5 breathtaking places in Crete to put on your bucket list
Crete is the largest and probably most stunning Greek Island. It is a very popular tourist destination for Europeans as the nice weather, perfect beaches and Greek food are winning ingredients for an amazing summer holiday. Even though there are many breathtaking places in Crete to visit, a lot of tourists choose to just stay in one town or resort without exploring the island. To make sure you know where to go, I’ll give you 5 breathtaking places in Crete to put on your bucket list.
1. Seitan Limani beach
One of the most breathtaking places in Crete is Seitan Limania. Even though it looks remote, the beach is only 20km from the city center of Chania.
You can only get to Seitan Limania by motorbike or (rented) car. From the parking area it’s a little hike down so be careful with children and make sure to bring good shoes (although I didn’t know and did it on sandals). Also, there’s no shop or kiosk so bring some food and drinks as you probably want to spend some time at this paradise beach.
2. Old Venetian Harbour of Chania
When visiting Crete, make sure you stay in Chania. This cute town in the north of the island has everything: an old Venetian harbour, narrow shopping streets, amazing lighthouse (see picture), old city walls and waterfront restaurants. We absolutely loved it. Especially during sunsets, it’s so beautiful!
We stayed at Castle Inn, a lovely hotel right next to the harbour. The owner offers great deals for accommodation and car rental, contact him directly to see what he can do for you 🙂
3. Jump in the water at Elafonissi beach
This beach is in the top 20 of the world’s best beaches and you can see why. The water is so clear all you want to do is just jump into it (at least I did). Nevertheless, the actualt reason why this beach is so famous is because of its pink sand. I was very excited to go here but to be honest, apart from a little pink hue.
To get there you have to drive for about 1,5 hours across the mountains and through little Greek towns. It’s an amazing drive with some of the most stunning views. When you get to the beach make sure to walk all the way to the end (behind the rocks) where it’s less busy and not that windy.
4. Hike the Samaria Gorge
At a place with so many stunning beaches you don’t really expect being able to do a proper hike. But nothing is more true, Crete has a lot of beautiful nature areas and hiking routes! The Samaria Gorge is actually the longest trekking gorge in Europe. With 16km of trails and slopes that reach up to 500 meters, it’s for sure one of the most breathtaking places in Crete to put on your bucket list.
Since you will hike the gorge only one way (unless you’re a really eager hiker with a lot of energy) you have to go there with public transport. It’s really easy and a lot of people (ok, I think everyone) do it this way. You have to catch the bus from Chania Bus Station to Omalos. The first bus leaves at 06:15 but check the KTEL website for the current timetable. It takes 90 minutes to get to the start point of the hike.
The hike ends at Agia Roumeli, a cute, remote town that isn’t connected to any roads. Before you sit down and wait for the ferry, jump in the ocean or have a nice lunch at this place. The ferry ride itself is also really beautiful, taking 1 hour to get from Agia Roumeli to Chora Sfakion. At Chora Sfakion the bus to Chania waits for the ferry to arrive (around 18:30) and then brings you back in 1,5 hours.
5. Balos Lagoon
Balos beach really reminds me of Whitehaven beach in Australia. It is actually a lagoon and therefore it feels like you’re in the most beautiful pool you’ve ever been in. The water is shallow, warm and crystal clear.
To get there it’s a 1 hour drive from Chania. I read on almost every blog that you can’t drive there yourself unless you have a 4×4. This is not true. The road is perfectly fine, just a little bit bumpy. On top of that, the drive is actually stunning! When you get there you have to hike down for about 30 minutes to reach the beach, so again make sure you bring some good shoes for the best views of Balos (see picture). If you’re not much of a hiker or don’t like bumpy roads you can take a ferry. The ferry is 19 euros per person and sails to another small island as well.
Other breathtaking places in Crete I didn’t get to visit:
✦ Kourna lake – said to be the only freshwater lake on Crete. Locals recommended me to go but we didn’t have enough time! It’s a 45 km drive from Chania.
✦ Knossos Palace – an archaeological site where they painted the Greek temples as they were in the past. Very interesting but 144 km from Chania. If you’re in Heraklion it’s only 6km out of town!