Blue water on Crete's southern coastline with the village of Loutro in the distance.

Crete travel guide

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Crete: know before you go

How do I get to Crete?

Crete has two international airports situated in Chania and Heraklion. You can also take an overnight ferry from Athens to Crete, and there are ferries from other Greek Islands like Santorini. These generally arrive in Heraklion.

When should I visit Crete?

The ideal time to visit Crete is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) where you'll find pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

The summer months (July and August) are the hottest and busiest, popular for beach holidays. Winter in Crete is milder than in northern Europe, but some tourist facilities may be closed.

What's the best way to get around Crete?

Crete is a large island, and renting a car is often the most convenient way to explore its varied terrain, from mountain villages to remote beaches.

The island also has a comprehensive bus network that connects major towns and tourist areas. Taxis and ride-hailing services are available for shorter distances or if you prefer not to drive.

How long should I stay in Crete?

Given Crete's size and the abundance of things to see and do, a stay of at least one week is recommended. This allows time to explore key attractions like the Minoan palaces, beautiful beaches, and scenic mountain villages.

For a more in-depth experience, two weeks or more would be ideal, allowing you to explore the island's four main regions: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Lasithi.

Where should I go in Crete?

Crete is larger than you may think, so you may want to base yourself in a couple of the towns below and use them as a base for exploring further. All of them are worthwhile additions to a Crete itinerary.

  • Chania: Known for its picturesque old town and Venetian harbour.

  • Rethymno: A blend of historical sites and vibrant beaches.

  • Heraklion: The island's largest city, near the famous Knossos Palace.

  • Agios Nikolaos or Elounda in Lasithi: Ideal for luxury stays and access to beautiful beaches.

Is Crete safe to visit?

Crete is generally very safe for tourists. Like any popular destination, basic safety precautions are recommended, particularly in busier areas and when driving on mountain roads.

Chania's old Venetian town from the water.

10 days in Crete

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Top places to visit in Crete
  • Palace of Knossos: Explore the ruins of this ancient Minoan palace near Heraklion.

  • Chania: Wander through the old town and Venetian Harbour

  • Rethymno: Discover the Venetian and Ottoman influences in this well-preserved historical town.

  • Samaria Gorge: Hike through one of Europe's longest canyons in the White Mountains.

  • Elafonissi Beach: Visit this exotic beach with its pink sand and crystal-clear waters.

Some popular tours are:

Looking back at Heraklion Harbour on a sunny day

Where to stay in Crete

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Day trips from Crete
  • Spinalonga Island: Visit this former leper colony with a rich history, near Elounda.

  • Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island: Take a trip to the lagoon and enjoy the stunning beaches and turquoise waters.

  • Arkadi Monastery: A site of historical and religious significance near Rethymno.

  • Lasithi Plateau: Explore traditional villages and the iconic windmills of Lasithi.

  • Matala Beach: Famous for its caves, once a hippie haven in the 1960s

Dakos served with tomatoes and cheese on a pretty plate

Food to try in Crete

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What to eat in Crete
  • Dakos: A Cretan salad made with barley rusk, tomatoes, mizithra cheese, and olive oil.

  • Antikristo: Traditional, slow-roasted meat (usually lamb) over an open fire

  • Kalitsounia: Sweet or savoury cheese pies, a traditional Cretan delicacy.

  • Lamb with Stamnagathi: Roasted or grilled lamb served with a wild Cretan green.

  • Raki or Tsikoudia: A strong distilled spirit often served as a digestif after meals.

A windmill on the cliff in the village of Oia, Santorini

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