At the crossroads of three continents, Crete has always been very desirable and constantly occupied by successive invaders.

Crete island map

It’s no wonder why Crete was that popular to invaders. Being surrounded by the Cretan Sea, which is part of the transparent Aegean Sea, this island still has a golden reputation as a sensational Mediterranean destination. Out of all the Greek islands, Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean.
Due to its size, I advise you to choose at least a two week trip if you want to explore the whole island properly.

Roman tombs in Matala village
The view in Matala on Roman tombs

WHY TO CHOOSE CRETE IN THE FIRST PLACE?


Crete offers all visitors to become part of the rich gastronomic culture of the island, to admire the remains of great and ancient civilizations, to explore famous and hidden beaches, impressive mountain areas, fertile valleys and steep cliffs.
The island is an artistic and vivid mosaic of many contrasts, starting from sublime mountains, long desert paths to red-pink and black sandy beaches.

The view on Roman tombs from Matala village


It’s an island of special charm with those famous Greek sounds and traditional taverns. An island of culture where Crete locals drink ouzo while playing cards.
And while there’s a whole stack of remarkable things to do in Crete, I decided to pick the best ones, to show you the highlights of this dreamy island. After this post, I promise you’ll be wanting to go there NOW!

The beach in Kokynos Pyrgos
The beach in Kokynos Pyrgos

Have a look at 10 amazing things to do and places to visit in Crete.

CBD Hemp

1.) RENT A CAR AND BE SURE TO EXPLORE CRETE PROPERLY

Roads across Crete island in Greece
The roads in Crete island

Without a doubt, renting a car and hitting the road is the best way to sneak into every possible paradise corner this island offers. At Heraklion Airport there are various companies. My advice is to book a car in advance especially if you arrive during the summer season (from late June to early September). The reason? Prices and waiting lines.

An amazing scenery of Crete island in Greece

If you are an avid driver, Crete will delight you because the roads are mostly winding and extremely adrenaline-fueled. Make sure you get a good car so you can drive almost everywhere. We had a Fiat Panda at our disposal and we didn’t had any problems.

2.) SEE THE GORGEOUS VIEWS OF BALOS LAGOON

Balos Lagoon in Crete, Greece island

One of the best hiking routes is around Balos Lagoon. Actually, this is one of the hardest hikes in the whole Crete too, especially when climbing up. Prepare you’ll need an hour, or hour and a half to get down there and back, bring as many water as you can and have a great hiking shoes on.

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Balos Lagoon in Crete island, Greece during the sunset time

I advise you to start early in morning, or an hour before the golden hour, to avoid the crowds. You are not allowed to camp/overnight in Balos and there are working hours too so make sure to check that advance. There’s also a small boat from Kastelli to Balos if you are not a hiking person.

Balos Lagoon in island of Crete, Greece

The views are rewarding and the water is warm, shallow with pretty pinkish sand. I’ve seen here one of my most beautiful sunset ever. If you go to Crete and you miss Balos, you haven’t seen anything.

3.) TAKE A BITE OF TRADITIONAL DISHES IN CRETAN TAVERNAS

Greek food in traditional Cretan taverna

Avoid ordering pizza, spaghetti and things like that. Crete is an island that produces almost everything locally and all the dishes are beyond delicious, ordering a pizza there is a sin. So, don’t wander around with an empty stomach. If you are a food lover, you and your palate will enjoy in food here.

Blue tones of Greece in Crete island

Village tavernas mainly produce their own meat, olive oil, brandy, cheese and wine, as well as their own freshly caught seafood. You will come across one of the most delicious and natural dishes you have ever tasted.

Traditional tsikoudia drink in Greece

The Cretan diet is one of the healthiest in the world. My advice is to spend your time in Crete in a Greek way. Follow the dish with local wine, and finish it with tsikoudia drink (brandy) which is offered as a digestif after dinner with free fruit and dessert. Tavernas are very recognizable, usually painted in blue tones.

Blue tones in Crete island of Greece

4.) EXPLORE MATALA VILLAGE

Matala village funny poster

This was my favorite village because it’s quirky, lively with many caves and incredible views. Matala is known as a hippie village that hosts a fun festival in the summertime.

Matala village in Crete island Greece
“Welcome to Matala. Today is life, tomorrow never comes.”

It’s nothing unusual to hear artists playing guitars or drums along the way.

Music is my weapon peace is in my soul urban art in Matala village
“Music is my weapon, peace is in my soul.”

The whole place has a great vibe, many artistic symbols, roman tombs and cute tavernas with gorgeous views.

Sunset view in Matala village Crete island

5.) FIND A RED BEACH

Red Sand Beach in Matala village

Kokkini Ammos Beach (“Red Sand Beach”) is located in the south of Matala. To get to this beach, you can either follow the footpath from Matala or take a boat from Matala beach. The beach is isolated, except for a small bar which is not always open, and if it is, works until the sunset.

Red sand in Red Beach Crete island Greece

Red Sand beach has been voted as one of the top nudism-friendly beaches in the world and its surrounding area is protected under the Natura 2000 international program.

A sign of nudist beach

The half of the beach is nudist friendly. The sand is somewhere from orange to red, yellow to golden and super soft. The whole area is surrounded by limestone rocks with many engraved faces and symbols. Personally, this was my tiny paradise in Crete and we came back twice.

Sunset time in Red Sand beach near Matala in Crete island
Sunset on our way back from Red Beach


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6.) EXPLORE PREVELI BEACH

Preveli beach in Crete island

Beach of Preveli (Lake Preveli or Phoenix) is located at the exit of the imposing Kourtaliotikos Gorge, where the Great River (Megas Potamos) flows. During the 60s and 70s, it was a favorite destination for the hippies, like Matala village.
On the banks of the Grand River there is a large colony of Theophrastus palm trees, which give the region a sense of a tropical landscape.

Palms in Preveli beach Crete


The river, forming a small lake, 1.5km long, is emptying into the sea which is quite cold. A big fire in 2010 burnt almost everything of this paradise, but the palms recovered really fast! Now, it’s a palm tree forest of endemic Cretan date palm Phoenix theophrastii. The whole area is protected so there are no many amenities but the flora and fauna are incredible. You can be served to eat and drink in a small restaurant.

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Purple sea urchin Crete island


7.) OVERNIGHT IN A TYPICAL GREEK HOUSE

Traditional Greek house items

In order to get to know the place better, we shall always taste and feel the tradition of certain destination. Don’t you feel the same? Plus, if you meet a local person and he/she tells you more stories and shows you more places around, you’ll end your trip being significantly richer for one more culture.

Traditional Greek stone house in Crete

Greek houses are often cheaper than a regular accommodation because they are rustic and especially cheaper if they’re not so close by the sea. Typical Greek house is usually made from stone, it’s cold (which is perfect for summer vacay) and charming. We slept in one of those houses only for one night and we totally loved it!

8.) TAKE A SWIM IN KEDRODASOS BEACH and EXPLORE THE SEA WORLD

Kedrodasos beach in Crete island

Do you ever find a place that makes you question:
“Is this real?”

Well, Kedrodasos beach (Cedar forest) is one of those places. Covered in black & white sand, cedar trees, some dunes and here and there – rocks, this beach became my fav in Crete. The softness of the sand is so high, you can easily fall asleep on it. This paradise lies well hidden on the south west coast, right next to the hustle and bustle of Elafonisi beach (1km).

Kedrodasos beach Crete

Well, Kedrodasos beach (Cedar forest) is one of those places. Covered in black & white sand, cedar trees, some dunes and here and there – rocks, this beach became my fav in Crete. The softness of the sand is so high, you can easily fall asleep on it. This paradise lies well hidden on the south west coast, right next to the hustle and bustle of Elafonisi beach (1km).

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Sea photo diving in Cretan sea


Framed by one of the few cedar forests of Crete, Kedrodasos is still a remaining hidden gem on the island. This is certainly also due to the hard-to-find way here, and the entirely unsuitable dusty rough road for tour buses. The path to the beach is a bit tricky and you better have a look on the map before going there or just follow GPS. Bring a diving mask or buy one there – it will be your best investment on this island!

9.) WANDER AROUND CHANIA

Chania city in Crete Greece

I fell in love with Chania immediately! This charming city is inhabited since the Neolithic era, around 1700 BC and has a great Venetian Harbor, the narrow shopping streets, waterfront restaurants and old port.

Chanica Crete island

You can sit on one of the historical landmarks and enjoy in the panoramic view. Just stroll around the city and explore it’s corners, you’ll love it!

Chania Crete island


10.) DISCOVER THE FIRST SETTLEMENT IN EUROPE – KNOSSOS

The Palace of Knossos in the south of Heraklion

The Palace of Knossos is situated in the south of Heraklion. The city is built by a civilization that we call the Minoans. It is believed that Knossos is the first settlement about 7000 BC.

The Palace of Knossos

If you like history and ruins, this is a perfect place for you! Although it’s restored, Knossos still has many original parts being big as much as two football fields.
The palace was excavated a century ago. However, there are still plenty questions about the palace and the people who lived there.

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This Post Has 56 Comments

  1. Katherine

    Crete looks absolutely gorgeous! I’d love to visit Preveli Beach, and not just because it used to be a hippie haven. 🙂

    1. Thank you dear Katherine!
      Indeed, Preveli is very special just the sea there was a bit cold due to mixing with the river!

  2. Paula Morgan

    We took our first trip to Greece last year but left Crete out because it was obvious that there was so much to see and do there it deserved a longer visit than we had time for. It’s on the list for the next time now. This is really helpful so thanks for sharing.

    1. Very welcome dear Paula! Thank you for reading! I hope soon you can visit Crete and we all can travel again a bit 🙂

  3. chelsea

    These photos are amazing! I could not agree more with indulging in the local foods when traveling; I hate when I see people eating fast food in such culturally diverse places with amazing food!
    I have also always wanted to try a traditional stay; my parents have done it and loved it! The house you stayed in looks super cute and a great way to take in the culture!

    1. Thank you dear Chelsea! I am glad we are on the same page! It’s amazing to be out here and connect with all people who think and feel alike. I hope our ways cross somewhere in this beautiful world! Keep with your great travels and I hope as soon as possible you can try a traditional stay too! 🙂
      Thank you for reading my article, it means a lot! 🙂

  4. Emma

    I want to go to Greece so badly. It looks stunning. I love the idea of renting a car and doing your own thing driving around an island. Did that in Hawaii and it was so good. I’m salivating thinking of the delicious Greek food I’d have if I go there

    1. Thank you for reading dear Emma! Indeed, car is the best way – it saves a bunch of time and plus, it can be very cheap if booked in advance. I hope you taste Greek food soon, already this summer! 🙂

  5. Taylor

    Wow! Crete looks so amazing. It is totally on my bucket list for when I eventually revisit Greece. This is an amazing blog post 🙂

    1. Thank you dear Taylor for you time and for reading my post!
      Hopefully we can travel as before soon and you can enjoy in Crete! 🙂

  6. Sharyn McCullum

    I enjoyed my visit to Crete. It still looks beautiful.

  7. thebornwanderess

    Wow. You’ve sold me on Crete. Especially that crystal clear blue water. Fab post. Loved all the detail

    1. Thank you dear Luisa! 🙂 I hope you can take a swim in Cretan sea soon! 🙂

  8. Emma Kershaw

    Crete looks absolutely gorgeous! I have only been to Kos before but I would love to explore more of the Greek islands 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading dear Emma!
      Definitely agreed! I would love to explore more of Greek islands too! Let’s hope we can do it as soon as possible! Lots of love,
      xoxo.

  9. kad8585

    So good to know that you should rent a car to some of these amazing red beaches and stunning views. And some of these villages look so charming! Thanks so much!

    1. Thank you for reading dear Kelly! I ams so glad you already liked Crete! 🙂

  10. Viola

    Heard so many great things about Crete! I definitely want to go there one day. These suggestions sound lovely.

    1. Thank you dear Viola! I hope your wish comes true soon as possible and we all can travel again!
      Appreciated that you read my post! 🙂
      Lots of love,
      Valentina.
      xoxo

  11. Stephanie Mayo

    I had no idea that Crete has so much to offer! It looks like a stunning island to explore and I’ll have to add it to my list next time I’m in Europe!

    1. Thanks for reading dear Stephanie!
      I suggest that you put Crete high on your list as it’s a paradise island. I have never seen sea so crystal clear like in Crete.

  12. Lisa

    Your underwater picture is awesome!! Greece looks stunning!

    1. Thank you dear Lisa!
      Some photos were taken with GoPro, some were taken with Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
      I highly recommend Crete for your future trip. It’s wild, beautiful beaches and delicious food! People are incredibly generous. I really have no complaints.

  13. I’d love to visit Crete! Funnily enough I’ve just been talking about Greek islands with a friend tonight as she was saying she’d love to go to one (there’s just so many!). What’s in that light bulb by the way?! Water?

    1. I hope you visit Crete as soon as possible Clazz! 🙂
      I am not sure do I believe in coincidence, it must be some sort of a sign that Crete should be your next travel destination! 🙂
      I can highly recommend you to visit Crete, you will love every part of it if you like nature and exploring plus crystal clear sea and wild beaches. There’s a Cetan Raki or Tsikoudia in the light bulb. Basically, it’s an alcoholic beverage, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Cretan origin and it usually contains 40% to 65% alcohol by volume. In many restaurants, Cretan people give you a glass for free per person. In many places, we even had a pitcher for free. lol
      Thanks for reading!
      Lots of love,
      Valentina. xoxo

  14. Court

    For a small island, looks like Crete has a lot of beauty and deliciousness to offer! After being stuck inside for so long, I would love to relax on those red sand beaches or take a hike along the coast. This is some fantastic travel inspiration for the future!

    1. Thank you for reading dear Court!
      Actually, Crete is not so small. it’s the biggest island in Greece, and the fifth largest island in the whole Europe. That’s why two weeks are some sort of a minimum stay if someone wants to explore it properly. We were travelling across Crete and road trippin’ for 11 days, but unfortunately we haven’t seen almost half of the island (eastern part).
      I am glad I was able to inspire you! 🙂
      Lots of love,
      Valentina.
      xoxo

  15. Tyra Seguin

    Such a great post! Love your photos!

  16. Tyra Seguin

    I’ve heard such great things about Crete! the water is stunning! Great post!

    1. Thank you again dear. I hope you can visit Crete soon! It’s definitely a must place in Europe if you ask me or anyone who visited it.
      Lots of love sending! 🙂

  17. lekhachellani6gmailcom

    Crete seems like a dreamy destination. Thank you for sharing. I hope I get to visit someday.

    1. Thank you dear! I am glad if I could make someone inspired or daydream!
      Lots of love,
      Valentina.
      xoxo

  18. Raksha Nagaraj

    Crete Island looks like an amazing place. Thanks for this guide, I have now added the island on to my list of places to visit.

    1. Wooohoo! I am so glad to hear that dear Raksha!
      Thank you for reading! You will love Crete, I can promise you that. :0
      Lots of love,
      Valentina.
      xoxo

  19. emmaerichsen1

    Ok wow! These pictures are stunning. This blog has 100% convinced me to go to Crete when we can travel again!

    1. I am so glad to hear that dear Emma!
      You won’t be disappointed with Crete, I can promise you that! THank you for reading my post and for your precious time!
      Hugs,
      Valentina!

  20. Mayuri Patel

    Crete Looks Gorgeous, the beaches are beautiful and would love to visit Someday.The old town of Chania looks so beautiful.

    1. Thank you for reading dear Mayuri! I hope you get the chance to see Crete soon!
      Lots of love, Valentina.
      xoxo

  21. Alexandra Coleman

    Would love to Crete! Will save this for when I can ☺️

  22. KatieGoes

    I’ve actually wanted to go to Crete for a while now! Thank you for inspiring me even further!

  23. Katie Dickinson

    I had never heard of a red sand beach! I know black and pink (and white obviously), but there’s red, too?! Crete has been on my list for like 12 years ever since I had to cancel my spot on a group trip during college…. definitely need to get there soon (or whenever we can travel again)

    1. Thank you for reading dear Katie!
      Yes, there’s a red sand beach on Crete. – I couldn’t believe it either! Although, it’s more orange and yellow sand than actually red, but it’s so thick and it shines so beautiful on sun, so it has that red (vibrant orange) reflection. If you look at it from the distance, it’s really soft red colour. It’s perhaps one of the softest sand beaches I have ever been to. I just hope you can visit Crete as soon as possible!
      Lots of love,
      Valentina.
      xoxo

  24. mariammaura343

    Thank you for visiting my Hamburg post! Wow, you recommend two weeks for Crete, but I am convinced after reading your article. There’s so much for this Island to explore 🙂 I love your photos too

  25. Katie Diederichs

    Wow, it sounds like there are so many fun things to do in Crete. I had a friend who studied abroad there and absolutely loved it. Definitely putting Crete on my list for when it’s safe to travel again!

    1. Thank you for reading dear Katie! Crete is definitely a must! I am so glad I managed to inspire you! 🙂

  26. Nancy

    What a beautiful place! The blue waters are gorgeous. I would love to visit there and enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Emma

    Crete looks so nice! Especially the beaches 🙂

  28. katherine

    Everything in your article is wow. You made me travel with you and your writing is fantastic. Will for sure be visiting this place of the world on my next travel!

    1. Thank you for reading dear Katherine! I am so glad I managed to inspire you! 🙂 Thank you also for your lovely compliments! I am trying to improve my writing each day! 🙂

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