Crete Tourism And Travel Guide
5.5° C / 41.9° F
May to October
4 to 7 Days
Kazantzakis International Airport (4 kms)
Crete is a beautiful Greek island located in the Aegean sea, towards the south of the Greek mainland. It has a population of over 600,000 people and is the largest Greek island. It has a rich past, both culturally and historically. The largest town in Crete is Heraklion, followed by Chania and Rethymno. Tourism is an important economy for Crete with Agriculture following a close second. The island is famous for its pristine beaches, archaeological sites, museums and its natural landscapes. The towns of Chania, Rethymno and others have beautiful influences of Venetian and Turkish architecture. It is great to visit all year round and this travel guide to Crete will give you all the information you need while planning your memorable trip.
How To Reach
While travelling from India, the quickest way to reach Crete would be to fly to Athens and then take a domestic flight to Crete. There are additional charter planes during the summer. Multiple airlines travel to Greece from India on a daily basis. Crete has 2 airports, one at Heraklion and the other at Chania. There are also some flights that fly directly to Crete from some European cities.
A fun way to travel to Crete is by sea. There are no direct cruises from India. You will need to fly to Athens and then take a ferry boat from Piraeus Port to Crete which runs every day through different operators. At Crete, there are multiple ports where you can get off, including Heraklion, Chania, Rethymno, Sitia, Agios Nikolas and Kastelli-Kissamou. The sea journey takes about 9 to 10 hours. Avoid travelling by sea during the winter as it can be quite stormy and there are many cancellations and delays.
Crete is a very large island and cannot be seen in one day, let alone by walking, like the other Greek islands! You need a vehicle - whether public or private. If public, the buses are great - frequent (more so during summers) and cheap. Taxis are available in plenty but can get quite expensive. If you want to hire a car and drive yourself, just do so carefully as the roads are quite rugged. The Hop On Hop Off Tourist Bus service is also available in the main cities.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
Spring (March to May):
The weather during spring is pleasant. Though there may be a few days of rain during the early weeks of Spring, the average temperature is 17°C to 20°C and you can still enjoy a good beach day. In May, the temperature becomes warmer with almost summer-like weather. Crowds also start coming in from May, so if you want to avoid the crowds, March & April, though cooler, are ideal. Since it is pre-season, you may also be able to snag some cool deals.
Summer (June to August):
Summer-time is always a good time for the beach and of course, Crete is full of it! The average temperature is 29°C with bright sunny days - ideal for a swim, a spot of snorkelling, windsurfing or just cruising around on a boat. However, the downside of summer is the crowds. It is peak tourist season and hotels get sold out, beaches are overflowing and you may end up spending a lot more money. A lot of festivities occur during the summers including many music festivals, the wine festival and also a celebration of the Indian festival of Holi.
Autumn (September to November):
September is when the crowds start reducing (though not too much) but the festivities are still going on! The weather is still warm and it feels like summer. It is definitely a great time to be in Crete. The weather starts to cool down from October, and then by November it can get quite chilly because of the winds. Average temperature ranges between 20°C and 24°C. The Chania Film Festival and Heraklion Gastronomy Festival take place in October every year.
Winter (December to February):
Winter is the slowest tourist season, but it is still a pretty awesome time to visit Crete. The average temperature is 15°C which is chilly but pleasant. Most of the beach towns are shut, but the main towns like Chania, Rethymno and of course, Heraklion, are still thriving with activity because of their local population. Water sports or swimming may not be the best things to do, but there are still many other places to visit during winter; like museums, archaeological sites, the aquarium etc.
Things To Do
Heraklion, Chania, Rethymno are the biggest towns in Crete and each of them offers a beautiful experience and is worth exploring. Chania is a beautiful town with Venetian & Turkish influenced architecture. Walk around the narrow lanes and check out the Venetian-styled harbour and lighthouse. It is the 2nd largest town in Crete, so it is thriving with restaurants and shopping streets. Walk by the waterfront area, buzzing with activity, visit the maritime museum and overall just enjoy this quaint town. Similarly, there are amazing sights to be seen in each of the other towns and neighbouring small villages as well.
Being an island, you can enjoy plenty of water sports from almost all parts of Crete. From scuba diving to snorkelling. Kayaking to Surfing. Sailing to fishing. There is plenty to do for beginners and experts alike. Activities that will fill your holiday with adventure and that can be enjoyed with the entire family.
One of the prettiest locations in Crete is by far Mirambello Bay. The beaches of Elounda, Plaka and Agios Nicholas form the bay. Blue waters, water sports, dozens of boats going back and forth the island of Spinalonga - things you can enjoy just watching, if not anything else. Plenty of restaurants will keep your stomach satisfied. The evening sunset is definitely a sight for sore eyes. You can easily spend an entire day roaming around this area with your loved one.
Crete has some pretty exciting nightlife. From plenty of bars, traditional taverns, live music, Cretan dances to wild beach parties and booze cruises! Malia is a town in Crete that is infamous for its beach clubs and awesome music. Live DJs entertain you all night long. So no matter what your nightlife vibe is, you will find your calling in Crete.
You can shop till you drop in Crete. Whether you are looking for high-end brands, local curios or traditional markets, you will find them all. The best towns for shopping are Heraklion, Agios Nikolas, Rethymno, Chania, Sitia and Ierapetra for items such as clothing, footwear, accessories, beauty items and more. For local produce like cheese, wine and olive oil, you can also shop in the many small villages neighbouring the main towns.
Leather items, Hand Embroidery, Woven Carpets, Handicrafts made of brass, wood, copper, ceramics etc, are some of the specialities of Crete. Also, look out for beauty products made of olive oil. You can pick up some interesting jewellery here too that are copies of designs from the Minoan and Byzantine period.
Greek food is famous worldwide and when you're in Crete you absolutely must try out some of their local delicacies like Cretan Raki, Fried Snails, Dakos, Fried Feta with Honey, Olives, Greek Yogurt with Honey & fresh fruits, Cretan Salad and a variety of Cheese pies. Other typical and delicious Greek dishes are Saganaki, Moussaka, Souvlaki, Tzatziki and Gyros. For the best Greek food, visit restaurants like Elia, Tamam, Ferryman Taverna, Talos, Dounias, Taverna Dionyssos and The Alchemist.
If you have had enough of Greek food, no worries - hop over to The Chickpea or Pan Asia for alternatives. And if it is Indian that you are craving, then visit Curry Park, Namaste or Massala House. Most hotels will have vegetarian and vegan options, but you can try places like To Stachi and Pulse for some great veggie food.