Crete is the largest and most southern island in Greece. It is not as touristy as the other islands such as Santorini and Mykonos but it is definitely worth visiting. Not only are there a bunch of things to do but it is much cheaper! I visited two cities during my stay, Chania, which is the capital and Heraklion.
Things to do in Chania
1. Elafonissi Beach. One of the most popular beaches in Greece for a reason! Part of Elafonissi beach is connected to Crete but it then breaks apart into a separate island. Since the water is very shallow between the beach and the island, you can walk through it to the island. I highly recommend doing so. This is the type of place that you cannot just come and sit in one spot. You must explore! If you don’t walk over to the island, you will regret it, as you will be missing out on even more beautiful scenery.
2. Chrysoskalitissa Monastery– Most people go to this monastery on the way to Elafonissi, since it is nearby. You have to pay 2 euro to get in and once you get in, you can explore the monastery, some exhibits and check out the beautiful view of the Libyan Sea.
3. Agia Sofia Cave – Also known as “The Cave of the Wisdom of God”, this cave is another popular stopping place before Elafonissi beach. You can visit all three if you go on a tour like I did. Find out more details on each location and hear about my experience!
4. Hike the Samariá Gorge. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time but I heard wonderful things about this National Park. The views are supposed to be beautiful but get ready for a workout. If you decide to hike the whole trail, it is 16km long!
5. Shopping – There are tons of shops ranging from brand names, authentic Greek stores and souvenir shops. If you want to spend a majority of your time shopping, it won’t be hard to do.
6. Cruise to Gramvousa Island. This uninhabited island has a beautiful beach that looks like something out of a postcard. You can also hike to the Venetian Castle, which is the highest point of the island, for breathtaking views.
7. Balos Lagoon is what paradise is made of. It is exactly what you picture a beach in Greece to look like! You can take the bus to the port and buy a boat ticket but I think it is much easier to go with a tour company that arranges everything for you. It is faster and you don’t have to worry about a thing! The cruises from the port bring you to both Balos and Gramvousa, so you can experience them both in one day.
8. Take a unique tour of the city on a trikke. You can walk around the city OR for a fun, unique experience, ride around on a trikke, which is similar to a motorized scooter. Check out the tour I went on and all things I saw here!
9. Visit the Museums. There are three that you can visit, the Nautical Museum, Archaeological Museum and War Museum. They are all in the city’s center and not far from each other, so you can easily see all three in one day.
10. Wander around Old Town in the beautiful Greek streets full of flowers, just like you envisioned from movies and photos. There are also shops and restaurants that you can pop in and out of while exploring.
11. Old Venetian Harbour. Lined with restaurants and fabulous views, you can’t to miss out on this popular area, which is basically the heart of the city.
12. Venetian Lighthouse. This is in the Venetian Port area, so you can easily spot it. I suggest walking along the wall for an up close view of the lighthouse and a great panoramic sight of the city.
Things to do in Heraklion
Heraklion is on the other side of Crete. You can drive or take a bus to Heraklion from Chania. The bus is 15 euro and about three hours. It is very easy to get to. All you have to do is catch the bus from the main station in Chania, which is the first stop and stay on until the last stop. There isn’t as much to do in Heraklion but if you have time or need to catch the ferry from the port, it is worth staying for a night. I had to take the ferry from here to Santorini, which is why I decided to stay.
1. Knossos Palace. Built back in 2,000 BC, these ruins are now a popular archaeological site to visit and considered Europe’s oldest city. Legend has it that the palace was the result of a Labyrinth myth. It was made by King Minos of Crete, to keep away the mythical creature Minotaur, who was half bull and half man.
A short bus ride on the blue line can take you here. It will cost you 6 euro to get in and 3.40 for a round trip bus ticket. Catch the bus from the main bus terminal in Heraklion which is by the port and get off right n front to the palace.
2. Shop and eat in the main square. There are an overwhelming amount of restaurants, cafes and shops to choose from. You won’t go hungry here!
3. Koules Fortress. You spot it as soon as you arrive to the city. It was once armed with over 40 cannons to protect the city. Normally, you can go into the fortress but when I went, it was closed due to construction.