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‘Is Crete worth visiting’ was the exact question I had asked myself before my trip. I many cases, these kinds of places photograph well but tend to be overrated and overly crowded with tourists.
Luckily, I discovered an island that offered a lot more than pretty pictures. If anything, I think Crete is actually underrated because I assume most people only see it as a summer holiday destination. Well, I’m happy to be the one to burst that bubble and show you all the reasons why you have to spend at least a few days in Crete.
IS CRETE WORTH VISITING? 12 REASONS WHY THE ANSWER IS ‘YES’
IT’S PERFECT FOR BOTH SHORT AND LONG VACATIONS
Whether you have 3-4 days in Crete or two weeks, there’s plenty to do and see on this island, so your itinerary will always be full, and trust me when I say that you won’t be bored.
THE BEACHES ARE HEAVENLY
Before diving into all the other reasons to visit Crete, I have to mention the island’s magical beaches. Although Crete is more than just a summer destination, it’s pretty difficult to resist crystalline water and golden sands. Famous beaches like Elafonissi (where the sand is actually pink!), Balos, and Preveli might get all the attention, but I’m certain you’ll love any one of Crete’s 300+ beaches.
IT DOESN’T FEEL OVERLY CROWDED EVEN DURING SUMMER
When looking for less-crowded, quiet Greek islands to spend the perfect summer vacation, Crete probably doesn’t come to mind. Since it is Greece’s largest island, summer is obviously its busiest season, yet somehow it doesn’t feel like that at all. I assume specific areas like Balos Lagoon (which I haven’t visited) can be somewhat crowded, but from my personal experience in Crete, I can say most places were not nearly as busy as I had expected.
PERFECT WEATHER ALMOST ALL YEAR ROUND
If you’re not necessarily looking for a beach destination, you can visit Crete from April to mid-October. While both April and October may have some rainy days, the weather in Crete still allows you to be quite flexible with your dates as opposed to other destinations.
Good to know: Some businesses (like hotels and tour companies) do not operate from November to March, so take that into consideration if you do want to plan a trip during the winter months.
GORGEOUS CITIES, TOWNS, AND VILLAGES
I’ve said it once and will say it again. There’s nothing I love more than wandering around beautiful streets and alleyways. Luckily, there are more than enough places in Crete where you can do exactly that.
From cities like Chania with its colorful old town to charming coastal towns and villages like Agia Galini and Agios Nikolaos, Crete proves it’s worth visiting even if you’re not looking for a typical sunny vacation.
FOUR DIVERSE REGIONS
Crete is divided into four regions, and although they have a few things in common, each one also has its unique characteristics:
- Heraklion: It offers a nice mix of historical landmarks, traditional villages, peaceful beaches, and buzzing nightlife.
- Rethymno: Beyond the resorts, it’s full of monasteries and archeological sites. It’s also considered relatively calm even during high-season.
- Chania: This region is known for its exotic beaches and traditional architecture.
- Lassithi: Apart from a few popular places, it is the least touristy region in Crete. Here you’ll find quiet Cretan villages, archeological sites, and the Lassithi Plateau famous for its wooden windmills.
HOME TO QUIRKY AND UNEXPECTED PLACES TO VISIT
With my big love for offbeat experiences, I was thrilled to discover that even an innocent-looking island like Crete knew how to surprise me.
I particularly loved Matala, a little town in southern Crete famous for its colorful street paintings, hippie caves, and hippie festival. Another surprising spot is Loutro, a tiny fishing village you can only reach by boat. Read here about a few other alternative activities in Crete.
IT CAN ALSO BE A ROAD TRIP DESTINATION
Not all places in Crete are easily accessible by public transportation, so it’s the perfect excuse to go on a road trip. I loved driving in Crete and seeing views I would have never seen without renting a car, so I highly recommend it.
Good to know: Local car rental companies are very tourist-friendly and are cheaper than the big international companies. Also, their prices usually include full insurance coverage.
IT’S FULL OF HISTORY
With countless archeological sites, old monasteries, and other historical landmarks, Crete is one big piece of history.
You don’t have to be a history nerd to appreciate places like the island of Spinalonga which was the last active leper colony in Europe or the Knossos Palace, Crete’s largest Bronze Age site. This island is home to so many fascinating and important sites, that you have to add it to your bucket list.
CRETAN FOOD IS SOOO GOOD!
From cheese-stuffed pastries to Cretan salad to seafood, the food in Crete is ridiculously delicious. A huge plus is that many dishes are based on cheese, so vegetarians can also enjoy all of this yumminess.
If you’re like me and desserts are as important to you as the meal itself, Crete also has you covered. Some of the desserts you need to try are loukoumades (fried doughnuts soaked in syrup or honey) and bougatsa (pastries filled with a rich creamy custard), but this sweet list goes on and on.
Good to know: Many restaurants offer you a portion of loukoumades on the house.
YOU CAN VISIT CRETE AT ALMOST ANY BUDGET
I’m not necessarily saying that Crete is a budget-friendly destination, but you can definitely enjoy it without breaking the bank. Unless you’re going on a sightseeing spree, you don’t have to splurge as there are plenty of free things to do and see, and you’ll find enough hostels scattered around different parts of the island, as well as restaurants for every budget.
NATURE LOVERS AND ADVENTURERS WILL ALSO LOVE IT
What? Nature and hiking in Crete? Are you sure? Yes, I’m sure!
I know it’s surprising, but Crete is actually home to three natural parks, hundreds of gorges and mountains, and more than 4,500 caves. Besides hiking in places like Samaria Gorge and the Rouvas Forest, you can also engage in other outdoor activities like birdwatching, canyoning, and rock climbing. Mindblowing, right?
LOCALS ARE SUPER FRIENDLY
I don’t take locals’ friendliness for granted, and to me, it can make all the difference between a good trip and a great trip.
One of the reasons why I loved Crete so much was the locals’ hospitality. Not only service providers but all people I’ve encountered were kind, patient, and had a smile on their faces.
THE MEDITERRANEAN VIBE IS ADDICTIVE
There’s something about Mediterranean destinations that makes you want to stay there forever. The entire atmosphere is relaxed yet contagiously lively and happy. Throw in the sun, the beaches, the views, and the food, and you’ve got yourself one perfect vacation.
GREECE IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA
Do you have a beloved destination where you know that no matter what, you’ll have a good time? To me, countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece always provide the best experiences, and I know I’ll enjoy myself, no matter where I am and even if I’m not doing anything special.
Need more reasons why Crete is worth visiting? Read one of these incredible novels set in Greece that will ignite your wanderlust!
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