Crete is the biggest Greek island, and one of the warmer places in Europe. Surrounded by the calm and warm Mediterranean sea, Crete is an important tourist destination. Many people around the world choose Crete as their holiday destination, to enjoy the beaches and the sea. But Crete is more than that, and I had to discover it on my own, in a trip that last one week.
Even the trip to Crete can be a challenge, depending the way of transportation you choose. Most of the people fly to Crete, which is connect to Europe through two airports, Chania and Heraklion. But the best way to come to Crete is by both: you can buy a ticket in Athens, the capital of Greece, and enjoy the trip to Crete on a huge cruise ship, for a decent price. The trip takes around 12 hours, but it will give your holiday a great start.
No matter where exactly you are hosted in Crete, you can visit the island easily, because it is not that big. Kilometers of beaches, fresh olives, frappes, the sun and the sea – they are all waiting for you. And there are so many things to do in Crete, that I do not even know how to start.
Well, out accommodation was in the nice city of Chania,the second large city in Crete, but a very enjoyable place in Crete. We started our holiday with a tour of the city, trying to discover the Greek culture and habits. We were extremely surprised that Greek people do not have the time notion; for them, it is always the time for a frappe, that icy, delicious coffee that helps people survive the heat. And this chilling out time, when you simply want to relax and enjoy life, is called “halara”. Greek simply adores to forget about the time and to relax under an olive tree, so you should follow their example and have your own “halara” time every day.
It all started with a frappe above Chania, in a very traditional Greek tavern. The view was stunning, and the frappe was one of the best I tried in my life. However, it was just the beginning, and we got used to eat Greek salad and drink cold frappes every day.
But there are many other things to do in Crete, so let’s continue. The key to a great holiday in Crete is to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. Crete has one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, and you should definitely try a new beach every day. My favorite place to swim was Stavros beach, a dream sandy cove; in one word, I would call it a paradise. Stavros beach offered us a lot of things to do in Crete: you can relax at the sun, swim in a very calm and warm water, enjoy the local taverns, where the waiters are extremely friendly, or to learn Greek dances, because this is the place where Zorba the Greek, the movie with Anthony Quinn, was filmed. I really enjoyed this beach because it is not as crowded as most of the beaches in Crete. If you are looking for chill, retreated places, this is the one!
Other great beaches you must visit in Crete are: Elafonisi beach, a small islet with very blue water, Balos beach, an amazing beach that offers great views and the possibility to have a tour of Kissamos by boat, Finikas, a rocky beach, or Agioi Apostoloi, the closest beach from Chania, which has the best golden, fine sand.
However, as I said before, there are many things to do in Crete, and you should not forget about the historical part of your trip. We started our visit with a small tour of the Archeological Museum of Crete, in Chania, where you can see really old Greek statues and traditional Greek objects that were used by people thousands of years ago. Do not forget to go to Knossos, the most famous attraction in Crete. The Minoan Palace is quite impressive: built in about 2000 BC, it had once more than 1.200 rooms. You can see other Minoan palaces as well, but there is none like Knossos.
If you are searching for other things to do in Crete, do not forget to spend a day in Heraklion, the capital of the Cretan island. The city is very active, and there are plenty of things to do in Crete just here. Visit the museums, the harbor, the very old orthodox churches, but do not forget to try the restaurants here, because the food is simply delicious.
Those who are religious and want to get in touch with the divinity, or those interested into history, should also visit the Arkadi Monastery. You will have to drive up on a mountain road, but the views are great. Do not miss the ossuary, a place where the bones and skulls of all the people who died during the Turkish occupy are exposed.
Other things to do in Crete:
- Crete is an island with small rocky mountains, so if you like hiking and climbing close to the sea, you should bring your equipment with you.
- Walk the Samaria Gorge, the longest one in Europe; it will offer you spectacular views during 18 kilometers of paths.
- Visit a Greek bazar, where you can buy souvenirs, spices, olives and olive oils, hand-made cosmetics, and many more.
- Go to the Aqua World and the Aquarium if you want to learn more about sea animals and fishes.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Crete, but the most important one is to have always your swimming suit and the towel with you, because you never know when you are in the mood for a swim. And the sea is everywhere, waiting for you!