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, 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

Driving on Crete

Curious about driving on Crete? Read this account of Our Hire Car in Crete to see why we recommend it, and don't miss this wonderful Amari Valley Drive, which we enjoyed so much, and this Lasithi Plateau Drive, which we also loved,

Walking on Crete

Read our pages:

Hiking the Samaria Gorge

Hiking in South-West Crete

Olive Grove Walk near the Lasithi Plateau

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 the east.

Where to Stay on Crete



Other Crete pages

  • Best Things to Do on Crete

    The best things to do on Crete and top things to see include the Samaria Gorge, the Minoan Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the towns of Chania and Rethymnon.

  • Hiking in Southwest Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets goes hiking in southwest Crete with Ramblers Walking Holidays based in Paleohora and hiking the E4 footpath and to Anidri and Azogires.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • How to Make Petimezi

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

  • The Icon Painter

    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.

  • The Herb Man of Kouses

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.

  • Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.

  • 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.

  • Lonely Planet Crete

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

  • 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.

  • Maleme and the German War Cemetery on Crete

    Maleme near Chania is where the people who died during the battle of Crete are buried, in the German War Cemetery with the Commonwealth War Cemetery nearby.

  • 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.

  • Irakleio

    Crete's capital and largest city is Irakleio, also called Iraklion or Heraklion, a large and busy place with good restaurants, museums and historical buildings.

  • 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.

  • Crete Festivals and Events

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

  • Best Crete Hotels

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

  • Gortina ancient archaeological site in southern Crete

    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.

  • 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,

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Malia and its Minoan Palace on Crete

    Malia on the north coast of Crete is renowned for its nightlife and beaches but also has the Minoan Palace of Malia, one of Crete's many archaeological sites.

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