Crete Attractions Guide

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Things to do

Crete is Greece's largest island and by far the most popular tourist destination in the Greek archipelago. The island is home to Europe's oldest settlement in Knossos and has been a cultural hotspot since prehistory. This rich background is imprinted anywhere you look, from the buildings and the landmarks to the people and the land itself, Crete is a true kaleidoscope of history, culture and tradition with roots lost in mists of time. The island is surrounded by amazing coastlines and its mainland is virtually only mountains, creating a unique and exciting landscape where sea meets land.

Crete spans 260 km from east to west and is 60 km to its widest point. Across the island, tourists can find a wide range of activities and a diverse array of attractions. The island is known for its water sports activities, amazing restaurants, world-class spas, fine wines and spirits, and, of course, the famous Greek hospitality. Crete's climate is the perfect example of Mediterranean weather; mild and pleasant the weather on the island allows tourists to enjoy Crete all-year round. A top holiday destination loved by many.

Theme & water parks

The Star Beach is Crete's most popular water park as well as one of Greece's most highly acclaimed water parks. There are numerous good places to eat within the park, as well as a fully equipped spa and dozens of shops. The Star Beach is well known for its signature water slides that range from tame to downright scary.

Acqua Plus Water Park is a popular meeting point for young crowds and families in Chersonissos. This award-winning park is famous for its numerous water slides that outnumber any other park's slides, and has also won awards and distinctions for family friendliness and safety. The Acqua Plus is ideal for kids of all ages.

Golden Fun park is Crete's largest and most popular theme park. This is the prime spot to enjoy some rollercoaster action, bowling, billiards and hi-tech electronic games. The park includes spectacular magic shows and a huge arcade for children of all ages.

Go-karting

The Mega Drive Go Kart at Chania boasts the fastest go-karts in Crete and is the best place for some adrenaline pumping racing. The Mega Drive has different type of karts for children and adults, as well as offering 2-seater go karts for couples. Kids and arcade lovers can also enjoy a round or two of electronic games at the Mega Drive's arcade and cafeteria.

Nature's finest

Samaria Gorge is one of the world's biosphere reserves and one of the most unique landmarks on Crete. Located in south-western Crete, the gorge spans 18 kilometres, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m at the northern entrance, and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea. No visit to Crete is complete without walking the gorge from start to finish. The route takes you through mountains and prairies down to one of the most beautiful beaches in Agia Roumeli.

Aquawordk Aquarium  and Reptile Rescue Centre in Hersonissos is both a popular tourist attraction and a centre for scientific progress in Crete. Often regarded as Crete's most popular Aquarium, Aquaworld is also a rescue and research centre for the marine, amphibious and reptilian life of Crete.

Nature lovers will enjoy a Flowers of Crete Day trip you'll discover Crete's unique flora and some of the rarest and most beautiful flowers in the world. This flower tour takes tourists through remote and little known areas of Crete to understand how Crete's unique ecosystem works. Tourists can pick flowers and collect their own sea salt with age-old methods, just like ancient Minoans did.

The Oliver Tree of Youves is the world's most ancient olive tree and there is a whole museum dedicated to it. A unique opportunity for nature lovers and science enthusiasts, this museum includes several ancient agricultural tools and allows visitors to learn more about how the ancients cultivated olive trees.

For animal lovers 

With dozens of horses and always busy Zoraidas Horse riding s the most popular riding school in Crete. Zoraida's organises adventurous horseback excursions across Crete's landscapes and also offers riding lessons for beginners. The excursions explore unbeaten tracks with stunning scenery. With Zoraida's trips you get to see goat tracks, olive groves, sandy beaches, flower gardens, green prairies and even the iconic Samaria gorge.

Jeep safari

Many tour providers offer car tours across Crete but no other club hits Crete's dirt roads and go off road like The Safari club offers incredible jeep safaris across Crete, taking tourists into little known areas, mountainous villages and remote, unspoiled beaches. There are numerous different excursions you can join, each of them taking you into a different, hard-to-reach area of Crete.

Walking & hiking

 

The Chania Old Town Walks organises private walks through the beautiful town of Chania for tourists who want to explore the myriads of monuments and landmarks hands-on. The city's past comes alive as tourists walk through Minoan ruins, Venetian castle houses, old Jewish synagogues, Ottoman mosques and other amazing landmarks. The walks are inexpensive and end with a welcome visit to Chania's best shopping centres.

Culinary delights

The Boutari Winery in Crete is perhaps Greece's most prominent winery and one of the best equipped and modern wineries in the whole of Europe. Bourtari's award-winning winery seamlessly merges the latest in wining technology with age-old tradition. The result: Boutaris produces some of the best wines in the Mediterranean. The winery is open to the public and tourists can sample Boutaris wines and explore the history of winemaking in Crete.

There is a great number of esteemed wineries to visit in Crete. The Manousakis winery is famous for a small but delectable wine portfolio of just six wine types. The  Dourakis Winery offers appealing suggestions to combine their wines with Cretan food and also produce organic wine. The Lyrarakis Winery is famous for their ancient wine presses which are available for the public to visit. The Karavitakis Winery includes an old church and is very close to the olive tree of Vouves (the world's oldest olive tree). Between them, the four wineries mentioned above, plus Boutari's winery, exemplify what makes Cretan wine so good.

The Olive Oil Experience Day Tours by Terra Creta are without a doubt the most famous and unique trips through a traditional olive grove one can find in Crete. Terra Creta produces extra virgin olive oil in Crete and their tours explain how the olive is transformed from a humble fruit into the gloriously golden oil of Crete.

The Cretan Olive Oil Farm produces extra virgin olive oil and traditional tsikoudia or raki, the local alcohol. Their factories are open to the public and boast the famous Greek hospitality. Loved by foodies, the tours offered by this olive oil farm will fill you up with quality food and teach you a great deal about oil and raki at the same time.

Bread & Cheese & Cretan Food is a multi-dimensional cooking workshop that gives emphasis on cooking the Cretan way as much as it gives emphasis on enjoying the food. In this workshop you bake your own bread, create your own Cretan fresh cheeses and cook authentic recipes to be shared with friends and family.

The traditional cooking Lessons in Vamos' last for many hours and teach cooking enthusiasts the ins and outs of Cretan and Greek cuisine. More than half a dozen dishes are taught and after the lessons, you get to dine at a traditional, monastery-style table with locals and other cooking trainees.

Cretan cuisine is considered the epitome of the Mediterranean diet and with the cooking lessons at Vegera restaurant in Zaros village you will soon be cooking like a Cretan. These lessons are free and the food cooked is free too. If the price tag isn't enough to lure you in, the delectable smells will.

Pamper time

Six Senses Spa at Porto Elounda is hailed as one of Europe's best spas, as voted by numerous independent guides and reviewers. This world-class spa attracts discerning tourists who want to be pampered in style. The spa includes underwater rooms, fountains, numerous indoors, outdoors and saltwater pools, hamams, professional gymnasts and yoga instructors, steam rooms and more.

Star gazing

The Skinakas Observatory presents an amazing opportunity to gaze at the skies and stars. The ideal climatic conditions coupled with the latest observational technologies make this observatory one of the best in Europe. The observatory has been built and operates as part of scientific research collaboration between numerous universities and stands 1750 metres from sea level, giving visitors an amazing view of the skies as well as the island's surrounding scenery.

Explore on wheels

Kissamos Cycling Tours arranges biking (and walking) excursions across Crete. Focusing on fun and exploration above all, the tours mostly explore the areas around Kissamos through dirt roads and off the beaten track.

Motortours Crete in Rethymnon organises and executes excellent motorbike excursions across the island. Crete is criss-crossed by dirt roads and obscure paths that can only be explored on foot or on a trusty motorbike. Tours offered by Motortours Crete include the Enduro fun off road tour, the Crete roundtrip and many more.

Quad bikes are ideal for roaming Crete's beaches and rough mountainous terrain. Drop into Crete Royal Motorbike rental club for the most reliable quad bike tours and rental services on the island. With an extensive fleet of bikes, motorbikes and quad bikes the Royal Motorbike can deliver all kinds of transportation to every major tourist destination in Crete. In addition, the company organises numerous tours including the Crete Island Safari.

Water sports

Scuba diving enthusiasts should pay a visit to one of the diving centres operated by the Diver's Club Crete. The club is Crete's top provider of scuba diving equipment and scuba diving trips. You can arrange diving lessons if you are a beginner. The three diving centres of the club are the Agia Pelagia diving centre, the Amoudara - Heraklion diving centre and the Malia diving centre.

Equally popular as scuba diving and more child-friendly, snorkelling is popular in Crete thanks to the island's calm waters and clear visibility. There are virtually no currents and the sea temperature typically ranges from 22 to 27 degrees Celsius, and snorkellers can enjoy a visibility reaching down to 30 metres in depth. The island's rocky seabed around the capital city of Heraklion is a great snorkelling spot.

Its ideal location between Greece and Egypt gives Crete a unique wind profile that makes it perfect forsurfing and windsurfing. The variety of winds and surfs across the island's beaches ensure there will always be suitable surf somewhere around Crete to enjoy. Local water sports enthusiasts are the best source for useful information about the island's top surfing spots plus any places deemed too risky and to avoid. Around Crete there are more than 18 beaches which have been filed internationally as surfing beaches; you'll find good beginner's beach breaks such as those at Dirty beach and rocky, challenging beaches for experienced surfers such as Sfinari beach. Windsurfing is even more widely practiced in Crete, with multiple schools active on every major town including Heraklion, Chania and Rethymnon.

Another fun, popular pastime in Crete is parasailing. This accessible water sport is available on most busy beaches. It is done with a winch boat and a sail that carries two or three people. This is also rather inexpensive and the only water sport you can do without getting wet!

Water skiing includes wakeboarding, jet skiing, banana boats, jet skiing and other forms of skiing. Cretans love and promote their own version of water skiing: crazy sofas, which is a form of circular banana boat. You can find jet skiing at very low prices at Heraklion, Chania and Rethymnon, along with tourist hotspots like Elounda, Malia and Stalis.

All aboard

The perfect activity for people with good sea legs,Captain Nick's Aphrodite Glass Bottom Boat takes tourists to two small islands teeming with marine life. Highlights include catching octopuses and starfish, exploring rocky reefs and collecting your own shellfish at the islands of Thodorou and Lazaretta.

SeaStar Boat Tours arrange a host of different tours around Crete to suit everyone's needs. There are classic tours that go around Theodorou Island and allow for good photography opportunities. There are cultural tours that explore nature and cultural landmarks. Finally, SeaStar arrange snorkelling tours to explore many fascinating reefs around Crete.

The Gramvousa Balos Cruises offer child-friendly boat tours around popular areas such as Gramvousa, Balos, and the Suda bay. Definite highlights include the child-friendly pirate trip and the night cruise boat party.

Culture vulture  

The archaeological site of Phaistos is one of the most mysterious and least understood archaeological areas in the world. It hosts a Bronze Age town with a large Minoan-era palace. Among the myriads of bizarre discoveries, the Phaistos disc stands out as one of the most peculiar. The disc has been recognised as the most famous mystery in archaeology and its symbols defy deciphering to this day.

Europe's oldest city is none other than the famous Knossos. This spectacular world-heritage site features the fully preserved seat of power of the Minoan civilisation. This is where the labyrinth existed (archaeologists still dig for it). The still-vibrant paintings and the breathtaking architecture make Knossos a must-see for all tourists.

The Morosini fountain, also known as the Lion Fountain, in Heraklion is an ornate fountain that hails from the Venetian era.  It is considered unique in terms of design and architecture and it is still fully functional today.

The historic village of Spili near Rethymnon also features unique side-by-side lion fountains that bear no similarities to any other fountains in the world. Beneath the mountain Vorizis in the center of the village the lion fountains bring forth fresh water and scientists haven't been able to tell where the water comes from yet!

Museums

The Historical Museum of Crete is Crete's most famous museum and a must for history buffs. Situated inside a historic building at Heraklion, the museum is full of unique historical exhibits that showcases Crete's incredible past.

The famous Museum for the Battle of Crete and National Resistance in Heraklion is visited by thousands of World War II researchers and history enthusiasts each year. This museum recounts the role of Crete during World War II with real war relics and solid historic explanations that are both educational and moving.

The Natural History Museum of Crete is a science hub that attracts science and nature enthusiasts alike. The museum works with international scientific bodies to promote scientific awareness and worldwide research.