Crete Travel Guide

Greece  #2 in Best Greek Islands
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Free Things To Do in Crete

If you have extra time, Elafonissi is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Crete
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    #1 in Crete
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're in Rethymnon, then you shouldn't miss the opportunity to wander the narrow alleys of Old Town, a seaside neighborhood that dates back to the 11th century. Here you'll find prime examples of Venetian Renaissance architecture along with splashes of Turkish influence spread throughout the city.

    The food and shopping options in Old Town are seemingly endless, but the maze-like streets can be perplexing. If you do get turned around, don't despair: The area isn't huge, and once you see the Venetian Fortezza or the harbor, you can easily regain your bearings. Recent travelers have actually embraced getting lost in Old Town because the streets are so charming, the locals are so kind and the food is so good. Case in point, Old Town Rethymnon is simply beautiful.

  • #2
    Vai Beach (Palm Beach)
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    #2 in Crete
    Beaches, Free
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    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
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    Also known as Palm Beach, Vai Beach is mainly known for its stunning landscape. The beach is home to the largest palm grove in Europe with 4,500 palm trees that have been there for more than 2,000 years. So if you're looking to avoid renting a beach umbrella, you've come to the right place for some natural shade. The sand can get crowded with busloads of tourists, but a short hike over a hill at the south side of Vai Beach will reveal an underutilized, yet no less beautiful stretch of shore.

    Recent visitors praised Vai Beach for its cleanliness and beautiful views from not only the beach but from atop the nearby hills. Travelers also lauded the picturesque drive coming into the beach. Others, however, lamented the distance and conditions of the roads, advising those who aren't staying on the east side of the island to reconsider visiting. For those who want to beat the crowds, visitors suggest hitting the sand before 2 p.m.

  • #3
    Elafonissi
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    #3 in Crete
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located in the southwest corner of Crete, Elafonissi beach sparkles with pink-tinted sand and crystal-clear Mediterranean waters. If you're feeling adventurous, you can wade across Elafonissi's shallow lagoon to a small, uninhabited island, home only to a historic lighthouse, a chapel and more than 100 native plant species. Recent travelers hail Elafonissi as one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, if not in all of Greece.

    However, Elafonissi's beauty comes with a few drawbacks. First, you must brave winding roads and harrowing mountain passes to get there. Once you arrive, your visions of pristine sandy stretches may be spoiled by the legions of tourists who have also made the trek, especially in the summer months. But never fear: You can avoid the throngs of visitors by venturing a little farther away from the parking lot. A short walk east or west and you will hit smaller yet more secluded shorelines bordered by a juniper forest. Another surefire way to beat the crowds is to visit in the off-season. From late October to April, you might just get the beach all to yourself.

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