Travel to Crete completely without tourist traps! Here you will find a list of the top 10 sights in Crete! Which highlights and attractions should you not miss on your holiday in Crete?
Crete, Greece's largest island, is full of surprises. The Minoans, Europe's first advanced civilisation, left their fascinating traces on Crete, which are exhibited in one of the most important museums in Europe, among other places.
Crete's beaches are reminiscent of the Caribbean, one of the longest gorges in Europe invites you to go hiking, and many a Byzantine masterpiece can be found in Crete's churches and chapels.
Although the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean is a very popular holiday destination, there are still bays and villages on Crete where hardly any tourists are to be found. This quiet, tranquil side of Crete, which is precisely why it is so attractive, is also worth seeing!
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Ruins of Knossós
The famous ruins of Knossós originate from the impressive palace of the Cretan king Minos and are the most important excavation site in Crete. Despite, or perhaps because of, its controversial renovation methods, the once magnificent five-storey building now shines almost in its former glory.
Caves near Matala
Inconspicuous holes in the rock: the caves near Matala have exerted a magical fascination on people for thousands of years. In Greek mythology, Zeus, the father of the gods, once brought the kidnapped princess Europa ashore here. Caesar's son Brutus is also said to have been here.
And in the recent past, dropouts from all over the world turned the caves into Crete's biggest hippie commune, with celebrities such as Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan as members.
For many Cretan holidaymakers, the Samaria Gorge is the number one destination on the island. Although not the longest gorge in Europe (as often falsely claimed), it is one of the longest, offering 13 kilometres of impressive hiking between imposing cliffs all the way to the coast of the Libyan Sea.
National Archaeological Museum in Heraklion
The Cretan capital Heraklion is home to the National Archaeological Museum, one of the most important museums in Europe. The focus of the comprehensive collection is on the Minoan culture on Crete, which developed into the first advanced civilisation in Europe under King Minos.
Turquoise sea, fine white sand and gently curving shores - the lagoon of Balos exudes almost Caribbean flair and is one of the most visited natural beauties in the west of Crete. As a nature reserve, it may not be built on - and has thus preserved its idyllic beauty for decades.
Next to the Balos lagoon, Elafonissi beach is often called the most beautiful beach in Crete . The calm sea and the spacious beach with its shallow sand dunes are ideal on the otherwise rugged west coast, especially for families with children.
Vai Palm Beach
Cretan travellers will also find Caribbean flair for the perfect bathing holiday on Crete at the palm beach of Vai. Here, Europe's largest naturally grown palm grove provides pleasant shade. According to legend, the seeds of the Cretan date palm were once left on the beach by pirates from the Middle East. In the meantime, several thousand trees thrive on the 300m-long beach!
Panagia i Kera Church
The Panagia i Kera church, which is extremely inconspicuous from the outside, is one of the most important churches in Crete. Behind its typical snow-white walls, colourful wall paintings are hidden under the dome, which is unique in Crete. The artistic frescoes have been largely renovated and are among Crete's greatest Byzantine masterpieces.
Not because of its art treasures, but because of its historical significance, Arkadi Monastery is one of the most visited sights on Crete. One of the largest mass suicides in Cretan history took place here in the mid-19th century during the war of liberation against the Turks. The drama of Arkadi went around the world at the time and made the monastery a famous national monument.
Old Town of Heraklion
The historic city centre is the main attraction of Crete's capital Heraklion. The old harbour was once one of the most important seaports of the Venetians, Crete's museums tell about the island's culture, flora and fauna and Ekaterini Square houses, among other things, the Agias Minas Church, one of the largest cathedrals in Greece.