Elafonisi beach - credits: Alexandros Kant/Shutterstock.com
Elafonisi beach - credits: Alexandros Kant/Shutterstock.com

A weekend break can sometimes be all you need to unwind and disconnect from the stress of everyday life. Crete is an excellent minibreak destination because it has it all: white sand beaches, mountainous terrain, and rich history.

Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Agios Nikolaos are the four major cities of Crete

Chania and Heraklion, the two largest, have well-connected airports with direct flights to and from many major European cities. Airbnb vacation rentals in Crete, Greece are ideal for a quick weekend getaway. Accommodations in Chania range from freshly remodeled old houses to boutique hotels. There are plenty of restaurants and bars with laid-back vibes in and around the old harbor area. 

Crete is a large island and needs more than a weekend to explore. However, if your vacation time is limited, you’ll have to make do. Here are some of the best places to see on your weekend trip. 

Staying in Chania

Harbor of Chania Crete Neirfys depositphotos copy copy copy copy copy copyThe harbor of Chania - credits: Neirfys/Depositphotos.com

If you’re staying in Chania, get to know the city by strolling around and enjoying all of its sights, sounds, and flavors. 

Chania is known for boasting some of the most beautiful streets in the Mediterranean. Its old town is alive with history and culture. The ancient city is divided into different areas, each with distinct characteristics that contribute to Chania's identity. Here you can find out about the top things to do in Chania.

The Venetian quarter is the most lavish area of town, with exclusive boutique hotels, traditional restaurants, and colorful souvenir shops. Stroll around the Venetian Harbour and Old Port, and make sure to catch a sunset from the lighthouse. 

From Chania: Day-Trip to 7 Traditional Cretan Villages with lunch

Chania is a fabulous region on the western coast of Crete that offers a wide range of opportunities for adventurous weekend getaways. Furthermore, the coast of Chania is home to some of Crete's most beautiful beaches. 

A pleasant stroll along the Venetian seawall to the 19th-century lighthouse provides one of the best views of the old port and reveals the secrets of Chania's old town. There's plenty to see and do in this bustling Harbour area. There are plenty of shops, bars, restaurants, and cafes, boat tours, a museum, an art gallery, and the lighthouse. 

Ancient Heraklion

Heraklion Crete overview vkph64 depositphotosHeraklion - credits: vkph64/Depositphotos.com

Heraklion, the capital of Crete and the main port, is rich in history and attractions. It has a lovely waterfront area with seaside restaurants. 

There are several important museums and charming squares where you can spend an afternoon in a street-side cafe. Heraklion attracts a large number of Greek and foreign visitors. Tourists come to see the city's archaeological sites, as well as to enjoy its wonderful natural beauty and vibrant nightlife. Here, you can find the top things to do in Heraklion.  

You can spend an afternoon or morning strolling through the Old Town, taking in the sights and the atmosphere. A walkway runs along the waterfront of Heraklion, with fishing boats lining the shore. 

Heraklion Historical Sights 

heraklion harbour koule Georgios Tsichlis shutterstockHeraklion - credits: Georgios Tsichlis/Shutterstock.com

If you are interested in Greek history, Crete has many museums that showcase the artifacts of ancient civilizations. 

One of Europe's most important museums is the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. It houses artifacts from all over Crete, spanning more than 5500 years of the island's history. The treasures of Minoan civilization take center stage. 

Additionally, the museum houses the world's most important Minoan antiquities collection.

Knossos Delights: Knossos Palace & Heraklion Food Tour with transportation

The Palace of Knossos is five kilometers southeast of Heraklion. It is Crete's largest and best-preserved Minoan site and one ofthe top sites in Crete

Whether you are interested in history or not, it offers a fascinating peek into the lives of the ancient Cretans. It also gives its visitors a great opportunity to learn about a culture that predates the well-known Greek civilization

Another interesting historical sight in Heraklion is the Koules Fortress. Built in the early 16th century, it is a magnificent Venetian fortress on the waterfront of Heraklion. Koules Fortress is a massive two-story fortress that used to guard the port's entrance. Climbing the stairs to the roof provides amazing views of the sea and the harbor towards town.

Amazing Beaches 

elafonisi beach Zakhar Ma shutterstock copyElafonisi beach - credits: Ma/Shutterstock.com

Crete has many fabulous beaches, but if you’re looking for one that is nearby, then Seitain Limania is the perfect fit. Seitan Limania -also known as Stefanou Beach- is one of the most impressive coves you'll ever see, and it's easy to get to by bus or car. 

Since there is a narrow, steep path leading down to the beach, it is important to wear appropriate footwear. Seitan Limania is tucked away in a canyon that leads to the sea. The beach itself is made up of fine pebbles rather than sand and has azure, crystal clear water. 

To thoroughly explore its waters, bring a snorkel or jump off the higher cliffs into the deep blue. Watch out for the goats that like to hang around by the beach, and that might try to steal your packed lunch! 

Another beautiful beach is Elafonisi. It is known around the world for its pink sand. The sea's unique turquoise palette is also striking. The journey to this remote area, located south of Chania, takes about an hour and a half, but the scenery is well worth the effort.

Private Full-Day trip from Chania to Elafonisi Beach

There are also beaches near Heraklion. Kommos, in southern Crete, is now known for its beautiful, long sandy beach, but it was once an ancient town with its own harbor. 

Kommos beach is about 65-70 kilometers from Heraklion. It hosts the loggerhead turtle that comes ashore to lay its eggs on its sand. You'll notice that a section of the beach is fenced in with wire. The eggs of loggerhead turtles are incubated by the hot summer sun in these nests.

Matala's long and wide beach is bordered on two sides by rocky headlands, resulting in a calm, clear opening ideal for swimming. Matala is a popular tourist destination on Crete's remote south coast, although it's more of a day destination due to its beauty. 

Crete is a place that will undoubtedly steal your heart. It's a charming and mysterious island with some of the world's most welcoming people. There are endless places to visit, things to do, and foods to eat on this Greek island, so you'll never be bored on your weekend getaway.