Top 10 memorable things to do in Crete - 2021

Summary: The uncountable amazing things to do in Crete makes Greece a favorite country to most sailors. There is just something special about Crete.

Top 10 memorable things to do in Crete - 2021

Apart from it being the largest island in Greece at 260 km long, the island in sprinkled with high mountains and one of the most amazing bays and beaches and you will ever drop your anchor on.

Arriving in Crete

If you sail to Crete, here are the GPS coordinates to it: 35° 14' 24.421" N 24° 48' 33.369" E.

Also, there are two options to arrive in Crete by plane, Chania or Heraklion International Airports. You can rent a boat from both locations, in Chania from Marina Chania or in Heraklion from Marina Heraklion.

Weather in Crete

You should consider not to visit Crete in July or August. The meltemi winds blow most all days and are N-E on the western part of the island and N-W at the center and north-westerly on the eastern part of the island. Consider also the two straits at each end of Crete that develop seas up to 4 meters at this time of year.

During May-June or September-October the weather is much calmer and more settled. The winds are mostly blowing from N-W and rarely with gusts.

Are you ready to explore?

Besides the beautiful scenery, the locals are famous for their hospitality so prepare yourself for a warm welcome, in fact don't blame their hospitality if you find yourself extending your stay longer than you had planned.

Crete has more than 25 ports and marinas, over 30 gulfs and bays where you can drop the anchor, so you can relax and enjoy the 10 unforgettable things you will get to see and experience while sailing in Crete.

  • Hike at Samaria Gorge
  • Visit the Balos Lagoon
  • Wedding in Anogia
  • Efalonisi beach
  • Local cuisine
  • Road trip to Sitia
  • The lost paradise of Gaidos
  • Spinalonga Island
  • Seitan Limania Beach
  • Explore Mirabello Bay

1. Hike at Samaria Gorge

While sailing the south coast of Crete, you can explore the most famous gorge in Crete, none other than the Samaria gorge. The gorge is located in the Samaria National park and it’s surrounded by the White Mountains in West Crete. It's a 16 Km long stretch starting from Xyloskalo and goes all the way to the village of Agia Roumeli and the Libyan Sea. If you are into hiking, remember to pack your hiking gear and enjoy one of a kind hiking experience in Samaria gorge. Also, schedule your visit between 1st of May to the 15th of October since that when the Samaria gorge usually operates depending on the weather. The gorge is open to visitors from 6 am to 4 pm. If you want to enjoy your hike in cool weather, plan your visit here in either May or September when the weather is not very hot. To avoid disappointments, make prior arrangement and find out if it will be open during the period you intend to visit.

If you want to take some time onshore, good accommodation can be found at Hotel Calypso*** with starting price 45 EUR / night and Samaria Hotel*** with starting price 102 EUR / night.

Samaria Gorge – Crete

Samaria Gorge – Crete

2. Visit the Balos Lagoon

Sailing west from Chania, the Balos Lagoon is a beach to river Elafonisi and should not miss in your to-do-list while in Crete. Its popularity among tourists and residents is for a good reason, the fascinating views of mountains dropping into the sea make the area look wild yet attractive. 

There is also a shallow lagoon where you can get a chance to view all its beauty. Get a rare chance to see turquoise water and white sand, making it a perfect place when you want to relax, unwind and rejuvenate as you enjoy your vacation.

If you go ashore, remember to have some beverages and snacks with you.

Balos Lagoon – Crete

Balos Lagoon – Crete

3. Why not attend a wedding in Anogia?

If you get along with locals quite well, one might probably invite you to a wedding. If you are lucky to get such a special invitation, don't shy away from it and just ensure you keep time so that you can be part of a historic wedding in the historic village of Anogia. You may not be the only visitor.

Cretan weddings are best known for being the biggest and busiest of all. There is a lot of dancing and singing throughout the ceremony making it hard to feel like a stranger here.

With friendly residents and amazing activities to enjoy in, the experience will remain unforgettable for years to come.

Wedding io Anogia – Crete

Wedding io Anogia – Crete

4. Explore the pink sand at Elafonisi

If you are planning to surprise your significant other with a romantic getaway, Elafonisi beach will be glad to make your desires come true. It’s among the best beaches in Europe: Pasjaca beach, Nerja beach, Porthminster beach and Cape Drastis beach.  Its shallow warm water and pink sand resulting from crushed shells make it a stunning place to be.

The sunset is also fascinating and a moment to remember so make sure you arrive at beach before 19:00, of course, depending on the season the sunset may vary. You can book a tour from Destination Platanias.

  • Pick up point: Your hotel or accommodation
  • Tour duration: 15:15 – 22:00
  • Ticket: starting at 39 EUR

If you choose to visit during low season, then you will have all the time to enjoy a peaceful environment away from hustles of the busy life. But if you love crowds, then summer is the time to be here especially during the day.

To get here, you can do it by car and drive down the Topolia gorge or book a bus tour, starting from 45 euro. Either way, you will have an amazing time.

Efalonisi beach – Crete

Efalonisi beach – Crete

5. Try out unique dishes

Are you ready to try out unique yet delicious dishes? Then, Crete is the place to be.

Crete is an island blessed with different kinds of foodstuffs. Interestingly, many dishes you will come across here are rare to find in other places including mainland Greece. Take for example snails which is a delicacy you should definitely try out. The snails here are fried with olive oil and flour and then served with a dash of vinegar or wine.

Although you can find the delicacy in most parts of Crete, consider having it in Kissamos, a rural town on the west of the island famous for snails collected in the neighboring hills. You should also try Dakos, Gamopilafo, Moussaka and for someone with a sweet tooth,  Kalitsounia and Loukoumades.

Greek dish – Crete

Greek dish – Crete

6. Enjoy a road trip

Road trips are amazing but they can get normal if you are used to the same destinations. This time around, get out of your comfort zone and schedule for a road trip away from home. Crete is a beautiful island, and your eyes can't get enough of it, so a road trip from Chania to Sitia is a great route whether alone or in the company of loved ones.

During your trip, you will get to enjoy a breathtaking view of the narrow streets and colorful houses in Chania. Furthermore, the drive to Sitia down the coast is one to remember. Even if you stay at anchor, marina or hotel, you should definitely drive to Falassarna, Heraklion or Rethymno.

Road trip in Crete

Road trip in Crete

7. Visit Gavdos, the lost paradise

Gavdos Island is a tiny hidden gem you should surely visit while cruising the Sothern part on Crete. It's an exotic paradise destined to give its visitors the ultimate freedom and relaxation away from the crowds. Just get lost in the beauty and the quietness of this tiny island without a care in the world.

Nudism is also acceptable here so don’t be surprised if you come across yoga gatherings of nudes, because it’s the way of life down here. You can as well join the trend and experience the ultimate connection with nature.

If you are into camping, get a mesmerizing experience here and you can stay as long as you want because staying on the beach is free.

Good anchorage can be found near Port of Karaves. However, if you just want to stay for a few days, and don’t want to spend the night at anchor, there are some accommodation options available: Gavdos Princess*** with starting price from 75 EUR / night and Villa Kastri** from 85 EUR / night.

Kap Trypiti – Gavdos Island

Kap Trypiti – Gavdos Island

8. Sail to Spinalonga Island

The tiny island of Spinalonga is close to Plaka Marina or the town of Elounda, from where you can rent a small boat or you can drop the anchor in one of the bays close to the island and explore it with the tender boat. Perched within the Gulf of Elounda, it’s one little spot to explore some of the Venetian history of the island. The small boats leave Elounda every 30 minutes, from Marina Elouda.

This little place that has had a pretty turbulent past, with the historic Arab raids, Venetian conquering, Ottoman occupation, all before being turned into colony. For example, on the western part of the island, you can visit the Garrison from the Venetian Period which makes it one of the best things to do in Crete.

  • Address: Elounda, Spinalonga
  • Visiting hours: Summer 8:00 – 20:00 daily 
  • Ticket: Full price 8 €, Reduced 4 €.
Spinalonga Island

Spinalonga Island

9. Seitan Limania Beach

From Chania heading east, you will arrive in the tiny little bay of Seitan Limania which is a great spot to drop the anchor, chill out and relax in that stunning Aegean Sea. Now, the beach is pretty small and it does get busy during peak season but If you want to avoid the crowds, pop over for an early morning dip, or late in the evening when everybody is gone.

If the place is getting crowded, you can sail South and find some other gulfs and bays that suits your desire.

Seitan Limani beach – Crete

Seitan Limani beach – Crete

10. Explore Mirabello Bay

West to Chania, you will find one of the largest bays in all of Europe, Mirabello Bay. The water is crystal clear and the coast is full of surprises from Plaka beach to the ruins of Elunda. On the yacht or on the beach, you have tons of thing to do here, scuba diving, water sports or why not, just sitting down with a cool drink and enjoying the view. You can find many companies offering scuba lessons or trips around Mirabello bay.

  • Boat trip with guided snorkeling 60 €
  • First steps into scuba 90 €
  • Open water diver course 480 €

A good option for docking would be Marina of Agios Nikolaos, from where you can explore the surroundings or the local restaurants and taverns, like ChrisofyllisParadosiako or Archontiko Restaurant.

Mirabello Bay – Crete

Mirabello Bay – Crete

Sailing to Crete or renting a boat in Crete, will make you want to return for more, just because Crete has many hidden gems, remarkable cuisine, amazing hospitality and one-of-a-kind sceneries. If you are planning a vacation in Crete, consider to rent a boat for at least one week, in this way you will be able to cover most of the destinations and of course relax and return home with great memories.

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