In Greek, Elafonisi means "Deer Island". This is, indeed, an island, which is either separated by the sea, or connected by a sandy spit to the "mainland" part of Crete.

This place is located away from noisy resorts, the road here passes through a mountain serpentine. But this should not stop or scare you, because you will not see such beauty anywhere!

Elafonisi is located almost on the most southwestern point of Crete, 75 kilometers from the city of Chania.

Elafonisi beach is famous for its pink sand. This color of the sand was obtained by mixing small fragments of shells and ground corals.

In 2017, this beach was on the list of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world.

The beach is well equipped. It has everything you need for a comfortable stay: umbrellas, sun loungers, toilets, changing cabins, beach activities.

In many places, the depth of the sea is only one meter. Therefore, if you like to dive or swim in the depths, you will have to walk closer to the island.

If you wish to spend a couple of days on the beach, there are several mini-hotels nearby where you can stay. But check availability and book in advance. Thousands of tourists come here during the season.

In order not to catch crowds of people on the beach, come here early - by 9-10 am. Keep in mind that on weekends all beaches are crowded from morning to evening.

How to reach:

  1. By bus from the central bus station of Chania.
  2. By rented car. On the road from Chania to the west. Before entering Kissamos there is a crossroad where you need to turn left. Continue moving deeper. Follow the signs.


Balos Bay is perhaps the most visited beach in Crete. Thousands of tourists come here during the season. And this is not surprising. The beauty that can be seen here is fabulous.

The bay is located almost on the most northwestern point of Crete, 56 km from Chania.

It is believed that it is in this place that three seas merge: the Ionian, Aegean and Libyan. In clear weather, you can count up to 17 shades of blue here! Fine white sand, unrealistically clear turquoise water - you will really enjoy this beauty.

In some places along the water's edge, the sand is pink due to crushed shells and corals.

Due to the closed shape of the lagoon, there is rarely wind and waves here. The entrance to the sea is gentle, there are shallow backwaters - ideal for small children.

Until recently, the beach was not equipped with anything. But now they put umbrellas and sunbeds.

There are three ways to get to the bay:

  1. With a tour group. The bus goes to the port of Kissamos. From there it takes an hour to sail on a ship. The advantage of this method is that in addition to the beach, you visit the island of Gramvousa. There is an ancient fortress with a breathtaking view of the top of the island. After an hour's stop at Gramvousa, the ship sails to Balos bay to the beach. There you have time to swim and sunbathe. In the end, the group returns on the same ship to Kissamos. Then by bus to the hotels.
  2. By car. There is a minus here: about the last 10 km of the road is a primer. There is a possibility of contamination of the bottom, and wheels, which are not covered by insurance in Crete. When renting a car from the company, you will definitely be warned that you cannot drive on a dirt road.
  3. By car to the village of Kalivyani. From there, walk about 10 km. This option is heavy, especially in the high season under the scorching sun.

If you are not traveling on a bus tour, try to arrive as early as possible before the arrival of the ships to enjoy the deserted beauty of Balos.

Knossos Palace

The Palace of Knossos is the hallmark of Crete. You will see its picture on any guide of the Island.

The Minoan civilization is the oldest in Europe. The largest palace built by the Minoans is Knossos. 130m wide, and 180m long, it has more than 1000 rooms and halls for various purposes.

The palace was built and collapsed at least 2 times.

In 1700 BC The first building was destroyed by a strong earthquake. Then it was rebuilt.

Around 1628-1500 B.C. Santorini experienced a strong volcanic eruption. The tsunami waves that were formed from the eruption reached Crete and wiped out the Minoan civilization. The capital of the island was subsequently restored, but it was not possible to return to its former greatness.

In 1900, archaeologist Arthur Evans began excavations at the site of the palace. In addition to excavations, Evans recreated some parts of the palace. Thanks to him, we can see the palace as it was thousands of years ago.

It is assumed that life in the Palace of Knossos was quite turbulent and varied. Archaeologists have discovered a hall for ceremonial receptions, private chambers of the royal family, craft workshops, a theater with a capacity of about 500 spectators, a bullring and a unique water supply and sewerage system.

The legend of the Minotaur is associated with the palace. According to it, a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man lived in the intricate labyrinth of the palace. The inhabitants of the city regularly sacrificed several people to him. One day, Theseus decided to kill the monster. Ariadne gave him a ball of thread so that he could get out of the labyrinth. Theseus did just that. I went into the labyrinth with a ball, killed the Minotaur and came back thanks to the thread of Ariadne.

The palace is located near the capital of the island - the city of Heraklion. You can get from the central bus station by public bus or taxi.

The Palace of Knossos is best visited with a guide to understand its history and feel the atmosphere.

Palace opening hours:


November to March - 9:00-15:00

April to October - 8:00-19:00, Weekend - 8:00-15:00

Entrance ticket price: 15€.

Combined ticket (Knossos Palace + Archaeological Museum) 16€. Children under 18 are free.

The Palace of Malia

The resort village of Malia is a 30-minute drive to the east from the island's capital city of Heraklion. One of the four most important palaces of the Minoan period is located 2 kilometers from the tourist center of Malia.

According to the myth, Sarpedon, the younger brother of King Minos, the son of Zeus and Europa, lived in this palace.

The residence was first built in 1900 BC. After 200 years, an earthquake destroyed it. The palace was rebuilt, but after another 250 years, it, like the Palace of Knossos, like the entire Minoan civilization, was destroyed by huge tsunami waves that were raised by a volcanic eruption on Santorini.

In 1915, the Greek archaeologist Joseph Hadzidakis began excavations in the area. But unlike the Palace of Knossos, they decided not to restore a single building here. Therefore, all that you will see are the original structures that have survived our time.

During the excavations, archaeologists discovered sanctuaries, barns, workshops, and storerooms. The palace itself was, as it were, inscribed in an ancient city, the name of which is still unknown. Malia is the name of the modern village.

The Malian Palace had three floors and, compared to the Palace of Knossos, there were very few rooms. Even though the Mali Palace was inferior to Knossos in terms of design and decoration, during the excavations many interesting artifacts were found here: large earthenware jugs for storing olive oil, wine, and grain, swords with golden handles, a royal scepter in the form of a panther.

The most important find here was a gold pendant in the shape of two bees with a drop of honey. It dates from around 1700 BC.

Also, an unusual artifact was found on the site of the palace - Kernos - a stone circle of unknown purpose with recesses of different diameters. Some researchers believe that it was used as a table for sacrifices.

Many of the finds are now on display at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.

Palace opening hours:

Monday to Friday 8:45-15:00

Weekend and public holidays 9:30-14:30

Entrance ticket price: 6€, children under 18 free.

How to reach:

From Malia walk east along the sea. Walk from the center for about an hour.

From Heraklion by regular bus, which goes towards Agios Nikolaos.

Phaistos Palace

The ruins of the Phaistos Palace are located on the Messara plateau, 55 km from Heraklion and 10 km from the resort town of Matala, known as the “hippie beach”.

The first palace was built in 2000 BC. It was founded by King Minos, and his brother Rhadamantis ruled the palace.

In 1700 BC The palace was destroyed by a powerful earthquake.

and a new palace complex was built in its place.

In the 15th century BC As a result of the volcanic eruption in Santorini, a huge tsunami hit Crete. It destroyed all 4 Minoan palaces and the entire Minoan civilization.

But even after the disappearance of an entire civilization, the city of Phaistos continued to occupy an important economic position for the whole of Crete.

The excavations of the palace began in 1900. The archaeologist Federico Halberra was engaged in them.

The most famous find in the palace is the Phaistos disc.

There is an inscription on it, which still cannot be deciphered. It doesn't look like any other language. The original Phaistos disc is in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

In this palace complex, it was decided not to restore anything. That is, everything that you see and even touch there: stone buildings, a paved square, stairs - all this is about 3000 years old!

How to reach:

By rented car in the direction of the village of Matala (following the signs).

By public bus from Heraklion.

Entrance ticket price: Adult 8€

Palace opening hours: daily 10:00-16:00

Palace of Zakros

Zakros Palace is one of the four most important palaces of the Minoan period in Crete.

It differs from the other three:

  1. It is located away from other palaces, in the very east of the island, near the village of Kato Zakros.
  2. This is the smallest of the four palaces. In size, it is 5 times smaller than the Palace of Knossos.
  3. This is the only palace that has not been looted.
  4. The palace was built 1-2 centuries later than the others.
  5. The layout of the palace is slightly different from the others.

Zakros Palace was built in 1700-1600. BC.

In 1450 BC along with other Minoan palaces, it was destroyed by huge tsunami waves that were raised by a volcanic eruption on Santorini.

Excavations at Zakros began in 1901, but the palace was discovered only in 1961. Because at that time more modern technologies were already used during excavations, the ruins of the palace were preserved in a better condition than the ruins of the palaces that were discovered earlier.

The area of the palace with adjacent buildings is 4500 m². The palace had only 180 rooms.

Zakros was an important point of trade with the countries of the East. During excavations, archaeologists discovered imported goods: swords with gold leaf from Cyprus, elephant tusks, and valuable wood. Wines and olive oil were exported from Crete.

The most amazing finds were containers with olive oil and olives, "canned" even before our era.

All valuable finds were transferred to the Archaeological Museum of Sitia and the Heraklion Museum.

Excavations on the territory of Zakros are still ongoing.

How to reach:

By bus from Sitia to Kato Zakros

By car. From Heraklion 3 hours, from Agios Nikolaos −45 km.

Entrance fees:

Adult 6€

Openning hours:

9:00 — 15:00

Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos is the capital of Lassithi, the easternmost region of Crete. The city is located 62 km from Heraklion, in the eastern part of the island.

In the 3rd century BC a large trading city of Lato flourished here. It even minted its own coins.

The city was named after a small Byzantine church built in the 9th century. In translation, Agios Nikolaos means Saint Nicholas.

The city is called the Greek Saint-Tropez. For proximity to the sea, for the port, where there are hundreds of moored white yachts, for the nightlife.

What is worth seeing in the area of Agios Nikolaos:

  1. Be sure to climb to the observation deck, which is located on the rocky shore of Lake Vulizmeni. From there you have a magnificent view of the city, the lake, and Mirabello Bay. This view is the visiting card of the city.

Lake Vulismeni is located in the center of the city. Its depth reaches 64 meters. Initially, it was not connected to the sea and was fresh. But in the middle of the 19th century, during Turkish rule, a connecting channel was dug. However, in the lower layers of the lake, the water remains fresh due to numerous underground sources.

As a sign of the liberation of Crete from the fascist invaders, residents threw a lot of German equipment to the bottom of the lake. Until now, it lies at the bottom of Vulizmeni.

  1. It is worth visiting the small church, after which the city was named, the Church of St. Nicholas. It was built in the 9th century. Inside the church, there are remains of murals dating back to the 14th century.
  1. Archaeological Museum. Here you will see a huge number of archaeological finds from the eastern part of Crete: 1600 ceramic vessels made without the use of a potter's wheel, bronze knives, weapons, and more.

Museum opening hours: daily except Monday 8:00 - 15:00. The cost of the entrance ticket is 3€.

  1. Not far from Agios Nikolaos is the village of Kritsa, a colorful traditional village. Here you can visit the Church of Panagia Kera, a monument of Byzantine architecture from the 13th century.

The church is open 8:30 - 15:00. Entrance 3€.

  1. From the port of Agios Nikolaos there are boats to the island of Spinalonga.

The island was formed as a result of an earthquake. In the 16th century, the Venetians built a fortress here to protect against pirates. In 1903, a leper colony was opened on the island. Patients from all over Europe were admitted here. In 1948, a vaccine was invented, and the leper colony was closed.

Nowadays the island functions as a museum.

Entrance fee to the island 8€.

The development of tourism on the island began precisely with Agios Nikolaos and then spread to the whole of Crete. Interestingly, the tourist boom began after visiting the city Walt Disney, Jules Dassin, and other celebrities.

How to reach the city:

– From the bus station of Heraklion every hour there is a regular bus. Travel time is approximately one and a half hours.

- You can take a taxi. From Heraklion it will cost about 100€.

- By rented car. From Heraklion on the highway to the east.


Ierapetra is the southernmost city not only in Greece but throughout Europe. The city is located 35 km from Agios Nikolaos and 107 km from the capital of the island, the city of Heraklion.

The coast of the city is washed by the Libyan Sea. On a clear day you can see Africa on the horizon.

Tourism is not the region's main source of income. Ierapetra is the main exporter of agricultural products for European countries. Here they grow a large share of all vegetables and fruits that are supplied to Europe. Thanks to the ideal climate for agriculture, fruits, and vegetables ripen here earlier than in other parts of Europe.

Now the city is divided into two parts: Kato Mera and Pano Mera (Lower and Upper City).

The lower part of the city is narrow streets that end in dead ends, two-story houses. Here is the "Napoleon's House", where Napoleon stayed for one night in 1798.

The main attraction in the old town is the church of St. George. Its domes are made of cedar.

The upper part of the city is a business center with offices and small businesses.

The city's waterfront is always busy: fishermen mending their nets before their next fishing trip; companies of local and foreigners with cameras; taverns and cafes, where it is quite difficult to find a free place during the high season.

In the vicinity of Ierapetra you can visit:

  1. The ancient city of Gournia, where you can get acquainted with the way of life of the Minoans.
  2. HA Gorge is one of the most beautiful and wild in Crete. The gorge is difficult to pass and is not designed for beginners.
  1. Selakano forest, which consists of Pitsunda pines. Here you will be enchanted by bubbling springs, green hills, and majestic gorges.
  1. Fortress Kales. It was built by pirates, destroyed by an earthquake, restored by the Venetians, and captured by the Turks and Arabs.

As for the beaches, the most beautiful are Ferma Bay and the beach of Agia Fotia with a turquoise sea and fine sand.

From the port of Ierapetra in the summer season, ferries run daily to the island of Chrissi ("golden island"). This island is a real pearl of the south coast. Untouched nature, crystal clear emerald water, and fine light sand are reminiscent of a tropical island. On the island, you can walk through the cedar forest, which is rare for this region.

You can reach Ierapetra by bus from Heraklion or from Agios Nikolaos, or by rented car.


Heraklion is the administrative center, the capital of the island of Crete. The economic and cultural life of the island is concentrated here. More than 175,000 people live in 5 districts of the city. It is the largest city on the island and the fourth largest in Greece.

Heraklion has an international airport named after Nikos Kazantzakis and a large port.

The city was named after the mythological hero Hercules, who, according to the legends, performed one of the feats here.

What to see in Heraklion:

  1. The Palace of Knossos is the main attraction of Crete. The cradle of the Minoan civilization, one of the most ancient European civilizations.
  1. The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is one of the largest and most important museums in Greece. Its expositions are dedicated to the Minoan culture.
  1. St. Titus Cathedral is located in the heart of the capital. Titus is the patron saint of the island, his relics are kept in the cathedral.
  1. The Morosini fountain, or fountain with lions, was discovered in the 17th century by Francesco Morosini.
  1. The fortress of Kules was built by the Venetians to protect the coastal zone from enemies.
  1. If you are traveling with children, we recommend visiting the Natural History Museum.

Every Thursday and Saturday, local farmers come to the city center and offer fresh products of their production: vegetables, fruits, honey, olive oil. Also here you will find inexpensive souvenirs, clothes and accessories.

There are no beaches in the city itself, but in the surrounding area it is worth visiting:

- Amoudara beach, 4 km west of the capital.

– Karteros beach, 7 km to the east. The beach consists of cozy bays.

- Malia beach, 34 km from Heraklion to the east. Great place for windsurfing.

– Stalis – 2 km of sandy beach, 32 km east of the city.

In the city center there is free municipal internet and benches from which you can recharge your mobile device.


Rethymno is one of the most picturesque cities not only in Crete, but in all of Greece.

The city of Rethymno is located in the northeast of the island, 78 km from the capital, between Heraklion and Chania.

The main attraction of the city is the huge fortress of Fortezza. Its territory offers stunning views of the endless sea, the city and the majestic array of the White Mountains.

The fortress was built by the Venetians in the 16th century to protect against enemy invasion. The fortress is made in the shape of a star and is surrounded by 6 defensive ramparts. The structure includes a church, a hospital, barracks, warehouses and an aqueduct for water supply. The main temple of the fortress, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, was rebuilt during the Turkish rule, and now it is the mosque of Sultan Ibrahim Khan.

For lovers of history in the city there are archaeological and historical and ethnographic museums.

The archaeological museum is located at the entrance to the fortress. Among the exhibits here you will see Roman lamps, a Minoan helmet, gold jewelry, double axes, a statue of Aphrodite, and more.

The Historical and Ethnographic Museum is housed in a 17th-century Venetian mansion. Weaving tools, embroidery, costumes, ceramics, and other products are presented here.

Many guests come to Rethymno to wander through the narrow streets of the old town, enjoy its warm atmosphere, and have a cup of coffee in the picturesque port.

The old city is the central old part of the city, which is closed to traffic. It is easy to get lost in this labyrinth of narrow streets.

While walking through the old town, be sure to walk to the Rimondi Fountain. It was built in the 17th century and consists of three mouths in the form of lion heads, from which water flows into three reservoirs, and four columns rise above them.

Not far from the port is the Venetian Loggia where all the most important economic and political issues were resolved.

A colorful small port is, on the one hand, a lot of taverns with seafood, and on the other, the unhurried life of fishermen who unravel the nets, preparing for the next exit to the sea.

An excellent sandy beach stretches for 13 km from the Venetian port. The beach strip is wide, so even in the high season, there is no feeling of a large crowd of vacationers.

How to get to Rethymno:

- By taxi. The cost from Heraklion airport is approximately 70€.

- By public transport. Buses leave from the airport and the bus station of Heraklion every hour.

- By rented car.


Chania is the second largest city of Crete. Until 1971 it was the capital of the island. The city is located in the greenest, most picturesque part of the island.

The city was built by the Venetians. It is believed that they built up the Cretan cities in the image and likeness of their native Venice. Therefore, Chania is called the "second Venice".

Fortunately, neither Turkish shelling and fires, nor fascist bombardments touched this city.

Chania is the westernmost city of the island. It is located about 140 km from Heraklion and 70 km from Rethymnon.

The international airport is located 8 kilometers from the city, which receives thousands of guests every day during the season. Also nearby is the large seaport of Souda, one of the largest maritime transport hubs in the Mediterranean.

What to see in the city:

  1. The Old Town is the central part of Chania, surrounded by a Venetian fortress wall. Consists of 4 quarters: Kastel, Splantia, Ovrayki, and the harbor of Chania. The labyrinth of streets of the old city is similar to the scenery for the film "The Diamond Arm" - narrow streets, hanging over their balconies with flowers. Some streets are only 60 cm wide!
  1. Port. The mosque of the Janissaries and the Venetian arsenal are well preserved here. There are many taverns and coffee houses on the waterfront where you can taste Greek cuisine, seafood or just enjoy a cup of Greek coffee with a beautiful view of the old medieval port.
  1. Venetian fortress Firkas. From its walls, there is a magnificent view of the old port of Chania. On the territory of the fortress, there is a maritime museum. Here you will get acquainted with the history of navigation, models of ships, and naval weapons.
  1. The Historical Museum is dedicated to the heroes who fought for the liberation of the island from the Turkish invaders, for the reunification of Crete with Greece, the heroes who fought against the German troops during the Second World War.
  1. Archeology lovers should visit the archaeological museum. There are finds from the time of the Minoan civilization to Roman rule.
  1. Good sandy beaches can be found in the western part of the city. The most popular among them are Nea Chairs beach, Golden beach and Kalamaki beach.
  1. The market is one of the most visited attractions in Chania. The market is covered and built in the shape of a cross. Here you can buy farm products at lower prices than in stores. You can also buy fresh fish, but usually by noon it is all sold out.

How to reach:

- From another country - by plane to Chania airport.

– From Athens – by plane to Chania airport or by ferry to the port of Souda.

– From Heraklion: by bus from the central bus station (the journey takes approximately 2.5 hours), by taxi (approximately cost 120 €), or by rented car (gasoline costs approximately 1.9 € / liter)

Vai Beach

Vai Beach is located in the very east of the island, 29 kilometers from the town of Sitia. A winding narrow road leads to the beach with breathtaking views.

The beach is famous for its palm grove. It occupies a vast territory of 250 hectares. This is the largest wild palm forest in Europe.

According to one of the legends, the pirates who landed in Crete many years ago in this place ate dates. The bones were thrown to the ground, as a result, a whole palm grove grew here a few years later.

In the 70s, hippies settled here, who were expelled from Matala. After some time, huge piles of garbage formed on the beach. As a result, in the 80s, the authorities cleared this place, fenced it off and declared it a reserve. Camping and campfires are prohibited here.

The beach has everything you need for a comfortable stay: sun loungers, umbrellas, fresh water showers, changing cabins. You can also hide from the scorching sun by simply taking a place under a palm tree. Just be sure to arrive early as there are a lot of people here during the high season.

There is paid parking nearby. If you didn’t have enough space on it, which often happens during the season, you can park your car for free, but further away, 500 meters from the beach.

There is another story related to Vai Beach that is circulating on the Internet, but no one knows for sure if this is true. They say that the first advertisement for Bounty chocolate was filmed here.

The beach has fine white sand, the entrance to the sea is gentle. At the beginning, the entrance is sandy, but then the stones begin, often slippery and sharp.

Vai Beach, like many on the island, has been awarded a blue flag.

Near the beach there are cozy cafes and taverns where you can have a delicious meal overlooking palm trees and the sea.

Right next to the beach there is a staircase that leads to the observation deck. It offers a gorgeous view of the east coast and a small nearby beach, which is hidden between two rocks. There you can carefully go down from the observation deck. There are always fewer people on this beach because it is more difficult to get there.

There is no wind here, the sea is always calm. Vai is the perfect place to relax.

Пляж Превели

Preveli Beach is located on the southern part of the island, 35 km from Heraklion. On the shore of this beautiful sand and pebble beach, there is a large palm forest. Palm trees grow along the banks of the Kourtaliotis River. This is the second largest palm grove in Crete (the first one is on Vai beach).

You can walk along the river in the shade of palm trees up to a beautiful canyon.

In 2010, there was a terrible fire here, but, fortunately, the palm grove, contrary to the forecasts of experts, recovered very quickly.

Preveli Beach is unique in that you can swim in salty sea water and fresh river water at the same time. Near the mouth of the river, a small lagoon is formed with fresh, rather cool water. The river descends from the mountains, so the water temperature is always below sea temperature.

The Preveli area is included in the European program for the protection of natural beauty and ecology Natura 2000. Therefore, there is almost no equipment on the beach: sun loungers, umbrellas, water ski rentals and bananas. Nearby there are cafes and showers.

If you are coming here by car, you will have to leave the car in the parking lot and go down the rather steep stairs down to the beach. The climb back is quite difficult, but the views from above are worth it.

Not far from the beach is one of the most famous monasteries of Crete - Preveli Monastery. The monastery keeps a particle of the life-giving cross - the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

How to reach:

– From Rethymnon by public bus to Preveli monastery.

– By rented car from Rethymno strictly south through the Kourtaliotiko gorge. The cost of gasoline is about 1.9 € / liter.

- By boat from the neighboring town of Plakias.

Devil's bay

Devil's Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches not only in Crete but in all of Greece. Not even all the locals know about its existence.

The bay is located on the peninsula of Akrotiri, 22 km from the city of Chania. The road to the devil's bay will impress even experienced travelers.

There are two ways to get to the beach, and both are breathtaking!

  1. By car. The last stretch of paved road that leads to the secret beach is an incredibly steep serpentine with great views. The most important thing is not to close your eyes in fear, so as not to miss all this beauty! The car must be left in the parking lot. And from there go down the path that winds through the rocks. Be sure to wear shoes that fasten at the ankle so that it is comfortable to go down.
  1. For those who like to walk in the mountains, there is an opportunity to go down to the Diplokhakhalo gorge. It will also lead you to the beach. Walking through the gorge will take approximately 1.5 hours.

The beach is wild - there are no umbrellas or sunbeds. They don't sell anything here. Therefore, it is better to stock up on water in advance.

The beach is located in a bay, which is securely closed on both sides by rocks from the wind and waves. Near the shore, the water is fabulously blue. In this place, the width between the rocks framing the beach is no more than 20 meters.

How to reach:

By car from Chania towards the airport in the direction of the village of Xordaki, then turn at the sign for Rizoskloko. Passing through this village, follow the sign for the Church of St. Raphael.