24 Best Things to Do in Crete, Greece | 2024 (with Photos)

James A. Smith

James A. Smith - Chief Editor

Last Updated: March 28, 2024

Hey there! I'm James, a travel enthusiast with a passion for exploring the hidden gems of various destinations. Dive into my curated list of activities and make your trip to Crete an unforgettable adventure!

Best Things to Do in Crete, Greece

Greece is famous for its stunning islands, each with its unique beauty and charm. But there's something truly special about Crete, the largest island of all the Greek islands in the Libyan Sea. 

It's a place where history, culture, and nature come together to create an unforgettable experience for travelers.

Crete Island is a perfect destination for travelers who want to explore the wonders of Greece, from the historical sites of the Minoan civilization to the idyllic beaches and charming fishing villages.

In this article, the Travel-Lingual team will take you on a journey through some of the best things to do in Crete. So, pack your bags and get ready to discover all the amazing things that this island has to offer.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Top Choice Hotel

Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Balos Beach Bar

Best Time to Visit

Ideal time to visit Crete is during summer.

Average Temperature

The average temperature in Crete, Greece is mild.

Transportation Options

Car rentals, buses, taxis, bicycles, walking, moped rentals.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

While in Heraklion, you must visit the historical sites like the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the ancient Palace of Knossos to immerse yourself in the rich Minoan heritage that this city has to offer. Don't forget to wander through the vibrant local markets, tasting traditional Cretan cuisine and chatting with the friendly locals.

In Chania, make sure to stroll along the picturesque Venetian harbor at sunset, enjoying the warm sea breeze and the stunning views of the colorful buildings lining the waterfront. Indulge in the fresh seafood at local tavernas and lose yourself in the charming alleys of the Old Town, discovering hidden gems and embracing the laid-back island lifestyle.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Comfortable walking shoes
  2. Swimwear
  3. Sunscreen

What Not to Miss

  1. Knossos Palace.
  2. Chania Old Town
  3. Elafonissi
  4. Arkadi Monastery
  5. Samaria Gorge

What to Avoid

  1. Avoid overpacking and be mindful of local customs and attire norms in Crete, Greece.
  2. Avoid disrespectful behavior towards historical sites and local traditions.

1. Relax at Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi Beach

When it comes to beautiful beaches, Crete has no shortage of options. But if you're looking for a truly unique beach experience, you won't want to miss Elafonisi Beach located on the eastern coast of the island.

Known as the Pink Sand Beach, This fantastic beach gets its unusual hue from the crushed shells of tiny marine animals that have mixed with the sand over time.

The Pink Sand Beach is located in a secluded cove and is surrounded by impressive cliffs and rock formations, which make for a stunning backdrop as you relax on the pink sands and enjoy the crystal-clear waters.

Moreover, the beach is accessible by car or boat and is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. Elafonisi Beach is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, but it's large enough that you can always find a quiet spot to lay your towel and soak up some sun.

2. Visit the Venetian Fortress of Rethymno

Venetian Fortress of Rethymno

Visit the Venetian Fortress of Rethymno, an impressive structure built in the 16th century during the Venetian rule of Crete. The fortress is located in the heart of the city of Rethymno and offers a glimpse into the island's fascinating history.

You can walk along the fortress walls, climb up to the top of the Bastions for stunning views of the city and the sea, and explore the interior, which now houses a small museum.

The fortress is one of the most significant monuments on the island and is a must-see for history buffs and anyone interested in architecture and engineering.

3. Take a boat to Spinalonga Island

Spinalonga Island

Take a boat trip from Crete to the tiny island of Spinalonga, located just off the coast of the mainland. Spinalonga was once a Venetian fortress and later served as a leper colony until it was finally abandoned in the mid-20th century.

Today, the island is a popular tourist attraction and a fascinating glimpse into the island's past. You can explore the ruins of the fortress, visit the abandoned houses and buildings of the former leper colony, and take in the stunning views of the sea and the surrounding landscape.

The boat trip to Spinalonga is a great way to see some of the other Greek islands and experience the beauty and history of the region.

4. Have fun at Balos Beach

Balos Beach

Balos Beach is an important destination in Crete, Greece. Located on the west coast of the island, this stunning beach is famous for its crystal-clear waters and white sand that create a unique shade of blue in the sea.

To get to Balos Beach, you can take a boat trip from the nearby town of Kissamos, or hike along a scenic trail through the rugged hills.

Once you arrive at the beach, you can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, or simply relaxing on the sand. The beach is also surrounded by a shallow lagoon and a natural reserve, making it a great spot for nature lovers.

5. Explore Phaistos Palace and Archaeological Site

Phaistos Palace and Archaeological Site

Exploring the Phaistos Palace and Archaeological Site is a remarkable experience for those interested in learning about ancient civilizations. The site, located in southern Crete, is one of the most important Minoan archaeological sites on the island.

Built during the Bronze Age, the palace and archaeological site were destroyed by a natural disaster in the 15th century BC. Today, visitors can wander through the ruins of the palace and marvel at the complex architecture, which includes intricate frescoes, columns, and staircases.

Additionally, the archaeological site provides breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and countryside, making it an unforgettable destination to add to your travel itinerary.

6. Discover Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

If you are interested in archeology, then a visit to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of the best things to do in Crete.

Located in the heart of Heraklion, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts from the Minoan civilization, which flourished on Crete during the Bronze Age.

Among the highlights of the museum's collection are the Phaistos Disc, an inscribed clay disk from the Minoan period, and a statue of the bull-leaping athlete, which was a popular sport in ancient Crete.

The Archaeological Museum also features artifacts from the Classical and Roman periods, including intricate pottery, jewelry, and sculptures.

7. Have Lunch in the Crete Old Town


The Crete old town is a delightful place to explore and have lunch while visiting Crete, the favorite Greek island.

The old town boasts an impressive array of shops, cafes, and restaurants, making it the perfect spot to enjoy a meal and soak up the island's vibrant atmosphere. You'll find everything from traditional Cretan cuisine to international dishes among so many fantastic things.

While enjoying your meal, take in the beautiful architecture of the old town, including the Venetian Harbor, narrow streets, and stunning historic buildings.

8. Take a Tour of Samaria Gorge National Park

Samaria Gorge National Park

This breathtaking national park is home to the Samaria Gorge, which is the longest in Europe and a popular hiking destination. The hike takes around 5-7 hours, and it's a perfect opportunity to explore the Samaria Gorge National Park's diverse flora and fauna.

Don't forget to pack your sunscreen, hat, and comfortable shoes for this adventurous journey. After a day of hiking, relax and enjoy a glass of Crete's star grape, Vilana, at one of the park's cafes.

Vilana is a white grape variety grown in Crete, and it's known for its aromatic and fruity flavor. It pairs perfectly with the local cuisine.

9. Relax at Seitan Limania Beach

Seitan Limania Beach

Seitan Limania Beach, also known as Devil's Harbour, is one of the most picturesque and secluded beaches in Crete. A visit here is one of the best things to do in Crete if you are in the mood to relax.

Located on the Akrotiri Peninsula, the beach is known for its stunning turquoise waters and fine, white sand.

This sandy beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. It's a small beach with no facilities, so visitors should bring their supplies.

The secluded location and stunning scenery make Seitan Limania Beach one of the most famous beaches on the island of Crete.

10. Pass by Preveli Palm Beach

Preveli Palm Beach

Preveli Beach, also known as Palm Tree Beach, is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete. At the mouth of the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, the beach is famous for its palm trees that line the river.

The palm trees give the beach a tropical vibe, making it a popular spot for visitors. The clear blue water is perfect for seeing underwater creatures and exploring marine life.

Preveli Palm Beach is located on the southern coast of Crete, near the village of Preveli. If you are looking for a quiet and relaxing spot to unwind, Preveli Beach is the perfect place to visit.

11. Spend a day at Matala Beach

Matala Beach

Matala Beach, located on Crete's southern coast, is a notable destination for anyone looking to soak up the sun and enjoy the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

This stunning beach is famous for its picturesque caves, which were once inhabited by hippies in the 1960s and 70s. Thus, it is also known as the Hippie Beach. Today, tourists can take a day trip to explore the caves and learn about their fascinating history.

In addition to the caves, Matala Beach on the south coast offers plenty of space to relax, swim, and sunbathe. With its crystal-clear waters and golden sand, it's no wonder that Matala Beach is one of the most popular destinations on the island.

12. Find Sissi Sissi Fishing Village

Sissi Sissi Fishing Village

Sissi Sissi Fishing Village is a small fishing village on the northern coast of Crete that is worth a visit. The village has a laid-back atmosphere and a charming harbor where fishing boats come and go.

The coastal village is known for its traditional architecture and quaint taverns serving fresh seafood. The narrow streets of Sissi are perfect for strolling and taking in the sights and sounds of this picturesque village.

The small village is not as crowded as some of the larger tourist destinations on Crete, making it a great place to unwind and relax.

13. Take a Wine-Tasting Tour

Crete Wine and Olive Oil Tour

A wine-tasting tour is a must-do activity for any wine lover visiting Crete. The island is home to several vineyards and wineries, offering connoisseurs a chance to taste the local wines and learn about the wine-making process.

Many tours include a visit to the vineyards, a tour of the facilities, and a tasting of the different wines produced on-site.

You can try varieties such as Kotsifali, Vidiano, and Liatiko. Don't forget to purchase a bottle of your favorite wine to bring back home as a souvenir or gift.

14. Stroll Through Chania Old Town

Chania Old Town

If you visit Crete, a day trip to Chania old town is a must. As one of the most charming old towns on this fantastic Greek island, Chania is known for its beautiful Venetian harbor and narrow streets filled with old buildings and colorful shops.

You can easily get there in your own car or by taking a bus or taxi from nearby cities. Don't forget to visit the local markets, where you can find traditional Cretan products such as olive oil and souvenirs.

Strolling through the old town is a delightful experience, as you discover unique architecture, stunning churches, and plenty of cafes and fantastic restaurants where you can taste delicious Greek food.

15. Explore Anogia Mountain Village

Anogeia Mountain Village

Anogia is a small mountain village located in the central part of Crete. It is known for its traditional architecture and local crafts, as well as its stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

The small village is a great destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat away from the crowds of the coastal areas.

In the evenings, traditional music and dance performances are often held in the village square. Anogia is also a popular starting point for hiking and trekking in the nearby mountains.

16. Buy Fresh Products Grown Locally

Fresh Natura

If you're visiting Crete, you don't want to miss the opportunity to buy fresh products grown locally, especially the island's famous olive oil.

One great way to do this is to plan a few days in your itinerary to explore the local markets and small shops. You can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to cheese, honey, and of course, olive oil.

Don't hesitate to ask the locals for recommendations on the best products and where to find them. Also, you could find someone to show you around olive oil production complexes.

17. Enjoy Stefanou Beach

Stefanou Beach

Located on the northern coast of Crete, Stefanou Beach is a hidden gem waiting for you. Discover Crete and its peacefulness on this beautiful beach.

With crystal-clear turquoise waters and a picturesque backdrop of mountains, Stefanou Beach offers a serene and peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Spend a few hours lounging on the sand or take a dip in the refreshing waters while soaking up the stunning views. The Stefanou Beach is easily accessible by car and offers plenty of parking spaces, making it a great addition to any Crete itinerary.

18. Sunbathe at Vai Beach

Vai Beach

Vai Beach is one of the most popular and unique beaches in Crete. It is located on the northeastern coast of the island, near the town of Sitia.

The Vai Beach is known for its unique palm trees that grow right up to the shoreline, creating a tropical oasis atmosphere.

Relax on the soft golden sand, swim in the clear turquoise waters, or explore the nearby nature reserve. Vai Beach can get quite busy during peak season, so it's recommended to arrive early in the day to secure a good spot.

19. Sail the Venetian Harbour

Venetian Harbour

The Venetian Harbour in Chania is a must-visit spot for history buffs and those interested in ancient ruins. Located in Europe's oldest city, this harbor has a rich history dating back to the 14th century.

Sail through the harbor and take in the breathtaking views of the Venetian lighthouse and the old buildings that line the waterfront. 

You can also explore the narrow streets and alleys of the old town, where you'll find charming shops and traditional Greek tavernas serving delicious food.

Make sure to bring your camera, as the picturesque scenery of the harbor makes for some unforgettable photos!

20. Bring Your Kids to One of the Theme Parks

Gouves Water Park

If you're traveling with children, a visit to one of the theme parks in Crete can be a fun and exciting experience for the whole family.

Head to the city center to find a variety of parks, offering a range of activities suitable for all ages. Let your little ones enjoy the thrill of exciting rides, games, and attractions, while you take a break and relax in the beautiful surroundings.

Some of the most popular parks include the Water City Water Park and the Acqua Plus Water Park, both of which are known for their thrilling water slides and pools. Don't miss out on this opportunity to create lasting memories with your family on your trip to Crete!

21. Explore the Palace of Knossos

Palace of Knossos

The Palace of Knossos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Crete. It is located just a few kilometers south of the island's capital Heraklion and is easily accessible by car or public transportation.

The palace was built during the Minoan period, around 2000 BCE, and was the center of the Minoan civilization. It was rediscovered in the early 20th century and underwent extensive restoration.

Today, tourists can explore the sprawling ruins of the palace, including the throne room, the frescoed walls, and the impressive storerooms.

22. Take a Cooking Class on Cretan food

The Real Cretan Cooking Experience

Taking a cooking class on Cretan food is an excellent way to experience the island's culture and culinary traditions while also creating lasting memories.

Many cooking classes are available throughout the island, and they offer a chance to learn the secrets of Cretan cooking and gain insights into local culture.

During the class, you will learn how to prepare traditional Cretan dishes with olive oil, such as dakos, kalitsounia, and boureki, using fresh local ingredients. 

These classes are usually led by experienced chefs who will guide you through the cooking process and provide helpful tips and tricks.

23. Hike the White Mountains

White Mountains

The White Mountains, also known as Lefka Ori, are a stunning mountain range located in western Crete. If you like outdoor activity, a visit to this place is one of the best things to do in Crete.

They are the perfect destination for outdoor adventure, offering a wide range of hiking trails suitable for all levels of fitness and experience.

If you're up for a challenge, consider hiking to the summit of Mount Gingilos, the highest peak in the range, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Alternatively, you can choose a shorter hike, such as the Samaria Gorge, which takes you through a spectacular 18-kilometer-long canyon and is considered one of the most beautiful hikes in Europe.

24. Learn at Arkadi Monastery

Arkadi Monestry

The Arkadi Monastery is one of the historic sites in Crete that played a significant role in the island's fight for independence.

This monastery served as a refuge for Cretan rebels during the Turkish occupation in the 19th century. Today, it stands as a symbol of Cretan independence and resistance.

You can see the stunning architecture and art within the monastery, including the stunning frescoes in the church. The peaceful gardens and surroundings are also a great spot for a relaxing stroll.

FAQs: The Best Things to Do in Crete

Let's take a look at some frequently asked questions about things to do in Crete, Greece.

What is Crete best known for?

Crete is best known for its beautiful beaches. Depending on what you like, considering the crowd and proximity to the urban areas, you could try Pink Sand Beach, Balos Beach, or some of the other beaches along the southern coast of Crete.

Is Crete or Santorini better?

Both Crete and Santorini are popular Greek islands, but they offer different experiences. Crete is larger and has more diverse attractions, while Santorini is known for its stunning views and romantic atmosphere. It ultimately depends on your preferences and travel style.

How many days in Cretes is enough?

Crete is too large to be visited during a day trip, however, the main attractions of Cretes can be seen in a few days' time span. However, if you truly want to relax and enjoy Cretes, the best option is to book a 7-10 days long trip.

What is Crete's main attraction?

Main Crete's attraction is probably the historic site of Venetian Bay, and if you visit Crete you shouldn't miss it. However, beaches are what people love Crete for, and its main attraction, such as Balos Beach.

Summing Up: The Best Things to Do in Crete

As you can see from this Travel-Lingual guide, there is no shortage of amazing things to do in Crete.

Indeed, the largest island of Greece is a paradise for travelers of all types. From breathtaking beaches to ancient ruins, there are endless things to do in Crete to keep you occupied.

Enjoy delicious local wine, buy fresh products grown locally, and stroll through Chania's old town. 

With Heraklion International Airport, Greece's most popular island is easily accessible from mainland Greece and other parts of the world, making it a perfect destination for those who have already visited Crete or those planning their first trip.

So, why wait? Plan your trip to Crete today.