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Tourist Places To Visit In Crete
Crete is the largest Greek Island located towards the south of the Greek mainland. It has a population of over 6 lakh people. Since it is quite large, it is best to divide it into its 4 main regions while touring the place, namely – Lasithi, Chania, Rethymno & Heraklion. Each of these regions has its own charm and offers many tourist places to visit in Crete, including pristine beaches, archaeological sites, historic buildings, museums, picturesque villages and more.
Knossos Palace & Archaeological Site
Knossos is known as Europe’s oldest city and it is the largest archaeological site on Crete from the bronze-age. The Knossos palace was believed to be built for the mythical king Minos and it became the political and ceremonial centre of the Minoan Civilization. During the 2000 to 1700 BCE period, the palace and its surrounding city proudly encompassed over 1 lakh people. It was abandoned between the years 1380 to 1100 BCE due to multiple disasters, including a fire. The history it has to offer is mind-blowing and is worth spending a couple of hours walking among the ruins.
One of the most beautiful national parks in all of Europe, Samariá Gorge is a 16 km long gorge offering stunning views and exciting hiking trails. Plenty of flora and fauna can be seen along the climb including dragon arum, white asphodels, peonies, irises and marjoram. The gorge is located towards the south-west of the island in the Chania region. Many tour operators organize group tours to the Gorge, as it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Crete.
Elafonisi is an island that can be accessed on foot because of its very shallow waters. It is located around 75 km from Chania town, in the south-west of Crete. It is famous for its pink sand, strange rock formation and beautiful wildflowers. The island is less than 2 km long. The beach on the mainland that connects to Elafonisi is a popular beach with tourists and has plenty of facilities. If you are lucky, you may even spot a loggerhead sea turtle in the shallow lagoon between the beach and the island.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
The Heraklion museum is considered to be the most important museums in the world for Minion art. It exhibits a compelling collection of artefacts from the Minion civilization. It contains 20 rooms, each displaying a different theme or period. The most notable artefacts are the Arkalochori Axe, Snake Goddess and Phaistos Disc. The admission fee is 6 euros as of 2019 and it is open every day.
One of the largest attractions on Crete is the beach of Vai which features a natural palm forest, one of the largest in Europe. It is picture perfect and you can enjoy a beautiful beach day here with all the facilities. It is located towards the east of the island and is at least a 2-hour drive from Heraklion.
Arkadi Monastery is located towards the south-east of Rethymnon town. It dates back to the 16th century in its current form and its influence from the Renaissance can be noted in its architecture. It was used as a refuge area during many wars and has played an important role in Cretan history. You can walk around the inside of the Monastery, read up on its history and take plenty of pictures.
Located around 100 km from Heraklion and 45 km from Chania, this beautiful lake in Crete is a must visit location if you are a nature lover. This is Crete’s only freshwater lake and is surrounded by hills which make it a very scenic location. There are also pedal boats available, especially during the summer, so you can spend an enjoyable evening on the lake. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby.
Cave of Zeus
An ancient Minion sacred cave in the east of Crete, it is famously considered to be the birthplace of the mythological god Zeus. It is also called Diktaean Cave and Psychro Cave. Impressive stalactites and stalagmites formations will leave you spellbound. Many shapes resemble that of humans and animals and may have been used as objects of worship. The cave was first excavated in 1886. Findings from the cave over the years have been showcased at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.