Welcome to Crete


Bewitching Scenery

There’s something undeniably artistic in the way the Cretan landscape unfolds, from the sun-drenched beaches in the north to the rugged canyons spilling out at the cove-carved and cliff-lined southern coast. In between, valleys cradle moody villages, and round-shouldered hills are the overture to often snow-dabbed mountains. Take it all in on a driving tour, trek through Europe’s longest gorge, hike to the cave where Zeus was born or cycle among orchards on the Lasithi Plateau. Leave time to plant your footprints on a sandy beach, and boat, kayak or snorkel in the crystalline waters.

Rich Historical Tapestry

Crete’s natural beauty is equalled only by the richness of its history. The island is the birthplace of the first advanced society on European soil, the Minoans, who ruled some 4000 years ago, and you’ll find evocative vestiges all over, including the famous Palace of Knossos. At the crossroads of three continents, Crete has been coveted and occupied by consecutive invaders. History imbues Hania and Rethymno, where labyrinthine lanes – laid out by the Venetians – are lorded over by mighty fortresses, and where gorgeously restored Renaissance mansions rub rafters with mosques and Turkish bathhouses. The Byzantine influence stands in magnificent frescoed chapels, churches and monasteries.

Cuisine

If you’re a foodie, you will be in heaven in Crete, where ‘locavore’ is not a trend but a way of life. Rural tavernas often produce their own meat, cheese, olive oil, raki and wine, and catch their own seafood. Follow a gourmet trail across the landscape and you’ll delight in distinctive herbs and greens gathered from each hillside, cheeses made fresh with unique village- or household-specific recipes, and honey flavoured by mountain herbs. The Cretan diet is among the healthiest in the world. Pair your meal with excellent local wine, and cap it off with a fiery shot of raki.

Culture

Crete’s spirited people champion their unique culture and customs, and time-honoured traditions remain a dynamic part of the island’s soul. Look for musicians striking up a free-form jam on local instruments, like the stringed lyra, or wedding celebrants weaving their time-honoured traditional regional dances. Meeting regular folk gossiping in kafeneia (coffee houses), preparing their Easter feast, tending to their sheep or celebrating during the island’s many festivals is what makes a visit to Crete so special.


Top experiences in Crete

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Crete activities

$84.51 Tours & Sightseeing

Full Day Tour to Samaria Gorge

Walk through the gorge, approximately 11 miles (18 kilometers) which begins at the plateau of Omalos.Cross through the White Mountains and finish at the tiny village of Aghia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea. The route is enriched with flowers, herbs and trees, little fountains, abandoned settlements and wild goats known as Kri-Kri, as well as birds of prey.From the secluded village of Aghia Roumeli, take the boat to the village of Chora Sfakion to meet the coach for return trip to Heraklion.

$77.27 Tours & Sightseeing

Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Heraklion with Lunch

Your day-long safari adventure begins at 8:30am with a pickup from your Heraklion hotel. Join the small group in the Land Rover and make your way along the coastline to the spectacular Cretan mountains. Visit the Aposelemis Basin Reservoir and an ancient Roman aqueduct. Continue to the village of Kastamonitsa, nestled in the foothills of the Afendi mountains, where you  can sample olive oil and a local spirit called "raki", a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy. Following the Minoan path, the tour leads you through mountain passes where you can marvel at the scenery and wildlife as your guide explains the local history and mythology. High up in the mountains the tour stops at a shepherd's mitato, where you can feed the animals while observing the traditional cheese-making process.  Your next stop is a birds-eye view of the plateau of Lassithi and the north coast, which provides a spectacular photo opportunity. Continue on toward the Diction Cave (there is a a 4€ entry charge), the mythological birthplace of Zeus. There are many steps leading up to the cave, so walking shoes are recommended. There is a place to wait for those who are not inclined or able to participate in this activity. By now you will have built up an appetite, so head to a local tavern for lunch and choose from traditional local starters and main courses (vegetarian options available), accompanied by a glass or two of wine. After lunch, visit the Lassinthos Eco Park where you can observe the local way of life and traditional handicrafts. Your next stop is Lassithi Plateau, where time has virtually stood still and the local people are mainly farmers. Stop to snap some photos at the scenic village of Seli before heading to the village of Krassi, famous for its natural spring water source and 2,000-year-old plane tree. Cap the day off with a meandering driver along mountain roads back to your hotel, where the tour ends.

$78.27 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Full Day Tour to Spinalonga Island with BBQ Lunch

After a hotel pickup, travel to the pretty village of Agios Nikolaos, and board your boat to the island of Spinalonga: a former leper colony.With its well-preserved houses and churches, Spinalonga is rich in history. Learn about the Venetian occupation as your guide points out the old fortress that surrounds the abandoned village.After a walking tour, make the most of some free time to swim in the crystal blue water of the Gulf of Mirabello, and then follow it up with a barbeque lunch.On the way back, stop at the small and charming town of Aghios Nikolaos, with its quaint harbour and supposedly 'bottomless lake' for a coffee break. Your tour then finishes with a drop-off at your hotel.

$17.83 Tours & Sightseeing

Crete Heraklion Hop-On Hop-Off 1-Day Bus Tour

Crete’s capital is a vibrant mix of ancient and medieval history, outstanding museums and enticing shopping and restaurants, all topped off with the ancient Palace of Knossos, located just outside town. With all this to discover, a hop-on hop-off bus tour is one of the best ways to get to know the city.With your 1-day ticket, board the open-top bus at any of the 10 stops and spend the day hopping off and back on again at any of the stops you choose. See the Itinerary for the full list of stops. Ride the bus to Knossos and spend time exploring this fascinating site, where the palaces and courtyards of Crete’s Minoan capital stood between around 3400 and 2100 BC. Wander around the relics of the chambers of King Minos, and conjure up visions of the mythical beast, the Minotaur, that reputedly roamed a labyrinth here.Admire other top Heraklion attractions including the 16th-century Koules Venetian fortress on the harbor front, and the old city gates. Or hop off to visit Heraklion Archaeological Museum, the Natural History Museum, or the grave of Crete’s beloved 20th-century writer Nikos Kazantzakis.Enjoy unlimited use of your ticket throughout the day, hopping on and off whenever you wish, however many times you wish. Buses depart from each stop on a regular basis, so you can explore at your own pace. End your tour whenever you want at any stop — it’s up to you!

$83.22 Tours & Sightseeing

Street Stories of Chania Morning Tour with Samples of Raki and Mezedes

With a history expanding from the Neolithic period, when the first settlement of the city was founded just steps from the Venetian harbour, Chania has seen Romans, Byzantine officials, Arabs, Venetians, Ottomans, and Germans pass through her city streets. Due to its strategic geographical position, Crete has always had to struggle for independence, but this ever-changing history makes for a fascinating story! Discover what makes Crete’s cultural capital so magical on this relaxed full-day walking tour of Chania. You’ll take in the sites from the Old Town to the lesser known Ottoman and Jewish quarters, and into the chic historic neighbourhood of Halepa. Get ready to experience Chania with all your senses! We’ll start your Chania tour at the Dimotiki Agora (Municipal Market), which marks the border between the old and new town. Built between 1908 and 1913 (the year that Crete was united with Greece), the Agora hosts more than 70 shops selling mostly regional products. You’ll get to explore the market and sample local delicacies while learning about the deliciously healthy Cretan diet. With your taste buds satisfied, we will walk to the old town district. Wander through narrow laneways, hidden backstreets, and open doors to secret gardens, and Venetian and Ottoman monuments. Listen to stories of empires, sailors, traders, lovers, heroes, and artists. Learn how this city has been a crossroads between the East and West for centuries. Next on your Chania tour, you’ll have the unique opportunity to see local artisans crafting their products. Listen to their stories — and maybe even try your own skills! From there, our Crete tour will take us on a stroll through the Jewish and Ottoman neighbourhoods, where you’ll learn how life has changed over the years in this city of multicultural residents. Finally, we’ll walk along the waterfront of one of Chania’s historical neighbourhoods and sit down to an inviting table with Cretan mezedes (local dishes). Your Crete tour will end either here or we could take you back to the starting point. With so many suggestions and tips from your local guide, you’ll likely have a myriad of things you’ll want to do next!

$60.83 Tours & Sightseeing

Crete, Heraklion City and Ancient Palace of Knossos Tour

Leave your Crete hotel by air-conditioned coach and travel to the Minoan Palace of Knossos, one of the island’s showstopping historical attractions. The original site is believed to have been built around 1900 BC, but – following an earthquake – it was rebuilt on a grand scale, and lavish royal quarters, shrines, treasuries and storerooms were added around the Central Court. After paying your entrance fee, head inside to explore the reconstructed site that was brought to life from a series of 20th-century excavations by British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. As you walk, listen to tales and trivia about the palace’s glory days during the Minoan era – a Bronze Age civilization that made Knossos its capital. Greek mythology was ingrained in Minoan culture, and the Palace of Knossos featured in many popular tales such as the famous myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Hear of legends and Greek folklore while exploring areas of the palace like the Throne Room, home to frescoes of the Minoan’s sacred mythical beasts. Wander through the Central Court and gaze up at sights like the Grand Staircase. See an impressive fresco of rampaging bulls, and explore the corridors and labyrinth-like alleyways that lead to intriguing rooms such as the Theatral Area – a place that may have once existed as a theater. Then return to your coach for the short journey to Heraklion town where you can complete your knowledge with a visit to the Archaeological Museum and admire the greatest collection of Minoan treasures and priceless exhibits in the world. Follows, a short drive to a Minoan Theater in Karteros where you will be taken back in history with a Minoan dance & theatre performance Your day trip finishes with a hotel drop-off.