A trip to the island of Crete gives you everything you’d expect from a Greek holiday, and so much more. Think sun, sea, sand, and a rich history to explore. Wherever you’re staying, you’ll never be too far from the finest sights and sounds the island has to offer.

When it comes to what to do in Crete, sun lovers will adore the spectacular selection of beaches dotted all over the island. On the northern shore you’ll find Vai’s beautiful Blue Flag beach, while stunning Elafonisi Beach awaits on the southernmost tip of the Crete.

For the culture lovers, there’s no shortage of ancient sites to explore. If you’re looking from cultural things to do in Crete, then your holiday won’t be complete without a daytrip to Europe’s oldest city, Knossos. Learn more about Crete’s past with a boat trip to the tiny island of Spinalonga. This is a former leper colony with a fascinating, if tragic, history.

If you want to pick up the pace during your island escape, you’re in luck. Make sure you pack your walking boots because you won’t want to miss out on Crete’s lush National Park of Samaria, and the unforgettable trek through the Samaria Gorge.

Whether you want to sit back and relax on the beach, or head for the hills, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Crete; and you’ll have no trouble filling every day of your trip with something new. Let’s take a closer look at what to do in Crete.

1. Head for Balos Beach

Make your escape to a tropical paradise and venture to Crete’s glorious Balos Beach. You’ll be greeted with glistening turquoise waters and pristine white sands as you arrive via ferry from Kissamos, or on foot from the car park above. If you want to get away from it all, this is the place for you.

2. Discover the ancient city of Knossos

Knossos is a big attraction for visitors interested in finding out about Crete’s history and its very first settlers. Dating all the way back to around 2,000 BC, Knossos is thought to be the oldest city on the continent. If you’re visiting in summer, don’t forget to bring your sun cream and a hat, as there isn’t much shade here.

3. Visit Heraklion Archaeological Museum

History buffs will love Greece’s most iconic museum. It may be located in a modern building, but Heraklion Archaeological Museum is brimming with fascinating relics stretching right back to prehistoric times. You’ll find as many as 27 exhibits on show here, so you’ll want to set aside a day to see them all.

4. Trek to Samaria Gorge

Right in the heart of Crete’s verdant National Park of Samaria, you’ll discover the breathtaking Samaria Gorge. Hiking the 16km stretch is an absolute must for outdoor enthusiasts; it’ll take you around seven hours to go from the elevation just south of Omalos to the coastal village of Agia Roumeli, but it’s well worth it to experience the stunning scenery for yourself.

5. Explore the island of Spinalonga

Spinalonga, officially known as Kalydon, is a tiny island just off the coast of Crete, and we mean tiny! It measures less than 0.01km2. Here you’ll find the remains of a sleepy village, as well as spectacular panoramic view of Crete’s White Mountains.

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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