Meet the gorgeous island of Crete, where legends intertwine with reality and you hear the history being told by the ruins.
Crete is the largest and the most populous island in Greece. The evidence which points out that human settlements date far back from Neolithic times, that Crete is a home of gods and goddesses, the Minoan palace and lots more, means nothing less than exploring history and nature during your one week in Crete trip.
Our full guide covers:
- Basic Introduction
- Where to stay in Crete
- How to get around
- What to see in Crete
- Things to do in Crete
- Tickets you have to buy before – must read
- Food and Restaurants
- Day Trips from Crete
- Itinerary for Crete
- Packing List
- City Map
Crete is a captivating destination where each olive tree, rocky peak and sandy shore whispers many different stories, emerging your creativity and relaxation mood on the highest level. Exploring Crete you will find yourself a modern adventurer and an ancient past seeker.
Welcome to the island where history meets hospitality, offering so many places to stay in Crete as you explore its beauties!
Read: our detailed guide to where to stay in Mykonos – with a map.
1. Basic Introduction
I want to begin my one week in Crete guide by providing you with a simple intro to the things you need to know before travelling to this place.
Currency: EUR (€)
Language Spoken: Greek is the official language in Crete, although many locals speak English, as well.
Population: 624.408 last updated in 2021
Known for: its rich history and historical sites; beautiful beaches and stunning landscapes; charming traditional villages; traditional music and dance; hospitality, known in the local language as “philoxenia” used for the warm welcome character; Cretan olive oil production
Accommodation: from charming boutique hotels to luxury resorts, beautiful villas and guesthouses.
Find more details in our Where to stay in Crete section below.
Public Transport: Buses and ferries
More under how to get around.
Safety: Crete is considered as a generally safe destination
Electricity: 230V/50Hz (European plug). Remember to pack your travel plug adapter.
2. Where to stay in Crete
Before you decide on the place to stay in Crete, it’s important to consider the activities you plan to undertake, your preferences, as well as your budget.
The Island of Crete offers a variety of accommodations, lively and urban settings and charming coastal villages. You can also count on a mountain retreat while here. Take a look at my suggestions below, and pick a place that seems perfect for your one week itinerary for Crete
These places are just a few highlights of the island because this place has to offer many hidden gems and authentic places worth discovering. This island is simply a place which will not disappoint you, whether you are there to relax or explore history, nature and culture.
2.1 Where to stay in Heraklion
The capital city of Crete will make you fall in love with it, because of its vibrant and historical outward and modern culture. It is filled with many attractions that you simply must visit on your one week in Crete.
The Heraklion Archeological Museum is one of the most important in Greece. Almost all the artefacts of the Minoan Civilisation are kept there. The Knossos Palace is out of the city and it is a must-see site. All the legends of King Minos and the Minotaur, in case you are interested in Greek mythology.
The fishing boats in the Heraklion harbour, waterfront cafes and the Koules Fortress, offer a breathtaking view of the sea and the city and thus make Heraklion Venetian Harbour and fortress, the most picturesque area. Numerous monumental locations such as Venetian Loggia, Natural History Museum, and Heraklion City Walls make the town a real gateway for your one week itinerary for Crete.
George Airport Apartments, Heraklion
Very close to many historical sites, George Airport Apartments offer a unique living experience with a private entrance and a patio for every room. You will enjoy a great mountain view from the comfort of your residence.
The units inside feature a spacious seating area, a well-equipped kitchen, and a charming dining area. Additionally, some apartments come with a terrace or balcony to enhance your overall living experience.
Veneziano Boutique Hotel, Heraklion
A charming establishment, Veneziano Boutique Hotel is housed in a historical building in the center of Heraklion. The hotel offers cosy rooms, each featuring a private bathroom equipped with bathrobes and slippers for your comfort.
Additionally, room service is available upon request, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable stay. With many historical landmarks in close proximity provides a perfect blend of comfort and convenience for travelers exploring the rich history of the area.
2.2 Where to stay in Chania
Chania is located on the northwest coast of Crete. The charming Old Town of Chania is a picturesque mix of Venetian, Ottoman, and Greek architecture. It is a real delight to explore the narrow alleys, visit the Venetian Harbor surrounded by colourful buildings, and waterfront restaurants, or discover historic landmarks such as the charming Venetian Lighthouse.
The Archaeological Museum is housed in a former monastery building, where artefacts from the Neolithic period are still preserved. The Firka Fortress is also an important highlight of Chania. This Venetian Fortress was very important while defending from the Ottomans. The Botanical Park and the Gardens are located a bit away from the town and you will need a drive to reach them, but they are worth visiting. This town is not only historically significant but also vibrant and lively. A seaside town that has lots to offer.
Trianon Luxury Apartments & Suites, Chania
Located just a kilometer from the center of Chania, Trianon Luxury Apartments & Suites offers an exquisite accommodation experience. The elegantly designed rooms provide a luxurious and comfortable stay, with the option of family rooms for those traveling with loved ones.
Within the property, you’ll find a bank, a café, and several shops, adding to the convenience of your stay. Whether you’re exploring the city or enjoying a week-long retreat in Crete ensures a sophisticated and convenient lodging experience.
Alexis Hotel, Chania
In a very quiet place and very near to Chrissi Akti, Nea Chora, and Agioi Apostoli, Alexis Hotel is located. You will have a 20-minute walk from the Chania center. There is an outdoor pool and a children’s pool, making this property perfect for families. The hotel offers breakfast, dinner, and a variety of specialties of Greek and Cretan cuisine.
2.3 Where to stay in Rethymno
Located between Heraklion and Chania, your attention in this well-preserved charming old town is captured with a few historical gems, such as the Fortezza or the Venetian Fortress, which gives you a great overlook of the whole town. Amongst all, there is a mosque within the complex.
Rimondi Fountain, featuring three lion heads spouting water, is the main meeting spot in the town. Arcadi Monastery and Margarites Village are a short drive from Rethymno, but undoubtedly worth visiting. The monastery was built during the Ottoman occupation of Crete and the village is well known for its pottery.
A lot more to say about it, but better to visit the town of Rethymno whose charming streets and historical sites make it very popular with tourists.
Meltemi Coast Suites, Rethymno
Meltemi Coast Suites boast a perfect location, close to some historical spots, and offer rooms with a seating and dining area, along with a private bathroom. Guests can enjoy the convenience of a comfortable seating area within the rooms.
Additionally, the on-site restaurant provides an opportunity to savor delicious meals, and the bar offers a welcoming space to unwind. Whether exploring historical landmarks or indulging in the hotel’s amenities, Meltemi Coast Suites ensure a delightful stay.
Icarus Apartments, Rethymno
Icarus Apartments provides rooms with either a seating area or a balcony, complemented by a convenient kitchenette and a private bathroom. The accommodation caters to families with the availability of family rooms, making it an ideal choice for a family getaway.
Couples also find this location appealing for a romantic retreat. Enhancing the overall experience, it features a spa and wellness center, offering a perfect setting for a relaxing 7-day itinerary in Crete.
2.4 Where to stay in Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos is a picturesque coastal town located in the eastern part of the island. It is popular for its stunning Lake Voulismeni, the vibrant waterfall and the proximity to many archaeological sites. A must-visit while in this town is the small and deep lake located in the heart of Agios Nikolaos, where you will find many shops, cafes and restaurants. According to the legend, it is a bottomless lake, so many tourists feel tempted to add it to their list of ‘what to see in Crete for 7 days’.
Bellevue Suites, Agios Nikolaos
Bellevue Suites, a 3-key fully furnished apartment hotel, is nestled in a tranquil area, providing picturesque views overlooking the town. Ideal for families, this accommodation is conveniently located very close to the center, ensuring easy access to nearby attractions.
With all the essential amenities, Bellevue Suites offers a comfortable and welcoming stay, meeting the needs of every guest.
Celine Luxury Apartments & Suites, Agios Nikolaos
Celine Luxury Apartments & Suites, a recently renovated property, offers rooms with inner courtyard views and a balcony, providing a serene atmosphere for guests. The aparthotel caters to families by providing spacious family rooms featuring a terrace, garden views, and comfortable seating areas.
Each apartment is equipped with a fully stocked kitchen, ensuring convenience, and comes with a private bathroom. It stands as a testament to modern comfort and thoughtful design for an enhanced stay experience.
It is close to Lake Voulismeni, Almiros Beach and a few more, making it very interesting for couples.
2.5 Where to stay in Elounda
This charming resort town, located on the northeastern coast of the island is famous for picturesque settings, crystal-clear sea waters and luxurious accommodations. Elounda is known for its high-end hotels and resorts that offer luxurious accommodations, world-class amenities and personalised services. Many of these resorts provide breathtaking views of the sea and surroundings- perfect for your one week in Crete.
You will enjoy the sandy beaches and the Mediterranean Sea. There are also many boat tours starting from Elounda. You can also visit a luxury golf course and many cultural events, held there during the summer months. Plaka Beach and Kolokitha Beach are also very close.
Elounda Heights (Adults Only), Elounda
For your 7-day Crete itinerary, choose Elounda Heights (Adults Only) for breathtaking views of Mirabello Bay and the Venetian Castle on Spinalonga Island. Exclusively designed for adults, this accommodation offers rooms with fully equipped kitchenettes and comfortable seating areas.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings while enjoying the tranquility of an adult-only environment at Elounda Heights.
Elounda Krini Hotel, Elounda
Only 200m from Elounda Beach, Elounda Krini Hotel offers rooms with access to the hotel gardens, a restaurant and a buffet breakfast. All rooms have balconies overlooking the Cretan Sea and Spinalonga Island or a mountain view. There is a restaurant within the property that serves both, international and Greek dishes.
3. How to get around Crete
Depending on the area you like to visit and the places to stay in Crete. there is a variety of transportation you can use. Follow your preferences and below, I will give you a few useful advice:
Best Quad Safari-Family Tour: Hop on a quad and uncover those off-the-beaten-path wonders—think hidden spots, jaw-dropping views, and nature untouched by the crowds. It’s your ticket to an adventure like no other!
Car Rental: Exploring the island by car is the best way to see whatever you choose. It is perfect if you are interested in some remote areas where you can hardly get any other way. Airports and bigger towns have car rental services and the road network is well-maintained.
Public Buses: The bus connection in Crete is extensive and very well connects bigger towns and cities. KTEL operates the bus network and the bus stations are located in the urban centres. Using a bus is very cost-effective, but you have to be careful of the schedule.
Taxi: Taxis are available in towns and tourist areas. It is a convenient way to reach some nearby places. Please be sure to determine the fare before you get in a taxi or that the taxi metre is turned on.
4. What to see in Crete – The Must-Do’s
The Must Do’s are:
- Knossos Palace
- Chania Old Town
- Fortezza of Rethymno
More great sights to see in Crete are:
- Arkadi Monastery
- Koules Fortress
- Turkish Quarter in Old Town
- Balos Beach and Lagoon
5. Things to do in Crete
Now, let’s explore all the visit-worthy locations and must-do activities you can add to your one week itinerary for Crete.
Palace of Knossos is a captivating archaeological site that sheds light on the ancient Minoan world and it still intrigues historians and archaeologists, as well as tourists. Inside, you can explore the archaeological site, admire the frescoes, and learn about the history and culture of the Minoan civilization. The best way to visit is with a guided tour that will give you a better insight into the historical value of the place.
The palace is located near the city of Heraklion, the capital of Crete. It was a political and cultural centre of Minoan Civilisation. It was discovered by a British archaeologist in the 20th century and is closely connected with all the speculations about the Minotaur and the Labyrinth.
The Palace of Knossos is rich with frescoes that show the daily life and traditions of that era. Being directly connected to the Greek Mythology and Minoan Civilisation, efforts are made for its restoration. While you’re there, don’t miss to focus on the Storage rooms and Grand Staircase.
Hiking the Samaria Gorge is a captivating adventure that takes you through one of Europe’s longest and most dramatic gorges- perfect to add to your one week in Crete journey.
The hike usually starts at Xyloskalo, located on the Omalos Plateau. Xyloskalo serves as the entrance point to the gorge and it’s reachable by road from Chania. You can reach Omalos by car or take a bus from Chania. If you are a member of an organised tour, then transportation to and from the gorge will be provided.
The hiking trail will take you through diverse landscapes. The descent from the Omalos Plateau to the gorge’s exit at Agia Roumeli is approximately 1, 200 metres. The gates are the most interesting for the hikers whereas at the Iron Gates (Sideroporters), the gorge is only a few metres wide. It’s fascinating.
There, you may spot the kri-kri, a wild goat native to Crete and various bird species. The gorge also features a variety of vegetation, including cypress and pine trees. The hike ends at Agia Roumeli, a coastal village on the Libyan Sea. After completing the trail, you can relax on the pebble beach, swim in the sea or explore the village.
Elafonissi Beach is a world-renowned beach located on the southwest coast of Crete Island. Known for its stunning pink sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters and unique natural features, Elafonissi deserves to be added to your list of answers to “What to see in Crete for 7 days”.
The colour of the sand is due to the crushed sea shells and corals, which definitely gives this beach a special charm. The waters are shallow and thus warm, making this beach perfect for families. This beach is also known for its dunes and landscapes dotted with various plants, including some rare species.
Besides the natural beauty, the beach offers some amenities like sunbeds and umbrellas. Since it is very popular, if visiting in the high season, keep in mind that it can be a bit crowded.
The Imbros Gorge is a popular hiking destination located in the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) in Crete. It is one of the several gorges in the region that offers a picturesque and relatively easy hiking experience. It is located in the southwest part of Crete. Since it is around 11 km long, you will need approximately 2-3 hours to complete it.
Hiking through the Imbros Gorge provides breathtaking views of towering cliffs, rock formations, and the surrounding mountains. The trail takes you through a narrow and winding path creating a feeling of adventure, ideal for those who are looking for w thrilling experience during their one week in Crete.
Spinalonga is a small island located in the Gulf of Elounda in northeastern Crete. It is known for its rich history and the fact it was used as a leper colony in the early 20th century.
The starting points to Spinalonga are the town of Elounda and the Plaka village. In this half-day excursion, you will enjoy stunning views of the Elounda Gulf and the crystal clear waters.
Spinalonga has a fascinating history, as well. It served as a fortress during Venetian rule and later as a leper colony until 1957.
I will advise taking boat trips to visit Spinalonga and explore its historical and cultural attractions.
6. Tickets you have to buy before (Must Read)
You can’t always make a detailed plan for your one week in Crete trip, but buying some tickets in advance will always come in helpful. Here is a list of places for which you should buy a ticket beforehand.
You can also visit here the Top 10 Tours and Activities – Tours, Tickets and Activities.
7. Food & Restaurants
- Avli Restaurant(Rethymno)
- Peskesi Restaurant (Heraklion)
- To Maridaki (Chania)
- Karnagio (Agios Nikolaos)
8. Day Trips from Crete
How to do the day trips? There are 3 options:
Here are the list of sights that you might want to check out for your day trips:
- Heraklion: Knossos Palace; Heraklion Archaeological Museum; Koules Fortress
- Chania: Chania Old Town; Chania Archaeological Museum; Samuel Kountouriotis House
- Rethymno: Fortezza of Rethymno; Rethymno Old Town; Arkadi Monastery
- Agios Nikolaos: Lake Voulismeni; Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos
- Elounda: Spinalonga Island; Kolokitha Peninsula; Traditional Fishing Village
9. Itinerary for 7 days
Eager to take on the adventure of a lifetime? Let’s explore my suggestions for 7 days in Crete itinerary!
Day 1-2: Heraklion
You can start the day exploring the historical and cultural sites of the capital city of Crete. Don’t miss visiting the Heraklion Archeological Museum and exploring the Koules Fortress with a great overlook of the town. In the afternoon you can wander through the Old Town stroll through the Lion Square and visit the Morosini Fountain. Enjoy dinner at a traditional taverna in the evening.
Day two can be a relaxing beach day. Choose between Amoudara Beach and Karteros Beach, both sandy and long with a great choice of bars, restaurants and abilities for water sports.
Day 3: Rethymno
Start your day by going to this picturesque coastal town early. Enjoy the centre and in the afternoon visit the Venetian Harbour and the Old Town. In the evening, relax in a traditional Cretan seaside taverna and indulge the tastes.
Day 4: Chania
As you’re moving through your one week in Crete, go further to Chania, one more beautiful coastal town. Explore the Old Venetian harbour and walk along the streets of the Old Town. Close the day enjoying dinner.
Day 5: Samaria Gorge
This will be a day trip to the gorge. Spend it hiking and recharging with the mesmerising views.
Day 6: Agios Nikolaos
After visiting Voulismeni Lake, head to the Port Area and the Archeological Museum. Spend a few hours on Kitroplatia Beach and in the evening enjoy a dinner by the sea.
Day 7: Elounda
A visit to Elounda is a great opportunity to jump to Spinalonga Island. When you come back in the afternoon, don’t miss relaxing on the beach and in the evening enjoy your farewell dinner in Crete.
10. Packing List
With everything there is to do and see during your one week itinerary for Crete, you will need to pack properly, here’s a list of essentials you must take with you before setting off on this journey:
- Lightweight clothes
- Comfortable walking shoes & sandals
- Light jacket
- Sunglasses and sun-protective lotion
- Modest clothes for visits to religious sites
- Insect repellent
- Travel umbrella or a rain jacket
- Portable Charger
- Travel plug adapter
I truly hope you enjoyed exploring all the exciting things you can see and do during your one week in Crete. If you’re interested in discovering more exciting destinations, don’t forget to read my other blogs!
11. Printed Guides & Map
These guides are best for the ones looking for a printed version.
Once you come to Crete, you will also receive a paper map of the city.
Here is again our map of Crete with the recommended hotels and neighborhoods.
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