Things to do in Crete ( Heraklion-Rethymno-Chania)

Things to do in Crete. Crete is the Mediterranean’s fifth largest island, one of the most fabulous places in Greece, and the birthplace of the oldest civilization in Europe since 2700 BC.

There are so many more reasons why Crete has always been one of the most visited holiday destinations in the world. There are plenty of things to do in Crete, from exploring the magnificent beaches, breathtaking archeological sites across the islands, and phenomenal museums.

The Venetians largely influence Crete’s cities, and the iconic proofs are the incredible ports, fortresses, and buildings in Heraklion, Chania, and Rethymno. When planning an itinerary to Crete, make sure to include some of the places listed below where you’ll find major tourist attractions.

Explore Knossos

Knossos built around 3000 years ago was the seat of King Minos, where he also had developed a labyrinth to hold his son, the Minotaur. This historic place located only a few kilometers south of Crete’s capital Heraklion.

It represents a palace along with its encompassing city, which used to have a population of up to 100,000 back in the 18th century BC. Knossos is truly an iconic place in Crete, having survived several catastrophes such as earthquakes and invasions.

Thanks to British Archaeologist Arthur Evans, it was excavated in 1900 for the first time. It restored a significant part of the architecture and frescoes. It is certainly worth exploring this place, and witnesses the Royal Apartments, the Throne Room, and Sanctuary preserved from ancient times.

Location map of Knossos

Knossos palace
Knossos image by: davestem from pixabay

Visit Heraklion Archaeological Museum

To fully understand and reveal the oldest civilization in Europe Visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, where you can see the biggest collection of Minoan artifacts stored in 20 rooms.

It is even possible to see treasures from Neolithic times before even Crete’s palaces were built. Jewelry, vases, amour, and weapons from centuries ago, be prepared to travel back in time in this splendid museum. Even entire frescoes from Knossos Palace and Minoan sites have transferred to the archeological museum.

Some of the most mysterious pieces are the Phaistos Disc around 15 cm in diameter, all covered with symbols arranged in a spiral and the Arkalochori Axe found in a cave. You will surely enjoy this incredible museum and learn so much about Crete’s history and the past.

Map of Heraklion

Heraklion Crete
Heraclion Photo by Juli Kosolapova on Unsplash

Stroll around Rethymno Old Town

One of the best-preserved old towns on Crete, Rethymno, is the third-largest city on the island and should be included on your list of things to do in Crete. The narrow cobblestone alleys of the town are precisely as they were in the 14th century when the Republic of Venice took it over.

Rethymno is influenced by these times with beautiful Renaissance mansions, churches, and arches scattered across the old town. Neratze Mosque is one of the highlights of Rethymno. 

The building served as a Venetian Church before turning into a mosque in 1925. It serves as a popular venue for many music concerts nowadays. Other places to visit in Rethymno are the Rimondi Fountain preserved from the 17th century and Loggia, which converted into a mosque during the Ottoman times.

Rimondi Fountain is one of the most picturesque places in the old town, framed by two pairs of Corinthian columns along with a Gothic arch. It is worth visiting Rethymno and exploring the tiny old city with lots of cafes and stores you can check out and get some souvenirs.

Map of Rethymno

Rethymno old town
Rethymnon image by: FeJo4711 from Pixabay

Visit the Venetian Harbor in Chania

The highlight of incredible Chania is the harbor built-in 1320 by the Venetians. You can capture the lighthouse towards the eastern side, which serves as a symbol for the city. The western side, on the other hand, served as the place where all goods entered ashore.

The harbor was for shipbuilding and maintenance. See the Grand Arsenal, which used to be a Christian school, hospital, and even a Town Hall over the years. Nowadays, it serves as the Center of Mediterranean Architecture. You really shouldn’t miss visiting this city. Witness the harbor with your own eyes since it is not only the symbol of Chania but also of the entire island of Crete.

Map of Chania

Chania venetian harbor
Chania Image by: rafał lewiński from Pixabay

Visit Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi beach is one of the best beaches, not only in Crete but in the world. 

These shores are natural reserves on the channel between the mainland and Elafonisi. Elafonisi beach is prominent for its soft pink sand and turquoise waters. It has a rectangular shape and attracts thousands of holidaymakers from all over the world.

The shores are relatively shallow and lagoon-like, which makes it perfect for you to visit with kids and enjoy excellent family time in Crete. The water is knee-deep for several meters until it gets deep. The beach surrounded by gorgeous mountains on the southwest coast and makes it a real piece of heaven on earth.

It is undoubtedly one of the best vacation spots in Crete and one of the best places you can visit on the island.

Elafonisi beach
Elafonisos Photo by Enza Dattolo on Unsplash

Crete is undoubtedly one of the most incredible islands in Greece blessed with amazing beaches, tons of history, and fascinating past. It is not only the largest island in Greece but also the birthplace of Zeus.

Rent a car or book a private tour to visit all the gorgeous locations mentioned above. Explore all the essential sites on the island and enjoy your time with your beloved ones. It is also an island with mouthwatering cuisine Greeks are very proud of. It is easy to find excellent family tavernas in all cities and towns and enjoy traditional Greek hospitality and delights.

It is not hard to make a list of things to do in Crete since these are so many. You can surely use some tips listed above and make your vacation even more memorable and joyful.

You can find many luxury holiday villas that feature top-class vacations. For renting  Private Luxury Villas Crete.  See the collection

Using Public Bus services in Crete is easy to travel throughout the Island. Comfortable and new buses airconditioned and prices are reasonable.  There are two networks. One is Chania – Rethymno for the west part of Island, and Second Heraklion – Lasithi for the eastern part.

For more info and online bookings, you can visit their websites.

Chania – Rethymno WEST           Heraklion – Lasithi EAST

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