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Plan Your Trip to Crete: Best of Crete Tourism

About Crete
If you want to go back to where it all began, start in Crete. The largest Greek island is also known as the birthplace of ancient Minoan civilisation (think: BCE), which means endless ruins and historic sites to uncover. The Knossos Palace is a can’t-miss, with its 4,000-year-old frescoes and architectural wonders. No matter where you go, you’re bound to find something incredible—from the old Venetian Harbour in Chania to the fortresses of Rethymno. Add to that the jaw-dropping scenery: cliffside beaches, rugged mountains, and canyons, and you’ll need a few extra days to pack it all in. Hike the Samaria Gorge, visit the palm forest in Lassithi, or catch the sunset at Falasarna Beach to get the best of the island’s nature. There’s so much to explore, and we’ve got all the best traveller recs down below.

Essential Crete

How to do Crete in 3 days

Minoan culture, charming beachfront, and meze meals
Read on

My favourite spots to sip raki in Crete

About 30 years after my first trip to Crete, I keep coming back to the Mediterranean island that would eventually become my home away from home. A visit to Crete always starts with a shot of raki, also known as tsikoudia, a local spirit served to break the ice. Here are some of my favourite local places—known as rakadika—where you can do just that!
Maria Paravantes, Athens, Greece
  • Taverna Giannousaki
    207
    Raki is always served in tiny glasses and accompanied by meze (small plates). If there’s one thing I love about this traditional taverna in the small village of Margarites, a half-hour drive from Rethymno, it’s that these dishes are made with fresh produce straight from the vegetable garden in the back. Make sure to order the tasty stuffed zucchini flowers. Take a stroll through the town, which is famous for its pottery.
  • O Kafenes Tou Kagiabi
    109
    Crete’s kafeneia (coffee shops) are where you’ll find the best raki. In Heraklion, one of my favourite spots is tiny O Kafenes tou Kagiabi, on a quiet side street a few minutes from Lion Square. Grab a chair, order a glass of the house-made raki and some meze, and get a taste of local history thanks to the dozens of black-and-white photos on the walls around you. This place is as authentic as it gets.
  • The Taste's Turn
    53
    In the small town of Vizari, situated in a valley below Mount Ida, I Strofi tis Gefsis is the place for some homemade raki. Accompany it with some tyrozouli (goat’s milk cheese). Don’t be surprised when you see the local priest, Papa Manolis, and his cool wife Eleni coming over to greet you with glasses of raki in hand. I love this place because it immerses you in the traditional way of life on Crete.
  • Sarantavga
    26
    Near the central market of Heraklion, this cosy spot has been serving raki since 1924. The tiny coffee shop and its even tinier kitchen offer just a few dishes. I would definitely go for the goat stew or the strapatsada (eggs scrambled with tomato and feta). Outside is great for people-watching, but the single table inside is best for soaking in the authentic atmosphere. The photos on the walls feature some of the shop’s famous patrons.
  • Inodion
    507
    On the port in the eastern town of Sitia, this rakadiko won me over with the quality of its ingredients, which are local and seasonal. You could order a single meze or go full out—I’m sure you’ll do the latter, since each of the dishes is better than the last. I would definitely order the stuffed zucchini flowers and the octopus with fava beans. Pick a table on the seafront and relax.
  • Kafenio ο Lakkos
    95
    Every time I visit Heraklion, I always stop to enjoy a raki and some meze in the shade of the mulberry tree on the side of this little cafe. (The tables under the awning aren’t bad, either.) It’s a very popular place with young people because it serves a variety of affordable local dishes. If you’re lucky, there might be live music on the evening that you drop by.
  • Gianni's Tavern
    52
    Run by a local with a big personality named Giannis Somarakis, this tavern is an experience in and of itself. On the main road through the village of Kyparissi, a half-hour drive from Heraklion, it doesn’t have a sign, so follow your nose. There’s no menu, but just ask what’s available. The homemade raki and wine are served in a century-old home lit by candlelight. Wine barrels along the wall add to the yesteryear atmosphere.

Browse collections

For history buffs

Ancient Greek treasures, ruins, and more

Soak up the culture

Get to the heart of the island

Have an adventure

Outdoor activities you can’t miss

Sip local wines

Nearby vineyards and wineries to try

Beaches, of course

Where to soak up the Mediterranean sun