3 Day Crete Itinerary
Hey travelers! We heard you are traveling to Crete so we decided to offer you a superior 3 day Crete itinerary that will make your holiday an unforgettable one. There is something magical about this island. Is it because it is the largest one of all the Greek islands and it has numerous distinctive attractions? Or is it because the land has centuries-old history layered upon itself, dating back to Zeus being born there? Or is it because the Cretan cuisine is characterized to be among the healthiest diets in the world and represents a recipe for long life? We can’t select the correct reason, but you can. The island offers countless options for all kinds of travellers and further you can find out the best things to do in Crete that most fit with your tastes and needs.
The reason behind Crete being one of the most visited islands of the country is because of the outstanding hospitality and friendliness of locals who will try to make your stay the best one you had so far. An island that has been a crossroad between two distinct worlds: the East and the West; has a supremely unique culture and charm that is present throughout all cities and villages. This 3 day Crete itinerary suggests some of the principal monuments and landmarks that every true traveler should visit. So, sit back, grab your pens, and take some notes because we are traveling to the biggest treasure of the Aegean Sea.
How to get to Crete
Before your travel to Crete, check out our guides that consist of easy-to-follow instructions on how to reach Crete by different means of transportation. Check this guide if you’re thinking of reaching Crete by ferry and this one if you want to reach Crete by plane. Gain useful knowledge of what will be the most appropriate transportation type for your traveling style and get special access to our practical insider tips that will help you decrease your expenses and be more productive. Lastly, check our guide for all insider tips on how to get around the island. Follow our handy and educational guidelines and become a true expert at getting around in Crete during your holiday. Now, the time has come to start with listing the best things to in Crete in 3 days. Let’s go!
Day 1 of 3 Day Crete Itinerary
Sweeten your morning
Kalimera folks! The question including the word ‘hungry’ will be avoided since the compelling odors of freshly baked Cretan breakfast will make you run to the first bakery. Is there a better way to start this 3 Day Crete Itinerary than with delicious bites of favorite local breakfast? We didn’t think so. Hence, among the wide choice of delightful familiar Greek pastries, Crete is the homeland of some of the most unique salty and sweet pies. The island’s symbolic cuisine is globally known as being one of the healthiest ones! So, feel free to take as many bites of these heavenly pies as you want.
Begin your day with healthy Marathopites. Fresh herbs, aromatic olive oil and mouthwatering dough – handheld heaven. Yet, you simply cannot go to Crete without sweetening your day with the most famous Cretan pie “Kalitsounia”. The soft dough filled with mizithra (sweet cheese) encased with a crispy crust will make your taste buds dance. Be careful because they are addictive, especially if some honey is drizzled over them. Yummy! Let’s not forget to combine these tasty pies with a cup of strong Greek coffee that will enhance your energy for the amazing upcoming activities. For more recommendations on what to eat, check out our Crete food guide.
Close your eyes and imagine a picturesque coast nestled between the westernmost side of Crete and the blue Aegean Sea – welcome to Chania. Its rare beauty and charm of centuries-old buildings will make you fall in love with the town. A romantic getaway, family-oriented place or perfect town to get lost with your friends, Chania offers it all. Visiting the Old town of Chania is unquestionably on our list of the best things to do in Crete in 3 days. The glamour of Medieval architecture, sophisticated mansions and narrow streets will provoke a feeling of traveling back in time. Besides simply just admiring its attractiveness, follow these recommendations of the best things to do in Chania:
Walk around Venetian Harbour
If you ask anyone about what to do in Crete, a visit to Venetian Harbour will be among the most common answers. There is a strong reason why this glorious old port is famous both among the locals and the tourists. The buzz from late mornings to late afternoons is accompanied by countless meetings, sightseeing and relaxing. While it has its charm during the daylight, the mesmerizing sunset and amazing nightlife provide this harbor a completely different sparkle. Adorned by various restaurants, cafes and small craft shops, it is an ideal place to spend your morning hours. Besides being exceptionally scenic, the Venetian Harbour, dating back to the 1320s, plays a crucial role in the town of Chania and is full of significant historical memories. It survived the occupation of three different cultures including Ottoman, Venetian and Egyptian domination and is full of important landmarks such as Yali Mosque and “Megalo Arsenali”. At the extreme end of the pier, proudly lays Venetian lighthouse, a symbol of Chania. You can walk to the lighthouse and the ruins of the Firkas Fortress, however, it is prohibited to enter both monuments. Regardless of it not being functional, it still shines during the night and creates a kaleidoscopic vignette.
Discover Old Town of Chania
Those who wander are never lost. We believe that one of the best things to do in Crete is to walk through a maze of captivating streets and alleys of Chania. The colorful buildings and compelling atmosphere of old paths will provoke a feeling of pure happiness. Allow to be charmed by the Old Town of Chania and explore it as much as you can. Each corner has a story of its own, waiting to be rediscovered. Find a taverna or a cafe that suits your preferences and soak the unique lifestyle of Cretan people. Due to diverse occupations in the past, the landmarks of Old Town of Chania breathe out different cultures and architectural styles. This region is the heart of Chania that beats continuously. Some of the significant parts of the old town are:
- the Fountain Square is central square with beautiful Venetian fountain
- Chalidon Street with the Cathedral of Chania and Cretan folklore museum
- Kastelli district, located on the upper side of the Chania’s old town has magnificent archeological site rooting back to 3650-3000 BC
- Jewish district with its main wide street “Kandylaki” played a crucial role in the past for Chania’s trade. It is the widest street in the old town.
However, if you desire to explore the main landmarks of Chania through the extremely entertaining, interactive and educational way, we offer two amazing options for you:
Chania Highlights Trikke City Tour – who’s ready to have an unforgettable ride through fascinating alleys of Chania? Ever wanted to ski on pavement? Hop on your trikke, pass next to the most visit-worthy sites and follow your educated guide that will tell you stories about the rich history of those landmarks. Since the Trikke is extremely easy and fun to use, be prepared to make lifetime memories. Let’s peel back the layers of history and realize why Crete is characterized to have one-of-a-kind culture. We guarantee that there is no more enjoyable way of sightseeing than this activity.
Chania Highlights City Tour – is there a better way to explore Cretan culture and history than to mingle with locals? Walk through the significant treasures and neighborhoods that played a crucial part in the development of this Greek gem of the Ionian islands. Follow the professional friendly guide and cover the capital of Cretan culture step by step. Besides the significant landmarks, you will discover the hidden treasures of Chania. Listen to old fairy tales and urban myths that will leave you speechless. Oh, well, no perfect Greek tour exists without some traditional delicates, right?
Wine tasting in Chania
There is no better way to spend the day in Cretan capital than to indulge in the aromas of two main treasures of this island – olive oil and wine. Since the olive oil trees were planted in Crete 4000 years ago, one cannot go there without trying its the golden liquid. Be prepared to taste some of the finest quality wine and olive oil in Wine and Olive Oil Tour in Crete. Leave your worries aside and enjoy a few delightful hours of tasting and interacting. After visiting two incredible wineries and Olive Oil Museum you will understand why this tour is one of our best sellers! We offer you exclusive predominant Cretan products, amazing entertainment and lifetime memories!
Hike the Samaria Gorge
Located in only 90 minutes drive from Chania, in the White Mountains of Crete, you will find Samaria National Park, the UNESCO Reserve which hides a true natural gem, Samaria Gorge. It is the second-largest canyon in Europe with a 10-mile long hiking trail that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Steep cliffs, breath-taking views and unique nature are just some of the reasons why Samaria Gorge should be among the best places to visit while in Crete. Bring your hiking equipment and make sure to come on time – the trail is open for visitors only during daylight hours.
Enjoy evening hours in Chania
After a long and quite exhausting day, the best thing that you can do is relax at the Venetian Harbour and admire the extraordinary Cretan sunset. Peace and happiness. This is exactly what you will feel. Sit in some local taverna and end your day with marvelous bites of Cretan cuisine. If someone asks us what to do in Crete in three days, we would say to try as many Cretan foods as possible. Just like its incredible history and culture, Chania’s cuisine is exclusive in its way. Be prepared to feel phenomenal combinations you would never expect to taste. Depending on your preferences, you can choose among a wide range of appetizers, seafood and meats. Some of the suggestions include Pichtogalo Hanion cheese meaning “thick milk of Chania” and Apaki pork fillet seasoned gently with Cretan herbs.
This is all for the first day, it’s time to jump into beds! Wake up early tomorrow because many exciting activities and extraordinary landmarks are waiting to be discovered – after all you are on a holiday. Kalinichta!
Day 2 of 3 Day Crete Itinerary
Get from Chania to Heraklion
Rise and shine travelers, we are heading to Cretan capital. Before we hit the road grab some fast breakfast from the nearby bakery and some takeaway freddo-espresso. Cheese lovers, don’t miss a chance to taste Sfakianopites. These small delightful pies are first filled with creamy local cheese and then rolled into thin cheese-filled seamless rounds. Okay, enough about eating, we have to go!
There are three ways of reaching Heraklion from Chania. The distance between these two attractions is 142km with the traveling duration depending on transportation. The first and cheapest option is taking the public bus. The ticket price is 16 euros, while the transfer time usually takes around 3 hours. In the peak season, the frequency of the buses is every hour. For more information about this route’s time schedule and the price, check out the public Greek bus operator KTEL. On the other hand, besides the slightly greater comfort, the advantage of taking the taxi over the bus is that it roughly takes 2.5 hours. The price varies from the taxi company and the time of the year. However, the average price ranges from 120-150 euros. Ask the local taxi drivers if you can travel for a lower charge. Finally, in case you have your own car or you rented a car, it would also take you 2.5 hours to reach Heraklion. The fuel expenses could vary from 18-28 euros, depending on your car type. Whatever transportation type you choose, we guarantee you will be amazed by the wild nature and amazing scenery while traveling. Safe trip folks and see you in Heraklion!
Spend the morning like local
For all the gourmets that enjoy strolling through unknown cities and mingling with locals while tasting local flavors, we have something for you! By now you must have realized that Cretan cuisine is extremely luscious and contains one-of-a-kind tastes and flavorsome combinations. Hence, there is no better way to get introduced to the Heraklion diet than through Full-Day Cretan Wine, Olive Oil, and Food Tour
in first hand. Visit the city’s first coffee grinding shop and indulge in a strong full-flavored cup of Greek coffee that will enhance your energy and open your appetite for the most delightful Greek bites. From baked warm pastries in traditional bakeries to local cheese-making shop including its tasting all the way to the freshly caught seafood prepared with local ingredients in the seaside tavern will make sure you try all the worthy tastes Crete has to offer. Therefore, in case you wonder what to do in Crete, think no more and join us to make lifelong memories. Trust us, this is going to be an unforgettable walk.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the capital of Crete – the great Heraklion. The attributes of all big capitals one could benefit from without the hectic lifestyle and pollution combined with abundance of mesmerizing scenery is what makes Heraklion so distinctive. Once a home to the Europe’s oldest civilizations, the Minoans, the capital is adorned with numerous wonderful archeological sites and significant historical monuments. However, Heraklion’s secret is an ideal balance of modern vibes with the urban pace of living together with the ancient identity and centuries-old traditions. Despite some might believe that one day is not enough to discover all the Heraklion’s gems, the following suggestions of this 3 Day Itinerary in Crete surely belong to the list of the best things to do in Crete. So, let the fun begin.
Visit Koules Fortress
Start your day with a tranquil walk along the Heraklion Port that will certainly boost your energy. The great Venetian walls of the Koules Fortress will tingle your imagination and inspire you to picture how it used to defend the entire city from evil pirates and various enemies. Old and yet massive fortress walls breathe out the rich history of it being used as a prison, warehouse and shelter. Besides admiring it from the outside, you are allowed to investigate the interior for the cost of 2 euros. Nowadays Koules Fortress is occasionally hosting art exhibitions and classical concerts that provoke a feeling of nostalgia. While cruising near the shore on, take a look at old tiny wooden boats floating on the serene sea waiting for the locals to sail away and catch some fresh fish. It’s just wonderful how such big city still values the pure pace of living and unique customs of Greek islands. An interesting fact is that Heraklion port is the third-largest port in Greece and it annually serves around 2 million travelers.
Learn about Knossos Palace
Ask any local what to do in Crete and the answer would be the same – visit Knossos Palace. Only 5 km away from the heart of Heraklion, lay the ruins of the oldest town in entire Europe. Knossos is the birthplace of Minoan civilization which peaked in the period between 1700 BC to 1450 BC. The legendary Knossos Palace used to be home to King Minos, a son of the great Zeus and goddess Europa. The archeological site of 20,000 square meters depicts the beginning of life. The picturesque houses, impeccable architecture and building materials just prove how advanced the were people so many centuries ago. Knossos has survived repeated catastrophes like invasions, earthquakes and eruptions just to show us how it all started. You will be speechless. Take some time to stare and maze. The cheapest option is to take the bus from Bus Station A near the port until the KNOSSOS stop. The ticket admission is 6 euros and it takes about 20 minutes to reach the site. The ticket price to enter the archaeological site consists of 15 euros with a reduced price of 8 euros.
Visit Archeological and Historical Museum
A visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth, and meaning in our lives. One of the best things to do in Crete is to get familiar with why it is considered to be the cradle of Europe and our civilization. Regarded as one of the principal European museums, Heraklion Archeological museum has the most extensive collection of Minoan frescoes and artefacts rooting back from Neolithic times. 24 outstanding rooms illustrate the Cretan culture in the past 5500 years. The entry ticket for adults is 10 euros and operating hours depend on the period of your holiday. On the other side, the Historical Museum of Crete holds impressive number of artifacts including jewelry, liturgical figurines, vases, weapons and armor from early Christian times to the present day. It is an extremely interesting and educative museum. The entry expenses include 5 euros with special discounts to pensioners and students, whereas kids below the age of 12 are free of charge. Regardless of you being a history lover or not, a visit to these two symbolic landmarks belongs to the fundamental things to do in Crete in 3 days. Remember that art is not always about pretty things, it’s about understanding who we are now and what happened to us in order to be here.
In case you are a true history lover then contact us to arrange a professional licensed tour guide that will lead you through both museums and marvelous Knossos Palace. Gain extensive knowledge and interesting information only an educated local guide would know and travel back in ancient times! This interactive way of learning history will be organized in such a way to satisfy all your preferences and demands and even exceed the same.
Insider tip: Take into consideration that in case you aim to visit more than one historical landmark or monument, you can take a combined ticket at a discounted price and save some extra money.
Dine in one of the best restaurants in Heraklion
There is no better way to end this 3 Day Crete Itinerary than to go into locals’ shoes and dine in an incredible restaurant serving solely traditional recipes. Encased with the walls of the refurbished Byzantine-era mansion, Peskesi restaurant has been opening doors to thousands of guests for many years now. Inspired by ancient culinary traditions, the restaurant offers various dishes based on pure and natural products of the Cretan land. The splendor decor, pleasant atmosphere and of course outstanding food will make your night an unforgettable one. The combination of good flavors, food turns into an orchestra. You will learn more about Cretan culture and history through the flavors of the delicious traditional bites than you thought possible. However, due to its popularity and especially in case you are coming during peak season or weekends, we recommend booking a table ahead of time.
Since day 2 of this 3 Day Itinerary in Crete was quite hectic and fully organized, we advise you to put your pajamas and start dreaming about what exciting things are waiting for you tomorrow.
Day 3 of 3 Day Crete Itinerary
Good morning travelers! The last day of this 3 Day Itinerary in Crete will be dedicated fully to excursions and entertainment. You have time to enjoy a delicious breakfast at some of the bakeries accompanied with some freddo cappuccino and choose some of the activities that definitely belong to the list of the best things to do in Crete. Okay, hop on, put that smile on and let’s hit the road.
Visit the best beaches in Crete
With more than 1000km of coastline, Crete offers hundreds of different beaches that can satisfy the preferences of all travelers; from magical dunes to hidden rocky and sandy beaches all the way to the emerald bays and exotic lagoons. Crete has 112 beaches awarded with the Blue Flag recognition. However, what makes the region of Chania even more special are the two spectacular beaches Balos and Elafonissi beach. This visit certainly belongs to the top of the list of the best things to do in Crete in 3 days. These two valuable jewels are the most famous and photographed beaches due to their majestic natural environment. The only thing we can say is to get prepared to be speechless.
One of the most picturesque locales in the entire Mediterranean is hidden only 51 km away from Chania. The crystal clear turquoise waters, exotic scenery and wild natural beauty is what makes Balos so distinctive. As soon as you step on warm soft sand your mind will travel to a fairytale. Heaven on earth. Several hours of remoteness and day-dreaming in this magnificent beach will remain etched in your memory forever. The shallow vivid waters will allow you to ‘walk’ on the surface of the Aegean sea. If you think this place can’t be more magical you are wrong because the abundance of broken shells reflects the pinkish colors. Reaching this beach is not so simple and could be time-consuming. What you consider is the following: take the bus from Chania to the town of Kissamos and from there hop on an excursion boat that will lead you to this paradise.
This exotic place became a principal Cretan attraction due to its blindingly white sand with pink hues, turquoise-white lagoon-like waters that ripple as they pick up the breeze, the shallow turquoise waters of the sea which at a point looks like a lagoon, and certainly the fine white sand, pinkish at several spots because of the crushed shell powder. Another reason why this beach is so special because it has untouched nature with no umbrellas or chairs being allowed. This magical beach got its name from the Greek word “Elafi” which means “Deer” because you can get easily to the islet on foot like a deer that walks to it. This paradise that belongs to the top ten beaches in the world is located around 75 km away from Chania and the traveling duration depends on your transportation options: car, taxi or bus. The cheapest choice, if you don’t have a car, is taking the bus from Chania to Vlithia. The tour will last roughly 2 hrs and 20 min.
Explore the rest of the island
If you wonder what to do in Crete during your last day of visit, put that enthusiasm on and explore the rest of the island. There are many choices of what to do and where to go and it only depends on your preferences, travel type and budget. However, the following tours and activities are going to make your last day in Crete a memorable one!
Visit Spinalonga Island
What is today the second most visited archaeological site in Crete and one of the most magical small islands has an extremely dark history. The heartbreaking story of Spinalognia has been heard globally through various novels and movies. Some resemble it with horror and the “grave of living” while some with pain and hope. During the period of 1903-1957, the island was home to people who had Leprosy. Leper community (how they used to be called) were sent to the island to wait for their death with no hope of ever seeing the land again. Until the year of 1936, the leper community was living with horrific conditions such as a shortage of water supply or no electricity. Then a young leper patient named Epaminondas Remountakis has dedicated his life to improving the lifestyle on the island – houses were whitewashed, electricity was on, theater and schools started to open. Soon the island started an independent life full of happiness and love. Consequently came the hope that lead to innovation of first medicine against Leprosy in 1948 and fortunately until 1962 the island had no sick inhabitants. Actually, ever since, no inhabitants at all. A small island with such an emotional story will leave you speechless. While visiting the ruins of the leper colony, simultaneously feel the pain and the hope breathing out from them. The Spinalogna island is something everyone should see. As aforementioned, a visit to Spinalognia belongs to the list of the best things to do in Crete according to numerous sources and thousands of tourists.
In case you need a transfer to this mesmerizing islet do not miss a chance to take Daily Boat Trips to Spinalonga from Elounda. Spend a day adorned with tranquility and historical impact. Enjoy swimming in crystal clear waters and chilling on the unspoiled beaches. Feel free to stay longer and relax your mind as the small boat leaves back to Elounda every half an hour. The entrance fee of the fortified old Venetian castle located on the islet is 8 euros.
Insider tip: in case you are interested in the story of Spinalongna consider reading the novel “The Island” by Victoria Hislop based on true facts during your three days in Crete.
In case you would like to skip the day at the sea but still wonder what to do in Crete during the final episode of your trip, we are here to help you out! Pack your purses because you are going to Santorini! The distance between Santorini & Crete is 2h sailding. The town of Oia is famous worldwide for its iconic panoramic views, Cycladic architecture with white houses and churches with blue domes. After Oia, the tour continues to the capital of Santorini – the town of Fira. Fira is just as beautiful as Oia, with breathtaking views of the sea and Caldera from its streets. You can visit the big Orthodox Cathedral on the main square in the center of Fira and walk through the city. Fira is full of interesting and picturesque spots and corners. You will have almost 1.5 hours there to explore on your own. The tour will end with a transfer to the Santorini port, where you will take a return trip to Crete.
Cooking class in Rethymno
Well, folks, it’s time to roll up your sleeves. After three days of enjoying the flavorsome local dishes we are calling all foodies seeking to master the Cretan cuisine, to join us in a Cooking Class in Rethymno. Awake the master chef inside of you and with the help of a professional cook prepare some of the most known Cretan dishes including ntako, tzatziki and stuffed vegetables. Listen carefully and pick up the tricks of Ioannian’s cuisine and enhance your daily diet back at home. Oh, and an unlimited amount of rakii and wine sounds tempting, right? Remember that good vacations must involve a lot of laughing, creating and tasting.
Explore Old Town of Rethymno
Rethymno – the town that is resembled a fairytale romance and slow pace of living is considered by many to be the most picturesque on the entire island. With unique charm and provincial air, Rethymno offers a completely different experience than Chania and Heraklion. This medieval city is an ideal place to walk around astonishing streets and squares where the dominant Venetian architecture will amaze you. Numerous mosques, catholic and orthodox churches and old fortress speak out the reminiscence of the Rhymno’s turbulent –yet glorious– history. Enjoy the walk on the harbor and sip delightful Greek coffee of your choice. Feel the harmony and maze the tranquil sea. A visit to Fortezza of Rethymno belongs to the list of the best things to do in Crete and you will understand why. The significant landmark proudly overlooks the city from the small hill near the port. Being the largest fortress in Crete, it’s 1.3 km long ancient walls are perfect getaways to ancient Greece. The walls are so gigantic that they could host and protect the entire population of the city. With its pedestrian streets below, strewn with charming old buildings the Fortress is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll. However, it is possible to enter this magnificent Venetian castle for the cost of only a few euros.
Travelers, we honestly hope that this 3 Day Crete Itinerary has helped you plan your dream Greek holiday! Despite of Crete being the biggest Greek island that requires more days to be properly explored, the above-mentioned activities and tours illustrate the highlights of the best things to do in Crete.
Feel free to contact us for any unclear information or further assistance and don’t hesitate to allow your imagination and planning skills to advance this 3 Day Itinerary in Crete. So folks, time to say goodbye and wish you the best time in Greece! Have fun!