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15 Things to Do in Crete: The Ultimate Guide

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If you’re looking for an amazing European vacation destination, look no further than Crete! This beautiful island has something for everyone, from stunning beaches to ancient ruins. In this article, we will list 15 of the best things to do in Crete. So whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or sun seeker, Crete is sure to please!

Visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Crete. This museum is home to a variety of ancient artifacts, and it is a great place to learn about the history of Crete. Some of the items that you can see at the Archeological Museum of Heraklion include:

  • The Mysterious Phaistos Disc: This intriguing disc is etched with a unique set of symbols yet to be deciphered. It’s one of the most renowned relics from the Minoan civilization, believed to have been used for religious or administrative activities.
  • The Serpentine Goddesses: These faience statues portray goddesses donning snake-like headdresses and holding serpents. They are speculated to symbolize fertility and the natural world.
  • The Hagia Triada Sarcophagus: Adorned with scenes from Minoan life, including a bull-leaping fresco and a procession of mourners, this painted sarcophagus is a remarkable piece of Minoan art.
  • The Kamares Ware Vases: Characterized by intricate polychrome designs, these vases represent the distinctive Kamares style, offering some of the most exquisite and delicate artifacts from the Minoan civilization.

 

  • The Linear B Tablets: These clay tablets bear the earliest form of Greek writing, the Linear B script. They were likely used for administrative tasks like recording transactions and maintaining inventories.
  • The Golden Bee Pendant: This fine pendant, crafted from gold and shaped like a bee, showcases the exquisite craftsmanship of Minoan jewelry.
  • The Bull’s Head Rhyton: This ceremonial drinking vessel, shaped like a bull’s head, is one of the most iconic artifacts of the Minoan civilization.
  • The Prince of the Lilies Fresco: Depicting a youth amid lilies, this fresco is one of the most celebrated Minoan frescoes, believed to portray a prince or a priest.
  • The Bull-Leaping Frescoes: These frescoes show young men vaulting over bulls, a famous motif in Minoan art, possibly linked to initiation rites or athletic contests.

Relax in Balos Beach

Topping our must-do list is dedicating a day to the serene Balos Beach. Nestled away from the hustle and bustle, this hidden gem can only be accessed by boat, adding an extra layer of adventure to your visit. The journey itself is worth every effort as you traverse the azure waters. Upon arrival, you’re greeted with the beach’s signature crystal-clear water that mirrors the sky, creating a mesmerizing blend of blue hues.

Framed by rugged cliffs and exotic vegetation, the panoramic views at Balos are nothing short of breathtaking.

It’s an idyllic spot for peace seekers, nature lovers, and those who appreciate the untouched beauty of the world.

Legends of Knossos Palace

If you’re interested in history, you will definitely want to visit the Palace of Knossos. This ancient palace was the center of Minoan civilization and is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece.

The palace features a maze-like layout, colorful frescoes, and grandiose architecture that offers a glimpse into the lives of ancient civilizations. You’ll also find artifacts and remains from over 3,000 years ago, providing a fascinating insight into the rich history of the island.

knossos palace large image showing the little palace

The mysteries of Spinalonga

If you happen to be in Agios Nikolaos, consider visiting the abandoned fortress of Spinalonga. This fascinating place was once a leper colony, and today it is a popular tourist destination. You can explore the ruins of the fortress and learn about its intriguing history.

Spinalonga, known locally as the ‘Island of Tears’, is steeped in a rich, intriguing narrative that traces back to Venetian occupation in the 15th century.

The island’s strategic location at the mouth of Elounda Bay made it an ideal spot for the Venetians to build a fortress, a grand structure that still stands today, albeit in ruins.

After the Venetian era, Spinalonga became a refuge for Cretan rebels during the Ottoman era, and in the 20th century, it served as a leper colony, providing a sanctuary for leprosy patients until 1957.

Adventure to Samaria Gorge

If you’re looking for an amazing outdoor adventure, consider visiting the Samaria Gorge. This stunning gorge is a National Park and is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Crete. You can hike or bike through the park, and there are also several caves that you can explore. In there you will have the chance to see the “kri-kri”, a rare species of goat that is only found in Crete.


Visit the archaeological site of Gortyn

If you’re interested in archaeology, be sure to visit the site of Gortyn. This ancient city was once the capital of Crete, and it is home to some of the most well-preserved ruins.

The archaeological site of Gortyn, despite not being as famous as Knossos, holds its own charm and historical significance.

It houses the Gortyn Law Code, the oldest and most comprehensive example of ancient Greek law, inscribed on a giant wall which still stands today. Unearthed relics, such as pottery and tools, give us a glimpse into the everyday life of its citizens.

One of the most significant structures at the site is the Odeon, a Roman theatre, indicative of Gortyn’s transformation over time.

The ruins of Byzantine churches convey the city’s rich religious history, with St. Titus Church being an iconic symbol of the Christian era.

The site’s excavation is still ongoing, promising more discoveries that will add to our understanding of this ancient city’s past.

Daytrip to world famous Santorini Island

If you’re looking for an amazing day trip, consider visiting Santorini from Crete. This beautiful island is well worth the visit, and you will be able to see some of the most stunning scenery in the world. You can take a ferry from either Heraklion or Agios Nikolaos, and the journey only takes a few hours.

 

Glory of Phaestos

Phaestos is another ancient archaeological site that is worth visiting while in Crete. This palace was built in the Dorian period and is home to some of the most beautiful frescoes in Greece.

Phaestos is also famous for the “Disk of Phaestos”. The disk of Phaestos is a clay disk that was discovered in 1908 at the archaeological site of Phaestos, which is located on the southern coast of Crete. The disk is about 15 cm in diameter and is covered in hieroglyphic writing. The meaning of the hieroglyphs has been lost, but scholars believe that they may be related to the Minoan language.

Despite being damaged over time, the disk of Phaestos is an important archaeological find. It is one of the oldest examples of hieroglyphic writing, and it provides valuable insight into Minoan culture.

Fortezza: A medieval Travel

One of the things to do in Crete is visit the Fortezza. This ancient fortress is located in the city of Rethymnon, and it is well worth a visit. The Fortezza was built by the Venetians in the 16th century, and it is now a popular tourist destination. You can explore the fort’s many fortifications, and there is also a museum that you can visit.

As you wander through the labyrinthine passages of the fortress, you are whisked back to an era of knights and epic battles. The fortress houses the church of Agios Nikolaos, a mosque that was converted from a Venetian church, giving you a glimpse of the complex history of Crete.

Walking through the ruins, you can almost hear the whispers of the past, echoing through the corridors and ramparts. The Fortezza, with its fascinating blend of history and scenery, is a must-visit for any history enthusiast or anyone who appreciates breathtaking views.

Visit the Aquarium of Crete

If you’re looking for a fun and educational activity, be sure to visit the aquarium of Crete. This interactive aquarium is home to a variety of aquatic animals, and it is a great place for kids of all ages. You can learn about the ecology of the Mediterranean Sea, and there are also several exhibits that focus on Cretan marine life.

Enjoy the food

If you’re looking for a taste of authentic Crete cuisine, be sure to check out one of the local restaurants. Crete is known for its delicious food, and you will have the chance to try some of the most popular dishes. Some of the dishes that you should try include:

– Moussaka: This dish is made with ground beef, eggs, and potatoes, and it is usually served with a yogurt sauce.

– Pastitsio: This dish is made with pasta, ground beef, and béchamel sauce. It is usually served as a main course.

– Dolmades: These stuffed grape leaves are a popular appetizer. They are made with rice, herbs, and spices, and they are usually served with a yogurt sauce.

– Revithada: This chickpea soup is a popular dish in Crete. It is made with chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, and olive oil.

Taste the Cretan Wine

Cretan wine is also worth trying while you’re in Crete. The island is home to several vineyards, and there are many different types of wine that you can try. Whether you prefer red or white, you’re sure to find a Cretan wine that you’ll love.

Buy local pottery

If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, consider purchasing some of the traditional pottery from Crete. This pottery is made with a variety of techniques, and it is often decorated with traditional Cretan designs. You can find this pottery at many of the souvenir shops in Crete.

Visit Elafonisi Island

Elafonisi Island is a beautiful spot in Crete that is well worth a visit. This small island is known for its white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, and it is a popular destination for tourists. You can enjoy a day of swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling at Elafonisi Island, or you can simply relax and take in the natural beauty of the island.

Once you reach the island, you can indulge in naturally occurring pink sand beaches, a phenomenon caused by the thousands of crushed seashells blending with the white sand. The island is also home to more than 100 plant species, many of which are endangered, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts.

When hunger strikes, there are several quaint tavernas where travellers can sample local Cretan cuisine. Remember to carry your sunblock and beach essentials as the island receives plenty of sunshine.

A day trip to Elafonisi is not just an excursion, it’s a glimpse into the unspoiled natural beauty and rich biodiversity of Crete.

Water City Waterpark in Crete

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting day out, be sure to visit Water City Waterpark. This water park is one of the largest in Europe, and it features a variety of slides, pools, and other attractions. You can spend the day swimming, sunbathing, or simply enjoying the rides.

Book Here from 29 euros per ticket.Crete is a beautiful island with much to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply want to enjoy the stunning scenery, you’re sure to find something that you’ll love about Crete. With so many things to do, you may need more than one visit to see everything that this island has to offer! 

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