Greek Guide

Crete Tours Tourist Attractions Day Trips Crete Guide

Crete Tours, Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Greek Travel Guide

In the unlikely event that you never set foot on one of Crete's many beautiful beaches you'll still find more than enough fascinating sights to see and places of interest to visit to fill a fortnight's holiday here. This place is a paradise for history buffs, archaeology addicts, nature lovers and hikers the only problem you'll have when it comes to organising your days will be finding the time to fit it all in.

Top of most visitors' "to do" list is of course the world famous Palace of Knossos, the legendary home of King Minos who kept the half man half bull monster of Greek mythology in an underground labyrinth. The original palace was built around 1900 BC but was rebuilt and restored on several occasions over the next 500 years before it was destroyed in a fire and abandoned.

The ancient Minoan site and all its treasures lay hidden beneath a hill five kilometres south of the island's capital Iraklio until British archaeologist Arthur Evans started excavations in 1899. He spent the next 35 years uncovering and reconstructing the once magnificent palace which had more than 1,000 rooms, a sophisticated drainage system, elaborate frescoes and a central courtyard where acrobats entertained their royal masters by somersaulting over bulls. Highlights include the en suite bathroom where the queen bathed in milk and availed herself of a "flushing" toilet (flushed in fact by servants who hand poured water into the royal loo which was connected to the palace drains).

Allow several hours to explore the site and combine your trip with a visit to the superb Archaeological Museum in Iraklio where you can see a truly outstanding array of finds from Knossos and other Minoan sites on the island.

Just outside Iraklio you can visit the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, Crete's famous literary son who penned many great works including Zorba the Greek immortalised in the film starring Anthony Quinn.

The Palace of Phaistos is another important Minoan site in a spectacular location on a ridge overlooking the south coast of the island. At the nearby ancient city of Gortyna, a Roman capital in AD 67, you can see Europe's oldest written law code inscribed on a set of stone blocks in the 5th century BC.

If you have time visit the beautiful towns of Rethymno and Hania with their gorgeous harbour fronts and stylish Venetian architecture.

If you're feeling fit, take a day to hike through spectacular Samaria Gorge, Europe's longest ravine which is home to an abundance of flora and fauna including the protected Kri Kri (Cretan wild goat). Allow between five and seven hours for the walk, take water and snacks and wear sturdy shoes.

The stunning mountain fringed Lasithi Plateau, in the east of the island is well worth a day trip. It's a vast plain of orchards peppered with no less than 7,000 windmills and a scattering of traditional villages including Psychro from where you can walk to the famous Dikteon Cave, reputedly the birthplace of Greek mythology's greatest ever god, Zeus.