There are dozens of Minoan sites to visit in Crete, but just outside of Heraklion is the most renowned, Knossos. This colossal excavated Bronze Age site is thought to be Europe’s oldest city and is one of Crete’s most popular attractions. The Throne Room is a must. It gets very busy in the summer and you can expect to devote around three hours to exploring. For fortress walls, a labyrinth of medieval lanes and Venetian architecture we recommend visiting Chania and Rethymno, and for monasteries and medieval churches, visit the 13th-Century church of Panagia Kera just outside of Agios Nikolaos and the fortified monastery of Toploú just east of Sitía.
Hikers are rewarded with spectacular viewpoints on the Balos Beach Trail or on the descent from one of the many gorges – Samaria and Agia Irini are two of the best – in the sierra of White Mountains. If you’re looking for more modern thrills, Agios Nikolas, overlooking breathtaking Mirabello Bay, is filled with bars and restaurants down at the glittering harbour, where you’re guaranteed a great mezze.
Where is Crete?
The largest island in Greece and the fifth largest in Europe, Crete is in the southern part of the Aegean Sea and is known for its high mountainous landscape and lengthy stretch of coastline.
Public transport is by bus only on the island of Crete and while there is a fairly extensive network and schedule, we do recommend hiring a car if you want the freedom and convenience of exploring at your own pace. Distances are not long between many of the major attractions, but roads tend to be narrow and winding as you head toward the mountains so it’s advisable to bear this in mind when factoring driving routes and itinerary times.
Food & drink
Olive oil, cheeses, honey and herbs are staples on the island. With over 60 olive trees per inhabitant, you’re guaranteed a taste of that spectacular Mediterranean diet. While you won’t find Michelin-Starred dining, you will discover the freshest seafood and fish and the most succulent fruit and vegetables. Expect garlic dips, Greek salads, baked feta cheese and plenty of souvlaki skewers. Dine in tiny romantic courtyards, lively seaside tavernas and on beachfront terraces. Taste those famous locally distilled spirits made from grape pressings, eat copious amounts of ice cream and make sure to feast on fresh fish straight from the fisherman’s boat. We also recommend finding a spot overlooking the Venetian harbour at Heraklion, whether you want ice cream and coffee, a fresh seafood dinner or after hours cocktails while watching the dazzling lights of the port.