Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean Sea. Its natural landscapes, magnificent scenery and beautiful beaches have always attracted a lot of tourists from all over the world. But the main feature is its greatest historical and cultural value. Crete is sung in a huge number of myths and legends of ancient Greece. Many of the events and heroes described in ancient tales are closely associated with him.
Features of Crete
The history of Crete is many thousands of years old and dates back to seven thousand years BC, when the first people and settlements appeared there. Because of its long and rich history, the architectural monuments of the past, created by different peoples and cultures, can be found in great numbers here.
The incredible attractiveness in the eyes of foreign visitors was an excellent foundation for the development of infrastructure. Therefore, the streets of Crete are not only a large collection of treasures of ancient civilizations, but also a tourist area with a highly developed infrastructure.
There is a rich and varied nature here. Close proximity and a harmonious combination of the atmosphere of antiquity and the comfort of modernity makes the resort one of the most popular, and the interest of tourists every year is only increasing. In 2017, Crete will be no less interesting for visitors.
When visiting the island, you should keep in mind that some tourist areas are not open year-round, and others limit the time or days to visit in some seasons. It is also worth considering that not all local attractions can be reached by public transport and the likelihood of a cab, rental car or with a tour group.
If you plan to visit natural areas, it is worth bearing in mind that many of these places are hard to reach, tours of them are often organized in the form of long hikes, and to get to some attractions will require a sufficient amount of time and effort.
Going on a long-distance or time-consuming hike, be sure to consider the level of difficulty if you are traveling with a child. In this case, it is better to choose a lighter version of the trip or visit special tours, designed for children’s audiences.
Before your trip you can also see pictures of places of interest with descriptions of the main popular places, so you can better navigate in a variety of tourist routes and know in advance what to see in Crete.
Among the huge abundance of interesting places of Crete, you can especially highlight some of the most famous and popular. As is typical for most tourist areas in Greece attractions are varied and in equal proportions combine architectural masterpieces of antiquity, non-human-made natural wonders and entertainment areas.
The following twelve places are a must-see:
- The Palace of Knossos;
- Archaeological Museum;
- Kera Cardiotissa Monastery;
- Ancient Cities of Crete;
- The sunken city of Olus;
- Samaria Gorge;
- Cave of Zeus;
- Lake Vulismeni;
- Lake Kurna;
- Cretan beaches;
The map has enough attractions located in each region of the island. Both central, western and eastern Crete have their own highlights that are definitely worth visiting for the traveler.
The metropolitan area has a huge concentration of architectural masterpieces of the past and monuments, including the monument to Eleftherios Venizelos, the famous Greek politician, which is most revered by the citizens.
To the east of the center you can find the most beautiful scenery and sandy beaches, and the peculiarity of the region of Chania is that it is near its coast that the three seas meet.
The Lassithi region is the most developed tourist area, with many hotels and attractions, mountains and caves, including the famous Zeus Cave.
Architectural Sights of Crete
The ruins of ancient castles are one of the most interesting things to see in Crete. Visiting them is very educational. Such a walk will be incredibly entertaining for both adults and children.
You can visit the ruins on your own, without a guide. In this case, it is worth considering the visiting hours and how to get there. There are buses to some places, others you have to order a cab or rent a car.
The Palace of Knossos
The palace of Knossos is probably the most famous architectural attraction of Crete.
The palace is interesting both for its antiquity (despite repeated destruction by earthquakes and multiple restorations, the masters have preserved its main features and conveyed in detail all the nuances of the ancient architecture), its scale and its history.
The architecture of the castle is very interesting and unusual. Its complexity is often the reason for associating this particular building with the labyrinth of the Minotaur from a famous legend.
A castle in Malia with a very interesting history. In the past this palace was the center of the ancient Minoan civilization. Now its ruins are guided tours, you can visit and examine the building yourself. The Minoan Palace is an important historical monument and a popular tourist area.
One of the most interesting and mysterious places off the eastern coast of Crete. The history of this place was quite grim: there used to be a leprosarium here.
Now the island is one of the main tourist destinations. Here are the ruins of Byzantine-era structures built around the perimeter of a small island for protection.
The Archaeological Museum in Heraklion is one of those places that must be visited. All the most interesting and important archaeological finds related to the area are collected here. Like all artifacts of ancient Greece, the fossils from Crete are not only of great historical importance, but are also sometimes notable for their beauty, grace and peculiar style.
You can see there a collection of various finds from a long period of time and use them to visualize the history of the island.
A favorite place for tourists to visit is usually the convent of Kera Cardiotissa. What attracts visitors is the relic kept here. This is a copy of the icon of the Virgin of the Heart. Since ancient times, people have been convinced of the miraculous nature of this icon. It is believed that its copy has the same healing properties.
In addition to this monastery on the island you can find several other religious buildings. All of them are distinguished by their original architecture and have an interesting history.
Cities of Crete
Historic cities are of great interest to tourists, representing the ancient history of Greece. Just walking through their streets you can immerse yourself in the atmosphere of antiquity.
Traditional markets can be visited in various cities. There is an atmosphere of old traditions and at the same time there is an opportunity to buy everything you need, fully immersed in the culture and life of the people.
The Sunken City of Olus
It is difficult to categorize Olus as an architectural or natural landmark. All because the architectural structures of the city are deep under water.
Centuries ago, thriving Olus was destroyed by an earthquake and went under water. Now, in order to see most of its remains, you need to acquire scuba equipment. Some parts are on the shoal, but still most are completely sunk and can only be seen by diving. This makes the inspection even more fascinating and exciting.
Natural attractions of Crete
The origin of the famous landmarks in Crete is not only man-made. It is characterized by an incredible diversity and uniqueness of natural beauty. The most beautiful of them are described below.
Gorges and caves
One of the most famous gorges in the world – Samaria Gorge. The total length of the trail in the gorge is several kilometers. It is surrounded by high picturesque rocks. There are often guided tours there, but not all year round. In seasons when natural hazards are prevalent, it is closed to the public.
No less famous is the so-called cave of Zeus. According to legend, it was there that the great thunderer was born. Inside it you can see stalactites and stalagmites of bizarre shapes, and at the bottom is a lake.
The cave is located at a fairly high altitude, and the ascent there can be quite difficult. You can get there on foot or by donkey.
Other caves may also attract attention. In ancient times they served people for different purposes, and now they are great objects for research.
Lakes and beaches
The two freshwater lakes are definitely worth seeing.
Lake Vulismeni has an unusual shape. It’s almost perfectly round. Because of its great depth (in some places up to 60 meters), there are legends that the lake has no bottom.
The second of them – Lake Kurna is surrounded by beautiful white mountains, its waters are inhabited by turtles, and the water in this lake is perfectly clean and suitable for drinking. On one side of the beach area.
Particular attention should be paid to the beaches. Some of them can safely be considered the most beautiful places on the island. Turquoise water, pink and white sand, fertile, quiet terrain make them very popular.
Entertainment in Crete
Since this resort is very popular, for travelers and provides an opportunity to have fun. The most popular way of entertainment can be considered the local water parks. In them, tourists will find a huge variety of water activities. In addition to all the other advantages, these places are great for recreation with children.
In general, the infrastructure in most regions, especially in Lassithi, is excellent and provides an opportunity to fully relax and have fun.