Crete is the largest island in Greece and a super favorite of holidaymakers. In addition to stunning beaches, Crete also pampers the tourist with delicious food and great cultural attractions. Read Rantapallo’s destination guide and plan your own holiday.
The fabulous island attracts tourists
Crete is the largest island in Greece and one of the most popular travel destinations in the entire Mediterranean. Fine beaches and interesting cultural sites are the best of Crete, but there is much more to be found on the island, from water parks to snow-capped mountains and idyllic olive groves. About 250 kilometers long and 60 kilometers wide, Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. The lush valleys bring a wonderful contrast to the barren, partly snow-capped mountains.
If you know the stories of antiquity, you know the importance of Crete to the Greeks and the whole of Western culture. Cretans are proud of their history and ancient legends still live on the island. The island, which appears in many fairy tales, is known, for example, as the home of the fairy-tale monster Minotauros.
Tourism has been one of the island’s livelihoods for a hundred years and today it feeds a significant portion of its population. Among Finns, the most popular holiday destinations on the island are Chania, Rethymnon and Platanias. Crete is known above all for its beaches. The island is bordered by a myriad of large and small fine sand beaches, some crowded with tourists and some hidden in their own small coves only for the most resilient to find.
The atmospheric villages of Crete offer an opportunity to view the life of the locals.
Hot summers, humid winters
Crete has a typical Mediterranean climate. There are no major regional variations between its various parts, but it is slightly cooler in the northern parts of the island than in the south of the island, and of course the highest points of the inland mountains remain more vivid than the lowlands. The tourist season, which begins in April, lasts about seven months.
The best tourist time is April to October. During the summer months, temperatures easily rise well above 30 degrees. Due to its location, Crete is a windy island, so fortunately the winds cool even the worst heat of summer. Winters are cool and rainy. Temperatures drop significantly from summer readings and the average winter temperature is about 15 degrees.
Beach life and culture
In Crete you can spend a varied beach holiday on the long sandy beaches of the north and the small coves of the south. Almost every Cretan village and town has its own strip of coastline. Popular beaches include the palm-lined Vai, Balos in the cove and Matala Beach, at least for its name.
A tourist interested in culture and history should visit the ruined palace area of Knossos near Heraklion. The old town of Rethymnon is a great attraction in itself, as the area is home to one of the largest Venetian fortresses in the Mediterranean. Also of interest is the Melidon Stalactite Cave, about 30 km from Rethymnon.
Attractions in the Chania area include Chania’s old town, old warehouse buildings and the Venetian port. Chania Archaeological Museum and Maritime Museum are close to the Venetian port.
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Hiking in the mountains and valleys
The first months of the tourist season, April and May, are popular hiking times. At that time, the weather is not yet suppressively hot and nature is blooming beautifully. The highest peaks of the Lefka Ori, or White Mountains, rising in the middle of the island, rise to over 2,400 meters. There are many interesting hiking trails in both the mountains and the lower coastal areas. The landscapes range from snowy mountains, rugged gorges, gentle olive groves and a blue glistening sea.
The best known of the hiking trails is the E4 hiking trail, which is especially suitable for the itinerary of experienced hikers. Hiking here doesn’t usually mean staying in nature, but the day stages are only moved with a small backpack and overnight stays are handled in hotels or inns along the way.
Crete is an easy and safe destination
Crete is suitable for multi-level tourists, as even the first-timer is easy to operate on a holiday island . As the island is a popular package travel destination, you can often get help in practical matters from the travel guide, often in Finnish as well. The time zone in Greece is the same as in Finland, and when the currency is the euro, practical things in Crete are easy to understand.
Thanks to its ease, Crete is a great destination even for holidaymakers who may not yet have much experience in tourism. Families with children also prefer cleanliness, ease and safety – with the good services of Crete, you will have the opportunity to enjoy your holiday as a holiday without any extra twists and turns.
FLIGHTS, ACCOMMODATION AND MOVEMENT IN CRETE
Crete has a wide range of accommodation and the hotel services are generally of a good standard.
Flights and ferries to Crete
Finland has good flight connections to Crete, as the island is part of the destination of many airlines. Finnair and Norwegian take direct flights. Crete is also in the destination selection of many travel agencies, so direct holiday flights are also available from the provincial airports, depending on the season. Several Finnish travel agencies organize package tours to Crete destinations during the summer season from April to October. Due to its popularity, Crete is also a good starting point to find cheap last minute trips throughout the summer season.
A direct flight from Helsinki to Crete takes about four hours and costs about 200 euros at its cheapest.
The island’s airports are located in Chania and Heraklion, also known as Heraklion.
There are also ferry connections to Crete from the nearby islands and the Greek capital Athens. Ports are located in Chania, Heraklion, Rethymnon and Agios Nikolaos, for example. As the largest island in Greece, Crete has diverse connections and ferries run all day from morning to night.
Hotels and accommodation
A popular resort in Crete, the hotel offer is varied. There are many good and medium-sized holiday hotels and small inns on the island. Good accommodation can be found even in the smallest villages. Special groups are well catered for and there is a good selection of adults only hotels, for example. Similarly, hotels with families with children are well represented. When choosing a place to stay, it is worth checking the profile of each hotel with customer reviews to make sure you find your way to the right place for your holiday style.
Hotel rates vary depending on the time of travel and the desired level. At its cheapest, you can get a hotel room for 30 euros a night, but the prices of 100-150 euros are normal in higher quality places. Hotels are often very good value for money and are considered by Finns to be hotels on the island. The service may be available in Finnish in very surprising situations.
Getting around and car rental
In Crete, you can get around, for example, by bus or rental car. Buses run regularly between the largest centers on the island and also stop in small villages. Rental car companies can also be found in major cities and resorts.
Mountain roads and village alleys are narrow and winding, so small size is usually an advantage on car models. Driving in flat coastal areas is easy, but the inexperienced driver shouldn’t try to get on their nerves on the most winding mountain trails.
Boats and ferries can also be used to move between different destinations and nearby islands. A lot of shipping companies operate in the ports of the island. There are also boat rentals in the ports. Especially during the summer season, there are regular boat and ferry connections between the southern destinations of Crete, other islands and the mainland.