This summer we teamed up with 14 travel bloggers to bring you the top recommendations on what to do in Crete. Read on to discover their favourite experiences on Crete and see which one might fit your personal travel style.
Travel bloggers who visited Crete present their personal hidden gem in Crete
Clare Thomson of Suitcases and Sandcastles
From the moment I first saw photos of the picture-perfect harbour of Loutro on Crete’s southern coast, I knew I had to visit. Finding out that you can only get there by boat only added to its appeal.
Loutro is the most beautiful harbour I’ve ever seen. Its whitewashed buildings cling to the mountains, a few boats bob about in the extraordinarily clear green-blue water and a handful of good tavernas serve fresh local food.
You spend your days kayaking along the coast or hiking up the mountains above the village. It’s a little slice of Greek heaven.
Discover Elafonissi Beach
Verislav Tudzhzarov of Global Castaway
The island of Crete and its colorful history has a lot to offer, but for me, there was one thing that stands above all others – the pink beach of Elafonissi. Consistently voted among the best beaches in the world, Elafonissi owes his unusual sand color to a colony of red corals that over time has been broken down by the sea to tiny pinky grains of sand. Even though Elafonissi is situated 75 km from Chania, the road to it was almost as beautiful as the beach itself, making the pink sands of Elafonissi one of my most memorable experiences on the island, and a must-see for every Crete visitor.
Chrysoula Manika of Travel Passionate
When you visit Crete you shouldn’t miss the city of Chania, one of my favorite places on the island. Chania has so many interesting things to see starting with the Venetian harbor with the imposing lighthouse. The numerous waterfront restaurants and bars, the picturesque alleyways with the quaint shops selling traditional products, and the interesting museums. Close to the city, you will find some of the best beaches in Crete, the Samaria Gorge, and other beautiful villages.
Hiking the Samaria Gorge
Stefan and Sebastien of Nomadic Boys
One of the best things we did in Crete was hiking the Samaria Gorge. This is one of the main attractions of the island and definitely worth visiting. It is located in the National park of Samaria, in the White Mountains in West Crete. The Gorge is open for half of the year – from early May until end of October. We visited in October just before it closed, when the weather was ideal – not too hot.
Although most of this hike is downhill, it’s still relatively tough, so should not be undertaken lightly, and proper footwear should be worn.
Rent a Private Villa
Stephanie Craig of Sofia Adventures
This spring, my friends and I decided to rent a private villa outside of Chania. We used it as a base to explore the island, including gorgeous Seitan Limania beach, Chania town, and the nearby surroundings. Having a villa meant we had a lovely private pool to come home to, gorgeous seaside views, and a wonderful and calming space to relax at the end of the day. I adore hopping around the Greek islands, but it’s so much more lovely when you can share a beautiful private space with friends amid the adventure and sun soaking.
The Palace of Knossos
Noel Morata of Travel Photo Discovery
If you are into culture and visiting Unesco World Heritage sites then make sure you allocate some time to see the famous palace of Knossos. Created by the early Minoan civilization in Crete, this huge palace and grounds was built with over 1300 rooms to the entire complex from 2000 to 1400 BC. Known as one of the most luxurious palace of Minoan civilization, Knossos is stunning in architectural beauty with some newer retrofitted areas that are also painted to mimic some of the famous and controversial mural paintings, adornments and details to the architecture of the site. If you are visiting the entire island of Crete, check out these 20 pictures of Crete for inspiration to visiting some of these wonderful places around the island.
Suzanne Jones of The Travelbunny
I loved the food in Crete. It’s bursting with intense Mediterranean flavour and goodness. From golden olive oil, fresh lemons, herbs and softly gleaming aubergines to lamb, chicken and fish fresh from the ocean – there’s an abundance of good, tasty food to choose from. My favourite Cretan food was the not so healthy Cretan pastries, the Spanakopita cheese and onion filo pie in particular. Layers of filo pastry are stuffed with spinach, herbs and feta cheese. Sometimes onions are added and maybe ‘horta’ the wild greens that grow in Crete. The pastry layers are crisp and flaky but get more dense from the moisture of the filling to give a gorgeous chewy, cheesy texture. Don’t miss these on your visit to Crete.
Visit Seitan Limania Beach
Allison Green of Sofia Adventures
Seitan Limania is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Greek island of Crete. To get there, you’ll need to hire a taxi or drive from Chania, go down a precarious set of switchbacks, then hike down to the beach from the parking lot. But it’s worth all the sweat and nerves because this is one of the most beautiful beaches you’ll ever see. The water is pristine and crystal clear, and you can even jump from the small cliffs into the crisp, cool water below. There is plenty of soft white sand to spread out on so bring a towel, plenty of sunscreen, and a picnic (the beach is undeveloped except for a parking lot) and prepare to enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Crete!
Traverse through Rethymnon Old Town
Alex Waltner of Swedish Nomad
Rethymnon is one of my favorite places in Crete. The charming old town and proximity to a nice beach as well as the many restaurants along the water are some of the best reasons for this. Rethymno is also a bit less touristy than Chania, but still close to the airport.
Crete is the ultimate vacation island, and Rethymnon has a great mix of all the things you can wish for. It’s also easy to rent a scooter or car to visit more secluded places such as Balos Lagoon or Elafonissi.
If you go to Rethymno, make sure to have a traditional meal at one of the Greek tavernas located next to the water in the old town.
Take a Trip to Argyroupolis
Elena Sergeeva of Passion for Greece
The site on which once stood the ancient city of Lappa is today known as the village of Argyroupolis. According to the legend this powerful Cretan city was founded by Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae who led the Greek army in the Trojan War. In this charming village you will find numerous Venetian mansions many of which are used as homes and others have been turned into boutique hotels. The village is famous for the springs of Argyroupolis where you will come across numerous small waterfalls amidst the ancient plane trees. Here there are a few tavernas where you can fish your own trout and enjoy it grilled to order. The village is also home to some historical churches such as the tiny church of Agia Kyriaki and the church of the Holy Five Virgins.
Olive Farm in Crete
Lauren Hay of Far Am A Gan
After visiting Crete and staying in a 5 star hotel, we felt we hadn’t seen the “real deal.” We longed to go back and experience it from a local’s perspective and embrace the Cretan culture fully, not from the comfort of our all-inclusive poolside. Finally, our dream came true when we returned 2 years later to spend 3 weeks volunteering with a local family on their olive farm. Watching our olives from tree to table was an experience I’ll never forget and the excitement of trying our own olive oil and being part of a traditional Cretan family has given us even more reasons to return.
Psychro Cave in Lasithi
Ryazan Tristram of Everything Zany
If you are up for little road trip and adventure in Crete, not far from Heraklion is the known birthplace of the Greek God Zeus called Psychro Cave located at the Lasithi plateau. It is definitely worth a trek and you can get the best view of the landscape from the top of the mountain where the cave is located. Psychro Cave is definitely one of the best places to visit in Crete.
Take a Safari Jeep Tour
Sherrie Fabrizi Allbritten of Travel By A Sherrie Affair
Visiting Crete would not be complete if we did not do a Safari Jeep Tour. Surprisingly, we were able to book last minute. The tour takes place in the plateau Katharo and is an all-day tour of 8-9 hours. The jeep holds 8 people with all great view points. The roads and track can get a little bumpy so be prepared. We learned so much about the island of Crete, had a great Greek lunch, visited Zeus Cave and Krasi with the 2000 year old tree. This was one of the best tours we have done while traveling, very recommended.
Agia Pelagia & Almyra Seaside
Phil Butler of Agrophilia
Crete has so many wonders to experience, but for me the chic Almyra seaside bar and restaurant in Agia Pelagia is the perfect place to relax and reflect. The picture postcard bay, the sound of the waves gently lapping the golden sand, and something like a 007 James Bond vibe just hits you here. It’s truly a special place on the island. Try the three burgers from the bar menu, nobody in Europe does a Chicago slider better. If you’re in the mood, Almyra has an unbelievable wine list too.
Have you been to any of these places in Crete? What’s your favourite experience on Crete?