Exploring the Beauty of Crete, Greece

I recommend visiting the Greek Islands by sea, sailing them.  And when exploring the beauty of Crete plenty of sailing opportunities exist, but I learned it would take you the better part of a week to sail around Crete itself. It’s big.

sail boats in the harbor at Herkalion, Crete

Always an option, taking a sail in the Greek Islands

Crete, Greece’s Big Island

the map of Crete and Greece

Crete is is a big place

Crete is the biggest Greek Island and 5th largest in the Mediterranean Sea at 160 miles wide. Visitors don’t just get from one side to the other quickly, well nothing happens quickly in Greece, (a main reason to visit), but travelers can use the efficient bus system or even plan a road trip across Crete.

Although it’s easy to just enjoy a seaside resort for week, especially when the views of the sea and long beach days can be coupled with some fine Greek cuisine, the island offers much more. Crete has an incredible history, a strong culture, and numerous breath-taking natural settings.

Minoan Civilization at Knossos Palace

one of the entrances to Knossos Palace in Crete, Greece

Crete is the home of the Minoan civilization. Widely regarded as the oldest in Europe, the society is also believed (by many) to be the civilization described in the story of Atlantis. And just outside the capital city of Crete, Heraklion, visitors find the main and most significant ruins on the island – Knossos Palace.

With only a six Euro entry fee, visitors can walk through the palace legend holds as the very home of Greek mythology’s minotaur. Although many of the original artifacts are at the local museum in Heraklion, a walk through the labyrinth designed grounds gives an impressive glance into an impressive civilization.

a painting of the famous minotaur at Knossos Palace in Crete, Greecer

the Minotaur inside Knossos Palace

Travel Tips:

To truly appreciate the grounds, definitely consider a tour guide at 10 euro per person (group price). It made a big difference when learning about Minoan culture.  The original one-hour tour lasted close to three and probably would have been even longer if the grounds didn’t close at sunset.

The Culture of Crete in Malia

traditional greek dance in Malia, Crete

Plenty of folks taking photos of the dancers

A coastal town in the municipality of Hersonissos, Malia, is a great way to “escape” the capital city (or any resort) to experience the culture and cuisine of Crete. The small streets, allow travelers to get lost among the old churches, small squares and local cafes. Also, don’t be surprised to see people sitting outside chatting the local gossip and young children playing freely in the squares either.

On my visit, the old town’s main square was filled with traditional dancing, live music, raki samples and a vibrant cafe scene enough to the delight the senses of taste, smell, sound and sight.

the cafes of old town in malia, crete

the vibrant cafe scene

Gorgeous Crete, the Beauty of the Greek Gorges

the sea and the colors of crete, greece from the knossos beach resort

The blue and white of Greece from Crete

It is easy to pinpoint the beautiful beaches along the countless miles of coastline Crete offers. Gorgeous. But visitors can find multiple gorges on Crete available for day hikes too.

The most famous, Samaria Gorge, will take the entire day and is closed during certain times of the year (winter) and for weather (rain), but another gorge, Imbros allows visitors to hike all year and only takes 2-3 hours. Some people even say it is more impressive.

a painting of the Imbros Gorge on Crete

Next time, I want to see the Gorge with my own eyes

Travel Tip:

Park the car at the start of the trail in Imbros at a Tavern and then hike down. When you finish you arrive to a place with a few taverns too. Enter one, order a thirst quenching Mythos beer (optional) and then negotiate (5+ euro pp.)  “taxi” (more likely a pick-up truck) back to Imbros. A bit adventurous and trusting, but definitely something I plan to do the next time I visit Crete (and its something you’ll see on Trip Advisor)

For me, Sailing the Greek Islands was  a life changing experience, but after exploring Crete (and Santorini) I might just believe Greece itself is life changing.

Stay adventurous, Craig

This post was done in partnership with Enterprise Rent-a-Car but all opinions are my own

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  • Maryann

    A great destination for an interesting and relaxing vacation. Enjoyed the article and photos. Hope you get to hike one of the gorges in the future and stop for the Mythos.

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Whether I hike a Gorge or not, I’m sure to stop in for a Mythos in Greece again…. an amazing destination. I am so thankful I had the for opportunity to explore it again this past year… Stay Gorgeous Greece, Craig

  • Minas E. Liapakis

    Great Article Craig. Thank you!!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Great place to visit…. stay loving Crete, Craig

  • Jessica Voigts

    Gorgeous! I need to visit!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Greek Islands are a must, absolutely. Stay Loving Greece, Craig

  • Glen Watson

    Agreed. Amazing island! It is big, and a car does help see a lot.

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Sure does, next time I will not even hesitate, renting a car on Crete… Stay road tripping, Craig

  • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

    I really enjoyed people watching in Crete – so many trendy, well dressed people there. Did you noticed too or was it just me? Lol

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Trendy, well dressed folks… well, that’s how I roll… stay trendy, Craig

  • Lazy Travelers

    looks gorgeous, and another place to add to our list! we could definitely just kick back for the week, but sometimes the tours are the best ways to learn about the history and culture!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Great spot to do a little of both, no doubt, even for the lazy traveler… I should know. Siga, Siga… Craig

  • TripsByLance

    Greece is on our radar; in fact, visiting some combination of the Greek isles has been our next trip for a few years now. It just keeps getting pushed back for various reasons. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Lance, you must make it there… it is a life changing trip. #StayGreektoMe, Craig

  • http://travelingted.com/ Traveling Ted

    This post has turned me into a cretin, but in this case it is not a bad thing.

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      especially not bad when you have a fanny pack…. StayCretin, Craig

  • Pingback: The Greek Beach at the Knossos Beach Bungalows on Crete | Stay Adventurous | Mindset for Travel Blog()

  • http://GreenGlobalTravel.com/ Green Global Travel

    Looks like a great place to visit! Beautiful pictures! -Dana

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Sure is Dana, I look forward to returning to see more, that is for sure. Stay Green, Craig

  • Dimitris Marxas

    hey craig ! I am Greek from Athens and i have to admit your article is spot on! Thank you so much for your kind words about Crete that is undoubtedly one of our most beautiful islands!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Dimitris… all of Greece is beautiful… i hope to get back there and see more in the near future, Stay Loving the Beauty of Greece, Craig

  • https://creti.co/blog Cretico Traveler

    You’re doing a great job in your blog. So I will send you an article link that we wrote in Cretico blog in the same topic, quite good and detailed….Happy Travels

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Thanks, the link was corrected (or removed actually)… I am a big fan of Crete and look forward to returning to the island and working / staying with you guys when I do. Thanks, Craig