Crete is an island of great beauty in the south of Greece. It is a popularholiday destination all year round. On this complete Crete travel guide, you can find useful tips for your holidays on the island as well as information about the best beaches, activities, sights, food, and ports.
The island of Crete is the largest island in Greece and it’s located in the south Aegean Sea.The island’s major port cities like Heraklion, Chania, Rethymno, Sitia and Agios Nikolaos are located on Crete’s northern coast. Other significant harbors in Crete are Ierapetra and Sfakia that are on the southern coast of the island.The heavenly island of Gavdos is also close to the southern coast of Crete, making it the southernmost island in Europe.
Vacation in Crete means swimming in some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, eating delicious food and enjoying unspoiled nature. Crete is perfect for holidays all year long. It is famous for its impressive coast as well as the beautiful mainland with mountains, forests and gorges.
This is why it’s a popular destination amongst lovers of outdoor activities and water sports.
How to get to Crete
You can get a ferry to Crete from Athens and several Aegean islands. You can also fly to Crete from Athens and Thessaloniki. There are daily ferry routes from the port of Piraeus in Athens to the ports of Heraklion and Chania. The connection of Athens to the port of Sitia is weekly while during the summer there are also routes from Athens to the port of Rethymno. You can also travel by ferry to Crete from the islands of the Cyclades, as well as the Dodecanese.
What to do in Crete
In Crete, you can visit important historical sites of international significance, such as the Palace of Knossos, as well as wonderful natural sites such as the Gorge of Samaria and Seitan Limania. The island is also famous for its delicious cuisine, popular around the world. As for entertainment, Crete is one of the liveliest vacation destinations in Greece. There are traditional festivals throughout the year, as well as beach parties, cultural happenings and a plethora of clubs, bars and restaurants to choose from!
Beaches in Crete
There are so many beautiful beaches in Crete, it’s really hard to choose where to swim! There are large beaches with visitor amenities, remote coves surrounded by trees, beaches with sand and pebbles, as well as popular coasts perfect for water sports. Some of the most secluded beaches might be challenging to reach, but
most beaches in Crete are easily accessible by car. Since distances on the island are quite long, we recommend you take your pick!
Here are 10 of the best beaches in Crete:
1.Preveli: A beach of wild beauty on the southern coast of Rethymno with golden sand and crystal-clear waters. It is surrounded by palm trees and there’s a small river emptying into the sea. There are no visitor amenities, but you can buy snacks and drinks from a food truck. You can get there by boat or taking a20-minute hike.
2.Elafonisi: Beach on the southern coast of Chania that is part of a narrow peninsula. It has a Caribbean feeling, with pinkish sand and turquoise waters. There are visitor amenities, such as umbrellas, showers, sun loungers, changing rooms and a lifeguard on its east side.
3. Lygaria: A popular beach close to the city of Heraklion with thick sand and calm emerald waters. There are umbrellas, sun loungers, cafés, tavernas, water sports facilities, and diving schools.
4.Agios Pavlos Sand Dunes: One of the top beaches in Crete at the south of Rethymno. The large sand dunes and emerald green waters create a magical scenery. There are also some rocks for shade. You can enjoy the sunset from the beach, but make sure you stay vigilant as it can get quite windy.
5. Matala: The sandy beach of Matala is on the southern coast of Crete, approximately 1 hr from Heraklion by car. One of the most popular beaches on the island, famous for its impressive cave formations and deep blue waters. There are plenty of visitor amenities such as umbrellas, showers, lifeguards, bars and sports facilities. You can also find some shade under the tamarisk trees.
6. Almyros: Located on the northern coast of Crete, close to Agios Nikolaos. It is a large sandy beach with shallow waters, great for kids! There is a food truck for drinks and snacks, as well as water sports centers.
7.Falasarna: Popular beach on the northwestern coast of Chania. It’s a large sandy beach with turquoise waters and an awe-inspiring sunset view. There are umbrellas, a beach volley court, water sports facilities and food trucks, and it’s perfect for windsurfing!
8. Seitan Limania (Stefanou): Seitan Limania is on the Akrotiri Peninsula, close to the town of Chania. It’s a small picture-perfect beach surrounded by tall rocks. It has golden sand and crystal- clear blue waters. Access to the beach is via a challenging downhill 10-minute hike, so make sure you wear proper shoes.
9. Skinaria: The beach is on the southern coast of Rethymno and it’s one of the prettiest in the region. A small beach with grey sand, small pebbles and clear turquoise waters. It’s great for snorkeling and there’s a diving school at the beach.
10. Red Beach (Kokkini Ammos): It’s an impressive remote beach on the southern coast of Heraklion. The beach is covered in red sand and it has amazing emerald green waters. It’s accessible via a 20- minute hike. There are strong swells when the wind blows from the west.
Activities and sightseeing in Crete
Are you wondering what to see in Crete?
The Greek island is a destination with many cultural sights and attractions, as well as numerous sites of pure natural beauty. The ancient settlements and archaeological museums are some of the top things to see in Crete. Moreover, there are impressive gorges, where you can go hiking and explore the flora and fauna of the island, as well as awe-inspiring forts of grand architecture from the Venetian era. You can visit small islets and take hiking trails amidst ancient ruins, lush forests and quaint villages leading to secluded beaches. Also you can book, from Star Sleep, the experience of sleeping in a luxury & comfortable bed, outdoors on a beach or in greenery, under the stars.
What should I not miss in Crete?
Here is a list with our favorite natural and cultural attractions in Crete tochoose from:
- Samaria Gorge (Chania)
- Seitan Limania (Chania)
- Elafonisi (Chania)
- Kedrodasos cedar forest (Chania)
- Balos Lagoon (Chania)
- Venetian Harbor of Chania (Chania)
- Lefka Ori / White Mountains (Chania)
- Arkadi Monastery (Rethymno)
- Ideon Andron cave / Psiloritis Mountain (Rethymno)
- Knossos Palace (Heraklion)
- Archaeological Museum of Heraklion (Heraklion)
- Matala caves (Heraklion)
- Palm Forest of Vai (Agios Nikolaos)
- Spinalonga islet (Agios Nikolaos)
- Chrysi islet (Agios Nikolaos)
- Diktaion Andron cave (Agios Nikolaos)
- Elounda (Agios Nikolaos)