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Crete Island Things to Do – Attractions & Must See

SmarterTravel

Crete Island Things to Do

Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, is a rich tapestry woven of ancient civilizations, breathtaking vistas, and cultural mythology. Sitting at a crossroads between Asia, Africa, and Europe, Crete has an abundance of things to do in the cafes, marketplaces and ancient ruins throughout the cities and coastal towns across the island.

Historically Significant Locations

Everywhere you go on the island of Crete you’ll find remnants of long past civilizations. From the first recorded group, the Minoans and their mythological King Minos in 6,000 B.C.  to the seaside fortresses built by the Romans and Venetians. Add the distinct influence of Arabic Byzantine pirate strongholds in the 8th and 9th century and it becomes a living history book. The walkable courtyards in the ruins of the Palace of Knossos, climbing the Venetian built Fortezza in Rethymnon or visiting any of the sheltered coves where ancient pirates hid their treasures and ANZAC battalion forces pushed the Nazi invaders into retreat.

Outdoor Adventures

The landscape on Crete is as diverse as the inhabiting civilizations. Sfakia is a region of southern Crete with the soaring White Mountain Range and the Samaria Gorge–the largest in Europe and a popular destination for hikers with its diverse vegetation, wildlife and ever changing vistas. The gorge is a moderate hike and you can resolve any aches pains or heat by a relaxing dip in the enticing Libyan Sea.

There are many beaches on Crete that can be crowded or deserted depending on the season. Be sure to check ahead before heading down as some have rocky shores with only a small stretch of sand, some are “naturist” with swimsuits optional and some require a small fee that may or may not be collected. Snorkeling and diving are popular in Crete. Dive shops can guide you for rentals and the best places to safely dive.

Renting bikes or scooters are readily available but make sure you get insurance.  Some bike shops have organized tours with local guides.

Shopping

Take your morning coffee at one of the many cafes located across the island. Try it with a traditional pastry.  A visit to the local Agora—the central market–can be a sensory overload as stalls spread out their wares. Smells of spices, oils and herbs fill the air. Bolts of woven cloth, colorful handmade scarves and hammered jewelry are stuffed into family operated shops.  The famous Cretan products, such as olive oil, wine, raki, honey, and herbs are, of course, of special importance and a major attraction to visitors and residents.

After a full day of shopping, hiking or sightseeing, have a glass of wine while a lone musician strums his guitar to the siren’s song or a pirates long forgotten shanty.

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Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about things to do in Crete.

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