Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands and it is among the biggest island in the Mediterranean. It can be found 318 km south of Piraeus, the port of Athens. The island is surrounded by over 1000 km of coastline and it features a mix of dramatic mountains with golden sand beaches. The island is surrounded by a wide range of activities that you can try out and it offers a combination of cultural influences from Asia Minor.
Top things to do in Crete Island
Explore the Samaria Gorge
This majestic 18km gorge is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site and it houses the Samaria National Park. The gorge descends for about 1250m outside of the mountain village of Omalos to the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli. You are also going to find a seasonal river called river Tarraios which runs the length of the gorge and it dries up in the summer and floods during the winter. The gorge is a great place to go for outdoor lovers but it is not suitable for people with knee problems due to its stony path. The gorge is open to visitors from May to mid-October and the best way to explore the gorge is by hiking through the gorge, this can take from 4-6 hours based on how fit you are.
Wander around Knossos
Knossos is the name of a palace with its surrounding city and it is located just south of the modern capital in Crete. The Knossos palace was constructed about 3000 years ago and according to Greek mythology, it is the seat of King Minos and Daedalus help to build a labyrinth that can hold his son, the Minotaur. The palace was demolished by numerous catastrophes like earthquakes, invasions, and the Theran Eruption about 1625BC.
The city was first excavated in 1900 by Arthur Evans, a British Archaeologist that restored some of the frescoes and architecture. Some of the places not to miss here are the reception courtyard, the Throne Room, Sanctuary, explore a section of the Royal Way that leads to the coast to see the Royal Apartments, and so on.
Visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum
You are going to love the temporary exhibition at this museum and the new museum that is under renovation opens, it will feature 23 halls. At the museum, you are going to find collections from archaeological sites across the island which includes prehistoric, Roman, Bronze Age, and Hellenic treasures. The highlight of the museum is the Minoans collections with their mind-blowing frescoes that show proud and slender young men and women in different colors of ochre yellow, terracotta red, and cobalt blue.
Have fun at Elafonissi
The Elafonissi beach can be found at about 70km from Chania and it is considered as a small paradise on Earth. The beach is listed on Natura 2000 Protection Program and it is blessed with shallow crystal clear waters, natural beauty, and fine sandy beaches. The sand at the beach is pink in color due to the color of the thousands of crushed shells. It is a great destination to go for all kinds of tourists looking for a beach activity to try out. The beach is a perfect destination to go sunbathing or exploring the hidden coves.
Explore the Balos Lagoon in Crete
The Balos Lagoon can be found in western Crete and it is a great place not to miss. The lagoon looks like Elafonisi beach and it is among the most picturesque spots in Crete. Balos Lagoon features mind-blowing beaches, exotic scenery, and shallow turquoise waters which attracts tourist from all over the world. The area is a great destination to go sunbathing in the sun and you can also explore the uninhabited island of Gramvoussa which is popular for its Venetian castle.
Wander around Arkadi Monastery in Crete
This monastery can be found just 20km southeast of Rethymno and it is the most popular natural landmarks of Crete. According to belief, the monastery was founded by the Byzantine emperor Arcadius in the 5th century. The monastery is located on a plateau and it is encircled by olive trees, vineyards, and oaks. The architecture features 16th-century makeover in the early Venetian Baroque style. The monastery was popular for its gold embroidery and rich library during the Ottoman period. Arkadi Monastery has a great history and it is the spot where women and children protect themselves against the Ottomans for three days during the Cretan Revolt 943 Greeks. The siege then led to a devastating close as the Cretans choose martyrdom over surrender.
If you are looking to see how to reach this amazing Island, I have written a post dedicated on how to go from Athens to Crete.
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