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If you do not know what to see in Crete, carefully study our review. We have compiled a detailed rating of the “best sights of Crete”, choosing those objects that every tourist should visit.
What to see in Crete in the first place
The most popular excursions in Crete involve traveling to the following historical, cultural and architectural values:
1. City of Heraklion
A magnificent view of the port and the city of Heraklion
The ancient city got its name in honor of the mythological character. The date of its foundation is considered to be the first century of our era – then it was the seaport of Knossos. In various eras, the rulers of Heraklion were Turks, Venetians, Byzantines and Arabs. Experienced guides in Crete are able to tell a lot of fascinating facts about this ancient city.
2. Agios Nikolaos
Lake Voulismeni – a small lagoon in the center of the city of Agios Nikolaos
The interest of tourists in this attraction of Crete is always increased. The modern city was built on the territory of Lato (Dorian settlement). During the long history of its existence, Agios Nikolaos has been burned and devastated more than once. Today it is the center of recreation, shopping, gastronomy and all kinds of entertainment. Celebrities come to this resort to the warm sea.
3. City of Rethymno
The coast of Rethymnon
Another picturesque city in Greece, created by the Venetians. If you do not know what to visit in Crete, but are passionate about architectural and historical monuments, come here. You will be able to see the port of Rethymno with its Rimondi fountain and the majestic Fortezza fortress built in the 16th century. There are also several museums open in the city.
4. Water City Water Park
Panorama of the largest water amusement park in Crete Pkioupakis
Where to go in Crete with children? A trip to Anapolis to the water park “Water City” will be the best solution. Water activities are offered for both kids and adults (including extreme bungee). It is believed that it is here that the most extensive selection of modern slides and attractions is presented among all the water parks of European resorts. Reviews of vacationers about visiting a huge outdoor complex are always the most enthusiastic.
The design of “Water City” will not let you forget even for a minute that you are in Greece. Greek fountains and columns, sculptural compositions of ancient Greek gods and mythical creatures are installed throughout the square. The territory is literally buried in artificial and natural greenery.
Official website: https://www.watercity.gr/ru
5. Knossos Palace
Restored fragment of the Palace of Knossos
An architectural monument that used to be the main building of Knossos. The ruins of the palace are located in the northern part of the island. It should be noted that they tried to restore the attraction more than once, but just as often it suffered from earthquakes. Today you can see only a small part of the once magnificent palace building. Nevertheless, this object is always included in the list of “best sights of Crete”.
See the beautiful places of Crete in this wonderful video!
6. The sunken city of Olous
Tourist divers on an underwater excursion
If you like scuba diving, such interesting places in Crete as the ruins of ancient Olous should interest you in the first place. The sunken city used to be a powerful trading center and port. Dive underwater and you will see the heritage of the ancient Romans, Greeks and other civilizations. It is not required to purchase diving equipment – it can be rented right there. Experienced instructors are available.
7. Gortyna Ancient City
Ruins of the ancient city of Gortyn Olaf Tausch
The ancient city is an important area for excavations and is located in the southern part of the island. The remaining ruins will tell you about the life of the Egyptian, Roman and Greek cultures many centuries ago. A short distance from the city you will see the catacombs (it will not be possible to see them from the inside for security reasons).
8. Heraklion Archaeological Museum
One of the exhibition halls of the Heraklion Archaeological Museum Stefan Bellini
It is in the twenty halls of this iconic landmark of Greece that the greatest archaeological finds are located. The collections include specimens created thousands of years ago, artifacts from the Turkish, Venetian, Roman, Minoan periods.
Official website: http://heraklionmuseum.gr
9. Holy Trinity Monastery
Courtyard of the monastery of the Holy Trinity
Orthodox church of the 17th century. The monastery was founded by representatives of a respected Venetian family – the brothers Jeremiah and Lavrentiy. Due to regular attacks by the Turkish army, the construction of the monastery was delayed until the 18th century.
10. Preveli Monastery
One of the buildings of the Preveli monastery
A beautiful temple of the 16th century, towering on a hill. The attraction is owned by the Orthodox Church of Constantinople. In 1970 the monastery was closed for restoration. However, today every tourist who has read our recommendations can visit it.
11. Arkadi Monastery
The church of the Arkadi Monastery was built in the Venetian Baroque style
The temple is also located on a mountain hill, and also destroyed more than once (many valuables have not survived to our times). Its laying began in the 5th century, but the monastery itself was built only in the 16th century.
12. Kera Kardiotissa Monastery
A small yard with manicured fruit trees in the Kera Kardiotissa Monastery
One of the most sacred places of Crete, over 800 years old. Services are still held in this calm and peaceful temple. Numerous believers come here to pray to the icon of the Mother of God (copy), which gives health and strength. According to legend, touching the image can heal even the most terrible diseases.
View of the Venetian Fort in Rethymno Bernard Gagnon
Venetian fort complex of the 16th century. The construction can be seen from any corner of the city of Rethymnon. For hundreds of years, the building regularly changed its appearance, its outer walls gradually fell into disrepair. But now, thanks to restoration work that lasted about 20 years, Fortezza has received the same majestic appearance as it had in the Venetian era.
14. Frangokastello Fortress
Massive stone walls of the fortress of Frangokastello
Historical monument of the 14th century, erected to protect against attacks by pirates. The fortress was able to cope with numerous assaults and sieges, so it has survived to our times in relatively good condition.
Official website: http://www.allincrete.com/frango
15. Aquarium of Crete
Cretaquarium at sunset Lourakis
What to see in Crete in 1 day in order to have fun and at the same time usefully spend time? A huge water complex with dozens of tanks, in which several thousand Mediterranean inhabitants live: seahorses, fish, jellyfish. Seascapes and landscapes are realistically recreated in the tanks.
16. Spinalonga Fortress Island
The island-fortress of Spinalonga in Mirabello Bay
The defensive structure was erected on a small island more than 500 years ago, fighting against the Turks and pirates. The owners of the fortress were constantly changing. Today the object is in decent condition: many of its defensive walls and ancient buildings are almost intact. By the way, it was on this Cretan island that electricity was first given.
17. Lake Kourna
Delightful mountain landscape with Lake Kourna
One of the largest freshwater springs, considered a natural wonder. We recommend that you visit this lake, for example, to meet its rare inhabitants – huge turtles. Qurna is a protected area protected by the law of the country. According to the researchers, the water in the lake is so pure that it can be used for drinking without pre-treatment. The lake has a beach line for both Crete and guests of the state.
18. Lake Voulismeni
Lake Voulismeni – a place of rest for citizens and tourists
Freshwater source, tens of meters deep and round in shape. It is believed that the goddess Athena loved the lake very much. Another, but already proven fact: during the Second World War, the natives drowned German weapons here. The famous Cousteau dived into these waters more than once with a bathyscaphe.
19. Dikteian Cave
Special flooring with railings for a walk in the Diktea Cave
Few natural attractions in Greece are as famous as this cave. According to ancient mythology, Zeus was born here. Archaeological excavations in the area gave a huge number of artifacts created to the glory of this god. The cave is massively visited by vacationers. It consists of the main hall and “lobby”. As well as a beautiful underground lake, through which wooden bridges are thrown. Your journey will take place among amazing stalactites and stalagmites. If you crave “thrills”, then you can come to the Dikteon cave on a donkey (excursion).
Official website: http://www.allincrete.com/dikteon
20. Samaria Gorge
The path along the Samaria Gorge is a path with sharp stones
The largest and most picturesque gorge in Europe, which has preserved the remains of ancient shrines and buildings. About a hundred years ago it was recognized as a nature reserve and national park, and since then it has been under protection. The flora and unique fauna of Samaria are carefully protected by the state. There is a special trail for tourists. It is recommended to visit the gorge only in summer and autumn. At all other times of the year, when it rains, sightseeing can be unsafe. Since Samaria is almost completely filled with water.
Official website: http://www.samaria.gr/en/
Sights of Crete: what else to visit in Crete?
Even the most ordinary hotels in Crete pleasantly surprise with their architecture and sometimes exoticism. We told you about the main attractions of Crete briefly, but this is not the end of our review. Be sure to include in your sightseeing and entertainment route:
21. Lassithi Plateau
Panorama of the largest plateau in Crete
It is located in the east of Crete and rises above sea level by more than 800 meters. The flat mountain valley is famous for its fertility. Aborigines call it “the valley of a thousand mills” (for a long time they were used to extract water for agricultural needs). The area is covered with huge vegetable plantations and beautiful orchards.
22. Elafonisi Beach
Crystal clear water with aquamarine color on Elafonisi beach
If you've booked your Crete package for a relaxing beach holiday, head to Chania on the Elafonisi spit. The beach has gained worldwide fame due to the extraordinary color of the sand – pink. The territory is considered the most colorful on the entire Mediterranean coast. Azure waters and pink sand give rise to unique landscapes. Why does sand have such an unconventional color? Thanks to the many remnants of coral and shells.
Official website: http://www.allincrete.com
23. Vai Palm Beach
A grove of date palms along Vai Beach
It is located on the square of the Vai National Park Complex. Here grows the largest array of endemic palm trees in Europe, planted by Phoenician sailors. Be prepared for the fact that the beach (which received the Blue Flag award for its cleanliness) is always crowded. If you are looking for a relaxing holiday this is not the place for you. If you are in the mood for fun and entertainment, feel free to come to soak up the fine golden sand, have lunch or dinner in a cafe or restaurant against the backdrop of endless palm trees. There is an observation platform above the beach: climb the stairs and you can take many wonderful pictures (especially beautiful nature awaits you at sunrise and sunset). There is also a nearby market selling fresh fruits, juices and vegetables.
Official website: http://www.allincrete.com
24. Matala Beach
Sunbeds and umbrellas for vacationers on the beach of Matala
Surrounded by rocks with many caves, the sandy beach line is located in the bay of Messara. Highly recommended for lovers of natural beauty. Waves here are only occasionally – when the south wind blows (from all other sides the beach is protected by rocks). The area is landscaped – you can rent a parking space, sunbeds and umbrellas. Nearby there are several supermarkets and cafes for tourists. Not only travelers come here to relax, but also locals. Therefore, you should not count on a small number of people either.
25. Balos Bay
View of Balos beach
It is located in the west of the island, and is famous for the most famous and beautiful beaches. Magnificent turquoise water, white clean sand with pink splashes, pristine nature – all this attracts many vacationers (despite the fact that the tourist infrastructure on the coast is completely absent).
We hope that those sights of Crete, photo from the names and descriptions of which you have just seen aroused your interest. Visit them and your vacation will be memorable and informative. Read also about the sights of Athens and get inspired for your next trip to Greece.