We have been everywhere on Crete, picked out the best of the best and created this Crete itinerary. Here you will find world wonders, routes off the beaten path, the most spectacular views, traditional villages, hidden beaches and amazing trails through the beautiful gorges of the island.
If you want to explore the western part of the island, check The best Crete itinerary: Western Crete
1 – 2 weeks
Landing at Heraklion, you may want to see the famous ruins of Knossos. This arguably oldest city in Europe is situated just outside of Heraklion. You are sure to have seen the pictures of the red columns of its palaces in your history or art class!
Now it`s time to see the rural Crete. Just take the highway and head east. Before the highway turns south, continue east taking smaller roads. The region is scenic, its charming chapels, old villages and stunning views over the coast would leave a lasting impression on you. Check Xera Xila and Areti Monasteries continue to Plaka. From the top, enjoy the view over the
For some wonderful beaches head to the eastern coast beyond Agios Nikolaos. Check Ammoudara, Karavostasi, Voulisma and Agios Panteleimonas Beach.
However, looking for a place to stay for the night, move slightly away from the coast. Consider Kritsa village as your base for exploring the region. Its sunny white streets drowning in flowers, good restaurants, the ancient church of Panagia Kera and artisans shops will provide you with everything needed for a good vacation.
If you are not in a hurry you may want to drive a couple of hours to the most eastern part of Crete and its famous
On the way back from Vai, it is a good idea to check one of the numerous gorgeous gorges of the eastern Crete: Zakros or Pefki. Speaking of gorges: We are also fond of a small Kritsa Gorge and Sarakinas Gorge – the later is not easy to trek.
Another scenic – and less touristy – a destination in eastern Crete is the village of Anatoli, located to the south-east of Kritsa. Close to the main tourist routes, the place is quiet and peaceful. Driving there from Kritsa, stop at Kalamafka village. Near Anatoli, pay a visit to the "Walking with donkeys" sanctuary – to learn more about the life of donkeys on Crete and to see the sweet long-eared donkeys.
On the way back to Heraklion don´t miss the chance to explore the Lassithi Plateau. Getting through is really time-consuming (do not underestimate it!), but it is very rewarding. With multicoloured plains decorated by windmills, sleepy villages and dozens of tiny cosy monasteries spread over the plateau – this part of Crete has its own unique character.
You may stay a night or two in Tichos, a quiet old village. Tichos Metohi House hotel has a solitary location and a big terrace one may spend idle days at looking at the valley…
You may explore Lassithi on horseback: Velani Country Hotel located nearby has their own stables. They offer short as well as several-days-long horseback tours.
Even though Crete has long become a popular tourist destination, the island has so much to offer aside from mass tourism. As a matter of fact, it is one of our favourite places on this planet.
Read more about the island in the Lonely Planet Crete edition
These travel tips will help you discover the best of Crete
Want to learn more about Knossos on Crete?
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Crete is a sunny destination! Do not forget to pack sunscreen!