Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Crete: A Blend of History, Adventure, and Nature

19 June 2024

Places To Visit In Crete

The most extensive and most populous of the Greek islands, Crete, is a tourist’s heaven that merges rich cultural heritage and breathtaking natural scenery with each other. The birthplace of the Minoan civilisation, Crete, has been known for its archaeological sites and museums, which capture many sights that exhibit its glorious past.

There are many beautiful places to visit in Crete – from the iconic Palace of Knossos to the vibrant city of Heraklion – all inviting their guests to dive into this island’s rich historical background and cultural significance. Besides its historical treasures, Crete is a paradise for nature lovers with its rocky mountains, unspoiled beaches and green valleys.

Small villages throughout the landscape offer countless options for outdoor activities or simply unwinding. Crete is easily accessed via direct flights from major UK airports all year round, so it is a good choice for holidaymakers seeking an authentic Crete holiday experience.

Spinalonga Island

Spinalonga Island

On a tiny island near Crete stands an exciting place with a historical past: Spinalonga. This small piece of land used to be a strong fortress, but later, it became a leper colony.

Spinalonga Island’s attraction lies in its long history, which spans several hundred years and includes stories about conquest, solitude, and perseverance. In the sixteenth century, this islet was fortified by Venetians who wanted it to serve as a defence post guarding the entrance into Elounda harbour. However, in the 20th century, it became one of Europe’s last working leper colonies.

Spinalonga Island is among Crete, Greece’s most beautiful places to visit. Visitors can take guided tours around abandoned houses, churches, hospitals, and other buildings. These buildings remind visitors of the good and bad times its people went through.

Additionally, tourists may enjoy the wild beauty of the cliffs and crystal clear waters surrounding this eerie spot. As one of Crete’s best places to visit, it shows how strong the human spirit can be and why history shall always be preserved.

For a more in-depth exploration of Spinalonga Island and other hidden Cretan treasures, check out the Crete travel guide by Travelodeal.

Lassithi Plateau

Lassithi Plateau

The Lassithi Plateau, a stunning oasis in the heart of Crete, is a fantastic mix of natural beauty and cultural wealth. This vast plateau, tucked in by the imposing Dikti Mountains, is like no other place to visit in Crete. With its charming villages, ancient windmills, and excellent hiking paths, the Lassithi Plateau is a destination not to be missed.

There are well-known small settlements at Lassithi Plateau with varied architectural designs. In Agios Konstantinos, there are old stone houses, while Kaminaki has white-washed buildings reflecting the Cretan way of life. All these are accessible through narrow streets filled with complicated woodcarvings and friendly natives.

Another highlight of the Lassithi Plateau landscape is a collection of impressive mills. These iconic structures were once used for grinding corn, but now they serve as a great reminder of the intelligent and innovative people of the past. Tourists can visit the windmills and study their history.

For those who seek outdoor adventures, the Lassithi Plateau offers many opportunities for hiking enthusiasts. Numerous marked pathways crisscross this plain, offering visitors breathtaking views over the mountainous terrain around it and through valleys.

What makes the Lassithi Plateau special is its unique blend of natural and cultural attractions. Visitors can also enjoy local food cooked with fresh, organic ingredients sourced locally. One of the true gems of all the best places to visit in Crete, Greece, the Lasithi Plateau offers an authentic experience.

Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos, on the eastern coast of Crete, is a beautiful town that seamlessly blends Venetian architecture with modern Greek charm. It is one of the most sought-after top places to visit in Crete and is famous for its vibrant harbour, pristine beaches, and great cultural heritage.

The lovely Lake Voulismeni, an enchanting small body of water linked to the sea through a narrow channel, is the centrepiece of this town. Coffee houses, restaurants and small shops surround it. It offers an excellent opportunity for relaxation over drinks as one takes in the beautiful scenery.

People who love history can visit the archaeological museum to learn about the Minoan era from the artefacts. Nature enthusiasts can visit nearby beaches such as Ammoudi and Kitroplatia to bask under the sun or do water sports.

Agios Nikolaos boasts various food options and a buzzing nightlife with different bars catering to all tastes. It is a true gem that should be on every traveller’s list of the best places to visit in Crete Greece. With its unique blend of history, natural beauty, and modern amenities, this charming coastal town will leave a lasting impression.

Loutro Village

Hidden in the rough land of southern Crete, Loutro is a fascinating coastal village that can only be reached by boat or walk, making it one of the best places to visit in Crete Greece. The quiet retreat, engulfed by giant cliffs and surrounded by azure waters, provides a balanced life away from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Loutro, a small town on the island of Crete, is known for its untouched beauty and relaxed atmosphere. Without cars and road noise, there is an atmosphere of peace where guests can fully plunge into the charm of this little settlement. The major transportation method is ferrying, which links Loutro with other coast towns along its way, which also has scenic features.

The highlights of this village include a beautiful harbour where colourful fishing boats gently ride waves and narrow alleys lined with whitewashed houses framed with brightly coloured bougainvillaea flowers. Loutro Beach and the secluded Glyka Nera Beach are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing under the Mediterranean sun.

Things to do while at Loutra include hiking through magnificent surrounding mountains on beautiful trails or taking short trips to nearby archaeological sites as well as Byzantine chapels for exploration.

You can get a holiday in Crete package from Travelodeal to explore the hidden gems and best places to visit in Crete for an unforgettable adventure.

Knossos Palace

Knossos Palace

The ancient city Knossos, on the Greek island of Crete, is a testament to the magnificence of Minoan civilisation. This archaeological site from the Bronze Age gives visitors an intriguing idea of the advanced culture on this island thousands of years ago. Knossos is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Crete Greece, attracting tourists from around the globe who want to reveal the hidden secrets of this mysterious society.

The most important feature at Knossos is the famous Minoan palace. The grand maze-like corridors, sprawling courtyards, and colourful frescos inside depict the very skilled and artistic architecture adopted by Minions.

One of the remarkable parts of Knossos Palace is the Throne Room, which was assumed to be used by leading Minoans for holding court. It stands apart as an astounding piece of artistry, meticulously carved out of gypsum with detailed embellishments.

Besides these features, there are many other attractions within Knossos archaeological sites, such as Little Palace, Royal Villa, and Caravanserai, which give a unique insight into the lives of the Minoans during the ancient era. Guided tours can be taken to learn more about the site’s amazing history and importance.

Visiting Knossos is a must for people who want to know more about the culture of Crete. Its name alone can tell you that this ancient city is one of the most captivating places to visit in Crete, making you appreciate Minoan civilisation like never before. When planning a visit to Crete, make sure to include the Knossos Palace in your Crete itinerary—it will leave you speechless with its grandeur.

Elafonissi Beach

Elafonissi is a mind-blowing beach found at the southwestern point of the Greek island of Crete. It’s famous for its distinctive pink sand and clear blue waters, which make it one of the most sought-after places to visit in Crete Greece. This beach is part of a little uninhabited island that joins the main landmass of Crete through a shallow sandy strip that can be walked.

The pinkish hue comes from thousands of minute fragments of red and pink coral intertwined with the white sand. The turquoise-coloured waters of Elafonissi Lagoon contrast amazingly with this natural phenomenon, making it a paradise for lovers of sandy beaches and photographers.

Elafonissi Beach is known for its natural beauty, which places it among Greece’s finest and perhaps even worldwide topmost beaches. The shallow waters are suitable for families with small children and offer opportunities to explore nearby dunes and cedar trees growing around.

Tourists can sunbathe, swim in warm seawater, or explore this tiny island. 



Chania is an alluring city located on the northwestern coast of Crete. It is a fusion of the charm of Venice and modern Greece. Often described as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Crete, Chania’s Old Town has been well preserved through time with its winding streets, historical buildings, and atmospheric harbours.

For those who love history and architecture, the Old Town of Chania is a delight. The iconic lighthouse, imposing fortifications, and elegant mansions lining the streets were all influenced by Venice. Visitors may stumble upon delightful cafés, boutiques, or taverns offering traditional Cretan dishes in these maze-like alleyways.

Visitors can enjoy many other attractions and activities outside the old town of Chania. Chania has some quiet romantic spots perfect for taking slow walks, with beautiful views of Venetian Harbour and Lighthouse. There is also plenty of seafood available. Beaches nearby, such as Nea Chora or Agioi Apostoloi, are great spots for sunbathing, swimming, or indulging in water sports.

Moreover, Chania boasts various eateries serving local ingredients-based delicious Cretan dishes; therefore, any food lover visiting this region shouldn’t leave it behind. Accommodation options range from small boutique hotels in the old town to luxurious resorts on the coast.

All in all, Chania is a remarkable place that combines history, culture, and natural beauty. This makes it one of the top places to visit in Crete.



Heraklion is the largest city on the Greek island of Crete, blending ancient history with modernity. The administrative capital of Crete, Heraklion, abounds with cultural sites for people who wish to learn more about this place’s rich historical background.

One of Heraklion’s highlights is its famous Archeological Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Minoan relics, including world-renowned frescoes from Knossos Palace. This museum provides an opportunity to see the advanced Minoan civilisation that once thrived on this island thousands of years ago.

Moreover, beyond its historical values, Heraklion creates lively impressions of itself with its picturesque squares, crowded markets and diverse eating establishments. This Venetian quarter, the city’s old town, consists of narrow streets with neoclassic buildings and numerous nice cafes and traditional tavernas where guests can try authentic Cretan food.

For people visiting Crete seeking must-visit places, Heraklion will be the perfect starting point for exploring natural wonders and ancient ruins scattered across the island.

Rethymnon Town

Rethymnon Town

Situated on the north coast of Crete, Rethymnon is a captivating place that effortlessly combines Venetian and Ottoman influences to create a unique and engaging atmosphere. This historic town is one of the best places to visit in Crete Greece, with abundant cultural treasures and natural beauty.

The Old Town of Rethymnon is one of its main attractions. It has narrow, maze-like streets flanked by picturesque Venetian and Turkish houses, each decorated with wooden balconies, while bougainvillaea plants cascade down the walls. The skyline here is dominated by the Venetian Fortezza, which was built in the 16th century to defend against pirates. From here, you will have a breathtaking view of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.

Rethymnon boasts pristine beaches, such as the long sandy expanse known as Rethymnon Beach, where sunbathing and water sports can be done. On the promenade, you will find traditional taverns and cafes where local cuisines are served amidst buzz.

For those who want to immerse themselves in Greek culture, there are many options, including the Archaeological Museum at Rethymnon and architectural wonders like Loggia dei Venziani and Tekke Ottomano. Travelodeal has exciting holidays to Crete packages that can be tailored to your needs. You will also get a chance to discover this little town’s secrets rooted deep in history.

Rethymnon is what it takes to experience great diversity in cultures amongst visitors, making it one of the best places to visit in Crete Greece.

Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge

Located at the heart of Crete, Samaria Gorge is a testament to nature’s grandeur, calling out for daring hikers worldwide. Among Europe’s longest and most impressive gorges, this awe-inspiring natural wonder is a must-visit site for any hiking fanatic on a beautiful Crete Island holiday.

The Samaria Gorge hike is an endurance test, stretching around 10 miles long. This challenging yet rewarding trek takes hikers through a mesmerising landscape of towering limestone cliffs, lush vegetation, and crystal-clear streams. In its winding paths, you will encounter incredible, utterly fantastic landscapes.

One of the primary attractions of Samaria Gorge is its abundant biodiversity. The wild goats, now famously known as Kri-Kri, are among the several species of flora and fauna found in this nature retreat. Look out for these rare animals while crossing the rough terrain. Samaria Gorge is famous for its grandeur alone and the adventure it evokes in every hiker.

Although considered a moderately difficult hike, Samaria Gorge should not be taken lightly by hikers who must be well-prepared before embarking on their journey. Appropriate hiking clothes, ample water supply, and snacks are necessary when walking, given that this may take between 5 and 8 hours, depending on how fast one walks or the level of fitness.

If you wish to explore this place easily, guided tours can be arranged at Samaria Gorge. Here, one can learn about the region’s history from local guides as they enjoy its natural beauty, explaining significant ecological factors taking place in those areas.

Whether you are passionate about hiking or just a nature enthusiast looking for offbeat things to do in Crete, the Samaria Gorge is a place that cannot be missed.

There are countless places to visit in Crete, for everyone’s delight. The friendly people on the island, along with delicious food and lively culture, make this amazing destination unforgettable.

If you plan on visiting this fascinating island, contact Travelodeal for varied packages for Crete holidays from the UK. Their travel consultants have specialised knowledge about how best to organise their tour, making them acquainted with the best places to visit in Crete Greece.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When is it best to visit Crete?

The peak time for holidays in Crete is from June until August since the weather during these two months is hot and sunny. April-May and September-October also possess delicate climates but fewer visitors.

How to reach Crete?

There are two international airports on the island: Heraklion International Airport and Chania International Airport. During the summer, numerous charter flights are straight from many European cities.

Is it easy getting around Crete?

Crete has well-developed roads, so exploring the island by car or public transport (buses and taxis) is possible.

Are there any festivals or events worth attending?

The Feast of the Assumption on August 15th is one of the main religious celebrations in Crete, with events held all over the island.

Is Crete a good destination for solo travellers?

Usually, solo travellers feel secure and comfortable on their way through Crete. This creates an opportunity for them to meet other tourists who want to be friends with them and engage in various social activities.