Crete is the largest island in Greece. It is also the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. The island is considered the birthplace of the very first civilization in Europe. The civilization’s era dates back to 2700 BC. There are many archeological sites nearly all over the island, but the most breathtaking place is Heraklion, the archeological museum on the island. Greek mythology came alive in Crete because of Icarus, Daedalus, and King Minos.
Besides the long history, the island also has immersive beaches. Long beaches, azure Crete sky, and splendid Mediterranean sea create a heaven-like place on earth. Lying down and sunbathing while enjoying a drink is everyone’s dream, and you can live in Crete. With exotic landscapes and natural lakes, there is plenty to choose from for all nature-loving hikers. The island also has world-famous vineyards. You can have fun on a multiple-day vacation on the island.
Places to Visit in Crete
You can think an island can be tedious, but Crete is different. An unforgettable vacation awaits you with its long history, tasteful cuisine, rich culture, and lush green nature.
The authentic and ancient city, Heraklion, will charm you. Under the benevolence of Heracles, let yourself be guided through the sunny streets. Every corner contains wonders for lovers of the Ancient period, including the archaeological museum. Renaissance lovers, for their part, will visit the Venetian Loggia. A trip to the markets of Heraklion is also highly recommended to awaken your senses.
The south of Heraklion and its urban outskirts rise wooded hills planted with olive trees and vineyards. About 70% of the excellent Cretan wines come from the Heraklion region. With a relaxed atmosphere and an old-fashioned charm, it is organized around the villages of Archanes, where there are Minoan ruins and Dafnes. The area is vivacious in the fall, during the harvest.
If there is a must-see place for a stay in Crete, it is the famous lagoon of Balos. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, it is located west of Chania. The lagoon offers an incredible expanse of shallow turquoise water where it is impossible to resist a swim! Bordered by a magnificent beach of fine sand with pink shades, with Cape Tigani in the background and the view of the island of Gramvoussa, the setting is genuinely sublime and heavenly.
Only 10 minutes by car from the center of Heraklion, the palace of Knossos is today the most visited tourist site in Crete. The ruins of the palace were discovered in 1878, but actual excavations only began 20 years later, thanks to archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who devoted 35 years of his life and much of his savings to unearthing the remains. The latter brought to light a new civilization, which Evans called the Minoan civilization, in reference to King Minos. There are lots of frescoes in the palace. The famous fresco of the bull, the dolphin fresco, the fresco of the Prince with Lilies, and much more are all over the palace.
The island of Spinalonga has been among Crete’s most visited archaeological sites since the late 1970s. However, it has enjoyed even greater success in recent years as it was made famous by Victoria Hislop’s novel The Isle of the Forgotten. This novel takes place mainly on the island of Spinalonga. The plot is romantic and imaginary. But the writer has researched a lot and was inspired by true stories and historical facts to set the scene for her book.
Samaria Gorge, in western Crete, for a walk of about 16 km in one of the longest gorges in Europe. The trail starts with a fairly steep descent of 4 km through the shaded forest before reaching the bottom of the Gorges and the main rest area at 7 km. The most spectacular and famous part of Samaria is at km 11. At the place called Iron Gates, you will pass through the narrowest passage of the Gorges, which measures barely 3.50 meters and whose walls top at 300 meters. The path only alternates between downhill and flat. Still, you must bring good shoes because there are stones everywhere and it’s slippery. The Samaria Gorge hike ends in the small seaside village of Agia Roumeli, where you will need to take a boat and then a bus back to the car park or Chania. Be careful; if you have decided to go to Crete out of season, the Samaria Gorges are closed from October 15th to May 1st.
Agios Nikolaos is a fairly well-known small town located not far from the island of Spinalonga. You can promenade by the sea until you reach Lake Voulismeni, the place’s main attraction. All around you will find a lot of restaurants and shops. Sea tours also depart from Agios Nikolaos to visit Spinalonga. And if you have decided to go to Crete with your children, you can take a trip in a transparent bottom boat to observe the fish. Near Agios Nikolaos, you also have several beaches which are not among the prettiest on the island but to cool off, it is always pleasant.
Best Places to Stay in Crete
Since the island is one of the most visited places in the Mediterranean, there are many options for where to stay in Crete. From romantic couples to adventurer backpackers, you can find yourself a place. You’ll have trouble while deciding to find in Crete best places to stay.
Village Heights Resorts is amongst the best place to stay in Crete. The hotel offers traditional Crete village-themed villas, rooms, and suits to its visitors. There is a well-decorated spa center with a fitness saloon, hot tub, Turkish hammam, and pools. You can also taste beautiful Crete delicacies in the restaurant.
If you are looking for a luxurious place to stay, Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay is the right option. Located in eastern Crete, the hotel is in the Agios Nikolaos. The hotel has a full-sized tennis court, volleyball court, and a well-maintained fitness center. You can rest and enjoy your vacation on the hotel’s private beach. With its amenities and turquoise Mediterranean view rooms, Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay is the best place where to stay in Crete for couples.
Asterion Suites & Spa is another excellent place for couples. Because the otel accept only adult guests. This way you can have a relaxing holiday. The hotel is located in the best area to stay in Crete, Chania, and is close to many important parts of the island. An excellent spa experience awaits you inside the hotel. Orion spa center has a sauna, hot tubs, massage rooms, and many other things that will rejuvenate you on holiday. The hotel also has a restaurant where you can taste many Cretan delicacies. However, if you wish, you can try dishes from the world’s most essential cuisines at the hotel’s main restaurant, Matter.
Avra Imperial Hotel is one of the leading hotels in Crete with its restaurant, bars, facilities, and location. Located in one of the best area Crete, Kolymvari bay, the hotel dazzles with its traditional Greek architecture. Especially for families with children, Avra Imperial Hotel is one of the suitable options. In addition to three large pools, the hotel also has a unique freshwater pool for children. Suppose you prefer the sea instead of the pool to enjoy the summer. In that case, you can enjoy the Mediterranean at the hotel’s private beach.
If you are looking for a place to stay as a couple, Creta Royal is another best place where to stay Crete. The hotel serves adult-only. The hotel offers an enchanting summer experience with its private beach longer than 400 meters. However, if you wish, you can enjoy your holiday in the two seawater pools in the hotel. The hotel is a little far from the busy parts of the island. This makes Creta Royal the perfect choice for those looking for a hidden paradise to stay in Crete.
Located in Adelianos Kampos, Rethymno Palace is also a hidden garden located a little further from the touristic areas of the island. If you want to enjoy the sea, relax and spend some time away from the crowd’s noise, you can choose Rethymno Palace. The hotel also has a full spa center for visitors who spend their holidays relaxing and rejuvenating. In this way, you can return to your home ultimately rested after you finish your holiday. Rethymno Palace also offers bicycle and car rental services for its visitors. You can explore the magnificent nature around you in a more fun way with a bicycle tour. Rethymno Palace is among the places to stay in Crete.
There are many adult-only hotels in Crete, and Pilot Amphora Boutique Hotel is one of them. If you want to enjoy in breeze waters of the Mediterranean on hot summer days. Because the hotel is very close to Georgioupolis, Kalivaki, and Peristereas beaches, some of the best beaches on the island. You can have exquisite drinks from the beach bar in Georgioupolis. If you want to hang out in the pool instead of the sea Pilot Amphora Boutique Hotel has a great outdoor swimming pool. You’ll enjoy the bright Cretan sky while swimming in the pool.
If you want to visit the Platanes side of the island and spend a few days there, you must stay at Atermono Boutique Resort & Spa. You can enjoy the Cretan summer at the hotel next to Platanes beach. The hotel rooms with breathtaking views are also quite spacious and well-lit. When you wake up in the morning, you can breathe the fresh Cretan air while sipping your coffee against the perfect view of the Mediterranean. If you want to have a memorable holiday, Aternomo Boutique Resort & Spar is one of the best places to stay Crete.
NIKO Seaside Resort MGallery is another adult-only hotel on the list. With its serene atmosphere, the hotel is the best place to stay Crete. Every room of NIKO Seaside Resort MGallery is designed luxuriously. You can treat yourself on your vacation to exquisite tastes. Whether you swim in the breathtaking Mediterranean sea or rest in the hotel’s plunge pool, you can be sure that you’ll be pleased at NIKO Seaside Resort MGallery during your vacation.
Myrion Beach Resort & Spa stands out as one of the most visited hotels on the island. When you visit the hotel, you will realize its reputation is not in vain. You will set sail for a dream holiday with its spacious room, a wide variety of dishes in the restaurant, spa center, swimming pools, and private beach. If you want to stay in the Gerani region of the island and enjoy Maleme Beach, Myrion Beach Resort & Spa is one of the best places in Crete.
Multi-awarded Elysium Boutique Hotel & Spa offers an unforgettable vacation in a paradise-like place. To have sun-kissed summer vacation, Elysium Boutique Hotel & Spa is one of the best places to stay in Crete. Elysium is also adult-only hotel. If you want to find a quiet and peaceful place, you should definitely spend a couple of nights in Elysium. The 5-star hotel’s spa is also a great place to rejuvenate during your vacation. If you love nightlife and clubs, you can also visit famous Cretan clubs located around the hotel.
If you want to stay in a luxurious place at a reasonable price, Scala de Faro is your address. Located in the Chania Old Town, you can walk to many places on the island by walking. The rooms of the hotel with sea or mountain views are very comfortable and have large beds. In this way, you can wake up to the new day energetically after a tiring day.