From pristine, golden beaches and warm, azure waters, to the rich history and al fresco eateries, there are plenty of things to do in Crete to keep the whole family happy. Visit Europe’s oldest city, hike in national parks or trek in spectacular gorges in the year-round sunshine. Here are some of our highlights.

Places to go

Crete things to do must include its stunning beaches. Get away from it all at Balos Lagoon surrounded by shallow, glistening waters and powdery, white sands. On the northern shores, Blue Flag Vai Beach awaits, while on the southernmost tip Elafonisi Beach will welcome you with its dazzling and very unusual pink sand. Bali and Chrissi Akti beach offer family-friendly amenities. Elounda, Mirabello Bay and, in particular, Agios Nikolaos are also well worth a visit.

Away from the beaches, explore the picturesque National Park of Samaria and its breathtaking Samaria Gorge. It’s the longest in Europe, covering 11 miles of spectacular landscape. Your list of top places to visit in Crete must also include the island of Spinalonga. Indulge in a spot of Venetian history and learn about its fascinating past as a former leper colony, as well as enjoying panoramic views of Crete’s White Mountains.

Attractions

Lists of attractions in Crete will definitely be topped by the ancient city of Knossos, Europe’s oldest city. Travel back in time to the Bronze Age and discover the impressive archaeological site and its magnificent Knossos Palace. Culture vultures will also enjoy Heraklion Archaeological Museum, an iconic museum brimming with relics dating back to prehistoric times.

If you fancy a little more action, then check out Labyrinth Park for an interactive and fun day within a Greek mythology-themed park. Explore the maze and enjoy mini-golf, horse riding and other attractions for all ages. If you are a reptile fan, then visit Reptisland for the opportunity to meet, greet and learn about turtles, lizards, snakes and crocodiles.

For some water park fun, go to Acqua Plus with adrenaline-filled rides and slides, a playground, lazy river and children’s area perfect for the whole family. Cretaquarium is also a popular attraction, one of Europe’s largest aquariums where you can get up close and personal with spectacular Mediterranean sea life.

Places to visit

Places to visit in Crete should always include a stroll around the Old Town of Rethymno, as well as historic Chania with its pretty harbour and lighthouse. Wander around the maze of cobbled streets filled with quaint cafés, shops and restaurants, before taking a glass-bottomed boat around the harbour. There are also plenty of beautiful sacred monasteries and striking fortresses to be seen around the island.

If you enjoy underground adventures, then discover the impressive cave of Zeus, the Diktaean Cave and birthplace of the majestic god. Admire spectacular stalactites and stalagmites and meet the local Mediterranean Ear Bat. Mount Ida is also worth visiting. Peaking at 2456 metres, it’s the highest mountain in Crete, and where Zeus allegedly spent his childhood.

Read on to discover more of the island’s fascinating highlights and unforgettable things to do in Crete.

1. Renaissance Festival

In late summer, the Cretan town of Rethymnon plays host to the famous Renaissance Festival. This spectacular cultural event has taken place annually since 1987
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2. Malia Nightlife

For the last two decades, Malia has been taking centre stage on the world’s clubbing and party scene. If you’re looking for a holiday where the days are soaked in sunshine
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3. Crete Nightlife

When it comes to Crete’s nightlife scene, there really is something for everyone. The island has earned a reputation as one of Greece’s best party islands, and lively resorts like Malia and Stalis are firm favourites
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4. Hersonissos Nightlife

By day, Hersonissos looks like a quiet seaside town, with a small beach, lined with restaurants. However, once the sun goes down, Hersonissos dispenses with the disguise
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6. Lychnostatis Open Air Museum

Get a taste of traditional Cretan life with a visit to the Lychnostatis Open Air Museum. Dip into the island’s folk and cultural heritage as you make your way around this interesting attraction.
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8. Cave of Zeus

Visit one of the most important places in ancient mythology with a trip to the Diktaean Cave, otherwise known as the Cave of Zeus.
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9. Malia Ruins

If you’re interested in history, make sure you go and see the town’s old palace with a visit to the 4,000-year-old Malia Ruins.
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10. Malia Old Town

While in Malia, a visit to the Old Town is an absolute must. As you wander through the narrow streets, you’ll come across small squares, old churches
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12. Balos Beach

Transport yourself to a tropical paradise as you venture to Crete’s Balos Beach. You’ll be greeted with turquoise waters and white sands as you arrive by ferry from Kissamos, or on foot from the carpark above.
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13. Stalis Nightlife

You don’t need to travel to Malia for an entertaining night out, as Stalis’ lively nightlife is home to a real mix of both Greek and British bars and restaurants.
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14. Explore the mountains

Escaping to the Crete Mountains could be the ultimate break away from the hustle and bustle of central Stalis. Explore by taking an easy and pleasant drive up into the mountains.
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15. Labyrinth Theme Park

The adventurous Labyrinth Theme Park is nestled in the scenic Crete hills, just outside of Hersonissos, and has lots of interactive activities and attractions suitable for families. The theme park brings Greek mythology to life
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16. Horseriding

Stalis is surrounded by lush, olive-covered mountains, which offer glorious views out to sea. One of the best ways to explore them is on horseback.
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20. Visit the Arkadi Monastery

If you’re looking to break away from the sunloungers and learn a bit more about your holiday destination of choice, Rethymnon has plenty to give in the way of rich history and fascinating culture.
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21. Explore the Old Town

Rethymnon is the third biggest city on the island of Crete and has some of the best ancient and historical sites to explore. As you wander around the classic Venetian architecture,
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22. Happy Train

The Happy Train offers a more relaxing way to see the sights of Malia and the surrounding area. For a reasonable price, you can hop on board and feel Malia’s cool breeze
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24. Mountain biking

The fastest and most environmentally friendly mode of exploring Crete is by mountain bike. Hub Mtb Adventures runs guided mountain bike excursions to Lasithi Plateau
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26. Shop and swim

Malia is a popular tourist destination that promises to entertain both day and night. The town has a unique and vibrant atmosphere where you can browse the shops
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28. Wine tours

Cretan wine is considered a local delicacy with 80% of eastern Crete’s wine being produced in the Heraklion region. Delve into the countryside and visit local scenic vineyards
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30. Visit Santorini

You’ll probably recognise Santorini as the iconic Greek island of white and blue houses. This dreamy looking place is easy to get to by boat
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37. Take a boat trip to Spinalonga

When you’ve seen all that the chocolate-box town of Aghios Nikolaos has for its visitors, it’s time to venture further afield and check out what other adventures Crete holidays provide. There’s no doubt that a boat trip
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40. Trek Samaria Gorge

The breathtaking gorge of Samaria is situated in the heart of Crete’s National Park of Samaria and is widely known for its outstanding natural beauty.
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