Crete Guide

Located in the southern part of Greece, Crete has near perfect weather all year round. Mild Mediterranean climate, mostly dry and warm with plenty of sunny days. It does get cool in the winter months especially in the mountain areas, but still mild compared to most other regions.
Temperature:

Summer average daytime temperatures 27-35C, and Spring is a cooling 16-24C, and Autumn 12-16C

Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands and has diverse characteristics in terms of it’s natural resources and landscape. For adverture and nature lovers, Crete is a holiday paradise. You will need over a week to fully take-in the beauty of the island, with its mountains, caves, gorges, award winning beaches, picturesque seaside villages, ancient sites, world class museums, abundant dining options, agrotourism, and you will be spoilt for choice with hotel options ranging from the Ultra Luxury categories, to more rustic eco-resorts.

Access
Most travellers arrive by Domestic Flights from Athens or Ferry from Athens (Piraeus)
There are also budget airlines that fly direct from a few European cities.

AIRLINES
AEGEAN AIRLINES
OLYMPIC AIR
SKY EXPRESS
MINOAN AIR 
FERRY BOATS
MINOAN LINES Heraklion from/to Piraeus
ANEK LINES Souda port – Chania from/to Piraeus
ANEK LINES- SUPERFAST  Heraklion from/to Piraeus

 

Crete Highlights

Attractions

crete-2772285_1280

Samaria Gorge

Crete’s White Mountains are the home to many natural wonders including gorges, the most well known one called Samaria Gorge. It is the longest found in Greece & arguably in Europe at 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m at the northern entrance.

Located in the northwest of the island in the region of Chania map , the area has been designated as a National Park since 1962 and is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island.  Enjoy the magnificent view of the landscapes, mountain peaks and slopes, unique flora and fauna (over 450 species of plant and animal, 70 of which are endemic to Crete), and not only nature but old villages and churches and at the end of the hike, cafe and restaurants and the coastal town of Ag. Roumeli

The National Park is open from May 1 to October 15, and visitors should allocate a whole day for a visit (it is quite a journey from Chania, at 2 hours per way) and be sufficiently fit for the walk. The most common way to visit is by public bus or by booking a tour which is the most convenient. There are also other gorges in Crete that you may consider, if you do not have the entire day and looking for easier access or in the non-peak season when Samaria is closed.

More information for your trip here.

Knossos Minoan Palace

Located just 5km from the city center Heraklion,  Knossos is the largest Minoan palatial centres. Visit the beautiful remains, learn the legends and myths of the Labyrinth with its Minotaur and of Daidalos and Icaros.

The site of ancient Knossos was once again brought to the forefront in 1878 by the Cretan antiquarian and merchant Minos Kalokairinos. And excavations were conducted from 1900 to 1931, exposing the palace and main parts of the Minoan city and since then many more areas have been excavated and uncovered, including excavations by the famous  Arthur Evans, director of the British Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and a wealthy amateur archaeologist.

The Palace of Knossos at 20,000 sq. meter is the largest of all the Minoan palatial centres. Including four wings and a central court. Aside from the Palace, there is a lot of ground to cover including other structures on site such as The Royal Villa, The House of the Frescoes, The Caravan-serai, The Unexplored Mansion, Villa of Dionysis and The Royal Temple-Tomb where it’s said that one of the last kings of Knossos (17th-14th centuries BC) was buried. A must visit!

knossos-165561_1280

Minoan Palace at Phaistos

If your fascination for Minoan civilization has been ignited by visiting The Knossos site above, you definitely will be interested to continue the journey here.

The Palace of Phaistos with its almost perfect construction, is considered to be the finest and most typical of all Minoan palaces. With many of the structures and ruins both new and old are for viewing today.  Like at Knossos, the first (old) palace was built at the beginning of the 2nd millenium B.C. and was in use for over 3 centuries before being destroyed by a fire, thereafter the new palace was constructed. Tragically that too was engulfed in fire and thus abandoned.

Herakleion Archaeological Museum (Crete)

Just another reason to visit the Island of Crete. This impressive museum is one of the largest and most important museums in Greece World renown for showcasing exhibits of Minoan art & culture, but also extensively covering Cretan history over 5000 years from the Neolithic period to the Roman times.

One of the largest and most impressive collections of Minoan art and culture in the world, housed in the Museum of Herakleion. It is one of the most important and most visited museums in Greece, and among the most important in Europe.
The exhibition houses more than 15,000 artefacts, covering a period of 5,000 years, from neolithic era to Graeco Roman period.  Visitors will get to see a variety pottery, stone carvings, engravings, sculptures, gold and metalwork, household utensils, tools, weapons and impressive frescoes so artistic and colorful, that lends insight to the glorious past.

Archaelogical Museum of Chania  a must visit on your trip to Chania town.

Cretaquarium Just a few minutes outside of Heraklion, a must visit for anyone must less families with kids! With 60 tanks and over 2000 creatures, a great location by the sea to spend a fun filled day.

crete-1676057_1280
Spinalonga Island

Spinalonga Island – short ride by boat from Ag. Nikolaos, Elounda and Plaka. An island with a rich past and unique location – a former leper colony. Read Victoria Hislop’s best-selling book “The Island” before you go.

Beaches & Lagoons – Balos Lagoon, Elafonissi Beach, Matala Beach, Bali Beach

beach-1540362_1280
Balos Beach & Gramvousa

15056254_715981168549460_3535537131663508340_nFood & Wine Tours, and other tastings of local drinks and foods (snails, Raki, dakos, olive oil). Or just go where the locals do!

Arkadi Monastery  is an Eastern Orthodox monastery, situated southeast of Rethymnon on the island of Crete in Greece.

 

Waterparks Crete is on of the best island for family with kids of all ages.

Labyrinth Waterpark (Hersonissos)

Acqua Plus Waterpark (Hersonissos)

Crete best for family with ample family friendly resorts, activities both on land and sea, great quality food and active tours and entertainment, aside from waterparks another popular tour is jeep safari if you have older kids or just fun for the adults! 4×4 tour off-road, a unique way to experience the island.

 

Places to Stay
Chania one of the most popular areas to stay on Crete, many beaches and a beautiful old town, famous for its Venetian harbour, quaint streets and shopping and waterfront restaurants. Access by air and ferry.

Heraklion – Another popular access point to Crete as it the capital with a buzzing port and airport closeby.  From this point of entry, you have many choices of surrounding areas to stay as a base to explore this region. Many thriving party beaches closeby but also quieter sleepy villages can be found dotted further along. Museums, waterparks, and many adventures await.
Elounda Best for authentic quiet vacations. Upscale hotels popular with celebrity set, and gorgeous views and landscape.

Agios Nikolaos a beautiful coastal town, often photographed for its postcard perfect scene. Even if you do not stay here, it is worth a visit and a popular stop about an hour from Heraklion.

Rethymno  A popular tourist stop or base as it is quite central to the island, located between Chania and Heraklion on the north cost of the island. The town itself can keep you busy with its well preserved old harbour and cafes and restaurants, painting the perfect ‘blast from the past’ photo opportunity. From this vantage point, the island is your oyster, visit the gorges and mountains,  long sandy beaches, monasteries,churches and villages.

 

Read: Hotel Suggestions and Unique Stays for Crete Island