Crete

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.

See our list of the Best Things to Do on Crete

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
Cretan Music
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

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 Wineries

Crete has some really world-class wine, and we've been lucky enough to visit a few vineyards. Here are our winery visits:
Lyrarakis Winery
Manousakis Wine Tasting
Stilianou Winery
Zacharioudakis Winery

Crete Food

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

Our Pick of the Crete Guides

Lonely-Planet-Crete-2023.png

Some other Crete Pages

  • The Diktean or Diktaean Cave, also known as the Psychro Cave, near the village of Psychro in eastern Crete, is said to be the birthplace of Zeus.

    Diktean Cave, the Birthplace of Zeus near Psychro on Crete

    The Diktean or Diktaean Cave, also known as the Psychro Cave, near the village of Psychro in eastern Crete, is said to be the birthplace of Zeus.

  • 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?

    Life as a Minoan

    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?

  • This Rouvas Gorge walk starts and ends in Zaros in southern Crete and should take three to four hours with a distance of eight kilometres or five miles.

    Rouvas Gorge Walk

    This Rouvas Gorge walk starts and ends in Zaros in southern Crete and should take three to four hours with a distance of eight kilometres or five miles.

  • 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.

    Kritsá, Lato, and Panagía Kerá

    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.

  • The Snails House in Plouti near Phaistos in southern Crete serves the Cretan delicacy of snails, cooked in several different ways.

    The Snails House on Crete

    The Snails House in Plouti near Phaistos in southern Crete serves the Cretan delicacy of snails, cooked in several different ways.

  • The Battle of Crete during World War 2 inspired several books and took place with an airborne invasion over Maleme on the north coast of the island.

    Battle of Crete

    The Battle of Crete during World War 2 inspired several books and took place with an airborne invasion over Maleme on the north coast of the island.

  • Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.

    Crete Festivals and Events

    Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.

  • The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.

    Eco-Tourism Accommodation on Crete

    The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.

  • 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.

    Phaistos Minoan Palace on Crete

    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.

  • Studies have shown the Cretan Diet as one of the healthiest in the world, involving lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and moderate amounts of wine.

    The Cretan Diet

    Studies have shown the Cretan Diet as one of the healthiest in the world, involving lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and moderate amounts of wine.

  • How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.

    How to Make Petimezi

    How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Cretan music is part of the island’s soul and visitors will hear live music wherever they go, with several distinctive Cretan musical instruments and songs.

    Cretan Music

    Cretan music is part of the island’s soul and visitors will hear live music wherever they go, with several distinctive Cretan musical instruments and songs.

  • 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.

    Olive Grove Walk

    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.

  • This Amari Valley drive in southern Crete starts and ends in Ayia Galini, takes four to five hours and cover 100 kilometres or 62 miles.

    Amari Valley Drive

    This Amari Valley drive in southern Crete starts and ends in Ayia Galini, takes four to five hours and cover 100 kilometres or 62 miles.

  • 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.

    Art Courses on Crete

    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.

  • 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.

    Paleohora and the South-West Coast

    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.

  • Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in western Crete, including both luxury and inexpensive hotels in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.

    Where to Stay in Western Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in western Crete, including both luxury and inexpensive hotels in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.

  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by Greece Travel Secrets.

    Hiking the Samaria Gorge

    Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by Greece Travel Secrets.

  •  The Samaria Gorge is one the longest gorges in Europe and doing the hike is one of the best and most popular things to do on Crete.

    Samaria Gorge

    The Samaria Gorge is one the longest gorges in Europe and doing the hike is one of the best and most popular things to do on Crete.

  • 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.

    Eastern Crete

    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.

  • Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.

    Ancient Gournia Minoan Site in Eastern Crete

    Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.

  • The Goules Taverna in Goulediana, south of Rethymnon, has been called one of the best tavernas on Crete and Greece Travel Secrets recently visited them.

    Goules Taverna Crete

    The Goules Taverna in Goulediana, south of Rethymnon, has been called one of the best tavernas on Crete and Greece Travel Secrets recently visited them.

  • 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.

    Dining at Vegera

    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.

  • Greece Travel Secrets chooses ten of the best beaches on Crete including the beautiful beaches at Vai and Elafonisi.

    Best Beaches on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets chooses ten of the best beaches on Crete including the beautiful beaches at Vai and Elafonisi.

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