Best attractions in Crete: Top 25

If you do not know what to see in Crete, study our review carefully. We have compiled a detailed ranking of the “best sights of Crete”, choosing the sites that every tourist should visit.

What to see in Crete first

The most popular excursions in Crete involve traveling to the following historical, cultural and architectural treasures:

1. City of Heraklion

Great views of the port and city of Heraklion

The ancient city was named after a mythological character. The date of its foundation is considered to be the first century A.D. It was then the seaport of Knossos. In different eras, the rulers of Heraklion were the Turks, the Venetians, the Byzantines and the Arabs. Experienced guides in Crete can tell you many fascinating facts about this ancient city.

2. City of Agios Nikolaos

Lake Voulismeni is a small lagoon in the center of the city of Agios Nikolaos

Tourists’ interest in this attraction of Crete is always heightened. The modern city was erected on the territory of Lato (Doric settlement). During its long history, Agios Nikolaos has been burnt and devastated many times. Today it is a center of leisure, shopping, gastronomy and all kinds of entertainment. It is to this resort that celebrities come to the warm sea.

3. The city of Rethymno

The coastline of the city of Rethymno

Another picturesque city of Greece, created by the Venetians. If you don’t know what to visit in Crete, but are passionate about architecture and historical monuments, come here. You can see the harbor of Rethymno with its fountain Rimondi and the majestic fortress of Fortezza, built back in the 16th century. There are also several museums in the city.

4. Water City Water Park

Panorama of the largest water amusement park in Crete Pkioupakis

Where to go in Crete with kids? A trip to Anapolis to the Water City water park is the best solution. Aquatic activities are offered for both kids and adults (including the extreme Bungee Bungee). It is believed that there is the most extensive selection of modern slides and attractions of all the water parks resorts in Europe. Reviews of holidaymakers about visiting the huge outdoor complex are always the most enthusiastic.

The design of “Water City” will not let you forget for a minute that you are in Greece. All over the area there are Greek fountains and columns, sculptural compositions of ancient Greek gods and mythical creatures. The area is literally drowned in artificial and natural greenery.

Official site:

5. The Palace of Knossos

Reconstructed fragment of the Palace of Knossos

An architectural monument that was once the main structure of Knossos. The ruins of the palace are in the northern part of the island. It should be noted that they tried many times to reconstruct it, but just as often it was damaged by earthquakes. Today you can see only a small part of the formerly magnificent palace structure. Nevertheless, in the list of “the best sights of Crete” this site is always included.

Official site:

Check out the beautiful places of Crete in this great video!

6. The Sunken City of Olus

Diving tourists on an underwater excursion

If you like scuba diving, places of interest in Crete like the ruins of ancient Olus should interest you first. The sunken city was once a powerful trading center and port. Dive under the water and see the legacy of the ancient Romans, Greeks and other civilizations. You don’t need to buy diving equipment - you can rent it right there. The services of experienced instructors are offered.

7. The ancient city of Gortyna

Ruins of the Ancient City of Gortyna Olaf Tausch

The ancient city is an important area for excavation and is located in the southern part of the island. The remaining ruins tell you about the life of Egyptian, Roman and Greek cultures many centuries ago. At a little distance from the city you will see the catacombs (you cannot see them from inside for safety reasons).

8. The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

One of the exhibition halls of the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion Stefan Bellini

It is in the twenty halls of this iconic landmark of Greece that the greatest archaeological finds are found. The collections include specimens from thousands of years ago, artifacts from the Turkish, Venetian, Roman, Minoan periods.

Official website:

9. Holy Trinity Monastery

Court of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity

An Orthodox church from the 17th century. The monastery was founded by representatives of a respected Venetian family, the brothers Jeremias and Lavrentius. Because of the regular attacks of the Turkish army, the construction of the monastery was delayed until the 18th century.

10. Preveli Monastery

One of the buildings of Preveli Monastery

A beautiful 16th century temple rising on a hill. The sights are owned by the Orthodox Church of Constantinople. In 1970 the monastery was closed for restoration. Today, however, it can be visited by any tourist who reads our recommendations.

Official website:

11. Arkadi Monastery

The church of Arkadi Monastery is built in the Venetian Baroque style

The temple is also located on a mountain hill, and has also been destroyed more than once (many values have not survived to this day). Its laying began as early as the 5th century, but the monastery itself was not erected until the 16th century.

12. Kera Kardiotissa Monastery

Small yard with well-kept fruit trees at Kera Kardiotissa Monastery

One of the most sacred places of Crete, over eight hundred years old. Services are still held in this peaceful and tranquil temple. Numerous faithful people come here to pray to the icon of the Virgin Mary (copy), which gives health and strength. Legend has it that by touching the image, one can be healed of even the most terrible diseases.

13. Fortezza

View of the Venetian fort in Rethymno Bernard Gagnon

Venetian fort complex from the 16th century. The structure can be seen from every corner of Rethymno. Over the course of hundreds of years it has regularly changed its appearance and its outer walls have gradually fallen into disrepair. But now, thanks to 20 years of restoration work, the Fortezza is as majestic as it was in the Venetian era.

14. Forte Frangocastello

The massive stone walls of Frangokastello Fortress

A historical monument of the 14th century, built to defend against pirate attacks. The fortress was able to cope with numerous assaults and sieges, so it has survived to this day in relatively good condition.

Official website:

15. Aquarium of Crete

The Cretaquarium at sunset Lourakis

What to see in Crete in 1 day for a fun yet rewarding experience? A huge water complex with dozens of tanks that are home to several thousand Mediterranean creatures: seahorses, fish, jellyfish. The tanks realistically recreate seascapes and landscapes.

16. The island-fortress of Spinalonga

The Island-Fortress of Spinalonga in the Gulf of Mirabelo

A defensive structure was erected on the small island more than 500 years ago, fighting the Turks and pirates. The owners of the fortress were constantly changing. Today the object is in a decent state: many of its defensive walls and ancient buildings are almost intact. By the way, it was on this Cretan island that the first electricity was given.

17. Lake Kurna

The breathtaking mountain scenery with Lake Kurna

One of the largest freshwater springs, is considered a natural wonder. We recommend you to visit this lake, for example, for the sake of meeting its rare inhabitants - huge turtles. Kurna is a protected area, protected by law of the country. According to researchers, the water in the lake is so pure that it can be used for drinking without pre-treatment. The lake is equipped with a beach line for both Cretans and visitors to the state.

18. Lake Voulismeni

Lake Voulismeni is a vacation spot for citizens and tourists

Freshwater spring, tens of meters deep and round in shape. It is believed that the lake was loved by the goddess Athena. Another, but already proven fact: during World War II, the natives drowned German weapons here. The famous Cousteau dived in these waters more than once with a bathyscaphe.

19. Dicta Cave

Special decking with railing for walking in Diktei Cave

Few natural landmarks in Greece are as famous as this cave. According to ancient mythology, Zeus was born here. Archaeological excavations in the area have given a huge number of artifacts created in the glory of this god. The cave is massively visited by holidaymakers. It consists of the main hall and the “vestibule”. As well as a beautiful underground lake, through which the wooden bridges are stretched. Your journey will take place among the amazing stalactites and stalagmites. If you crave a “thrill”, you can come to the Diktey Cave on a donkey (tour).

Official website:

20. Samaria Gorge

The path through Samaria Gorge is a path with sharp rocks

The largest and most picturesque gorge in Europe, preserving the remains of ancient shrines and buildings. About a hundred years ago it was recognized as a nature reserve and a national park, and since then it has been protected. Flora and unique fauna of Samaria are carefully protected by the state. There is a special trail for tourists. It is recommended to visit the gorge only in summer and autumn. At all other times of the year in the rains, sightseeing may not be safe. Since Samaria is almost completely filled with water.

Official website:

Attractions of Crete: what else to visit in Crete?

Even the most ordinary hotels in Crete pleasantly surprise you with their architecture and sometimes exoticism. We have told you briefly about the main sights of Crete, but our review is not over yet. Be sure to include in your sightseeing itinerary:

21. Lassithi Plateau

Panorama of the largest plateau of Crete

Located in the east of Crete and rising more than 800 meters above sea level. The plateau valley is famous for its fertility. The natives call it the “valley of a thousand mills” (for a long time they were used to extract water for agriculture). The area is covered with huge vegetable plantations and beautiful orchards.

22. Elafonisi beach

Crystal clear water with aquamarine color at Elafonisi Beach

If you have booked a trip to Crete for a relaxing beach holiday, head to Chania at Elafonisi Spit. The beach is world famous because of the unusual color of the sand - pink. The area is considered the most colorful on the entire Mediterranean coast. Azure waters and pink sand give rise to unique landscapes. Why is the sand such an unconventional color? Because of the many remnants of coral and shells.

Official website:

23. Palm Beach Vai

The grove of date palms along Vai Beach

Located in the square of the national park complex of Vai. The largest array of endemic palm trees in Europe, planted by Phoenician navigators, grows here. Be prepared for the fact that the beach (which received the Blue Flag award for its purity) is always crowded. If you’re aiming for a quiet holiday, this is not the place for you. If you’re in the mood for fun and entertainment, then feel free to come and bask on the fine, golden sand and have lunch or dinner in a café or restaurant with endless palm trees in the background. Above the beach is an observation deck: climb the steps and you can take lots of great pictures (especially beautiful nature awaits you during the sunrise and sunset hours). There is also a market nearby that sells fresh fruit, juices and vegetables.

Official website:

24. Matala Beach

Loungers and umbrellas for vacationers at Matala Beach

Surrounded by rocks with many caves, the beach sand line is located in the bay of Messara. Particularly recommended to visit for connoisseurs of natural beauty. Waves come here only rarely - when the south wind blows (from all other sides the beach is protected by rocks). The area is well-appointed - you can rent a parking space, sun loungers and umbrellas. Nearby are several supermarkets and cafes for tourists. Not only travelers, but also local residents come here to relax. Therefore, you should not count on a small number of people either.

25. Balos Cove

View of Balos Beach

Located in the west of the island, and famous for the most famous and beautiful beaches. Gorgeous turquoise water, white clean sand with pink flecks, pristine nature - all this attracts a lot of vacationers (despite the fact that the tourist infrastructure on the coast is completely absent).

We hope that those sights of Crete, photos with names and descriptions of which you have now seen, have aroused your interest. Visit them, and your vacation will be unforgettable and informative. Read also about sights of Athens and be inspired for your further travels in Greece.