The largest of all the Greek islands, this popular beach paradise has great resorts that can cater to everybody. The island’s landscape is varied. Aside from its incredible beaches, Crete also has the famous White Mountains where, according to Greek mythology, Zeus was born. If you are an experienced walker and enjoy a trek, the Samaria Gorge offers a challenging and dramatic full day’s walk.
If it’s not natural beauty you’re looking for then maybe you’d prefer a stroll around the Roman architecture or the ancient Minoan ruins. Or, it that’s still not your cup of tea, perhaps a weekend in the island’s party capital is more your thing. Either way, Crete almost certainly has something for you and is so much more than a party destination. So take a look at these popular destinations to help you decide.
The bulk of the tourists usually flock to the busier resorts in the east, leaving the western side of the island, where Chania is situated, much quieter. Quaint villages, rows of stunning beaches and an abundance of beautiful landscapes give Chania its character.
The Venetian quarter is a web of winding alleys, making it a lovely place to explore. The small streets are lined with little cafes and local craft shops where you can pick up souvenirs. The lanes lead to a pretty harbour that gazes out towards the Sea of Crete.
Standing proud above the pretty pastel town houses are the White Mountains. Known locally as Lefka Ori, the sun reflects off the snow capped summit to create a brilliantly bright glare over the town of Chania. The range proudly boasts Europe’s largest gorge – the Samaria Gorge, which offers a jaw-dropping walkway through the mountains. With peaks of over 2000 metres, this is an incredible playground for hikers and outdoor adventurers alike.
Chania’s neighbour is the town of Souda, which is perfect for a day trip when holidaying in Chania. Overlooked by hills on both sides, the bay has a number of small islands with Venetian fortifications that were originally built to defend the harbor. If you’re going to see the bay, you might want to walk to one of the villages on the hill, like Kalives. It’s the perfect place to have a relaxing stroll and catch views of the entire bay!
One place you may not have on your list of things to see in Crete is Eleutherna. Perhaps because it’s right in the middle of the island and a good hour or so away from both Heraklion and Chania. It’s definitely worth a visit if you want to learn a little more about the story behind the Mediterranean island. The ancient archeological site is a window into Crete’s past, with remnants of buildings from the old Greek city, including the well-preserved Eleutherna bridge.
To the north of Crete is the capital, Heraklion. The modern port city can be surprisingly busy because it’s become industrialised, but there is a wealth of rich cultural history to explore. Enclosing the old city is a Venetian wall that has stood for centuries and makes for a great afternoon stroll with amazing views from the top.
Heraklion also has one of the top attractions in the whole country – the Archaeological Museum. There are several rooms housing astonishing artefacts such as pottery and jewellery from as far back as 7000 BC! It’s such a fascinating experience and definitely one not to be missed.
Want even more culture from this wonderful city? How about the Palace of Knossos. Probably Crete’s most famous historical attraction, the ruins from the ancient Minoan capital have been restored in all their glory so you can wander through the ages. It’s the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and considered Europe’s oldest city.
Heraklion also serves as a gateway to nearby large resorts such as Malia and Hersonissos.
The undisputed party capital of Crete is Malia and it is a hotspot for tourists looking to dance the night away. Packed with bars and clubs its nightlife is world famous, but its days are just as fun-filled. There are many activities in Malia from jet skiing and parasailing to banana boats and day cruises.
Our final gems for you are the villages around Hersonissos. Starting off as a fishing village, Hersonissos has become one of Crete’s largest towns and a popular tourist spot. Whilst it is a lovely town in itself, take a visit to the nearby villages of Koutouloufari and Piskopiano too. They are perfect places to unwind and enjoy the quiet life at a slower pace while you indulge in the local food whilst being serenaded by the traditional Cretan music. The mood along with the charming architecture makes for a romantic atmosphere and very pleasant stay.
Now you know a little more about Crete, which destination is perfect for you? Check out these deals and get yourself on that plane!