5 Unique Things to do in Crete
A small paradise on Earth, Crete is an Eastern Mediterranean island and the largest and most populated of all Greek Islands. Once the centre of the Bronze Age Minoan civilization thought to have lived here since 7000 BC, Crete retains much of its local culture while still being an important part of the heritage of Greece.
If you’re looking for your next holiday destination, look no further; in the beautiful Crete, you’ll have the opportunity to explore places of great cultural and historical significance (or simply great beauty) that make this island so unique.
Explore the Palace of Knossos
History buffs won’t want to pass this one up. Knossos is considered to be Europe’s oldest city, and its Minoan palace is a truly breath-taking sight. Believed to date back to 1700 BC, the Palace of Knossos was discovered in 1878 and used to feature 1,200 rooms, some of which have been rebuilt to showcase the original grandeur of the site.
The legends of King Minos, the Minotaur and the Minoan Labyrinth are often associated with this palace. Greek mythology says that the king had Daedalus, a skilful craftsman, build a labyrinth to hide away the Minotaur, who was eventually slain by Theseus, hero and prince of Athens.
Relax on Elafonisi Beach
Visiting Crete and not sunbathing on the stunning Elafonisi Beach is truly impossible. The most distinguishing feature of this beach, which can be found in the South West of Crete, is its pink sand, which has been the backdrop for many Instagram and travel blog photos in the past few years.
It’s common for this beach to fill up during high season. Connected by a sandbar to an island nature reserve (which you can walk on if there’s a low tide), the beach is a treasure trove of beautiful turquoise water to dip into and little nooks and crannies to explore.
Visit the Island of Spinalonga
You don’t have to stay in the mainland for the duration of your holiday, since there are several islets and smaller islands surrounding Crete, which you’ll have the chance to explore if you’re interested. Spinalonga, now known as Kalydon and previously nicknamed Leper Island, used to be a leper colony until 1957 but is now abandoned. Accessible by boat and located in the northeast of Crete, Spinalonga can be found in the Gulf of Elounda.
This rocky island is a major attraction for visitors who want to lose themselves in the ghost town and its turbulent history, as it’s seen Venetian and Ottoman occupation and Arab raids in addition to its leper colony past. An interesting fact about this little island is that it used to be part of the mainland but was carved out of the coast and used to defend Crete during Venetian occupation.
Discover the Mythology of Psychro Cave
If you want some respite from the warm sun – and love history as well as mythology – you won’t regret visiting Psychro Cave, which is also known as Diktean Cave. Located in the eastern part of Crete, outside the village of Psychro, this cave could have easily been ignored, since it looks similar to the other 3,000 caves in Crete.
However, many associate it with the birthplace of Zeus. It is also thought to be the place where the god stayed hidden for many years, so as not to be found by his father Cronus who wished to kill him. This cave attracts thousands of visitors every year wanting to step foot into such a legendary site.
Travel the Samariá Gorge
What makes this place unique is its length; measuring 18 kilometres (or 11.1 miles), the gorge is the longest in Europe and offers spectacular landscapes you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world.
The same is true of the endemic species that make this place their home, like the spiny mouse and the Cretan badger. There are also 450 unique species of flowers and plants protected by international law; not a single one is allowed to be removed from the gorge. This is to protect Samariá’s delicate ecosystem and ensure you can continue enjoying it for many years to come.
If you’re seeking a more adventurous day after lounging on the beach or by the pool all day, this trek will get your heart pumping. Your reward will be the magnificent views over the Libyan Sea when you finally reach the end.
Over 250,000 people follow the trail through the Samariá Gorge every year, from May to October. The gorge is closed to visitors during winter due to the danger of water and falling stones so, if you’re already planning your next summer holiday, don’t forget to include this fantastic spot on your list.
There are many more unique things to do in Crete during your summer holiday, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. And what better way to enjoy your getaway than surrounded by the luxury of your very own pool villa in Crete? The perfect base to explore unique and amazing places on the island, our villas come with all the comforts of home and more.