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

  • 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.

  • 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.

    Keramos Studios in Zaros

    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.

  • Elounda on Crete's north coast is a popular holiday town with a pretty harbour, from where you can take day trips by boat to see the island of Spinalonga.

    Elounda and Spinalonga, setting for The Island by Victoria Hislop

    Elounda on Crete's north coast is a popular holiday town with a pretty harbour, from where you can take day trips by boat to see the island of Spinalonga.

  • The best Crete hotels include 5-star luxury hotels, historic and romantic Venetian palaces, and several hotels in Hania and Iraklion.

    Best Crete Hotels

    The best Crete hotels include 5-star luxury hotels, historic and romantic Venetian palaces, and several hotels in Hania and Iraklion.

  • The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.

    Stilianou Winery near Knossos

    The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.

  • Matala Beach on Crete is a guest blog for Greece Travel Secrets from the We Love Crete website, inviting you to Awaken Your Inner Hippy in Matala, Crete.

    Matala Beach

    Matala Beach on Crete is a guest blog for Greece Travel Secrets from the We Love Crete website, inviting you to Awaken Your Inner Hippy in Matala, Crete.

  • Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.

    Lonely Planet Crete

    Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    Driving on Crete

    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 suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.

    Where to Stay in Eastern Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.

  • The Greece Travel Secrets guide to Zaros in Central Crete, including what to do, where to stay, and where to eat.

    Zaros

    The Greece Travel Secrets guide to Zaros in Central Crete, including what to do, where to stay, and where to eat.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  •  Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,

    Rethymnon in Western Crete

    Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,

  • The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.

    Our Hire Car in Crete

    The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.

  • 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.

  • Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.

    Sir Arthur Evans, archaeologist at Knossos on Crete

    Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.

  • Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.

    Zacharioudakis Winery

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go 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.

    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.

  • The most famous Cretan writers and artists include the painter El Greco and the author of Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis.

    Cretan Writers and Artists

    The most famous Cretan writers and artists include the painter El Greco and the author of Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis.

  • Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Western Crete with tavernas and restaurants in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.

    Where to Eat in Western Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Western Crete with tavernas and restaurants in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.

  • 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.

    Knossos

    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.

  • Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.

    Chania, in Western Crete

    Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.

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