In this article, we will share with you both the places you must see and the hidden gems that many travelers cannot discover while on their travel in Crete. We compiled the interesting points of this Greek island, which attracts those who love to travel with the cultural and historical richness places and swiming in the clean turquoise sea on the largest island of Greece.
In 1890, one of the greatest names in Turkish literature, Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, who is known as Halikarnas Balıkçısı and Nikos Kazancakis, whose name you have never heard before was born in the island of Crete. At this strategic point where the Aegean and the Mediterranean intersect, it is worth to be loved and seen even with its wonderful narrow streets, houses, rich history and hospitable people. It is an island where you can find a lot of things from yourself. On this Greek island where the Ottoman Empire has been dominating for a long time, the Turks brought justice, happiness and prosperity as well as many beautiful buildings. We will whisper the hidden places visited by a small number of visitors.
- 1 – Heraklion
- 2 – Koules Fortress (Venetian Castle)
- 3 – Heraklion Archaeological Museum
- 4 – Morosini Lions Fountain (Lions Square)
- 5 – Agios Minas Cathedral
- 6 – Historical Museum of Heraklion
- 7 – Knossos: Palace of the Minoans
- 8 – Rethymno or Rethimno
- 9 – Balos Beach and Lagoon
- 10 – Chania
- 11 – Psychro Cave (Cave of Zeus)
1 – Heraklion
An old port town, Heraklion is one of the largest and most popular city on the island. I guess, all people who visit to Crete, also must travel to Heraklion. Because the island’s busiest international airport is located here. Crete Heraklion has many attractions to visit, you should have time at least 2-3 days to discover all the main places. Knossos, St. Minas Cathedral, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Heraklion History Museum, Koules Fortress, Karteros Bay are among the top places to visit in Heraklion.
Nikos Kazantzakis, who was a famous writer to be dedicated to the Nobel, although he did not receive the Nobel Prize, was born in Heraklion. After his death, he was buried under one of the city walls. If you have read any of Nikos’ articles, Heraklion will make more sense to you.
2 – Koules Fortress (Venetian Castle)
This a castle built in Heraklion by the Venetianand also called Koules, in Turkish language means “fortress”. It is an fascinating fortress that ring in the harbor of Heraklion, island of Crete. The Koules Castle is a large stronghold with two floors that used to guard the entry to the harbor. The fortres was constructed by the Venetians in the early 13th century when they conquered the town. Almost all the details of the Venetian Castle, which has been well preserved until today, have survived to the present day without being destroyed. This fortress, which was captured by the Ottoman Empire in 24 years, is at the top of the list of places to visit in Crete. Venetian Castle is open to visitors between 8.00-15.00 in winter and 8.00-19.00 in summer. Of course, these clocks may vary.
3 – Heraklion Archaeological Museum
As in all other Greek islands, the island of Crete is one of the most abundant archaeological remains. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of the greatest and most significant museums in Greece, and amongst the most considerable museums in Europe. It houses representative artefacts from all the durations of Cretan prehistoric and history, covering a chronological session of over 5,500 years from the Neolithic duration to Roman times. The singularly momentous Minoan collection contains unique samples of Minoan art, many of them true masterworks. The Heraklion Museum is rightly considered as the museum of Minoan culture par excellence worldwide.
4 – Morosini Lions Fountain (Lions Square)
Located in one of the most populated areas of Heraklion, this fountain is famous for its lion figures. The fountain of Morosini Lions, which is similar to the la Fontana di Trevi in Italy, is visited and photographed by many holidaymakers. Also, if you visit Lion’s Square, don’t forget to feed yourself in one of the dozens of restaurants here. You can also think of Lions Square as the resting point of your trip.
5 – Agios Minas Cathedral
The Greek Orthodox church of Saint Minas, located in the city of Heraklion on the island of Crete, is dedicated to Saint Minas, who protects Crete against the Germans and serves as the most important point of the Archdiocese of Crete.
The construction of the cathedral was started in 1862 and the construction of the cathedral was interrupted for a while due to the Cretan rebellion of 1866-1869 and was completed in 1895. St. Minas, the largest cathedral in Crete, is also one of the largest cathedrals in Greece. You may want to add the cathedral in Heraklion to your list of places to visit, even for embroideries on the inside of the church.
6 – Historical Museum of Heraklion
It is one of the most visited places of the Turks where you can see the documents of the years when the Ottoman Empire reigned. This museum in Heraklion has a lot of archival documents. You can also discover the old daily belongings of the region, coins used in time, handwriting and ceramics in Heraklion History Museum. You can explore this museum located in Heraklion between 9.00-17.00 in summer and 9.00-15.30 in winter.
7 – Knossos: Palace of the Minoans
Knossos is a historical antique city located at a distance from Heraklion, which was home to the Minoan civilization in ancient times. When you visit here, you will say, “There was no technology in the past, how people cut these stones so great, how they planned and designed them“. You can also see the items used in those periods. Knossos Palace was one of the most spectacular places of the period. Compared to other antique sites and museums, the entrance fee to Knossos palace is a bit expensive (15 euros), but make sure it’s one of the top places to visit in Crete, it’s worth the money. Besides, it would be a great loss not to visit Knossos while coming to Heraklion. You can visit this historic palace from 8.00 to 17.00 every day.
8 – Rethymno or Rethimno
Rethymno assembles uncommonly united features: the old town’s attractiveness and history, with proximity to a sandy golden beach. Although it is the third biggest city in Crete, Rethymno in no way feels a town as Chania and Heraklion do. Instead of it has a provincial air; it’s a place that moves slowly, a very dreamy plade and the most important preserves much of its Venetian and Turkish appearance.
Explore one of the best preserved medieval cities in Greece, and search for your fairy-tale romance in Rethymno. Venetian castle walls works interfere harmonized with orthodox and catholic cathedral, mosques, splendid mansions of Venetian structure, arches and cobbled paths which create a magical atmosphere, remembrance of the city’s turbulent – yet spectacular – past.
9 – Balos Beach and Lagoon
Balos is the beach you see in the instagram and google. You regret every winter because you still haven’t gone? Among the most beautiful beaches in Crete, one of the world’s most spectacular Greek islands, Balos is the most spectacular beach. It has a sea where you can swim with its blue and clean waters. Around the Balos beach, you will see rare plants that may not be found anywhere in the world. The easiest way to get to Balos is by using ferries from the city.
10 – Chania
The westernside of Crete, Chania is a fabulous location for holidays. The city is a dreamy spot to stroll around, with mediaeval structure, gracious mansions and a gorgeous Venetian port, the most renowned point of the town. In close distance to Chania Town, there are alotof touristic beaches and accommodation options. Nevertheless, you should not also miss sightseeings around the zone to discover the fantastic places of Chania: Balos, Elafonissi, Paleochora, Sfakia, Falassarna and Samaria Gorge. All beaches have clear water and each one offers a matchless experience, from the most tourist to the most golden beaches. The natural charms of the space is breathtaking.
11 – Psychro Cave (Cave of Zeus)
The fascinating cave of Zeus, the Diktaean Cave, is placed just 15 minutes walking-distance from Psychro, in Lassithi Plateau, at an altitude of 1050m. In Psychro there is copious of parking spaces, with many of restaurants nearby. Two paths leading to the cave start from the parking points. The simple route is the left one, because in the right path (the oldest) the stones are distressed by thousands of tourists and are lubricious. The road to the cave is gorgeous as the view to the Lassithi Plateau is extraordinary. If you do not want to walk, there are donkeys to transfer tourists to the cave. Near the entree of the cave there is a hut where you can buy tickets for a suitable price. The cave, which has an area of 2200 sq.m, is well lit and the ways in it come along a secure-designed path of 260m length.