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Crete Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 4-6 days

Best Time: Apr - May, Sep - Oct Read More

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"A mesmerising land of sun, sand, sea, and party!"

Crete Tourism

Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea, 160km from the Greek mainland, separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea. Crete is popular for its stunning beaches, wild natural beauty, mouthwatering cuisine and rich history.

Crete has a varied landscape consisting of mountains, beautiful gorges, rivers, and lakes. It is home to some of the finest beaches in the Mediterranean, with endless kilometres of golden coastline. The island also has some of the famous archaeological sites of Greece, 15th-century monasteries, regal palaces and fascinating museums. In addition, it is the ideal destination for sports and adventure activities like canyoning, hiking and scuba diving.

Crete was once the centre of Minoan civilization, regarded as the earliest civilization in Europe. In coastal areas, towns and villages are divided into two parts: "kato" for the lower villages and "epano" for the upper ones. It is helpful to name these parts while seeking help from locals.

Crete is divided into four main areas - Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, and Lasithi. Heraklion is the biggest city in Crete and one of the important cities in Greece. Chania is the second largest city on the island and lies on the northern coast of Crete. It has the island's main airport and is a good base for exploring the region's attractions. Rethymno is a wonderful representation of a Renaissance city, displaying a special historical charm. The north part of the island, like Chania and Heraklion, is great for exploring the bars, clubs and nightlife. In contrast, the southern part, including Rethymnon or Agios Nikolaos, is great for the outdoors. These islands are connected by ferries.

Must Know Before You Travel to Crete

Getting Around: The island's diverse landscapes and remote attractions are best accessed by car.
Getting a car or bike rental is convenient and straightforward on Crete. You'll find rental services readily available throughout the island, including near the airport, cruise ports, and ferry terminals. Taxis can be expensensive in Crete.
Bus service is inexpensive but can lead to loss of time due to limited information on timetables.
Stay Options: For first time travellers, Chania is often suggested as the ideal place to stay initially. Rethymno also stands out as a popular spot, particularly for those seeking vibrant nightlife experiences.
Itinerary Planning: You can visit Crete's best beaches by booking a VIP boat tour (Motor boat, sailing boat, catamaran) or renting a boat and exploring by yourself.
Visit outdoor sites in the early morning or late afternoon as the weather can get very hot.
Combined Tickets: Special tickets for a certain group of archaeological sites and museums are available in different towns, to save money. There are no universal cards available to travel within Crete.
Heraklion: Both Knossos and Archaeologiacal museum can be visisted woth a combined ticked costing EUR 16(valid for 3 days).
Lassithi: 6 sites and museums in Lassisthi area can be visited with special ticket costing EUR 7(valid for 5 days).
Chania: 4 sites and museums in Chania region can be visited with a EUR 6 special ticket which is valid for 3 days.

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Shopping in Crete

Shopping in Crete offers a delightful blend of traditional crafts, local products, leather goods, raki, and modern goods. Whether you're seeking unique souvenirs or trendy fashion items, Crete has something for everyone. Here are some major areas where you can enjoy shopping on the island:

Heraklion: The bustling capital city boasts a variety of shops, from charming boutiques to well-known brands.
Explore the vibrant streets around Lion Square (Morosini Fountain) for local artisanal crafts, such as pottery, leather goods, and handmade jewelry.

Chania: Wander through the picturesque Old Town with its narrow cobblestone streets lined with artisan shops and quaint boutiques.
Discover the lively Agora Market, where you can haggle for fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.
Don't miss the Leather Street (Stivanadika) for high-quality leather goods, including bags, belts, and jackets.

Rethymnon: Stroll along the charming Venetian Harbor and browse through the waterfront shops selling handmade ceramics, textiles, and local artwork.
Explore the vibrant shopping streets of Arkadiou and Ethnikis Antistaseos for trendy fashion boutiques and souvenir shops.
Visit the Rethymnon Municipal Market for a diverse selection of local products, including olive oil, honey, and traditional Cretan cheeses.

Agios Nikolaos: Enjoy shopping along the scenic Lake Voulismeni, where you'll find a mix of souvenir shops, artisanal boutiques, and waterfront cafes.
Explore the pedestrianized streets of the town center for unique handmade jewelry, local crafts, and olive wood products.
Visit the weekly market (held on Wednesdays) for fresh produce, clothing, and household items.

Traditional Villages: Venture into the island's charming villages, such as Archanes, Anogeia, and Zaros, where you can purchase authentic handmade goods directly from local artisans.
Shop for traditional textiles, embroidered linens, woven rugs, and pottery, all crafted using age-old techniques passed down through generations.

Nightlife in Crete

Heraklion: The island's capital boasts a dynamic nightlife scene, with numerous bars, clubs, and tavernas lining the streets of the historic Old Town. Venues like "Central Park" and "Lions Square" are popular for their eclectic music selections and energetic ambiance.

Heraklion offers a welcoming atmosphere with several bars and clubs frequented by the LGBTQ+ community. Venues like "Pixida Bar" and "Buddha Bar" are known for their inclusive ambiance and diverse clientele.

Chania: This picturesque port city offers a charming blend of traditional tavernas and modern bars. The Old Venetian Harbor is a hotspot for evening strolls and waterfront dining, while venues like "Monastery" and "Notos" attract crowds with live music and cocktails.

Rethymno: Known for its medieval old town and vibrant waterfront, Rethymno offers a diverse nightlife experience. Visitors can enjoy cocktails at trendy beach bars along the promenade or dance until dawn at clubs like "Bio Bio" and "Platanias Square."

Agios Nikolaos: This picturesque resort town features a laid-back atmosphere and a variety of seaside bars and cafes. Visitors can relax with a drink overlooking the shimmering waters of Lake Voulismeni or join the party at venues like "Amalthea" and "Lotus Eaters Club."

History of Crete

Crete was the centre of Minoan civilization from 2600 BC - 1150 BC. The island consists of the remains of that time in the form of palaces, tombs, and sacred sites. The civilization was advanced and active up to an extent that they even had a navy. The decline was initiated by tsunami waves from the eruption of the volcano in Santorini Greece in 1450 BC. Thereafter, Crete followed the classical stream of Greece, and later Rome. Crete was later invaded by Romans which eventually brought much wealth into the island.

Daily Budget for Crete

For budget travelers exploring Crete, managing daily expenses efficiently is essential.

  • Public transportation, such as buses, provides a cost-effective way to navigate the island, with fares averaging around €1.50 to €3 per journey depending on distance.
  • Accommodation options range from hostels to guesthouses, offering affordable stays starting from €20 to €40 per night.
  • Dining out at local tavernas and cafes allows travelers to savor Cretan cuisine without breaking the bank, with meals costing around €8 to €15 per person.
  • Exploring the island's rich history and natural wonders may involve visiting archaeological sites and museums, with entrance fees typically ranging from €2 to €6.
  • Miscellaneous activities like hiking, beach hopping, or enjoying a boat tour can add extra excitement, with costs varying based on the chosen experience.
Overall, budget travelers can aim for a daily budget of approximately €40 to €60, depending on their preferences and spending habits, ensuring an enjoyable and economical journey across the stunning landscapes of Crete.

Tips to Visit Crete

  • Tap water is safe to drink in Crete.
  • Mosquitoes are a big issue on the island. Mosquito coils and electric gizmos are readily available in Cretan markets.
  • Flushing toilet paper in restroom is not recommended due to possibility of clogging the drainage pipes.

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FAQs on Crete

What are the places near Crete?

The top places near to Crete are Athens which is 320 km from Crete, Mykonos which is located 249 km from Crete, Santorini which is located 1092 km from Crete, Istanbul which is located 737 km from Crete, Antalya which is located 561 km from Crete

What are the things to do in Crete?

The top things to do in Crete are Knossos, Heraklion Archeological Museum, Lychnostatis open Air Museum, Koules Fortress, Historical Museum of Crete, Chania Venetian Lighthouse. You can see all the places to visit in Crete here

What is the best way to reach Crete?

By air, there are domestic flights from Athens daily. To arrive by boat you can reach any one of the 6 ports which are located at Heraklion, Chania, Rethymno, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, and Kastelli-Kissamou.
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What is the local food in Crete?

Crete is famous for its cuisine. Also called "The Mediterranean Diet", it rely heavily on fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat. A good way to enjoy local food is to join traditional festivals in villages. You will find a variety of dishes and can also enjoy the music and dance of Cretans.¾You can also find Cretan cheeses like Graviera, myzitra and Anthotiros - local delicacies. Other famous dishes include Dakos - Greek bread salad, Horta Vrasta - a boiled leafy Greek salad and ¾Kotosoupa - a traditional Greek soup¾.
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What is the best time to visit Crete?

Winters can be cold and rainy. Still, at times you can see snowy mountains with around 3m of snow on them. You might find it difficult to get food in lodges but it won't be a problem in cities. May to June can be the best time to visit Crete as there are not too many tourists on the island. The sea is warm and people interested in hiking will have a good time. July and August¾witnesses too many tourists and the prices all over are very high. Tourism comes to an abrupt stop in November and December with the end of charter flights.
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