Best Things to Do in CRETE in One Week

Picturesque villages, exceptional beaches, enchanting gorges below rugged mountains – in this guide, I’m sharing with you the best things to do and the nicest places to see in Crete in one week.

The Venetian Port of Chania in Crete.
The waters, the mountains, the rich history – Crete has it all in abundance.

So pack your swimsuit as well as your hiking boots and follow me to Greece’s largest and arguably most amazing island.

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Best of HERAKLION – Your Perfect Base in the East of Crete

Bright lights, big city: Although Crete’s capital Heraklion has only 200,000 inhabitants – which still makes it the island’s largest city – it surely has some swag and its rough vitality can definitely compete with the fierce energy of Athens. Now, add some amazing history, the proximity of some beautiful beaches and major hubs like an international airport, a busy seaport, and a bus station from where you can get to all of Crete’s most captivating spots – and there you have it: Heraklion, your perfect base in the East of Crete.

View of Heraklion, the perfect base in the east of Crete
Welcome to Heraklion, Crete’s exciting capital city.
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Day Trip to RETHYMNO

Located about halfway between the Cretan capital of Heraklion and the glorious coast town of Chania, idyllic Rethymno is kind of a smaller version of the latter: The same historic old town, a Venetian harbor, picturesque alleys, and fascinating Ottoman heritage make Crete’s third-largest city one of the most popular destinations for vacationers. But due to its favorable location, Rethymno is also the ideal place for a lovely day trip.

Venetian harbor of Rethymno
Today, Rethymno’s Venetian Harbor also serves as a fishing port
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SAMARIA GORGE – the Best Hike on Crete

One thing every visitor to Crete should do is a hike into – or through – the Samaria Gorge. Not only do you get to see the most amazing scenery. If you cross the gorge hiking, you’ve also walked the longest canyon in Greece, the second-longest in Europe, and the third-longest in the entire world.
All in one go.

The Samaria Gorge on the island of Crete
The walls seem to be closing in.

And although you certainly won’t walk alone, it’s still a one-of-a-kind experience – no matter if you do it the hard way or opt for the easy one.

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BALOS and GRAMVOUSA – Crete’s Most Excellent Beaches

Have you also seen those incredible pictures of the Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island where some of Crete’s most excellent beaches are located? Do you wonder if those places are really as beautiful and as dreamy as shown in those pictures?

View of the Aegean Sea on a day trip to BALOS and GRAMVOUSA - Crete's Most Excellent Beaches
The colors on Balos Beach are just incredible and prove that true beauty needs no filter.

Well, yes and no. While those places are truly mesmerizingly beautiful, they are pretty far from being dreamy. Simply because hundreds of day trippers would cast out any kind of dreaminess even from paradise.

But here is why you still should go.

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Best Things to Do in CHANIA – And the Finest Beaches Just a Short Walk Away

The glorious city of Chania is located rather in the west of the island of Crete and unites all the best features every visitor is looking for: There is the everchanging history that’s reflected in magnificent structures from different epochs and cultures and showcased in grand museums. There is the joy of life that you feel even in the smallest alley, that you taste in Crete’s delicious cuisine and enjoy with every sip of Retsina’n’Raki. However, one of the best features of Chania are the beautiful beaches which are just a short walk away from the city center.

Chania on the island of Crete
View of the famous Venetian harbor of Chania.

Hence, if you are looking for the perfect base to explore’n’enjoy the island of Crete, look no further, you’ve found it in Chania.

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The Amazing Murals of the Hotel Ruins of Alyko

The secluded cape of Alyko in the southwest of Naxos island is surrounded by the most beautiful coves and beaches. But Alyko is not only famous for its idyllic secluded bays. It has actually a real landmark. Pretty much in the center of the peninsula is a long-abandoned and uncompleted resort. Today, these hotel ruins of Alyko are decorated with murals by street artists from all over the world. 

Mural at the Ghost Hotel in Alyko Beach in Naxos
This mural that basically bursts through walls was created by Indonesian street artist Wild Drawing – or in short WD. It is definitely the most famous and most photographed of the works at Alyko’s open-air gallery.
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A Self-Guided Bus Tour to Naxos’ 5 Most Beautiful Mountain Villages

Yes, there are those paradisiac beaches lining the island of Naxos. But the true travel connoisseur makes sure to explore also Naxos’ hinterland for at least one day. Don’t wanna drive up those crazy serpentines yourself? No problem since Naxos’ 5 most beautiful mountain villages can be conveniently visited on a self-guided tour by public bus. All you need is an elaborate timetable which I put together for you in this post.

Alley in Chalkio, one of the Mountain Villages on Naxos
The village of Chalkio- where in some corners the time seems to stand still.

This way, not only do you save a lot of money. Travelling by bus also spares you driving the crazy serpentines and searching for a secure parking spot. Hence, let the driver do the job while you enjoy the scenery to the fullest.

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The Best and Most Beautiful Beaches of Naxos

There is this grand history. There are those picturesque mountain villages. You can hike for hours alongside those Mediterranean olive groves and climb mountains from where you’ll have majestic views of the Aegean sea. All this is fine and dandy. But Naxos’ strongest suits are undeniably the beautiful long golden beaches hemming turquoise crystal clear waters. In this guide, I show you how to get to the best beaches of Naxos comfortably by public bus.

Agios Prokopios Beach in Naxos
Please, make yourself comfortable and enjoy the view of Agios Prokopios Beach.
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