Crete, an island of many contrasts is one of the top rated holiday destinations among travelers. Renowned for its breathtaking scenery, stunning beaches, unique geological formations and centuries old history — Crete is every travelers dream. We’ve asked travel bloggers to share their knowledge of the island by suggesting what not to miss in Crete.
What Not To Miss in Crete according to Travel Bloggers
Eat Bougatsa in Heraklion
Steph of The Mediterranean Traveller
Pastry is not the reason most people come to Heraklion – that would be to visit Knossos, the ruins of the famous Minoan Palace. Or perhaps to party and relax on its famous beach resorts. But your lasting memories of Crete are likely to involve its delicious food. And one speciality you must try is bougatsa, a kind of sweet custard pie made with phyllo pastry (there are also versions made with cheese or minced meat if you want to level up your bougatsa experience). The best place to try them are two cafes on Lion Square in Heraklion called Phyllosophies and Kirkor. For me, it was the start of a beautiful addiction!
You might also like to check out our post on: 10 Top Cretan Foods You Must Try
Visit Knossos Palace
Verislav of Global Castaway
Underneath all the fantastic food and outwardly beaches, Crete is a place of history, a place of myths and legends. And no wonder since the island was the center of Europe’s first advanced civilization -the Minoan. Ruling between 2700 and 1420 BC, the Minoans left plenty of their treasures behind, the biggest one –Knossos, also known as the palace of the infamous King Minos.
All of you have heard of the story about the Minotaur, Theseus, and the labyrinth of Daedalus. And while there are no labyrinths or monsters today, the palace is still a place to be seen. Situated comfortably right next to the capital of the island – Heraklion, Knossos is a place full of history that will show you how ancient Minoans used to live. Not only that, the palace’s bright colors managed to survive the fight with time and present excellent photo opportunities.
Been the oldest palace in the world, Knossos is most definitely a bucket list sight and one of the very best sights in Greece and Europe!
Take a Day Trip to Menies Beach
Violeta of OffBeat Greece
Located at 45km northwest from Chania Town, on the Akrotiri Peninsula, Menies beach isn’t a low hanging fruit. However, its pristine beauty makes it well worth the effort of driving on a 23km dirt road to wash off your dust in the deep blue water and to rest your body on the fine sand. There are no sunbeds, umbrellas or tavernas on Menies beach. You may encounter the occasional traveler and a bunch of funny goats, but if you want to enjoy the natural beauty of a sandy beach and of a quiet cove, this place is for you. Don’t forget your snorkel, as you’ll have plenty of fish to watch. Also, bring snacks, water, sunscreen and whatever else you may think you’re going to need. If you’re a really nice person, bring some apples for the goats.
You might also like to check out our posts on: 6 Amazing Cretan Beaches and Top Beaches of South Rethymnon
Swim at the Seitan Limania Beach
Stephanie of Sofia Adventures
One of my favorite beaches in Crete is Seitan Limania, a fabulous hidden spot outside of Chania. To get to the beach, you’ll need to climb down a steep cliffside, but once at the bottom you’re rewarded with some of the bluest water on the island and stunning cliff views. During my visit, a mama and baby goat even came down to play on the beach. They didn’t have a hard time climbing down to get there the way that the humans do!
While there, you can relax in the sand and swim in the water, but you can also climb up the cliffs and enjoy some easy cliff jumping!
If you visit, make sure to bring your own snacks and drinks for the day, since there are no vendors here.
Learn Traditional Pottery Making in Margarites Village
Elena of Passion for Greece
The charming village of Margarites is set on the foothills of Mount Psiloritis, west of Rethymnon. Until this day it has maintained its pottery making tradition and is one of the four centre where the craft is a vital part of daily life. Despite its small size, there are 23 potters in the village — you will find many of the workshops dotting the picturesque streets. Some of the pottery makers like George Dalamvelas who runs KERAMION also offer a range of clay workshops where visitors can have a hands-on experience of learning about this unique craft.
While visiting Margarites Village I suggest that you visit the beautiful monastery which is set on top of a hill overlooking the village and the surrounding mountains.
For more information read our post: Villages of Rethymnon: Margarites
Sandy of Tray Tables Away
The island of Spinalonga is located in eastern Crete near the luxury resort town of Elounda. It is a barren, rocky island surrounded by azure blue waters and many caves including those used by the famous pirate Barbarossa.
Between 1579 and 1586 the Venetians built a heavily fortified castle on the island and during the Cretan War the castle became the refuge of the Greek rebels who used the island as a base for operations against the Turks. In 1715, the Ottoman Turks captured Spinalonga taking over the last remaining Venetian stronghold and removing the last trace of Venetian military presence from the island of Crete.
At the end of the Turkish occupation the island, together with the fort at Ierapetra, was the refuge of many Ottoman families that feared Christian reprisals. The island was subsequently used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957 and is famous for being one of the last active leper colonies in Europe. The last inhabitant, a priest, left the island in 1962.
Today it is an organised archaeological site with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. There is no accommodation on the island so people come on day trips from Elounda and Agias Nikolaos. For a small fee you can walk around the ruins of the hospital and cemetery and visit the small museum. There is also a nice tavern on the beach and many excellent swimming spots.
We hope that you enjoy reading about what not to miss in Crete! Have you been to Crete? We would love to hear about your experience and what you liked best.
Cover photo: Verislav Tudzhzarov