10 Reasons to Visit Crete in Your Next Trip (Kreta)
Crete is the largest Greek island located in the Mediterranean sea with amazing landscape mountain-sea combinations and fascinating history that dates back at least 130,000 years.
Let's Fall in Love with Crete (Kreta)
We can definitely say that every Greek island has its own unique character and every traveler can easily fall in love with Greece. But Crete has something extra to admire from all the Greek islands. Let's see why?
I am certainly sure if you visit Crete, you will find many more reasons to fall in love with the biggest island of Greece! Check out the Best Hotels in Chania, Crete!
Once Nikos Kazantzakis (Famous Cretan author of Zorba the Greek) wrote: «The mystery of Crete runs deep. Whoever sets foot on this island senses a mysterious force coursing warmly and beneficently through their veins, sensing their soul beginning to grow»
Chania Port Crete
1. Culture and Traditions
If you are looking for authenticity, you definitely are not going to be disappointed by Crete. While in our days, culture, and traditions tend to disappear, in Crete you are going to find them in every corner of the island.
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In some Cretan villages, you will meet locals wearing pistols and knives, while being dressed in a traditional uniform (vraka). Do not worry. This is part of the local customs. The most amazing part is that during family celebrations, weddings, or even baptisms, it is not uncommon to fire shots.
Cyprus, my island suffers from evanescence of the traditions and especially the music. Crete preserves its traditions, dances, and folk music. Don't lose the chance to attend a traditional show that will serve you the real spirit of Greece with laouto and other instruments.
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2. Wild of Nature
If it happens to go to Balos beach by car, you will love the way next to the sea watching the sheep and wild goats climbing on the rocks next to you. It worth it all the way despite that you have to walk a lot in order to get down to the beach, especially if you are holding a kid in your hands.
But it might be beneficial to know that you can also get to Balos beach by boat. I didn't know and didn't ask. If I asked, then you might not see the two pictures below that were taken on the way to the beach.
Stay away from Me
Another tip: Do not Rent a Fiat Panta and go to Balos. As soon as we got back on the street after so much walk, Panda died. Fortunately, the car rental company found us despite being in the middle of nowhere and they transferred us to a nice place to eat something and they repaired the car.
Something that I also liked despite being a little bit risky, is driving to Elafonisi. The narrow streets next to big rocks and trees, while Cretans running like crazy, added a new level of experience that we will never forget. Thanks to Panda, we survived.
The mountainous character of Crete, mixed with the wonderful blue sea and the wild nature, animals climbing on the rocks or crossing the streets in front of you, is something very unique and beautiful.
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3. Cut-Breathing Landscapes
In the picture below, you see a common view in Crete, especially when going off-road. Still on the way to Balos beach. Driving next to those amazing landscapes just next to the cliff, while the street is full of sheep is cutting your breath.
Nothing to Eat Here
Around Crete, many gorges and rocky valleys cut into the mountains exist. Hiding paradise landscapes with small rivers and flowering bushes. Cut-breathing mountain ways with the deep blue sea on your legs.
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4. Hospitality of the Locals
Cretans are widely known for their friendliness and they know how to well behave and open their hearts to every foreigner that visits their island. The very warm and welcoming people of the island will never lose a chance to share a coffee, a meal, or a national drink with you, especially in the small rural villages.
Come closer and I will byte you - Cretaquarium Crete
Remember we have mentioned above that following their traditions the Cretans might carry knives and guns and it is very common to fire some shots on special celebrations? We also said to not worry about it except of course if you bothered someone's sister without being serious about her. :)
In any other case, Cretans should treat you in the best way and respect you and your family, offering anything they can in order for you to have a pleasant stay on the island. There is a reason that Crete's most celebrated author of Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis wrote:
«I knew that no matter what door you knock on in a Cretan village, it will be opened for you. A meal will be served in your honor, and you will sleep between the best sheets in the house. In Crete, the stranger is still the unknown god. Before him, all doors and all hearts are opened.»
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5. Unique Beaches
Crete is surrounded by sea, so every spot around the island is an opportunity to discover a magnificent beach and also an amazing lagoon beach which is primarily preserved by locals, like the Iguana beach which is just a 20-minute drive from the center of Chania.
Regards from Elafonisi - Crete
Another worthy beach is the Preveli beach with a godlike lagoon at the foot of a beautiful canyon a ravine with palms and exotic flowering bushes. Despite the 440 steps from the top of the cliff to the beach, it really worth the effort.
For the lovers of snorkeling, the Agios Pavlos beach might be the ideal destination with fine sand lying in a lagoon with cliffs and archipelago. Brightly colored fishes and amazing undersea landscapes will unfold as soon as you dive below the surface.
Finally, the most well-known beaches of Crete are definitely Balos, which is the most exotic sandy Carrebian style beach with crystal clear water, Elafonissi, which is usually packed with people, and the sandy beach of Falassarna.
Last but not least and to only mention a few, Vai Beach is a fantastic place surrounded by the largest palm tree forest in Europe, consisting of around 5,000 trees, soft sand, and crystal water. It might be the ideal place for families and is located in Lassithi, Crete.
6. Tasty Food
When it comes to food, Greece has always the first word. Do not even think about not tasting the local gastronomy with its own specificities. We definitely recommend the famous meat and fish meze. You are not going to find it in any other place in the world, except Greece.
Consider not booking an all-inclusive vacation to Crete, as you might not get the expected quality of food and also you will lose the chance to try different plates in different places, which is highly recommended. Especially, you should hunt traditional places where tourists rarely exist.
Haha, I didn't eat my fish
Crete is very famous for its delicious calamari and octopus, while kakavia, which is a soup with pieces of fish will take you on a different taste trip. Also, do not forget to try the famous feta cheese, but also the kefalotyri and mizithra are essentials to consider.
It worth mentioning that the Cretans love their pork and also «hirina apakia». A special process is used for marinating, adding spices, and smoking the meats including rooster and other meats. This is the main reason for the quality reputation that Crete holds for many years.
Finally, it is worth trying the delicious Kaltsounia and also the graviera and pichtogalo Chanion. When it comes to drinks, it is widely known that Crete produces raki and tsikoudia which are widely served in coffee shops and tavernas across the whole island.
7. Great Weather
During May and June, it is almost guaranteed to get good weather. The sea is getting warm, and they're a lot of flowers and also not so many tourists. It might be the best time to visit Crete, as it is also not so hot yet.
Just found my new house
July and August is the highest season in the island. The weather is very hot and the tourists flow from every corner. During this season, the sea is wonderfully warm, but the prices are in general higher and it might be even hard to find accommodation. It is still possible to find something in quiet villages and beaches.
Finally, even in September and October, the weather is still warm, but not very hot and the sea is still warm. As an island in the Mediterranean sea, sunny days are occupying most days of the year, but it might be cases when it will not rain for several months and nature is getting really dry.
We have visited Crete at the beginning of September and the weather was just perfect for us. Read More about the weather in Crete during the whole year.
8. Easy to travel around
Crete is just an island and it is not easy to get lost. We landed at the Heraklion airport where we have rented a car (by the way stay away from old FIAT Panda which thrives in Crete if it's possible) and we went to Chania which is around 2 hours drive.
Searching for bones - Dinosaur Park Crete
We have visited Balos, Elafonisi, Chania old port, and some other places. We never had any difficulties either finding a place or finding parking for the car. Despite the narrow streets and the lunatic drivers, you might come across, and the fact that FIAT Panda died after the Balos visit, everything else went smoothly.
Finally, on the way back to Heraklion airport in order to depart and due to that we had an evening flight, we had the chance to visit the famous Crete aquarium which is quite a nice one and also a dinosaur park. Renting a Car in Crete is highly recommended if not a necessity.
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9. Great history, Archeology, and Mythology
Just like in the rest of Greece, Crete is an ideal destination for all archeology enthusiasts. Personally, I am not a fan of Archeological sites, but Greek mythology is fascinating. The Greek mythology lives in Crete.
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During the Minoan times, everybody was paying taxes to Crete, until Theseus, the Athenian prince, killed the Minotaur. Despite this being a myth, in Crete, you will discover the existence of the most ancient kingdom in Europe which destroyed around 1400 BC possibly due to the eruption of the Thera volcano.
Isn't this fascinating? Just visit the Minoan Palaces in order to see and feel this ancient history. Don't forget to visit the archeological sites of the ancient Gortyna, Falasarna, Eleftherna, Lyttos, and Spinalonga. Why not? Take the ferry and visit the Spinalonga island in Lasithi.
Spinalonga island was used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. The last inhabitant, a priest, did not leave the island till 1962, in order to maintain the Greek Orthodox tradition of commemorating a buried person 40 days, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years after their death.
Today, the uninhabited island is a popular tourist attraction in Crete. In addition to being one of the last active leper colonies in Europe, it is also well-known for the fortress and the small pebble beaches and shallow waters.
Finally, the amazing old towns of Chania and Rethymno share a very unique combination of Ottoman and Venetian architectures which form a fascinating, charming, and picturesque landscape. Check out the Best Hotels in Rethymno.
10. Awesome Things to Do
As we have already mentioned, in Crete you are going to find amazing beaches and cut-breathing landscapes, lagoon beaches, and awesome places for snorkeling, while the two most famous beaches in Crete are Balos and Elafonisi. Maybe you can also visit the famous Samaria gorge.
A nice experience in case you do not have a car rental is the trip from Rethymno to Gramvousa Island and Balos Bay. They will pick you from your hotel in Rethymno, travel on a scenic bus, and then take a boat trip to Gramvousa Island and Balos Bay.
Wow, they are so big - Cretaquarium Crete
We also suggested that you try Cretan gastronomy on every occasion, especially in small villages where you definitely going to meet the hospitality of the locals about which Nikos Kazantzakis is so warmly talking about.
Then we suggested that you visit at least the two amazing old towns of Chania and Rethymno in order to admire the mixture of the architecture and make some amazing pictures to share on Facebook or Instagram or just between family and special friends.
Face your fears - Cretaquarium Crete
Definitely, a visit to the Minoan palaces (Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, and Kato Zakros) is something not to be missed, and also consider visiting the archeological sites of the ancient Gortyna, Falasarna, Eleftherna, Lyttos, and Spinalonga.
Consider also visiting some surrounding islands, as we mentioned earlier, an interesting one is Spinalonga, but some more that definitely worth it are the Paradise Islands, Chrysi, and Koufonisi.
Crete is also an amazing place for water activities (sailing, snorkeling, diving, sea kayaking, and windsurfing), but also for hiking and off-road rides on the mainland. You can follow the trekking routes of the E4 European trail and admire the amazing landscapes, or just lay at the beach and enjoy a frappe.
We Love Dinosaurs - Dinosauria Park Crete
Finally, if you have kids, they might really enjoy a visit to both the dinosaur park (Dinosauria) and also the amazing aquapark (Cretaquarium) of Crete and enjoy some quality time with the children. They definitely going to love those places.
Well, there definitely are many more things to do and see in Crete, but keep some time to relax and charge your batteries. Don't forget, frapedaki is the necessary drink to accompany your time at the beach :)
Thanks for Reading!
Hope you Enjoyed your Time in Crete!
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