As the largest island in Greece, Crete offers a plethora of landscapes for its visitor to admire, and a similar number of activities to do. The island was once the proud home to the ancient and renowned Minoan civilization, which has gifted Crete with an abundance of sightseeing attractions which you can admire them almost in perfect condition until today.
On the other hand, Crete offers much more than sightseeing. Crete is home to a wide diversity of gorgeous beaches, wonderful hiking opportunities, picturesque historic towns, rich and heartwarming cuisine, and welcoming locals. The above Crete's traits gave it the title of the 4th most visited destination in the world for 2018 (suprassing Barcelona, Prague, New York)
If you want to see the most of Crete, you will need to find a hotel in Heraklion – right at the centre of the island. A centrally located hotel that will make your Crete exploration as easy as pie. That hotel is none other than Lato Boutique Hotel in Heraklion.
Stay by Heraklion's old city harbor!
Lato Boutique Hotel is a gorgeous hotel located at Heraklion's iconic old city harbor. The hotel boasts dramatic views over the Venetian Fortress, as well as easy access to the the city's most important museums, liveliest shopping areas, dining and nightlife venues. It's also the proud home of a gorgeous restaurant that will make you never leave the hotel.
The hotel caters to both business and leisure travelers, offering outstanding services and comfort, alongside excellent in-room amenities. There are six room types at the moment, the most luxurious being the Executive Suite, that spreads through 40m2, featuring luxury amenities of great quality, king size beds, luxuriously furnished sitting rooms and a beautiful veranda.
Since you will most probably spend your day exploring Crete, spending very little time in the room, we highly recommend you the Superior Sea View Rooms. These rooms offer gorgeous views over the Mediterranean alongside luxurious in-room facilities at a reasonable price!
Crete Island Exploration - The Must Dos
To make a long story short, Lato Boutique Hotel is the perfect starting point for your island exploration in Crete. Below, we will find a diversity of activities that you can do in Crete, from admiring its full panoramic grandeur, to exploring steep valleys and relaxing at pristine-white-sand beaches. Let's discover the top activities to do in Crete!
Busk in the sun at Matala Beach!
Crete is blessed with an abundance of breathtaking beaches that it would be a "crime" not to visit. This is an activity that can be only performed in summer, but, Crete is mainly visited for summer vacations anyway. Matala used to be a hippie destination in the 60's and 70's, and it's now a popular family destination. The beach is surrounded by caves, stunning turquoise waters and fine golden sand. It's a beach of many surprises.
As referred above, Crete is home to an abundance of beaches where you can sunbathe and relax at tranquil surroundings. Some of the best beaches in Crete are located in Chania Prefecture, however Agios Nikolaos, Malia, and Hersonissos in Heraklion boast some great beaches as well. A good idea would be to devote a day exploring Crete's wonderful beaches, including some more secluded spots which are not mapped yet (these are the best ones).
Spend a day exploring Heraklion's ancient culture and history!
Since you will be staying at Heraklion, it would be a shame if you didn't spend at least a day exploring the city's ancient history and culture. With Koules Monument being literally on your doorstep, it will be the perfect starting point of your Old town tour. Following, visit the gorgeous Palace of Knossos, the wonderful Heraklion Archaeological Museum that boasts 3,500-year-old frescoes, the Historical Museum of Crete that will introduce you to the island's 1,700+ years of history, and the 16th century El Greco Museum. Don't miss to take a walk along the imposing venetian walls that start from Jesus Bastion and reach up to St. Andreas Bastion. The Palace of Phaestos is worthy of a visit, however, it lies 62 km south of Heraklion.
Dig into the traditional Cretan cuisine!
The best way to experience authentic Cretan cuisine is by visiting one of the countless small villages dispersed around the island. A great way to do so is by taking on a tour. If you want to explore them all by yourself, we would recommend you to keep in mind the nearby villages of Archanes, Houdetsi, Zaros, Ano Asites & Kato Asites. They are all found in Heraklion Prefecture. Keep in mind that GPS does not work properly on the Greek countryside.
Don’t miss the hotel’s interesting proposals on gastronomy tours in wineries & olive groves! Getting involved in local culture will become a lifetime experience. Locals also organize worth-visiting festivals all year long, such as Tsikoudia Festival (October), Wine Festival in Dafnes (June), Chochlidovradia in Galifa (July), Potato Festival in Jermiado (August), Snails Festival in Ag. Thomas (August), and the famous Cheese Festival in Zoniana.
Your stay at Lato Boutique Hotel means that you will start your day diggin' in a delicious breakfast with local and International delicacies at Aroma Restaurant. For breakfast, you can choose among delicious homemade marmalade, some handpicked Cretan dishes, freshly squeezed orange juice and fragrant coffee. There is definitely not a better way to start your day at Heraklion!
Of course, the hotel offers wonderful dining options of its own, since it's the proud home of two superb restaurants. Herb's Garden Restaurant (open from April to November) offers traditional cuisine inspired by the Cretan nature while it boasts the finest "balcony in the city", offering panoramic views over the old city harbor. Winter Brilliant Restaurant will excite you with its nouvelle Grecque cuisine, which you can enjoy both for lunch and dinner.
Go Trekking at the longest trekking gorge in Europe!
The 16 kilometers Samaria Gorge is the longest gorge in Europe, where a typical walk can last from 6 to 8 hours. This gorgeous descending gorge has gained worldwide reputation due to its absolute wonderful landscape and really rewarding end of the path. Along the trail, you will find various informative signs about what you can seen regarding the flora, fauna, and structures.
In addition to the gorge's natural beauty, you will also encounter various churches and remnants of villages along the way. Don't miss to take a peek at these open churches, you are going to love them. Your Samaria Gorge hiking trip will conclude at a cafe where you can enjoy fresh squeezed orange juice, ice-cream, or a cold glass of Greek beer. Of course, there are more gorges around Crete like the Astrakiano and Kounaviano that spread through 21 km. You can check out all the piping hot information here!
Get the chills at Spinalonga Island!
This small island located opposite of Plaka Villa in East Crete is a place that holds an old and depressing story up its sleeve. Spinalonga is also known as the Leper Island as this is the place where lepers from Crete and the rest of Greece were quarantined until 1957. Thousands of tourists visit the island to see the remaining ruins of the island's buildings.
You can reach Spinalonga via a boat that you can take from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda or Plaka. Lato Boutique Hotel to Spinalonga is about 1 and a half hours, 70 km via EO Irakliou Agiou Nikolaou. Strolling around the island takes about an hour, however its serene atmosphere and gorgeous views will surely temp you to say a little longer.
These are the activities that you must do when visiting Crete. Of course, don't forget that to make your island exploration easier, the best hotel option is Lato Boutique Hotel in Heraklion. Don't waste any more time and start planning your Cretan trip by checking prices directly at Lato Boutique Hotel here!