With so many Crete excursions to enjoy, it’s easy to see why staying in the island’s capital city, Heraklion is a preferred choice for many travelers.
Whether you are interested in taking day trips to Santorini or enjoying a Cretan food on the island, you can most certainly find the right things to do in Crete for your needs. Here are the top Cretan excursions we recommend.
Hike the Samaria Gorge
Many come to visit Crete with the sole intent of seeing the Samaria Gorge. Walking the 13 km gorge can be more difficult to arrange on your own, thus asking your hotel to help you organize the tour will make it easier. Most tours also offer free pickups from your hotel.
The trail extends from the Xylóskalo trailhead, in the White Mountains, to the seaside village of Agia Rouméli. You will pass some beautiful villages and churches and at some point, you will go through a very narrow part which is called the Iron Gates.
Do a cooking class
Nothing says Crete better than its traditional food, full of colors and flavors. A couple of trips to any Greek restaurant will convince that Crete has incredible food. Take a cooking class to learn how to master some traditional recipes for yourself. Then when you go back home, treat your family and friends with the right souvenir: newly foodie skills to cook everyone delicious Cretan food.
Take an olive oil tour
Crete is known for its vast olive orchards and some of the best olive oil in the world. Take a Crete excursion to a local orchard and learn how they make olive oil from scratch. This will also introduce you to the local producers who will happily offer you samples of their own oil. These are some of the best places to purchase olive oil as a souvenir for home, as you also support the local, small businesses.
Take a trip to the mountains
What makes Crete so special is its varied landscape. From fantastic beaches to the top of cliffs, Crete welcomes visitors who enjoy both the sunshine and the great outdoors. A couple of hours away from Heraklion, you will find yourself in the Cretan mountains, with some peaks reaching over 2400 m high. During Spring, you will see the snow-capped mountains en route to the hiking trails. It is rather serene to go from 25 degrees Celcius to as low as 5 degrees Celsius in such a short span of time.
Crete to Santorini day trip
Did you know you can take a short day trip from Heraklion to Santorini and make it back just before sunset? There are ferries that go from Heraklion to Santorini making it a fantastic opportunity to see two islands at once. Santorini is known for its gorgeous landscape and unique flavors, so make sure to add it to your list.
Take a wine tour from Heraklion
Crete doesn’t just have the food, the olive oil, the beaches, and the mountains, but it also has the vineyards. No trip to Crete is complete without a wine tour from Heraklion where you can visit local producers and sample some of the most formidable Greek wines. With so many hours of sunshine and the right soil for the job, Crete does have tasty wines including Vilana, one of the island’s most beloved white wine grapes, Vidiano, Dafni, Thrapsathiri, Malvazia di Candia (Malvazia of Chandakas), Muscat of Spina, and Plyto. Red varieties include Kotsifali, Mantilari, Liatiko, Tsardana, and legendary Romeiko.
Day tour to Rethymnon
Rethymno, is a city on the north coast of the Greek island of Crete. Visit the old town with its glorious Venetian harbor and its sea of colorful fishing boats. Sit down to one of the many tavernas, before seeing the gorgeous lighthouse built in the 1830s.
Many take a day trip from Heraklion to Rethymno for the long, sandy beach.
During your trip to Rethymnon you can also opt-in for a little more adventure. If you love the outdoors, why not go on a river trekking with your family. You will start by seeing waterfalls, and admire an old Venetian bridge. The real adventure begins as you follow the river with many opportunities to swim along the way. The idea is that Crete has amazing outdoors and not only you can indulge in the local beaches but can swim in the river, admire gorgeous, forests of palm trees and ultimately, fall in love with the Preveli Monastery
Knossos Archaeological Tour
Take a Knossos Archaeological Tour to visit the cradle of the Minoan civilization. The palace of Knossos is located less than 10 km away from Heraklion. The site covers approximately 20,000 square meters. You can purchase a ticket to the palace and explore on your own, or you can hire a guide to take you on a private tour. For history buffs, this is a must Crete excursions that should be added to the wishlist.
Take a sailing trip
Not many associate Crete with sailing but this is a way you can actually discover Crete in absolute luxury. You can experience Crete like never before with an experienced sailing crew and their private charters. You can take a sunset trip or a full day trip to one of the nearby uninhabited islands called Dia. The island has small rocky inlets and you can only access it by boat.
Do leisure horse riding
Enjoy a leisure beach horse riding where you will find yourself galloping through the waves. Some of the programs are for one hour and suitable for beginners and experienced riders alike. Alternatively, you can commit to a longer riding program in Crete, where you learn how to ride a horse.
Either way, horseback riding through the Mediterranean waves sure is a unique and unusual excursion everyone must experience during their visit to the magical island of Crete.
Hop on a cool safari
When we say safari, we mean enjoying an adventure of a lifetime with a 4×4 vehicle. For the thrill-seekers, this is the right Cretan excursion to do. You will be in good hands with a professional driver who will tell you information about the island. The excursions will show you an off the beaten part of Crete with its wild animals, flowers, and herbs. If you wish to see some unforgettable Cretan landscape, hop on a cool safari and see the lesser-known side of the island.
Do tandem paragliding
Want to see Crete from above? With stunning coastal lines, mountains, and rooftops, getting birdseye vista imagery is like a dream come true. Tandem paragliding means that the paraglider is designed to carry two people: you and your instructor.
There is no training needed, you will just need to show up and allow the experienced pilot to do the rest. You will find yourself in the air, seeing some sensational scenery.
Alpinism in the White Mountains
Crete is a unique island with beautiful geographical properties. It is blessed with stunning beaches but also high mountains which welcome hikers and outdoors lover from all around the world. You can dedicate a few days to hiking and trekking in Crete, or you can take the European long-distance trekking trail E4 which has several stages, making it perfect for spending even weeks exploring the island.
What do you think? Are you ready to enjoy some of the Cretan excursions we showcased above? What will you like to do first?