It's not easy to choose, but here you can find some of the top cretan destinations that you must visit before you leave Crete.
All of them are easily accessible with a rented car.
↫↫↫↫↫ Heraklion ↬↬↬↬↬
Heraklion is a city where warm hospitality, rich architecture, culture, leisure conveniences and urban nightlife have successfully intertwined to provide every visitor with a sincere Cretan stay. Visitors can take advantage of the variety of sights they could see and experience in and around the prefecture of Heraklion by investing some quality time with their loved ones and going on a tour, cultural or nature, to see this splendid island of Crete. For the independent visitor who doesn't want structured itineraries, exclusive tours can be arranged to fit their requests or fine car hire can be arranged to ensure a visitor a sound and comfortable ride on the coastal and inland roads.
Heraklion awaits to welcome all its guests and the Cretan people await to invite you to a bit of warm hospitality where music, food and drink are always on hand.
Heraklion International Airport, “Nikos Kazantzakis” (HER) is the primary airport on the island of Crete, Greece, and the country’s second busiest airport after Athens International Airport. It is located about 5 km east of the main city centre of Heraklion, near the municipality of Nea Alikarnassos. It is a shared civil/military facility.
The Heraklion airport is named after Heraklion native Nikos Kazantzakis, a Greek writer and philosopher. Nikos Kazantzakis Airport is Crete’s main and busiest airport, serving Heraklion (Ηράκλειο), Aghios Nikolaos (Άγιος Νικόλαος), Malia (Mάλλια), Hersonissos (Χερσόνησος), Stalida (Σταλίδα), Elounda (Ελούντα) and other resorts.
↫↫↫↫↫ Knossos ↬↬↬↬↬
Knossos- palace site was discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos (Μίνως Καλοκαιρινός). The excavations in Knossos began in AD 1900 by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851- 1941) and his team, and they continued for 35 years. The palace was excavated and partially restored under the direction of Arthur Evans in the earliest years of the 20th century. Its size far exceeded his original expectations, as did the discovery of two ancient scripts, which he termed Linear A and Linear B, to distinguish their writing from the pictographs also present. From the layering of the palace Evans developed de novo an archaeological concept of the civilization that used it, which he called Minoan, following the pre-existing custom of labelling all objects from the location Minoan.
The palace of Knossos was undoubtedly the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. It appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and storerooms close to a central square. An approximate graphic view of some aspects of Cretan life in the Bronze Age is provided by restorations of the palace's indoor and outdoor murals, as it is also by the decorative motifs of the pottery and the insignia on the seals and sealings.
The palace was abandoned at some unknown time at the end of the Late Bronze Age, c. 1380–1100 BC.The occasion is not known for certain, but one of the many disasters that befell the palace is generally put forward. The abandoning population were probably Mycenaean Greeks, who had earlier occupied the city-state, and were using Linear B as its administrative script, as opposed to Linear A, the previous administrative script. The hill was never again a settlement or civic site, although squatters may have used it for a time.
Except for periods of abandonment, other cities were founded in the immediate vicinity, such as the Roman colony, and a Hellenistic Greek precedent. The population shifted to the new town of Chandax (modern Heraklion) during the 9th century AD. By the 13th century, it was called Makruteikhos 'Long Wall'; the bishops of Gortyn continued to call themselves Bishops of Knossos until the 19th century. Today, the name is used only for the archaeological site now situated in the expanding suburbs of Heraklion.
In the first palace period around 2000 BC the urban area reached a size of up to 18,000 people. At its peak, the Palace and the surrounding city boasted a population of 100,000 people shortly after 1700 BC.
↫↫↫↫↫ Lassithi plateau ↬↬↬↬↬
The Lasithi Plateau stretches (11 km (6.8 mi) in the E-W direction and 6 km (3.7 mi) in the N-S direction. It is approximately 70 km (43 mi) east from Heraklion and lies at an average altitude of 840 m (2,760 ft). Winters can be harsh and snow on the plain and surrounding mountains can persist until mid-spring. The plateau is famous for its white-sailed windmills, (more accurately, wind-pumps), a local invention that have been used for two centuries to irrigate the land. Despite their vast number (some 10,000) in the past, most of them have been abandoned nowadays in favour of modern diesel and electrical pumps. Because the water table is close to the surface of the ground, all burials in cemeteries are above ground, in a stone mausoleum, or a stone box with decorations. This is because the Lasithi-plateau is endorheic, and there is impermeable rock just below the surface of the ground.
↫↫↫↫↫ Chersonissos ↬↬↬↬↬
Hersonissos (Greek: Χερσόνησος(meaning peninsula), Chersónisos, pronounced [xerˈsonisos]), also transliterated as Chersonisos and Hersónisos, is a town and a municipality in the north of Crete, bordering the Mediterranean / Aegean Sea. This community is about 25 kilometers east of Heraklion and west of Agios Nikolaos. What is usually called Hersonissos is in fact its peninsula and
harbour. It is part of the Heraklion regional unit. It is situated 25 km from the Heraklion airport and 27 km from the Heraklion port. The seat of the municipality is the village Gournes.
↫↫↫↫↫ Chania ↬↬↬↬↬
Chania is the second largest city in Crete and the capital of the regional unit of Chania. It is located on the north coast of the island, about 70 km west of Rethymno and 145 km west of Heraklion.
Chania is also one of the two places you are most likely to see when you arrive in Crete. It's beautiful - that is, much of the Chania that you want to see is near the port - old buildings, museums, churches, and craft shops (some with really interesting and sometimes local products on offer).
Familiarize yourself with the city of Chania by strolling through the streets, visiting the museums and admiring the different architectural styles that represent the historical route of the city.
↫↫↫↫↫ Rethymno ↬↬↬↬↬
Rethymno, or Rethimno, is a city on the north coast of the Greek island of Crete. In the old town, the Venetian Harbor is filled with fishing boats and lined with tavernas. Rethymno Lighthouse was built in the 1830s. West, the hilltop Fortezza is a star-shaped, 16th-century citadel. The Old Town of Rethymno is not just a colorful labyrinth of Venetian mansions, exquisite courtyards, historic churches, minareted mosques, elaborate fountains and ornate doorframes; it is also full of life. Walking around, you’ll smell flowers and freshly prepared food and see children playing in the streets, women of all ages sitting, sewing and chatting on doorsteps, and students filling the cafés and bars.
↫↫↫↫↫ Ag.Nikolaos ↬↬↬↬↬
Agios Nikolaos is a medium-size town with a small-town feel, one that has lots to offer. You can walk and enjoy walking here, you have several distinct waterfronts - you can get to know it quickly and feel familiar with the place, like an old friend. The town has three faces to the sea: The Lake and port, Kitroplatia beach and the Marina. Its unique features, start with the lake ("Voulismeni"), a folklore-inspiringly deep body of water which is connected to the sea by a narrow inlet. It is surrounded and overlooked by cafes and restaurants - a busy gathering place for local residents and visitors alike.
↫↫↫↫↫ Siteia ↬↬↬↬↬
↫↫↫↫↫ Ierapetra ↬↬↬↬↬