Being the largest of the Greek Islands means that Crete is packed full of things to do. Especially if, like me, you visit for a week.
I took a trip here in July with my mumma as we both fancied sun, good food and activities to keep us entertained. I’m not the biggest fan of chilling by a pool for hours on end, if you can’t tell already, I need to be on the move exploring.
Naturally, there is a great deal of exploring to be done in Crete. Rugged landscapes, isolated islands, ancient myths and the prettiest marinas. You’d need a lot more than a week to truly explore Crete but the following suggestions will help you on your way.
Top 7 Excursions in Crete
Now I am a little biased as I did stay here for the entire trip at a wonderful hotel called Macaris Suites. When I started researching where to stay I loved the look of the town and what others had said. It has everything you need. A gorgeous marina, stunning beach, incredible tavernas, quaint shops and to top if off it’s in a great location for exploring the rest of the island.
Walk around the marina and enjoy a meal at Zefyros Family Fish Taverna on the harbour front, the food is out of this world and the view ain’t half bad. Head up to the fortress for views over Rethmno and out to sea, grab a drink of water at the 16th Century Rimondi Fountain and wander around the Old Town streets.
If you’re planning on staying in Rethymno (which I highly recommend) make sure you book your tours with Spiridon Tours. They are based in Rethymno but can pick up if you are on the way . They offer a lot of tours around the island. I wished we had used them for all of our tours as they made the whole trip so entertaining. Spiridon had a few surprises up his sleeve. He brought his own wine, bread and olive oil for a tasty pick me up in the afternoon. He even had us singing a long to traditional Greek songs.
The perfect spot to start your day off right! We arrived around 10am which seems to be the ideal time as no other tours were there, thought they did start appearing around 11am when we left.
We hired a pedalo for €7 for an hour. It’s the only freshwater lake on Crete and is refreshing to dip in and out of the pedalo. There are a couple of restaurants next to the lake so grab yourself a beverage at the bar and relax. We visited as part of a tour, so I would recommend going for an hour or so and moving on to another spot, particularly if you have a car.
Santorini Day Trip
A trip to Santorini is an absolute must! The ferry leaves from Rethymnon or Heraklion harbour, it takes a couple of hours to get there and you will have around 6 hours on the island. It very much depends on how long you have and what you want to do on Crete, however, in my opinion it was worth it to say I have experienced the magic of Santorini.
You could potentially have 5 days in Crete and spend a couple of nights on Santorini, the ferries run frequently each day. I would have liked to experienced Santorini at night as I imagine it would be less busy and i’d witnessed that stunning sunset. Next time. There are tons of tour companies offering this trip. We paid £90 each which included our ferry ticket and a bus tour around Santorini.
Get Your Guide - 4 hr Private Walking Tour from £60
Spiridon Travel - Chania and Souda Bay £30
Oh beautiful Chania! As stated as much as I fell in love with Rethymno I was gutted I didn’t stay a couple of nights here. This enchanting Venetian harbour town is beyond pretty, I must have taken 100 pictures of doorways and windows, please see below for 2% of them!
Everywhere you turn there is eye watering beauty. I liked the fact that you have the charm of the old mixed with the new town. Take a stroll around the harbour and up to the Lighthouse. Stop off at La Bodega for a glass of wine and Charcuterie board.
Palace of Knossos
Admission cost: €15
Get My Guide - 90 minutes Guided Walking Tour £35 with admission included
Obviously, this was going to make the cut right? It’s time to immerse yourself into Greek Myths at the Palace of Knossos, home to the myth of the Minotaur. I have a degree in ancient history so this was a particular favourite of mine.
I cannot believe how well preserved it was, with beautiful Minoan frescoes adorning the walls still, it’s unbelievable as the first palace was built in 1900 BC! I have to admit the admission price is a little of the steep side but if you are planning to go on a tour this will be included.
Get My Guide - There are lots of day trips here with additional stops along the way. Starting from £26
One of the most famous beaches in Greece. You know, the one with the pink sand! Yes, pink sand, what more could a girl want.
Be warned, as it does get very busy in the summer months as all the tour descend. As I said, we went in July before the Summer Holidays and it was still busy then. I would advise getting there in the morning before the tours so you can have the beach to yourself and take lovely photos.
Spinalonga - Elounda - Agios Nikolaos
Get your Guide - from £23.66 pp
Spiridon Tours - from £20 pp
Spinalonga is more commonly known as the leper island. I know this doesn’t sound particularly holiday friendly, stick with me. the island is located in the gulf of Elounda which is incredibly stunning making the ferry ride over a visual treat. There isn’t a lot of shade there so make sure you have sun lotion and something to cover up.
Around midday you can have lunch, a glass of wine and explore the pretty bay of Elounda. We didn’t have a great deal of time here as we travelled from Rethymno which is a 2 hour journey. It’s a shame as I would’ve liked to have a little longer here.
Our last stop was Agios Nikolaos, a short 15 minute ride south. We had 2 hours to mooch around the town and marina.
These were the top highlights of my 7 day holiday to Crete, however, there are so many amazing experiences I didn’t get to do. I would’ve loved to hike the Samaria Gorge but it was far too hot when we were there. I would also like to take a road trip along the south coast as well as a wine tour. Just another reason to go back.
Let me know below what’s taken your eye or do you think I have missed something off the list? Get in touch.
Take a look at Get Your Guide for Tour inspiration