elounda too, as well as important historical monasteries like the Arkadi Monastery. You can have a great vacation here just lying on its beautiful beaches, but it's an island that will appeal to those who like to get out and about.
Crete has got everything, and we've loved the many visits we've made there.
We've hiked its gorges, visited its monasteries, explored its archaeological sites both large and small, dined in its restaurants from the cheap to the gourmet, drunk its wine, sunbathed on its beaches and listened to its music.
We've never ceased to be overwhelmed by its atmosphere and character. One visit to Crete and the island gets under your skin.
The Samaria Gorge
Photo by Mike Gerrard (c) www.Greece-Travel-Secrets.com
Crete also has lots of busy beach resorts, with a brash and noisy nightlife that goes on all night, so if that's what you want you should check out places along the north coast, like Malia. The south coast is a bit less easy to get around, and the towns and villages here tend to be a little less developed for tourism. You also have the site of the Minoan Palace at Phaistos, which some people enjoy more than Knossos, and several archaeological sites, like Ancient Gortina.
Down the spine of the island is a range of mountains, which keeps the north and the south apart, and all over you'll find beautiful drives and challenging hiking and biking opportunities.
The Minoan Palace at Phaistos
Crete Art and Culture
Art Courses on Crete
Cretan Artists and Writers
Crete Festivals and Events
Driving on Crete
Our Hire Car in Crete
Amari Valley Drive
Central Crete in Three Days
Eastern Crete in Five Days
Lasithi Plateau Drive
West Coast of Crete Drive
Western Crete in Five Days
A lovely short drive from Ayios Nikolaos takes in the hill village of Kritsa with its remarkable church of Panagía Kerá, and then on to the lesser-known archaeological site of Lato. Click here.
Walking on Crete
Crete Botanical Gardens
Hiking the Samaria Gorge
Hiking in South-West Crete
Olive Grove Walk near the Lasithi Plateau
Rouvas Gorge Hike
Walking Around Irakleio
Crete has some really world-class wine, and we've been lucky enough to visit a few vineyards. Here are our winery visits:
Manousakis Wine Tasting
Cretan food is definitely a highlight when visiting the island, and here are some pages about Cretan food to help you:
The Cretan Diet
Dining at the Goules Taverna
Dining at Vegera in Zaros
The Herb Man of Kouses
The Snail's House
Visit to an Olive Oil Factory
Where to Eat in Eastern Crete
Where to Eat in Western Crete
Where to Be Based on Crete
Crete is a long, thin island, so if you want to explore all of it there's no one ideal place to be based. If time is limited, you'll need to do your homework and decide whether to concentrate on the east, the west, or the centre. The Samarian Gorge is in the west, Knossos in the middle, and in the east is more the 'real' Crete, which is a bit less busy.
The main airport is near Iraklion, in the middle, though there's another international airport near Chania in the west and a domestic airport with international ambitions at Sitia in Eastern Crete.
Where to Stay on Crete
Either search in the box below or see these pages first for our own personal favourite places to stay on Crete:
Where to Stay in Eastern Crete
Where to Stay in Central Crete
Where to Stay in Western Crete
Some other Crete pages
Driving on Crete is the best way to see Greece’s biggest island and here is our driving advice and some information about Greek driving regulations.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in Central Crete including hotels in Matala, Ayia Galini, and Zaros.
Margarites is known on Crete for its pottery, with ceramics shops and workshops lining the streets of this charming small town not far from Rethymnon.
Greece Travel Secrets visits Visual Arts Crete who offer accommodation and run art courses at their home and studio in the village of Kastellos near Rethymnon.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in Irakleio, the capital of Crete, including nearby beach resort hotels and accommodation in the city centre.
The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.
Keramos Studios in Zaros on Crete is an inexpensive two-star hotel/guesthouse with one of the best breakfasts on the island using food from the family’s farm.
Is someone from Crete a Greek or a Cretan? They are both, of course, but most will tell you that they are Cretan first and Greek second.
The area east from Paleohora along the south-west coast of Crete includes resorts like Agia Galini, gorges like the Imbros Gorge and quieter towns like Sfakia.
This drive along the west coast of Crete and inland from there will take a whole day and starts and ends in Kastélli Kissámou, west of Chania.
Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.
Ancient Gortina is an archaeological site in southern Crete famous for the church of Ayios Titos and for the Law Code inscribed here, the first in Europe.
This olive grove walk from Limnes to Vrises on Crete also takes you through orchards and gives close-up views of some of the island’s windmills.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Western Crete with tavernas and restaurants in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.
The most famous Cretan writers and artists include the painter El Greco and the author of Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis.
Greece Travel Secrets page on Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.
Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.
Western Crete in five days allows time to visit Chania and Rethymnon, enjoy the beaches, hike the Samaria Gorge and see the monasteries at Arkadi and Preveli.
Greece Travel Secrets suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.
Greece Travel Secrets’ potted guide to Eastern Crete and why you should consider it for a holiday, including seeing Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Vai Beach and Zakros.
The Byzantine Church of Panagía Kerá near Kritsa and not far from Ayios Nikolaos is one of the most famous in Crete, and close by is the site of Ancient Lato.
What was daily life as a Minoan like on Crete, living in palaces like the ones at Knossos, Malia, Phaistos, and Zakros, and what were their religious beliefs?
Greece Travel Secrets eats at Vegera in Zaros and finds a cheap but wonderful feast of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes cooked daily with fresh local food.
Icon painting is a centuries-old tradition in Crete and the rest of Greece, and Greece Travel Secrets meets a modern-day icon painter in Elounda on Crete.
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