Greece is such a lovely country, that once you visit it, you fall in love with it forever! Crete is no exception. This amazing, rich in history island is a fantastic combination of food, culture and scenic beaches. It truly has something for everyone – families with kids, young party seekers, hikers and senior folks. Here is our top 8 Fun Things to do in Crete, Greece!
I have been to Crete 2 times and managed to visit some really cool areas and beaches. In this post I will share my experiences and photos I took during these trips.
How to reach Crete, Greece
Crete has two international airports – in Chania and Heraklion. You might choose your preferred option based on where your hotel is located. Flight frequency is quite high during the season, when Europeans have their summer holidays. Some low cost airlines are also flying here. Crete has good road connection between airports and major towns, with regular public transport. All this makes enjoying fun things to do in Crete easier than you can imagine!
Things to do in Crete
Depending on when you are visiting and your interest, you might find a wide range of fun activities in Crete, Greece. Thanks to its great location in the Mediterranean Sea, Crete has some of the best beaches, islands, mountain walks and green hills. Food lovers will find lots of tasty meal options in cute little mountain villages. Don’t miss your chance to taste local olive oil, goat cheese and wine!
Here are our favorite 10 Fun Things to do in Crete, Greece:
Gramvousa – the island of pirates
This one day cruise to the island of Gramvousa is a fantastic way to explore very beautiful beach and experience stunning views. It’s also without doubt one of our favorite fun things to do in Crete. The boat departs from Kissamos, located approx. 43 kilometers from Chania. Climb all the way up 137 meters to the famous castle of Gramvousa, which was built by Venetians in 1579. The boat stops at Gramvousa for 2 hours, so you will have plenty of time to explore the island.
Next, your cruise will sail to the lagoon of Balos – arguably one of the best beaches in the world! The beach is indeed amazing with light turquoise, warm and shallow water – ideal for a relaxing swim! It’s all yours for about 3 hours, until you will have to get back to your boat.
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Remember that both Gramvousa and Balos are included in the European initiative NATURA 2000 and therefore heavily protected. You may not leave any garbage, pollute, collect rocks and seashells, start a fire or do anything else to harm this vulnerable ecosystem.
Located 76km west of Chania, this beach is the south-westernmost tip of Crete. This beach is out of this world – beautiful white sand reminds of Caribbean beaches! Some rare, endangered plants and animals (such as loggerhead sea turtle) find shelter in this area.
Most visitors usually arrive by bus or rental car. Once you arrive, you will immediately notice the pinkish color of the sand – very unique and unusual. The reason for such color – millions of crushed seashells. Take your time to explore the island, walk to the lighthouse or just chill on the beach.
If you take a day trip, you will most probably visit Chrysoskalitisa monastery, built on a high rock.
Samaria Gorge walk
One of the highlights of our trip to Crete was long and inspiring walk in the gorge of Samaria. Early in the morning your tour bus will bring you to the starting point of the trek – 1230m above sea level. The trek is 16km long and normally takes 5-7 hours to complete.
First few kilometers you will be descending steep stairs until you reach the bottom of the gorge. The scenery will be changing from lush green to rocky. Most of the time you would be in the shade, but remember to wear a hat and sunglasses along with sunscreen! Also, bring enough water, you will have some points on the way to fill up if you need to.
The easiest way to do this trek is to book an organizes tour. This way you won’t need to worry about leaving your car at the park entrance and getting back there. Alternatively, you may catch a bus from Chania to Omalos, then a ferry from Agia Roumeli to Hora Sfakion and lastly bus to Chania (if there is one).
Knossos Palace in Heraklion
This undoubtedly ancient ruins of what once used to be a palace is interesting mostly due to its connection with a myth of Labyrinth with the Minotaur. Knossos was the most important city-state during the peak of Minoan civilization.
Today, most of the palace is just ruins and you need a good deal of imagination to get an idea of what it was once like.
Diving in the South of Crete
Do you like diving? The this fun activity is for you. It was my first ever diving experience, and I loved it. Diving company rep approached me in our hotel and offered a free dive in the pool. Later we spoke of diving possibilities in Crete and I decided to book a diving tour in the southern part of Crete.
The experience was great – very professional and attentive instructors, good equipment and very nice entry to the water. Sadly, that day was a bit windy and water wasn’t crystal clear. My instructor assisted me every part of the way and helped to spot marine animals and fauna.
Santorini day tour
Santorini day trip is a must and you should definitely do it if you have time and budget. I still regret I didn’t go, but I was also staying away from the port that ferries depart from. You can book a guided tour or make a DIY tour directly through ferry companies. Main ferry operators are Hellenic Seaways and Seajets, majority ferries depart from Heraklion and few from Rethymnon. During high season, ferry tickets can be relatively expensive!
Spinalonga island tour
This tiny island is best visitor attractions if you are staying in eastern part of the island. To reach Spinalonga, you should take the boat from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda or Plaka. The island was used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. Consider booking a tour, especially if you are not familiar with the history of the island. Moreover, with a tour, you will be offered lunch and a swim opportunity.
Old Venetian harbor in Chania
I took a solo bus trip from the resort I was staying in to Chania town center. I didn’t know what to expect and was looking for a nice walk and town sightseeing. Somehow I ended up at this amazing spot during sunset – Old Venetian Harbor. It was stunningly beautiful, crowded and out of this world. It was getting dark, but I couldn’t take my eyes off this beautiful quay and all the cute cafes along it.
The harbor was built by the Venetians during their colonization in Crete (1320-1356). Apparently, it was one of the most important ports of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Today, the port is not serving its purpose anymore and hosts just smaller boats and yachts.
Crete is so wonderful, I could come back here every year and each time discover something new. If you can, rent a car as this way it will be much easier to move around. Locals are very welcoming and hospitable. Food is delicious and healthy. Sea is usually warm even in October, making it an ideal early fall destination on a budget!
Have you been to Crete? How did you like it?
Do you enjoy island holiday? Consider reading Top 5 things to do in Tenerife