Things to do in Crete

Meander between coastal villages, colorful old towns, and idyllic beaches on Greece’s largest island.

Our most recommended things to do in Crete

Heraklion: Knossos Palace Skip-the-Line Guided Walking Tour

1. Heraklion: Knossos Palace Skip-the-Line Guided Walking Tour

Join a guided tour of Knossos, a complex of more than 1500 interlocking rooms, once an astonishing palace built for a mighty king of the Bronze Age. Knossos is considered Europe’s oldest city. As you wander through the labyrinthine ruins, get the chance to see the original throne of ‘’Minos”, the mystifying sanctuaries, the luxurious domestic quarters of the royal family, Crete’s treasures pantries, and the water-management systems. The first palace of Knossos was erected soon after 2000 BC. In 1700 BC, a catastrophic earthquake destroyed the Palace. A new palace was built immediately, the most monumental of all, and for over 300 years it represented the pre-eminent center of power in Bronze Age Crete. The new palace was an imposing complex with important architectural innovations, splendid frescoes adorning the walls, hundreds of rooms distributed in four storeys, impressive storage areas, specialized workshops, and spacious courts hosting ceremonies and feasts. Learn how during the last decades of the 14th century BC, a series of earthquakes led to the final destruction of the palace. 

Crete: Palace of Knossos Archaeological Site Entrance Ticket

2. Crete: Palace of Knossos Archaeological Site Entrance Ticket

Benefit from skip-the-line access to the Palace of Knossos. Once inside, you are free to explore this Minoan archaeological site at your own pace, including the Grand Palace which dates back to the year 2000 B.C. As you wander through the site, discover what remains of living quarters, workspaces, and storerooms that have stood for centuries. Learn more about the city which is thought to have been the capital and political center of Minoan civilization and culture. Get a sense of what the building was like originally from the extensive restorations that have taken place throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. See colorful restored murals, which were typical of the time, and the throne room of the legendary King Minos, which is still intact.

From Agios Nikolaos: Guided Boat Cruise to Spinalonga

3. From Agios Nikolaos: Guided Boat Cruise to Spinalonga

Spinalonga is a magnificent island with fortresses dating from the Venetian period. It is an island of legends, a triumph to survival in the early 20th century from the scourge of leprosy, now a place of great archaeological and historical significance. On Spinalonga island, enjoy the opportunity to visit the Interpretive Centre there and discover the settlements of the victims and survivors of this former illness. Explore the Venetian fortifications and learn all about the long and fascinating history of the island. Take time to walk around the island and see the views of the bay and the fortifications. Later the cruise continues, passing along other points of interest in the Bay of Mirabello such as the cave of the legendary Pirate Barbarosa, the sunken ancient city of Olous, and the island where the endemic and hardy Cretan Kri Kri goats live. Have time to relax and swim in the exquisite turquoise waters of Kolokitha Bay. The 40 m boat features two bars, a lounge, and a restaurant serving Greek and international cuisine at reasonable prices with high-quality service from the crew.

Heraklion: Archaeological Museum & Knossos Ticket with Audio

4. Heraklion: Archaeological Museum & Knossos Ticket with Audio

Experience Ancient Crete at your own pace with a combined e-ticket for the island's top two archaeological attractions, the Palace of Knossos and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Experience two captivating self-guided audio tours on your smartphone. Receive your ticket in a separate email from our local partner, and download the app and audio tours onto your phone prior to your visit. Then travel back in time to experience the grandeur of Crete from the Minoan period to Roman times. Put on your headphones and discover the Palace of Knossos and the exquisite artifacts exhibited in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Through the power of storytelling, learn interesting facts and hear little-known stories from ancient times. The content of the tours is the result of in-depth research, squeezed into brief original stories that will make your visit both engaging and informative. The audio tours can be used repeatedly and anytime, before or after your visit. This is an unmissable opportunity to gain valuable insights into ancient Crete and the Minoan civilization, and to engage with your surroundings in an entirely original way.

Crete: Day Trip to Agios Nikolaos and Spinalonga Island

5. Crete: Day Trip to Agios Nikolaos and Spinalonga Island

Embark on a full-day guided trip to northeastern Crete and take a boat trip to Spinalonga Island. Visit Agios Nikolaos with its famous lake, and explore the picturesque village of Elounda. Begin the day with the visit to Agios Nikolaos, and see the shore of Mirabello Bay. Explore the town, famous for the lake at its center and its shopping and cafes. Take your time for a walk to enjoy the views, enjoy some shopping or have a drink in one of the numerous cafes around the lake. Explore an open-air market on Wednesdays. Move on to see Elounda village, a former fishing village on the northern coast of the island. Depart from Elounda for the cruise to Spinalonga Island. Learn about the island's vibrant history, from a home for the Venetians and Turks to a place of isolation for those suffering from leprosy. Experience the island, more popular after the 2005 historical novel “The Island” about how lepers lived in Spinalonga. Join the hundreds of people who come to the island every day to visit and learn its history.

Crete: Palace of Knossos Ticket with Audio Tour

6. Crete: Palace of Knossos Ticket with Audio Tour

Enjoy an exciting visit to Knossos Palace, Crete’s most famous historical attraction, with a skip-the-line e-ticket, including a compelling audio tour downloadable on your phone and a detailed map of the site. Lose yourself in the audio tour's storytelling and immerse yourself in history as you walk around this iconic site. Visit the grand capital of Minoan Crete, located just south of Heraklion, and see the evocative setting, complete with impressive ruins and brightly-colored frescoes, come alive through an engaging narrative that sheds light on various elements of Minoan culture. The cupbearers and procession frescoes at the South Propylaeum, which depict scenes from everyday life and the ceremonial activities in Minoan Crete, provide a great insight into the aesthetic ideals of the time. Follow the evolution of Minoan fashion, learn about the popular hairstyles of the people, and discover the beauty products locals used to touch up their look. At the West Magazines, where the storage facilities of the palace are located, gain an understanding of the well-organized bureaucracy that supported the palace organization, the earliest forms of linear writing, as well as the Minoan economy and trade networks. Discover the copy of the “Prince of the Lilies” at the South Entrance Corridor and gaze out on Mount Juktas, perfectly framed by the eroded walls of the palace. Visit the Queen’s Megaron, embellished with famous blue dolphins fresco and equipped with a bathroom and a toilet room, where you can find out everything about the bath habits in the Minoan era.

From Chania or Rethymno: Samariá Gorge Guided Hike

7. From Chania or Rethymno: Samariá Gorge Guided Hike

Embark on a guided hike in the Samariá Gorge on a day trip from Rethymno or Chania. Get your daily dose of exercise, enjoy the panoramic views and take a swim.  Discover the longest gorge in Europe, an area of stunning natural beauty. See its many flowers and herbs and the crystal-clear spring waters that flow from the mountains. Following an early morning pickup from the nearest point to your accommodation in Rethymno or Chania, travel through the mountains passing the plateau of Omalos. Arrive at some wooden stairs at the start of Samariá Gorge. You can opt to start the walk straight away or get some breakfast at the taverna before you begin. Hike for approximately 6-7 hours and experience the magnificent landscape on a 16-kilometer walk. Once you have finished the hike, there will be ample time for a swim and lunch at a taverna in Agia Roumeli.

From Kissamos Port: Boat Cruise to Balos Lagoon & Gramvousa

8. From Kissamos Port: Boat Cruise to Balos Lagoon & Gramvousa

Go on a day trip from Kissamos port to the uninhabited island of Gramvousa and Balos Lagoon by a round-trip cruise. Glide past cliffs, stop at pristine golden beaches, swim in the crystal-clear waters, and visit Gramvousa Fortress—a castle that offers incredible panoramic views. Depart from Kissamos Port and sail for about an hour in the bay. Approach the island of Gramvousa and then the lagoon of Balos or vice versa, depending on the itinerary route. Cruise against a stunning backdrop of steep cliffs and rocks, incredible secluded beaches, and the infinite blue. Have the chance to see a large cave, which is thought to be an ancient shipyard.  At the end of the bay, sail between Gramvousa Island and Cape Vouxa. Soak in the scenic landscape against the backdrop of Valenti, Pontikonisi, Balos Lagoon, and Imeri Gramvousa. Arrive in the small port of Gramvousa and spend the next 1.5 hours here. Enjoy the magical environment created by the Cretan nature, the legends, and the area's turbulent history. See the beach is adorned by a lonely shipwreck. See the famous castle of Gramvousa, the highest point on the island, that sits atop a steep rock. You can swim in the area next to the Church of Agioi Apostoloi, stay on the ship to relax, or have some fun on the water slide. After a stop at Gramvousa, get back on the boat to head to the Balos Lagoon. Listed as one of the world's best beaches, this exotic beach lagoon is situated between the Gramvousa Peninsula and Cape Tigani. Choose to swim in the turquoise blue waters, relax on the pink sandy beach, or admire the natural beauty, the rocks, and the cliffs rising above you during your 2.5 hours at the beach.

From Rethymno: Half-Day Quad Bike Safari

9. From Rethymno: Half-Day Quad Bike Safari

Choose from a morning or afternoon Quad Bike safari, and benefit from a hotel pick-up from Rethymno, Bali, or Georgiopoulis. Journey to the base in Rethymno town and get kitted out with all the necessary equipment. Listen to a detailed briefing before you set off for some serious off-road fun. Journey up into the mountains of Maroulas, and head for the summit for a 10-minute break to take in the panoramic views. Then, continue on your bike for another 20 minutes to reach a spot where you can relax over coffee at a traditional kafeneion (Greek coffee house). Soak up the peace and quiet of Café Gidospito overlooking beautiful Lake Potami before making your way to the picturesque village of Prassies for a quick snack to refuel after your Quad Bike experience. Return to Rethymno and get dropped off at your hotel to relax and freshen up after your dusty adventure.

The Miracle of Wine and Olive Oil: Day Tour from Chania

10. The Miracle of Wine and Olive Oil: Day Tour from Chania

Travel through stunning natural landscapes up into the mountains of the Kissamos region on this 7-hour tour from Chania. Stop at a traditional family winery, established in 1993, and learn about the varieties of wine they produce and their ideas for modern farming processes and wine production. Taste award-winning local Vidiano, Muscat of Spina and some international varieties such as Grenache rouge, Syrah and Mourvèdre that each have a unique taste due the local terroir. Next you’ll visit a traditional village and see the oldest olive tree in the world, with an estimated age of 3,000 years. This is a day filled with tasting different wine expressions of noble grapes and a variety of delicious foods. Head to another winery in the Kissamos region to taste a special local blend of white wines with Vilana, Vidiano and Assyrtiko varieties. Walk through the idyllic landscape of the vineyards and visit the family’s olive oil factory. Learn about extra virgin olive oil production. The wine tasting here will be accompanied by a tasting of extra virgin olive oils and local pure products, creating combinations your palate will never forget. You’ll also learn the Cretan way of saying goodbye drinking the award-winning Tsikoudia.

Frequently asked questions about Crete

What top attractions are a must-see in Crete?

Other Sightseeing Options in Crete

Want to discover all there is to do in Crete? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Crete

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 23,195 reviews

Angela and I came to Crete for our thanksgiving break looking for fun activities to do and we found scuba diving. We’ve never done it before and we’re both pretty nervous to do it, but our instructor Ioannis Almpantakis was the best. He gave us all the information we needed for our first time and was very patient with us. This was by far one of the best experiences of our lives. He is a great leader and you can tell he was very passionate about his job. If you get the chance to scuba dive definitely do it!

The 7 villages tour was very enjoyable! The guide was super-knowledgeable about the places we visited, and clearly enjoyed sharing his knowledge with us. Driving through the very charming landscape of the countryside east of Chania, we passed a cheesemaker, a rusk baker, and an olive oil factory, and finally ended up in a traditional tavern in Fres for a delicious lunch. Twice we could taste raki as well. All in all, to be recommended!

It was a perfect day, our driver was very sweet and attentive and my fellow companions were a fun and kind group. The two wineries we visited were different but both had wonderful wines to taste paired with some delicious snacks. I enjoyed the experience immensely!

i was able to walk at my own pace to discover the city of Chsnia.

Wonderful experience for my husband and daughter .