What to see in Crete in 5 days

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Crete is the largest island in Greece, a real paradise on earth! Here you can live different experiences: from the crystal clear sea to Caribbean beaches, from cities rich in history and culture to excellent food to experience a journey within a journey. The island is a succession of landscapes all different from each other, but one more beautiful than the other.

Given its size and the many things to see, it would take more than a week to visit it all! If, on the other hand, you have little time available, we recommend that you focus on some parts of the island. The best way to get around is definitely by rental car (from € 30,00 per day). Here are our tips on what to see in Crete in 5 days!


  1. 1 day
  2. 2 day
  3. 3 day
  4. 4 day
  5. 5 day
  6. How much does it cost 5 days
  7. Before leaving: useful tips
  8. User questions and comments

1 day

For the first few days you can base yourself in Heraklion, where the international airport is located. With only 5 days to spare, we will focus on the north-western part of the island and then base in Chania.

Start the morning in the historic center. Stroll along the Venetian walls approaching the city, symbol of the ancient domination. Then visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, with exhibits various fundamental finds for the study of the Minoan age (summer 8: 00-20: 00, winter 9: 00-17: 00, consult the official website).

Stop for a quick lunch break at Tyraki's (€ 5,00).
Then reach the Cathedral of San Mena, one of the largest in all of Greece, with truly majestic interiors. Once out, walk through the center and in 15 min you will arrive in the port area (1 km). Here we recommend that you visit the Heraklion fortress (generally 8: 00-20: 00, consult the official website). Of Venetian origin, it dominates the entire port of the capital. From here you can also admire a wonderful sunset over the sea.

End the day with a typical Greek dinner overlooking the sea from Paralia (€ 10,00).

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,5 km / 31 min
  • Places visited: Venetian Walls (free), Heraklion Archaeological Museum (€ 12,00), San Mena Cathedral (free), Heraklion port (free), Heraklion Fortress (€ 4,00)
  • Daily shopping: € 40,00
  • Lunch at Tyraki (Get directions), Dinner at Paralia (Get directions)

2 day

For the second day, we recommend that you visit one of the symbolic places of Crete, the Palace of Knossos (every day 8: 00-20: 00, online purchase of the entrance with audio-guided tour is recommended to avoid the long queues at the ticket offices, especially in summer), easily accessible by car from Heraklion (6 km, 13 min by road Leof. Knosou). Many legends are connected with this palace, including that of Ariadne and the Minotaur and that of Daedalus and the wax wings of Icarus.

Once the visit is over, stop for lunch at the nearby Pasiphae Restaurant (€ 10,00).
Then take the car and reach the CRETAquarium, famous aquarium with more than 2.000 species of the Mediterranean, including sharks (every day 9: 30-16: 30, online ticket purchase recommended; from Knossos 20 km, 22 min). Returning to Heraklion, we advise you to stop at the beautiful Tobruk Beach, for a few hours of relaxation.

End the day with a good typical dinner at Anemos Garden (€ 15,00), not far from the beach and then return to Heraklion (8 km, 12 min).

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 29,7 km / 38 min (by car)
  • Places visited: Palace of Knossos (€ 15,00), CRETAquarium (€ 10,00), Tobruk beach (free)
  • Daily shopping: € 50,00
  • Lunch at Pasiphae Restaurant (Get directions), Dinner at Anemos Garden (Get directions)

3 day

Say goodbye to Heraklion and reach Agia Pelagia (25 km, 30 min). This small town is full of shops, clubs and has a beautiful beach, one of the most beautiful on the island and not too crowded, with fine sand and crystal clear sea. Relax here for a few hours and then reach Rethymno (59 km, 1 h), a wonderful location known for its architecture, relaxed atmosphere and beautiful beaches (self-guided tour from € 11,99).

Enjoy a typical Greek lunch in the historic center, at Alana Restaurant (€ 20,00).
Il afternoon visit the town and above all the fortress overlooking the city, or the remains of the ancient Venetian citadel (Jun-Sep 8: 30-20: 30, Oct-May 10: 00-17: 00). Finally enjoy a walk in the old port.

To conclude the evening, treat yourself to a sea view dinner right here in the port, at Zefyros (€ 20,00). Then take the machine back e reach Chania (64 km, 1 h 5 min), which will be your base for the last few days.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 125 km / 2 h 11 min (by car)
  • Places visited: Agia Pelagia Beach (free), Rethymno (free), fortress of Rethymno (€ 4,00), old port of Rethymno (free)
  • Daily shopping: € 45,00
  • Lunch at Alana Restaurant (Get directions), Dinner at Zefyros (Get directions)

4 day

The fourth day you will wake up in Chania, also known as Chania. Get off to a great start with a visit at Samaria Gorge, one of the most beautiful trekking routes in Crete and the longest gorge in Europe! As this is a challenging route at times, we recommend that you participate in a guided trek from Chania, transport included.

The excursion starts from Xyloskalo (from Chania 42,5 km, 1 h). Departure is scheduled at 8:15 am the route is about 16 km long, we therefore advise you to bring some snacks and especially water, during the journey there are several stops with bathrooms and even drinking water. The arrival is expected around 14:00 in Agia Roumeli, a seaside resort.

Once you arrive here, you can have lunch in one of the places present, we recommend the Taverna Tarra (€ 15,00), overlooking the sea and abundant dishes to recover your energy! Here you can relax lying on Agia Roumeli Beach, with a wonderful crystal clear sea! You will then be dropped off directly at your hotel in Chania.

After a shower in your accommodation, for the evening go out downtown and have dinner at Ta Chalkina (€ 20,00), near the wonderful Venetian harbor!

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 140 km / 8 h (on tour)
  • Places visited: Samaria Gorge (guided trekking from Chania € 29,00), Agia Roumeli Beach (free)
  • Daily shopping: € 55,00
  • Lunch at Taverna Tarra (Get directions), Dinner at Ta Chalkina (Get directions)

5 day

Last day dedicated to the sea and relaxation! Then start from Chania (52 km, 1 h 15 min) and reach the famous Balos Lagoon, probably the most photographed place in all of Crete and, certainly, one of the most beautiful views in all of Greece. Here you can relax and swim in the crystal clear waters. Don't forget to take the Balos Beach Trail to get to the viewpoint!

For lunch, go to Kissamos (13 km, 30 min) and stop by Taverna Stimadoris (€ 10,00).
Then get back in the car to reach what it is perhaps the most beautiful and particular beach of Crete, Elafonissi (42 km, 1h). This beach has several sections equipped with deck chairs, bars and bathrooms, so it is also very convenient for those traveling with children. But its peculiarity is one: the sand is of a soft and wonderful pink color, which contrasts with the crystalline sea.

Finally, return to Chania (73 km, 1 h 20 min) for your last evening. We advise you to dine in the historic center in the characteristic The Well of the Turk (€ 20,00).

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 183 km / 4 h 38 min (by car)
  • Places visited: Balos Lagoon (free), Balos Beach Trail (free), Elafonissi (free)
  • Daily shopping: € 30,00
  • Lunch at Taverna Stimadoris (Get directions), Dinner at The Well of the Turk (Get directions)

How much does it cost 5 days

NB: The costs expressed in the table above are to be intended per person.

Crete is an economic destination but, as in all of Greece, in summer the prices keep going up due to the great tourist demand! For this reason, there we recommend that you plan your trip in advance and book early especially the flights. You will find various solutions, even low cost ones, especially from Rome and Milan.

For accommodation, you can find any type of solution, from apartments for maximum autonomy, to small characteristic family-run b & bs, to large luxury hotels and all-inclusive beach resorts

The best way to visit Crete is definitely with the rental car (from € 30,00 per day). This will give you maximum freedom and independence. Then there are some excursions to be carried out with a guide, like trekking to the Samaria Gorge. If you don't want to rent a car, you can take advantage of the different organized tours with transport included, such as those to the island of Gramvousa and Balos lagoon from Chania or Rethymno, or to the pink beach of Elafonisi from Rethymno, Chania and Heraklion!

  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 35,00 per room -
  • Total cost of 5 days, flight included: from € 584,00 per person

Before leaving: useful tips

  • When to visit Crete: April, May and October perfect for excursions and visits to cities; June, July, August and September for the beach life
  • direct flights from Rome and Milan to the Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis Airport, in the capital Heraklion. To the center by car (15 min) bus KTEL line (20 min, € 1,00), by taxi (15 min, € 17,00) or transfer by minibus
  • the cities in which to base to move more easily are the capital Heraklion, for the north and the center; Chania for the western part; Agios Nicolaos for the eastern part. All full of hotels, b & bs and apartments
  • Getting around: by rental car, to have greater autonomy and to reach even the most remote beaches, not served by public transport. Rental from € 30,00 per day

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