One holiday visit is not enough to see all the wild beauty of Crete. With a coastline of 1,046 km (650 miles) from one end to the other, the island offers places of fantastic natural beauty, interesting archaeological sites and picturesque villages. Every mile is a new discovery in Crete. Whether you are traveling on the western or eastern side, you will surely find fantastic sights in Crete.
The adventure starts as soon as you take the flight or ferry to Crete and continues for all through your holidays. Here are some Crete top places to visit during your stay on this gorgeous Greek island.
Balos Beach Lagoon
If you were a director, this place could easily be used as the background for a Caribbean-set movie. The exotic water, the soft sand and the blue horizon make this place unforgettable! Close to Balos Beach Lagoon, there is a rocky islet with a Medieval Castle on top, known as the Pirate Castle because this place was a pirate shelter in the Medieval times. You can go to Balos by excursion boat from Chania Town or Kissamos, or you can drive a 15km road from Kissamos to Balos with the last 8 km track road (2014).
Located on the western side of Crete, Elafonissi beach is also famous for the exotic waters. The special thing about Elafonissi is the pink colour of the sand. One of the most marvelous places in Crete, the coast is large and visitors can find both popular and secluded parts. Cedar trees reach the sandy beach, creating a landscape out of this world!
Knossos Minoan Palace
The Minoan Palace of Knossos is surely among our Crete top places to visit. Located 5 km from the town of Heraklion, eastern Crete, this palace had large spaces, fantastic wall frescoes with scenes from everyday life in Crete and impressive structures. The most amazing thing is that this palace was excavated almost intact, covered in layers of volcanic ash, which is why the wall frescoes have kept their vivid colors from that era.
Historians believe that the Palace of Knossos was covered by tsunami waves caused by the lava from the eruption of Thera in about 1,500 BC. The destruction of Knossos gradually led to the decline of the entire Minoan civilization that was highly developed until then. Such Minoan ancient sites are found all around the island of Crete, including the Minoan Site of Phaestos, the Palace of Zakros in Lassithi, and more.
Falassarna is a large sandy beach on the western side of Chania, close to Kissamos Town. With golden sand and crystal water, Falassarna beach is among Crete top places to visit. In high season, there is a windsurfing station there offering courses and renting the necessary equipment.
We could not miss this tiny island from the list of Crete top places to visit! Chrissi island (Golden island) is also known as Gaidouronissi (meaning the donkey island). This is a non-inahabited island south of Crete that gets very popular in summer with tourists coming by tour boat from Ierapetra. Enjoy the fantastic water and the soft, golden sand. You will remember these waters for many years to come!
Medieval Towns of Chania and Rethymno
Although the four largest towns in Crete (Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos) are much like all large Greek towns, the good thing is that they have old parts dating from the Medieval times. These old towns were constructed by the Venetians around trade ports and were the base for the modern development of the towns.
Particularly the old towns and ports of Chania and Rethymno are gorgeous places to walk around and spend a romantic night. These old ports have an intense Medieval style and they are lined up with traditional restaurants, cafeterias and lounge bars. The tourist shops in the old towns stay open until late, people are strolling around and a cheerful atmosphere is created.
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