You’re spoilt for interesting excursions on the island of Crete, Greece, an island rich with history, mystery and natural beauty. We’ve rounded up our favourite attractions to make planning your island itinerary that little bit easier.
Archaeology, mythology and natural wonders abound on Crete, the largest island in Greece. There is so much to see and discover in each of the four prefectures of the island that, whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover or an avid hiker, you won’t have an empty afternoon – unless you want to, of course. The best part is that whatever you’re doing, you’re never far from a beach. From archeological wonders to natural phenomena, these are our favourite things to do in Crete.
Just a few kilometres off of the National Road, between the cities of Rethymno and Chania, is Lake Kournas, the only freshwater lake in Crete. Flanked at one end by tree-cloaked mountains, and at the other by white-sand beaches, this startlingly blue body of water is dotted with birds and ducks. Bring your cossies for a swim and snorkel, or rent a pedalo from one of the beachside vendors to explore the lake.
The largest of its kind in Europe, Samariá Gorge starts from the mountain village of Omalos and carves its way through the countryside to the seaside village of Agia Roumeli. It takes about five to seven hours to complete the 16km (10mi) hike, but don’t worry, it’s downhill all the way. You’ll want to bring plenty of water and snacks, and your swimming things for cooling off in the sea when you finally reach the end.
Heading to Chania? You’ll undoubtedly end up heading to the pink-sand beaches of Elafonisi on the southwest coast. But before you run splashing into the sea, stop in to Chrisoskalitissa Monastery (bring a scarf to cover your shoulders). This important religious and historical site was built to venerate the Virgin Mary. The name means “golden step” and refers to the belief that one of the steps leading to the monastery was made of gold, but only those without sin could see it.
Not sorted your stay yet? Choose from the best luxury or best beach hotels in Crete, now bookable through Culture Trip. Explore more of what the biggest island in Greece has to offer by checking out its best restaurants and beaches, or spend time focusing on the must-see sites in the capital, Heraklion.
This article is an update of one originally by Ethel Dilouambaka.