7 Top Reasons to Visit Crete

7 Top Reasons to Visit Crete

There is something magical about Crete. Beaches, rugged mountains, valleys, and olive groves dot the land. The largest Greek island has it all, making it an amazing place to visit throughout the year. No wonder that visitors can never get enough of the spectacular views.

The island is more than 250 km long and 50 km wide. Most visitors come back again and again because they haven’t had the time to fully explore it. Towns, villages, beaches, and gorges are begging to be discovered and you need to give time and space to truly immerse yourself in the beauty that is Crete.

It’s very hard to isolate reasons to visit Crete because this place is surrounded by endless possibilities. Across the limitless incentives to discover Crete, we found the most important ones. Feel free to tell us more reasons that will make you come again and again to this astonishing island!

1.      The island is immense

Such a large island inevitably has two major international airports and ports for ships to dock. If you feel that Crete is not enough—which is highly doubtful—you can always hop to other popular islands such as Mykonos, Santorini, and Paros.

Thanks to its size, Crete is versatile and people never get bored. If you are looking for a villa for a large group, you will find that Crete can accommodate everyone. If you are spending your holidays in Crete as a family, you will discover places to relax, unwind, and build memories forever.

Beaches

Crete boasts some breathtaking beaches, so it’s practically impossible to spend time in Crete with a dip in the sea. Famous beaches with pink sand such as Elafonissi and Balos or palm tree-dotted beaches like Vai and Preveli stand out from anything else you might have experienced. Falassarna and Matala are long sandy beaches that call you to relax and take in the fleeting sound of the waves splashing on the sand.

Many beaches offer water sports and activities for adults and children. If you like to keep active during your holidays, you can try diving and kite surfing across the seashore of Crete.

Mountains

Crete is a mountainous region. Once you start driving away from the beaches, you will climb up mountains that smell of distinctively Cretan herbs such as oregano and wild herbs. Paths dot most mountains, making hiking across the Cretan mountains and exploring how land and sea meet an unforgettable experience, especially in spring and autumn.

Nestled between mountains are valleys of olive and orange groves, vineyards, and pine forests. Enjoy a ride across the mountains and lose yourself in the vistas from hilltops.  

Cities and towns

Crete has a great blend of beautiful nature with bustling cities and towns. Chania with its old harbor and Rethymno with its Fortezza have old Venetian and Ottoman centers well worth visiting. Walk around and discover old buildings, monasteries, and churches as well as restaurants and cafés hidden around cobblestone streets.

Villages

Cretan villages are worth a visit for their sheer beauty and dedication to tradition. Many villages have old ruins from the Venetian and Ottoman past. You will find welcoming people who will be happy to show you a hidden path and share an aromatic coffee under the trees.

2.      Unforgettable, mouth-watering food 

Crete produces its own food and has an astonishing array of dishes and fresh produce to display. From fruit and veg to honey, cheese, olive oil, lamb, and fresh herbs, Cretan cuisine will mesmerize you.

Taste the food

There are plenty of farmers’ markets to visit and get a taste of the bountiful produce from the hinterland. Taste mouth-watering Cretan cheeses and make wonderful combinations with cheese and fruit. Eat under mulberry trees and discover dishes that you can only try in Crete. Sit by the shore and taste fresh seafood and fish just caught.

Visit wineries and olive oil factories

Crete produces wonderful wines and the land has beautiful Cretan wineries worth visiting. Organize a wine-tasting day and pair the wine with cheeses, fruits, and bread produced from the terroir.

Olive oil is part of Cretan life. If you want to explore how extra virgin olive oil is produced, you can visit an olive oil factory and taste fresh olive oil straight out of the press. Drizzle it over salads and on bread and taste the whole of Crete’s land concentrated in a single drop of oil.

3.      There is something for all ages

Thanks to its size, Crete can please everyone. Families with children will enjoy the beach lifestyle but also horse or car rides across the island and village exploration. There is also the Cretaquarium, an aquarium that appeals to the younger audience.

Cretan food is famous worldwide — and with good reason. Restaurants and tavernas are kid-friendly and most Cretans will bend backwards to accommodate families with children.

Most couples and adults love exploring the mountains and villages spread across the island. There are also gorges like the Samaria Gorge that can be hiked until you end at the Libyan Sea for a much-deserved swim. 

Nightlife in Chania, Rethymno, and Heraklion appeal to couples and young adults and ignite the nights under the stars.

4.      It’s great year-round

Very few islands in the Mediterranean offer year-round interest and Crete is one of them.

Because of its beautiful weather, Crete is wonderful at all times. Summers are obviously geared towards beach life but even up on the mountains, where temperatures are cooler, it’s perfect for walking and hiking.

Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy the sea, which is still warm, but also the villages and mountains where leaves drop and apples, pears, and grapes are ready to be picked.

Winter is never cold in Crete. Large cities like Chania, Heraklion, and Rethumno are bustling with people and it’s wonderful to walk around, visit museums and cultural centers, and sit at cafés to watch the world go by.

As for spring, Cretan nature is at its best with wildflowers blooming and herbs spreading their astonishing aromas.

5.      Where history comes to life

Crete has a long history that spans through millennia. Minoans lived in Crete 5,000 years ago and they have left amazing remnants of their culture and civilization. Phaistos and Knossos testify to this past and are certainly worth a visit. You will see how history and mythology blend together to create something unique.defensive position. 

Crete also has a Venetian and Ottoman past and aspects of these civilizations can be found across towns and villages. Even in the smallest village, you will find ancient ruins or a church with beautiful architecture like Arkadi. Ancient ruins are spread across the island and it takes minimal effort to discover them. 

History is all around you. For example, Spinalonga, the forbidden island, is a leprosy colony where lepers were isolated from the rest of the community. The island was evacuated when the cure for the disease was found but you can visit it today and see how people used to live there. It has a Venetian fortress built in 1579 so you get to explore the fortress itself and its amazing 

6.      Enjoy great accommodation

Crete has developed its accommodation industry and displays a wide array of hotels and villas. Villas, in particular, have been designed with comfort and privacy in mind. You will find secluded villas for couples as well as villas for large groups, villas with heated pools if you want to enjoy Crete out-of-season, and villas with spas and saunas.

Many couples choose Crete for their wedding and there are many villas that have been specifically designed for such events. Most villas have swimming pools to maximize comfort and the views you get across the sea, mountains, and valleys are enchanting. Have your dinner al fresco overlooking the Libyan Sea and rest your eyes on the horizon — that’s the unique beauty of Crete. 

7.      Combine a road trip with a boat trip around Crete and its seashore

Thanks to its size, Crete is the perfect destination if you want to mix land and sea.

Rent a car and start exploring the island. Book your accommodation in advance and make your way from Chania to Rethymno, but also south to Plakias and the Libyan Sea. Drive up mountains and hilltops and stop at villages and interesting towns. Don’t forget to visit Knossos and Phaistos to understand the depth of Cretan civilization. The beauty of road trips is that they let you discover a place at your own pace and give you the time to engage with locals, try new foods, and sip raki on the side of the road.

End your road trip in Sitia, the island’s easternmost location. You can then rent a boat or a yacht and discover coves that can only be reached by sea. Stop whenever you feel like to dive and swim and sleep under the stars.

Alternatively, you can start your road trip from the east and end up in Chania, where you can rent a yacht and find hidden coves and small islets begging to be discovered.

Of course, once you visit you’re likely to find even more reasons to come back. So, check out our special offers for Cretan villas and find the perfect villa for your next adventure in Crete!

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