Top Crete Attractions
Visit Heraklion (Iraklion) is the island’s capital and the obvious base for visiting Knossos and exploring central Crete.
Chania (Hania, Khania) is the main town in Western Crete, and was the capital of the island until 1971 when it moved to Heraklion. Overlooking the Aegean Sea and backed by the White Mountains, which are snow-capped in winter, the old town’s appearance dates from the centuries spent under Venice (1204-1645). Chania is a lovely place to explore on foot. A warren of romantic alleys with pastel-colored buildings enclosed within the remains of 16th-century defensive walls, the town extends to a pretty fishing harbor.
Midway between Chania and Heraklion, Rethymnon’s lovely old town is made up largely of Venetian-era buildings, though there is some evidence of the year spent under Turkish rule (1669-1898) such as the towering minaret. Many historic buildings have been turned into small boutique hotels, shops, and tavernas, and the long, narrow, sandy beach east of the old town makes it easy to combine cultural sightseeing with a few hours of swimming and sunbathing.