Out of all the Greek islands like; Corfu, Samos, Santorini or Mykonos, Crete is (without a doubt) the largest. It’s a place filled with everything from historic forts, plates of yummy Greek food and oodles of beautiful scenery. There’s a whole heap of amazing things to do in Crete. I promise you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Now, as I said, the island itself is pretty big (by Greek standards, at least), which means you’ll need more than a weekend if you really want to see as much of the island as possible. I’d even go as far as saying you won’t see everything on a two-week trip.
That being said, it’s always an excuse for another trip. Well, that’s always the excuse I use. Ha!
Take a look at 14 of the very best places and amazing things to do in Crete. It’s a proper gem of an island. 🇬🇷
1.) Visit Spinalonga Island
The tiny island of Spinalonga is so close to Crete and easily reached by a little boat over to the island.
Perched in the northeast of Crete (within the Gulf of Elounda), it’s one little spot to explore some of the Venetian histories of the island.
It’s a tiny little place that has had a pretty turbulent past, with the historic Arab raids, Venetian conquering, and Ottoman occupation, all before being turned into a leper colony.
Thankfully, the island is much more peaceful today.
Pop over by booking this boat tour that leaves from Agios Nikolaos. It really is one of the best things to do in Crete, especially as you get to explore Pirate Barbarosa’s cave and the sunken city of Olous.
2.) Take a dip at Seitan Limania Beach
Relatively near Chania (and Chania Airport), the tiny little cover of Seitan Limania is a great spot to chill out and relax in that stunning Aegean Sea.
Now, the beach is pretty small and it does get busy during peak season.
If you want to avoid the crowds, pop over for an early morning dip during the week. It really is beautiful.
Oh, and don’t forget to book these incredible Crete tours to some of the island’s best spots. Just be sure to book the tours before you go, they can sell out during peak times.
3.) Gorge on Greek Dishes
Look, there’s no going to Greece without eating as much Greek food as physically possible. I swear every time I go to Greece I pack elasticated pants. I seem to fill up on everything I can fit in my mouth.
Anway, make sure you try some of the tasty Cretan Cheeses, Kalitsounia (a proper cheesy delight) and Dakos which is my favourite (made from chunks of rusk, ripe tomatoes, sheep’s cheese and lashings of Greek olive oil).
4.) Visit the cut-off village of Loutro
Perched on the south coast of Crete, Loutro is a tiny little fishing village that you have to visit. I mean, it’s a total throwback to old Greece and the town doesn’t seem to have loads of development for visitors, it really does feel like a hidden gem.
One unique thing about the village is that it’s inaccessible by land and you’ll have to get there by boat (or ramble across the mountains). When you’re there, take some time to relax on the waterfront, enjoy the views and grab some seafood on the front itself.
5.) Wander through Chania
Chania is one of the biggest island cities you’ll find on the Greek Islands, which means there’s usually lots to do.
Make sure to take a wander to the Venetian Harbour, visit the old lighthouse and visit the Agora Marketplace where you’ll be able to grab some freshly picked figs. Yum.
You’ll love this place.
Plus, you can easily book this boat tour to Elafonisi Island right from Chania. It’s stunning.
6.) See the views of Balos Lagoon
One of the best hiking routes in Crete has to be around Balos Lagoon. Well, for views at least.
Arrive pretty early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the mercury that will inevitably be rising around midday.
You can also take a small little boat from Kastelli to Balos if you’re wanting to stretch your seafaring legs.
For one of the best views, head onto the Balos Beach Trail and stop off at the many viewpoints you’ll find. It really is one of the gorgeous things to do in Crete.
7.) Explore the Holy Trinity Monastery
Not too far from Akrotiri is the Holy Trinity Monastery that’s amazing to visit when you’re looking for a break from all that beach life.
Make sure you head inside the monastery itself, it has some of the very best gilded interiors you’ll find on the island.
Oh yeah, if you love cats, I swear you’ll love this place! It seems to be filled with them. 🤣
8.) Explore Mirambello Bay
One of the largest bays in all of Europe (well, top 5), Mirambello Bay. Take a drive around the whole region, pop into the Sea of Crete for a little dip and head to the town of Agios Nikolaos for a bite to eat.
After exploring all the amazing things to do in Crete throughout the day, pop into To Pareaki for some good meze. After all, you deserve it.
9.) Wander through Rethymno
One of the best things about Rethymno is its old, historic town.
Take a few hours to wander the narrow, cobbled streets, stop off at the little cafes for a frappe and find the Venetian Harbour. Yes, there are a few of these delights in Crete.
10.) Find the fishing village of Sissi
Sissi is one of those villages that’s laid-back attitude and charm are totally contagious.
Pop over to the village and experience some of that relaxing attitude that every holiday should include. Just remember to pack your swimming gear too, there’s a really tiny beach where you can chill out after a few hours of exploring.
Heraklion, Malia and Agios Nikolaos
11.) Visit Europe’s oldest city
Knossos Palace is the biggest Bronze Age site across all of the island and is often referred to as Europe’s oldest city.
You will have to book these tickets to enter, but it’s well worth the adventure when you’re on the island. Or, book some of the amazing guided tours, below.
Look out for the stunning frescoes and amazing Throne Room too.
One thing I’d say if you’re not interested in archaeological finds and the history of the island you should probably give this one a miss.
12.) Explore Samaria Gorge
Samaria Gorge National Park is one stunning spot to see another side of Crete and something that’s so unique compared to the other Greek islands. Make sure you see the gates of the gorge, too.
They’re not actually gates but a very narrow part of the gorge that is pretty epic to see.
13.) See the Fortress of Koules
Built in the 16th Century by the reigning Venetians, the Fortress of Koules and a site you should definitely see.
Now, the historical site itself is now closed for entry, but you can still catch a glimpse when you’re wandering around Heraklion.
Whilst in the city, make sure to hop over to the Cathedral of St. Minas, too. It’s just stunning.
Also, if you’re wanting to see the beautiful Santorini, you can head to the island from Heraklion on the high-speed ferry which runs daily.
14.) Visit the Sacred Monastery of Arkadi
Perched within the countryside of Crete is the gorgeous Sacred Monastery of Arkadi. The monastery itself is about 20 km, or so, from Rethymnon with a car being the easiest option to get here.
Alternatively, you can book this e-bike tour to explore the monastery and the surrounded area – it’s beautiful and so much fun.
Make sure to visit the bell tower and see the Corinthian columns. It really is one of the special and sacred things to do in Crete.