Crete is a stunningly beautiful Mediterranean island located in the southernmost part of Greece.
With its lush landscapes, dramatic coastline, historic sites, and charming towns, there’s something for everyone on this gorgeous island. Crete has something to offer whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an adventure-filled family holiday.
Here are 15 can’t-miss attractions and places to visit on Crete that you won’t miss.
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Top Tourist Attractions in Crete (Things to do in Crete):
1. The Palace of Knossos: Palace of the Minoans – One of the best attractions in Crete
The Palace of Knossos is one of the most iconic attractions on Crete, and it is worth a visit. Located in the city of Heraklion, the palace was built by the Minoans between 1900 and 1400 BC and is believed to have been the seat of King Minos. The palace is an ancient archaeological site and boasts some of the oldest frescoes in Europe.
The ruins of the palace are still visible today, and you can take a guided tour to explore all of the different rooms and corridors. As you wander around the palace, you’ll be able to take in its grandeur and get a sense of the rich culture and history that it represents. You’ll also be able to see some of the remarkable artifacts that have been discovered here, including a Phaistos disc, which is thought to be one of the earliest written documents found in Europe.
It’s no wonder that this site has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998 – it’s truly an amazing place to visit! So if you’re planning a trip to Crete, make sure you don’t miss out on seeing this incredible historical landmark.
2. The Samaria Gorge: Hiking in the World – Famous Cretan Gorge
The Samaria Gorge is a must-see attraction on Crete. Located in the southwest part of the island, it is one of the longest gorges in Europe and is a designated National Park. Stretching some 16 km, the Samaria Gorge can take anywhere from four to eight hours to hike depending on how leisurely you wish to take the journey.
Along the way, you’ll be able to experience a variety of landscapes that span through ravines, mountains, forests, and sea coasts. Keep an eye out for wild goats and other wildlife as you pass through the gorge. As you reach the end of the hike, you’ll come across a unique beach known as Agia Roumeli where you can have lunch before heading off on a ferry to Chora Sfakion.
Overall, the Samaria Gorge is an awe-inspiring place to visit and an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after you leave. It’s no surprise why this destination has been called one of the most beautiful places in all of Crete!
3. Elafonisi Beach: The best beach in Crete
If you’re looking for a beautiful beach on Crete, look no further than Elafonisi Beach. This stunning spot is located on the southwestern tip of the island and is known for its pink sand and crystal-clear waters. It’s so beautiful that it’s even been listed as a protected natural monument by the Greek government.
Elafonisi is a great destination for those looking to relax, as it features plenty of beach chairs, umbrellas, and hammocks. It’s also ideal for nature lovers, as there are numerous species of birds that inhabit the area, such as flamingos, and wildflowers that cover the landscape. Plus, the nearby lagoon offers excellent opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Overall, Elafonisi Beach is an incredible destination for travelers looking for a unique and picturesque beach experience. Whether you choose to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters or lounge in the sun, you’re sure to find something special at this stunning beach.
4. The Preveli Palm Beach: Rare and Beautiful Palm Forest in Crete
The Preveli Palm Beach on the south coast of Crete is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Mediterranean. Surrounded by the majestic Libyan Sea, this stunning beach is known for its crystal clear turquoise waters, lush palm trees, and spectacular mountain backdrop. It is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, including migratory birds and the endangered Caretta Caretta sea turtles.
For the perfect day at the beach, visitors can rent kayaks or canoes to explore the surrounding area and take in all the breathtaking scenery. A picturesque river valley is an excellent place for sunbathing and relaxing, and it’s also home to some excellent diving spots. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and fishing in the nearby lake.
For those looking for a unique cultural experience, the Preveli Monastery and the ancient Minoan Palace of Phaistos are just a short drive away. Whether you’re looking for an adventure, relaxation, or an unforgettable experience, there is something for everyone at Preveli Palm Beach.
Where is Preveli beach? – Map of Rethymno region in Crete – Click Here
5. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum: Best Museum in Crete
The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a must-see attraction when visiting Crete. Located in the capital of Heraklion, this museum houses a rich collection of artifacts from the Minoan civilization, the first advanced society in Europe. You can explore numerous artifacts, including sculptures, paintings, frescoes, and pottery.
One of the highlights of the museum is the vast collection of frescoes from the Minoan palace at Knossos. They depict scenes from ancient Crete, including the mythical minotaur, and ancient sports and theater performances. Additionally, you can view numerous artifacts from the Roman period, including coins, tools, and jewelry.
The Heraklion Archaeological Museum also has an extensive library of books and documents related to Minoan and Greek history, as well as a large art gallery that showcases ancient Greek sculptures and paintings. Whether you’re an avid history buff or just looking for something interesting to do while on vacation, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is worth a visit.
6. The Fortress of Koules: What To Know Before You Go
The Fortress of Koules, or Castello a Mare, is one of the top attractions and places to visit on the island of Crete. Located in the city of Heraklion, this fortress was built in 1523 by the Venetians to protect the city from invaders.
The Fortress of Koules stands at the entrance of Heraklion’s old harbor and is well worth a visit. As you explore its grounds, you’ll be met with a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea and an impressive display of 16th-century fortifications. The ancient walls are made of stone and still, stand strong today.
The fortress has several large towers, as well as an interior courtyard where you can explore the remains of a Venetian church, cannons, and other military artifacts. On the main level, you can find the garrison church, which dates back to 1630. There is also a museum inside where visitors can learn about the fortress’s history and the development of weapons used by the Venetians during the Ottoman period.
Take some time to explore this incredible piece of Venetian architecture and soak in the breathtaking views of Heraklion from the top of the fortress walls. The Fortress of Koules is a must-see for anyone visiting Crete.
7. The Dikteon Cave: The Birthplace of Zeus
Crete is full of fascinating attractions and destinations to explore, but one of the most impressive sites is the Dikteon Cave. Located on the outskirts of the Lasithi Plateau, this mystical cave is said to be the birthplace of Zeus, the father of the Greek gods. The story goes that Zeus was born in the Dikteon Cave after his mother, Rhea, hid him there to protect him from his father, Kronos.
Visitors to the Dikteon Cave can explore its various chambers, all of which are filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. This amazing site also offers some great views of the surrounding countryside, as well as a spectacular array of wildlife. For those looking to get off the beaten path, the Dikteon Cave is a must-see destination in Crete.
8. The Church of St. Titus: An Imposing Temple Of Byzantine Origins
When visiting the beautiful island of Crete, one of the top attractions to visit is the Church of St. Titus. Located in Heraklion, it is the oldest church on the island, dating back to the 6th century.
The Church of St. Titus is a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture with its prominent dome, impressive bell tower, and beautiful frescoes. Inside, you’ll find some stunning artwork and some rare artifacts. There’s also a courtyard where visitors can wander and take in the views of the city.
This church is dedicated to Saint Titus, who was the first Bishop of Crete. His remains are still preserved inside the church, making this an important religious site for Christians. It’s also been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, making it a must-see for anyone visiting Crete.
Whether you’re looking for an awe-inspiring place to admire the beauty of art and architecture or just want to explore a historic landmark, the Church of St. Titus is a great choice. Make sure to add it to your list of places to visit on Crete!
9. Agios Nikolaos: A walking tour
Agios Nikolaos is an idyllic town on the north coast of Crete and one of the top places to visit on the island. Set against the backdrop of the glittering Mirabello Bay, this seaside destination offers a unique blend of ancient history and modern culture.
The main attractions in Agios Nikolaos are the bustling harbor, the Venetian-style lake Voulismeni, and the popular beach at Ammoudara. Explore the winding streets and discover the many cafes, restaurants, and bars that make up this charming town. The area is also home to some great historical sites, such as the Archaeological Museum, the ancient city of Lato, and the archaeological site of Gournia.
For a truly unique experience, take a boat trip from the harbor to Spinalonga Island and explore the ruins of a Venetian fortress. If you’re looking for something more active, enjoy the beautiful beaches of Elounda and Plaka, which offer great opportunities for swimming, sailing, and other watersports. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day on the beach or a fun-filled adventure exploring the cultural sites of Agios Nikolaos, this town is worth visiting!
10. Preveli Monastery: Jewel of Crete
If you’re looking for a stunning and spiritual experience, make sure to visit the Preveli Monastery during your time on Crete. Located in the foothills of the Lefka Ori mountain range, this iconic site is home to a beautiful 17th-century monastery, known for its historical significance and gorgeous architecture. The monastery is believed to have been founded by a monk from Constantinople in the 15th century, but it was destroyed and then rebuilt in 1622.
The monastery is also home to two cedar trees that are believed to have been planted over 400 years ago. These trees are now protected and recognized as symbols of the religious importance of the area. Inside the monastery grounds, visitors will find an impressive church that was built in the 18th century. The interior is decorated with gilded murals, Byzantine mosaics, and frescoes depicting the life of Jesus.
From the grounds of Preveli Monastery, visitors can also enjoy breathtaking views of the Libyan Sea. This stunning sight will be one you won’t soon forget. Whether you’re interested in taking in the religious significance or just admiring the views, Preveli Monastery is worth a visit during your time on Crete.
11. The Arkadi Monastery: Religious Destinations
No visit to Crete is complete without a stop at the beautiful Arkadi Monastery. Situated near the city of Rethymnon, the monastery dates back to the 16th century and is one of the most important sites in the region.
The monastery is surrounded by breathtaking views and its architecture is a blend of Byzantine and Venetian styles. The impressive bell tower, which stands more than 25 meters tall, serves as a reminder of the monastery’s past significance. Visitors will find numerous stunning frescoes and murals, making it one of the most important religious sites on the island.
Arkadi Monastery has a storied past. It served as a refuge during a bloody revolt in 1866 and was the site of an infamous battle during the Greek War of Independence. Today, the monastery serves as an important historical site and is a popular tourist destination. Visitors can explore the grounds and visit the main church, which houses many precious artifacts, including ancient manuscripts and other items of historical value.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful place to reflect or a fascinating piece of history, Arkadi Monastery is not to be missed. Its inspiring beauty and cultural significance make it one of Crete’s must-see attractions.
12. The Chania Archaeological Museum: One of the Best Museums in Crete
The Chania Archaeological Museum is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Crete. Located in the city of Chania, the museum houses a variety of artifacts from the Minoan civilization, one of the most advanced societies to inhabit the island.
The museum showcases the impressive accomplishments of the Minoans and displays items ranging from pottery to stone tools. There are also several pieces from the Roman era, including sculptures and mosaics. Visitors can explore the many galleries, as well as browse the gift shop and enjoy a snack at the café.
For those interested in learning more about the Minoan civilization, there is an informative audio guide available in multiple languages. Additionally, guided tours are offered daily, which provide further insight into the fascinating history of this unique culture.
The Chania Archaeological Museum is a must-visit for anyone looking to explore the rich culture and history of Crete. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something interesting to do on your vacation, this museum should be at the top of your list.
13. The Mosque of the Janissaries: Iconic attraction in Crete
The Mosque of the Janissaries is one of the most iconic attractions in Crete and a must-see for any traveler. Located in the town of Chania, the mosque was originally built in 1645 by the Ottoman rulers of Crete for the Janissaries, a powerful military force. This grand structure has an ornate Ottoman style with a red and white striped minaret and a large open courtyard. Inside, visitors can explore the beautiful prayer hall and admire the elaborate mosaics and frescoes which adorn the walls.
The Mosque of the Janissaries has a long and fascinating history. It has served as a cultural center for many centuries, hosting events such as concerts and lectures. The mosque also played an important role during the Greek War of Independence, with the courtyard serving as a place for locals to rally in support of their cause. Today, the mosque still serves as an important place of worship, making it an interesting and meaningful site to visit while in Crete.
14. The Golden Beach: One of the best Crete beaches
Crete is home to many stunning beaches, but one of the most beautiful and popular among visitors is Golden Beach. This sweeping beach stretches for almost two miles along the northern coast of the island and is bordered by crystal-clear waters and lush green hills.
As the name implies, Golden Beach is home to some of the finest golden sand in all of Crete. The sand here is truly golden in color and is incredibly fine, making it perfect for sunbathing or for building sandcastles with your children. The water here is shallow and warm, so even children can enjoy swimming safely.
The beach also offers plenty of activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking, and sailing, or you can just sit back and relax with a good book or take a dip in the sea. There are plenty of places to eat and drink nearby, as well as showers and toilets for convenience.
For those looking for a romantic getaway, Golden Beach is ideal. With its spectacular views, tranquil atmosphere, and golden sand, this beach is perfect for sunset strolls along the shoreline or peaceful days spent lounging in the sun. No matter what you’re looking for, Golden Beach is sure to make your time in Crete unforgettable.
15. The Waterfalls of Milonas: Best natural attraction
The Waterfalls of Milonas, located in Chania, Crete, is an incredible natural attraction. The waterfalls are made up of two separate streams that cascade down a picturesque gorge surrounded by lush greenery. With the bright blue waters and stunning scenery, this is one of the most beautiful places to visit on Crete.
The Waterfalls of Milonas is a great place to take a dip in the cool waters, or simply to enjoy the stunning views. In addition to taking in the sights, visitors can explore the surrounding area, as there are many interesting pathways, caves, and grottoes. You can also take part in a guided tour of the waterfalls which will teach you more about the area and its history.
If you’re looking for a place to relax and take in the beauty of nature, then the Waterfalls of Milonas is the perfect destination. With its impressive views and tranquil atmosphere, this place is sure to create lasting memories for visitors.
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So there you have it: Things to do in Crete Island: 15 Can’t-Miss Attractions and Places to Visit!
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