Visit the Minoan Palace of Knossos
The Minoan Palace of Knossos is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Europe, and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986. Arthur Evans first discovered it during 1900-1904 excavations at Heraklion’s égadens (modern Hersonissos).
The palace contained many different architectural styles, including Cyclopean walls, which are large blocks with no mortar used to give stability on steep slopes such as those found around palaces like this one. This means they may have also served as fortifications for defense purposes; however, archaeologists debate whether or not the Greeks would have relied exclusively upon their navy to protect them against invaders from outside. It was an economic, cultural, and religious center that had many visitors worldwide during its glory days in ancient times.
You can visit the palace’s ruins, located about 20 minutes walk from the harbor of Heraklion, on foot. You can also take a bus or taxi to get there. There are also some nice cafes nearby where you can stop for refreshments.
Explore the ancient ruins at Phaistos and Matala
This is the ultimate Greek getaway with two stops in Crete. The first stop, Phaistos, will take you back to Ancient Greece and offers various ruins for exploration. Afterward, head off to Matala, where sand beaches are lined by cliffs full of caves used as dwellings for monks!
Phaistos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Crete. Founded around 3200 BCE, it was a major trading center during that time and was labeled “the first European town.” Within its walls are numerous palaces, temples, agora (marketplaces), sanctuaries, and other public buildings where many precious objects still lie today– fascinating evidence for research-minded travelers who want to unravel more mysteries about this ancient area.
Many fascinating artifacts were found on display at the museums at Phaistos: Athenian vases, Minoan objects, and an incredible collection of ceramics. These include the famous double-foot krater, a vessel used for mixing wine and water, and various other ceramic artifacts such as amphorae with scenes of Athenian theater. There is also a wonderful museum dedicated to Crete’s history and its people, including a museum dedicated to Egyptian art.
Matala is a small village on the south coast of Crete, which was first settled in antiquity and has occupied an important position for millennia. The current population numbers about 2,000 people who inhabit several villages that are spread out over some eight miles or so along with this coastline stretch. Matala is nestled between two mountain ranges near Chania Bay at the southernmost point of European mainland Europe; it’s just five kilometers from neighboring airport Agios Nikolaos to its north and thirty-eight kilometers away Iraklio International Airport.
Take a boat trip to see dolphins, turtles, and other marine life
Crete is a beautiful place to visit and if you enjoy wildlife. You might want to take the time for one of their boat tours that offer a bird’s eye view of some rare animals! You will find many dolphins around the island’s shoreline and in the surrounding waters, and spotting giant turtles is not uncommon either. Dolphins are generally seen near the southeast coast, while turtle sightings are usually recorded on the north coast during the summer months. The dolphin-watching excursion takes you out on a catamaran for about ninety minutes, with experts on board who can explain more about these amazing animals.
Book your trip in advance to avoid disappointment. Bring binoculars for an even better view of the sea life you will see. Most excursions can accommodate about six people at a time, so if you’re interested, check with the tour company first and then reserve your spot!
Pack snacks and water bottles, but don’t forget the sunscreen!
Swim in one of Crete’s many beaches or coves
Crete’s beaches are some of the most stunning in Europe. You’ll be sure to find one that suits you and your family with all sorts of landscapes, including sandy, rocky or pebbly shores, perfect for a beach day! If you are looking for an amazing summer vacation, then look no further. The most popular beaches include:
Souda Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete and has many ideal steps for people who want to swim with breathtaking views. There are also many small waterfalls here which give the place an even more spectacular look! Gavdos beach is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This beautiful spot has its centerpiece, a large sculpture of “The Three Fates,” which are the goddesses who determine who is born into this world or the next and warn those who “cross their paths.” Loutro Beach is another popular beach located halfway between Heraklion and Iraklio. It’s especially beloved for its dramatic landscape that changes every day with the color of the sky.
Hike through mountainous countryside dotted with villages and olive groves
A hike in Crete is an adventure for all of the senses. It’s home to a variety of landscapes, including mountains and beaches – not just one type! A hiking trip through Crete will offer you something new around every turn, from barren mountain peaks to serene beachside paths. Hiking through mountainous countryside is one way to explore this diverse landscape, with panoramic views of terraced olive groves and small villages dotting the hillside.
The best time for hiking in Crete is during spring or autumn because it won’t be too hot or cold. The summer months can be especially arduous, as the trails can become hot and dusty or even muddy depending on the weather. Still, you’ll have a chance to take in the wonderful scenery that Crete has to offer. There are hiking trails in many villages and cities on Crete that will take you through historic landscapes. This is one way to learn more about local culture while getting some exercise! The best way to plan out your hiking route is to stop in at a travel agency or a local tourist office.
Try some local cuisine
Greek and Cretan delicacies are some of the best in the world. If you’re looking for a world-class culinary experience, then Crete is the place for you! The island is home to some of the most famous recipes and ingredients; many handed down throughout generations. Some of the most famous Cretan recipes include:
- Cretan salad, composed of tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and feta cheese.
- Tzatziki, made from yogurt, garlic, and mint.
- Moussaka, which is made up of layers of eggplant, tomato sauce, and minced meat.
- Melintzanosalata, a type of salad made with boiled eggplants and celery.
- Kleftiko, which is a grilled lamb dish served with tzatziki.
- Baklava, a Greek dessert made out of phyllo dough and filled with honey and pistachios
- Gyros or Souvlaki, a grilled lamb, pork, or chicken dish served on a pita with tzatziki, cabbage, and tomato sauce.
Go to the Monastery of Arkadi and visit the beautiful church inside
The Monastery of Arkadi is one of the most important examples of Frankish architecture in Greece and is not missed when visiting this island. It was built during the first half of the 13th century and has been a site for pilgrims since at least that time. The monastery’s main attraction lies within its church, which has been given a chancel with niches for nineteen scuffed marble columns, as well as an entrance decorated with Corinthian columns.
The decoration on the facade includes geometric and narrative patterns, using alternating colors of marble. The so-called “Gold” entrance leads into a simple three-aisled basilica plan church with nineteen columns along each side aisle; it is believed to have been built over a crypt. The current two-story façade was added during the mid-eighteenth-century restorations, which also replaced the roof with its deep eaves. The interior contains nineteenth-century frescoes and an icon of the Virgin Mary, now called “Arkadianeia” (Αρκαδιανή), which local islanders revere.
See a Cretan sunset
Old Venetian Harbour of Chania is one of the best places for taking pictures in Crete. It is generally believed that the old harbor was built sometime during the Venetian period, from 1204 to 1797. Many archaeological remains have been found here, including a Greek column with a dedicatory inscription indicating that it had been dedicated to Poseidon during Roman Emperor Augustus’s reign (27 BC-14 AD).
Take a stroll down the Old Venetian Harbour of Chania, one of the most picturesque pictures in the world. Be amazed by the coast of Crete and enjoy a Mediterranean vacation at sea. The sun is slowly setting into the horizon, casting an orange glow over the old Venetian Harbour of Chania. Mixed in with the light are visible streaks of flaming red and blue. You’ll feel a sudden urge to take out your camera to capture each moment in time as they passed you by.
Hike through the lush forests of Lefka Ori or visit the gorge of Samaria
Lefka Ori is a mountain range in central Crete. The highest peak is Vagia at 1,456 meters (4,770 feet), and many of the peaks are covered in lush forests of Aleppo pine. The area is filled with dense forests and is untouched by the hand of man. The beauty of nature is enhanced by small villages nestled in the mountain slopes, whose inhabitants look after their animals and take care of their crops.
Samaria (or Samaria Gorge) gorge is a canyon located in the region of Psiloritis, an island north of Crete. The gorge has steep rock walls on all sides and is nearly 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long, extending from 1,950 m (6,350 ft) in elevation to 2,500 m (8,202 ft) at the bottom. It was formed by water flowing through millennia of erosion of volcanic rocks accompanied by rain and ice. There are two entrances to the gorge. One is near the village of Gialova, and the other is farther south, close to the village of Moni (Moni Gorge). The Samaria region includes a range of mountains called the Samaria Mountains, including Mount Psiloritis on the island’s northwest coast. The gorge can be reached from either location by hiking along a narrow trail, passing through many stony outcrops and crevices.