7 min.

Crete - Basic information on the island

People usually talk about Crete depending on the part they have visited. Some know the island as a bustling place full of fun, nightlife and tourists, while others have enjoyed Crete as a calm romantic place with splendid sea and ease.

Nonetheless, for all Crete is a synonym for wonderful beaches, historical sites, amazing sceneries and varied entertainment. You will find all that in great amounts on the island. Whether you are interested in an active holidays including trips, or you just want to lie idly on the beach, Crete has something to offer for all. After all, you can see that yourself on the hundreds of photo albums with thousands of photos in the section Crete - Photo gallery, or the many travelogues in the part Crete - Travelogues.

Crete stands out for its variety in all respects. You will find there places resembling a desert but also beautiful green valleys; the island has lowlands (e.g. Messara) and a few high mountain ranges (Lefka Ori or Psiloritis). There are busy places with crowds of tourists and places where you won’t meet a living soul during several days where civilization has not arrived yet. As written above, Crete has something for all.

If you find Crete interesting and you would like to know the most about it, take a look at our great overview of excursion tours to Greece and on Greek islands. Some of the excursion tours are focused exclusively on Crete and will show you the most interesting things of the island.

What can you find on Crete and where?


Although the individual regions have been marked in colour on the small maps below, to get a better idea, we recommend you to study thoroughly the section Crete Map.

There are several ways of how to divide Crete. The island is oficially divided by prefectures or regions:

Chania Region
Rethymnon Region
Heraklion Region

Travel agencies also have their own classification, just as people are used to refer to the Cretan regions with their names. Sometimes this can be quite confusing but still it is the best way when you want to choose your holiday. The descriptions and map below are based on the division accoring to various tourist parts:

East and south-east Crete

This region includes the part from Agios Nikolaos to the east. On the north-east there are not many resorts, except the towns of Istron and Sitia. Apparently there are not many tours being organized to this part, but if you happen to go there for a trip, you can stop in Sitia for a coffee - it has a nice town centre and a colonnade. The resorts located on the south-east (statring from the west) are: Ierapetra, Ferma, Agia Fotia, Galini, Achlia, Koutsouras, Analipsi and Makris Gialos (sometimes also written as Makrigialos).  

The east of the island is rather parched, without green vegetation and without tourists; there are beautiful beaches and total peace. The region is probably very poor - this can be also seen on the architecture - you will still find there villages with little houses in the shape of white cubes. The local nature is almost a desert, there are almost no trees but prickly bushes.

The region near Xerokambos is even the driest place on Crete with the lowest amount of precipitation. There are also several beautiful canyons, including Hohlakis, and the magnificent place of the Valley of the Dead near Kato Zakros. Since the landscape is not mountainous, the canyons are not dramatic and physically demanding. There are also a few remarkable monasteries: Moni Kapsa in the south, and Moni Toplou in the north close to Sitia. The region is not recommendable for a long stay, but it is definitely worth going there for a trip.

If nothing else, you will know the harsh life of the Crete inhabitants, since due to the great dryness and little developped tourism, this area is still untouched by civilization, and people continue living in the traditional way. It is basically sure the little and poor cube houses in the proximity of Hohlakias village (where the beautiful Hohlakias Canyon) starts will surprise. And once you are there, don’t miss the Vai palm tree beach.

North Crete

Those who like bustle and fun should go to the north, or more precisely the northern coast of Crete. The land slopes down into the sea gently, the beaches are sandy and the sea shallow, and the possibilities of social life are illimited. Some of the places in the north coast are the most touristically exposed places not only on Crete but also in the whole Greece. The stretching part from Heraklion to the west up to Agios Nikolao is the busiest Cretan region. It includes for example Hersonissos, Elounda (which is the most luxury and the most expensive resort on Crete), or the two interconnected resorts of Stalida - Stalis.

On the opposite side from Heraklion, you can find Bali and Panormos, two relatively calm and peaceful resorts. Starting in Rethymno, there is an extremely lively tourist area with huge hotel complexes and bustling tourist life and nightlife. This part stretches to the town of Chania with a beautiful centre and colonnade, and further to Agia Marina up to the western end of Crete to the resort of Kissamos,from where boats depart for a popular and interesting trip to the Gramvousa fortress, and one of the most beautiful Cretan beaches, Balos Lagoon.

Have you visited the island? Help us with the content of the website!

There is never enough information about Crete Island. And who would be more familiar with the island than those who have spent there their holiday? We would like to ask you to dedicate a few minutes of your time evaluating your holiday on the island, telling us what you liked there and what Crete means to you, or possibly also to give us tips and advice that could be useful for other visitors who are interested in the island and are thinking of going there for holiday. 


South Crete

The term of ‘South Crete’ usually refers to the south-east cost of the island. All along the length of the south-east coast, several magnificent mountain ranges can be found. Although there are a few tourist resorts, the dominant of the region are the mountains and fascinating mountain villages. The region is also a bit more humid than the island centre, and greener than the centre and east of Crete; so you will find there not only beautiful hilly landscape, but also enough green vegetation, trees, many plants and in general a nice climate. So, if you like beautiful natural sceneries and are searching for a well-balanced proprtion of peace - social entertainment, south-west Crete is the right part for you. The resorts like Plakias won’t certainly disappoint you.

Even if you don’t put up there for a night in a hotel but will be just passing through the region, you shouldn’t miss places like the villages/resorts of Sougia, Loutro or Chora Sfakion, or the beaches of Preveli and GlykaNera - SweetWater Beach. And obviously we can’t forget about the historical sites, like the Frangokastello Fortress or the Preveli Monastery.

West Crete

West Crete is also nice. It is the most humid Cretan eregion with enough green vegetation and a splendid view on the Lefka Ori mountain range. Probably the only important local resort is Paleochora. On the other hand, you search for peace and romanticism, and a charming town without large hotel complexes, Paleochora will be perfect.

Yet otherwise there is not much to be seen. Sometimes you can find a villa for rent on the western coast, but that is more or less all, except several interesting beaches - down in the south you will find one of the best beaches on Crete, Elafonisi, and in the north there is the Falassarna beach.

Cretan inland

The inland of the island can be characterized by the mountains - approximately in the middle of Crete, you can find the highest mountain range, Ida, with the peak of Psiloritis, and in the east, the Dikti mountains including the Lasithi plateau and the peak of Dikti, and the mountain ranges of Asterousia (with the Kofinas peak), Thriptis and Orno.

The most famous mountains on Crete are probably Lefka Ori – the White Mountains. They include the second highest peak of Crete, Pachnes, and the second largest gorge in Europe, Samaria (Samaria Canyon or Samaria Gorge). A completely different part is western Crete where there are no mountains and the humidity is much higher.

What to do on Crete?

Besides nature, Crete also offers many historical sites. The most famous ones are e.g. Knossos, Gortys, Festos, Kato Zakros or Matala. Apart from classical sights, there are many interesting monasteries, like Hrisokalitisas, Agia Triada or Preveli.

On Crete you can rent a car almost anywhere, as there are many car rental companies. We can recommend for example the tested and tried Autoway car rental service. If possible, rent a car for the longest time possible and travel the most of the island. Crete is still relatively small, and so even the sites and places of interest located on the other side of the island are easily accessible. Apart from the already mentioned historical sites, Crete offers other interesting things - you can make a trip to some of the well-known and interesting localities like 

Gramvousa - Balos Lagoon (north-west Crete), Elafonisi Beach (south-west Crete), Samaria Gorge (south Crete), Imbros Gorge/Canyon (south Crete), plateau of Omalos (south Crete) or the beautiful historical town of Chania and Rethymno (north-west Crete).

For other nice places on the island, see the section Crete - Tips for trips.

Useful links

You can walk or go by car to many places on your own, but there are still a few places that can only be accessed in an organized manner. The trip doesn’t necessarily need to be organized by a travel agency, but to some places there is no other way than to go there accompanied. These sites include for example the visit of the Gramvoussa island and fortress, including a trip to the Balos Beach which can only be made by a boat from Kissamos. Or the visit of a large complex of aquariums near Chersonissos. The links will open in a new window.

Gramvoussa including a visit of the Balo Beach

On the site Balos / Gramvousa, you will find timetables and price lists of the boats, and also of the buses that will take you to Kissamos port. The prices are quite high - if you are in the region of Agia Marina - Chania or further in the east, you should consider renting a car which might be a more economic option.  

Crete aquarium - Thalassokosmos

When clicking on the link Cretaquarium Thalassocosmos - Aquarium, you will find a very nice website of a place you definitely shouldn’t miss. It has many aquariums offering a complete overview of life in the Mediterranean Sea. There are small fishes but also large sharks. On the website you will find many photos and videos, and of course also a map and and an up-to-date price list.

Weather and updated weather forecast for Crete for the next two weeks

In the section Crete - Weather, you will find a description of the climatic conditions, and a weather forecast for Crete, including a historical overview. So, if you want to know what kind of weather there was last year or two years ago, you only need to enter the date.

Main areas and resorts where travel agencies offer their tours

For a detailed description from the point of view of the climate, see detailed description of the region. Or you can try to find the resorts on Crete Map by yourself.

North-west Crete (from Heraklion to the west)

Heraklion, Amoudara (West of Heraklion), Lygaria, Aghia Pelaghia, Fodele, Bali, Panormos, Skaleta, Sfakaki, Pigianos Kambos, Adelianos Kambos, Platanias (Rethymno), Missiria, Rethymno, Dramia, Kavros, Georgioupoli, Almirida, Kalyves, Chania, Kato Daratso, Kalamaki, Stalos, Agia Marina, Platanias (Chania), Gerani, Maleme, Rapaniana, Kolymbari and Kissamos.

North-east Crete (from Heraklion to the east)

Hani Kokkini, Gouves (Kato Gouves), Analipsi (near Anisaras), Anisaras, Hersonissos (Chersonissos), Stalida - Stalis, Malia, Sissi, Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, Istro (Kalo Chorio),

South-east Crete (from Matala to the east) 

Ierapetra, Koutsounari, Ferma, Achlia, Makrigialos,

South-west Crete (from Matala to the west)

Matala, Kalamaki, Damnoni, Plakias, Hora Sfakion, Paleochora

Villas and private accommodation on Crete Island

If you like peace and privacy, you can consider renting a private villa. At first sight the prices seem high but it is quite the contrary. The prices are stated for the whole villa, so, if there are more of you travelling together, you just divide the price by the number of persons and you will see yourself.

If you are interested in something special and are looking for a really comfortable accommodation, there are also palces to chooe from. You can see villas like for example Vila Pleiades ***** , with three bedrooms, a large hall with a fireplace, TV, 2 bathrooms, Jacuzzi, terrace, 20m2 swimming pool ad more conveniences.

You can see the complete offer of accommodation in the section Crete - Villas and private accommodation

Catalogue of hotels, suites and studios on Crete

For detailed information on accommodation, see the section Crete - Catalogue of hotels, suites and studios. In the menu on the left, (List of sites) you will also find detailed information of all the other places of interest, including resorts, historical sites or canyons.

Which travel agencies go to Crete and which are recommendable?

There are many travel agencies offering tours to Greece. Most of them can be found in our overview in the section Crete - Tours overview. Of course you will find there also last minute, first minute and other special offers. Some travel agencies have a complicated system of discounts, or it is not possible to display all the offers they have, so, we recommend you to see their offer right on their websites. You will find the links for these travel agencies in the Recommended travel agencies chart here on the right. Those travel agencies are also included in the description of the respective hotels and resorts. 

Weather forecast for Crete - Weather forecast

Geographical position

Crete is situated inthe Mediterranean Sea in the very south - Ierapetra is even the southernmost European city. In the same latitude as Crete, you will find Cyprus or Tunisia. Given the island length of about 260 km, you will find the Aegean Sea with most island above it, while in the south, Crete reaches Egypt and Lybia.

Nearest hotels

Naše tipy na zájezdy

Places nearby