Top ChoiceArchaeological Site in Knossos

Palace of Knossos

Palace of Knossos

Crete’s most famous historical attraction is the Palace of Knossos, the grand capital of Minoan Crete, located 5km south of Iraklio. The setting is evocative and the ruins and recreations impressive,...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Iraklio

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

This state-of-the-art museum is one of the largest and most important in Greece. The two-storey revamped 1930s Bauhaus building makes a gleaming showcase for artefacts spanning 5500 years from Neolithic to Roman...

Top ChoiceArchaeological Site in Around Matala

Gortyna

Gortyna (also Gortyn or Gortys) has been inhabited since Neolithic times but reached its pinnacle after becoming the capital of Roman Crete from around 67 BC until the Saracens raided the island in AD 824. At its...

Top ChoiceArchaeological Site in Around Matala

Phaestos

Phaestos

Phaestos was the second-most-important Minoan palace-city after Knossos and enjoys an awe-inspiring setting with panoramic views of the Messara Plain and Mt Psiloritis. It was built around 1700 BC atop an older,...

Top ChoiceArchaeological Site in Zakros & Kato Zakros

Zakros Palace

Ancient Zakros, the smallest of Crete’s four Minoan palatial complexes, sat next to a harbour and was likely engaged in sea trade with the Middle East, as suggested by excavated elephant tusks and oxhide ingots....

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Elounda

Spinalonga Island

Tiny Spinalonga Island became a leper colony in 1903 and catapulted into pop-cultural consciousness thanks to Victoria Hislop's 2005 bestselling novel The Island and the subsequent Greek TV series spin-off To...

Top ChoiceMonastery in Rethymno Province

Moni Arkadiou

Moni Arkadiou

The 16th-century Arkadi Monastery, 23km southeast of Rethymno, has deep significance for Cretans. As the site where hundreds of cornered locals massacred both themselves and invading Turks, it's a stark and...

Top ChoiceBeach in Hania Province

Elafonisi

Tucked into Crete’s southwestern corner, this symphony of fine pink-white sand, turquoise water and gentle rose dunes looks like a magical dreamscape. As the water swirls across the sands, rainbows shimmer across...

Top ChoiceRuins in Hania Province

Aptera

The ruins of the ancient city of Aptera, about 13.5km east of Hania, spread over two hills that lord grandly over Souda Bay. Founded in the 7th century BC, it was one of the most important city-states of western...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Hania

Hania Archaeological Museum

The setting alone in the beautifully restored 16th-century Venetian Church of San Francisco is reason to visit this fine collection of artefacts from Neolithic to Roman times. Late-Minoan clay baths used as...

Top ChoiceFortress in Rethymno

Fortezza

Fortezza

Looming over Rethymno, the star-shaped Venetian fortress cuts an imposing figure with its massive walls and bastions but was nevertheless unable to stave off the Turks in 1646. Over time, an entire village took...

Top ChoiceCave in Mt Psiloritis

Ideon Cave

Although just a huge and fairly featureless hole in the ground, Ideon has sacred importance in mythology as the place where Zeus was reared by his mother, Rhea, to save him from the clutches of his...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Rethymno Province

Museum of Ancient Eleutherna

A must-see for anyone visiting the ruins of Eleutherna is the accompanying modern museum that contextualises the ancient city through the exhibition of treasures unearthed at the site over the past 30 years....

Top ChoiceCave in Rethymno Province

Melidoni Cave

About 2km outside the village of Melidoni is this stunning cathedral-like cave, an evocative underworld of stalactites and stalagmites. A place of worship since Neolithic times, it also carries heavy historical...

Top ChoiceIsland in Ierapetra

Chrissi Island

Ierapetra is the launch pad for boat trips to uninhabited Chrissi Island (also known as Gaïdouronisi or Hrysi Island). It is famous for its golden beaches, clear water shimmering in myriad shades of blue, cedar...

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Hania

Venetian Harbour

There are few places where Hania's historic charm and grandeur are more palpable than in the old Venetian Harbour. It's lined by pastel-coloured buildings that punctuate a maze of narrow lanes lined with shops...

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Arhanes & Around

Mt Yiouhtas Peak Sanctuary

Driving south from Arhanes, look for the turn-off for Giourtas. The narrow (but drivable) road leads to the top of Mt Yiouhtas. After a bone-rattling 5km, you’ll be rewarded with incredible panoramic views over...

Top ChoiceMonastery in Akrotiri Peninsula

Moni Agias Triadas

Akrotiri Peninsula’s major cultural site, the impressive and beautiful 17th-century Moni Agias Triadas, is an active monastery with a rich library and is well worth a visit for its altarpiece, Venetian-influenced...

Top ChoiceFortress in Iraklio

Koules Fortress

After six years of restoration, Iraklio’s symbol, the 16th-century fortress called Rocca al Mare by the Venetians, reopened in August 2016 with a brand-new exhibition. It tells the story of the building, zeroes...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Rethymno

Archaeological Museum of Rethymno

Set inside the atmospheric Venetian-built Church of St Francis, this well-curated museum features a stunning collection of well-preserved relics unearthed from major archaeological digs around Rethymno Province....