Crete Itinerary - how to spend 5, 7, 10 or 14 days in Crete

Thinking about holidaying in Crete, but don't know how to design your trip? In this article we provide ideas on planning a 5, 7, 10 or 14 day Crete itinerary. Let us guide you through the wonders of this magical Greek island and create unforgettable memories on your journey.

How to plan a perfect Crete itinerary

Planning the perfect Crete itinerary is an exciting task involving exploration, relaxation and cultural immersion.

Start by determining the length of your stay. Then decide on your interests. Crete offers a wealth of experiences, from historical sights like the Palace of Knossos to the idyllic beaches at Elafonissi. Balance your schedule to include the main tourist attractions as well as the hidden ones.

Transport is essential, so hire a car or use public transport. Accommodation options range from charming villas to beach resorts. Another thing to consider is the timing of your trip. To help you with that, we prepared a guide on when to go to Greece.

Want to save yourself the trouble of planning? Contact our local Greek experts and embark on your dream holiday hassle-free.


Metala Beach, Crete @ Shutterstock

How many days is good for Crete?

When choosing the ideal length of a Crete trip, the first thing to understand is the scope of how you want to explore the island.

For a short but intense trip, 5 days is enough to explore the historical treasures of Heraklion, enjoy the charm of Rethymno and bask in the sun. Extending your stay to 7 days allows you to visit the picturesque town of Chania, hike the stunning Samaria Gorge and sample Cretan culinary delights.

A 10-day stay delves into Crete's rich history, exploring quiet mountain villages and discovering secluded beaches, while a luxurious 14-day trip allows you to truly immerse yourself in every facet of Crete, from its famous landmarks to hidden gems. So the perfect length of trip will be as unique as your interests and sense of adventure.

Set on taking a trip? Browse our inspirational Greece itineraries.

The North Entrance of the Palace with charging bull fresco in Knossos at Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

The North Entrance of the Palace, Knossos at Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

5 days in Crete

Embarking on a 5-day trip to Crete, you have the chance to have an amazing mix of experiences even in such a seemingly short period of time. Start your adventure in Heraklion, where the ancient Palace of Knossos invites you to travel back in time. Explore the city's lively markets and sample Cretan specialities.

Next, move on to Rethymno, a charming coastal town with a Venetian old town and picturesque harbour. Afterwards, immerse yourself in the Samaria Gorge, a hiker's paradise, and savour the beauty of nature.

End your five-day trip in Chania, which will reveal a captivating mix of history, architecture and seafront charm. Five days in Crete is a concise but fascinating introduction to the island's rich culture, history and natural beauty.

Knossos Palace ruins. Heraklion, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Ruins of Knossos Palace in Crete, Greece @ Shutterstock

7 days in Crete

A 7-day trip to Crete will allow you to delve deeper into the island's treasures. Start in Heraklion, where you'll explore the archaeological wonders of Knossos and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the city.

Head west to Rethymno, where gorgeous Crete beaches and coastal charm await. Don't miss the opportunity to take a fascinating hike through the rugged Samaria Gorge.

Your adventure continues in Chania, where Venetian architecture and a lively seafront beckon. Take an excursion to the idyllic Elafonissi beach, famous for its pink sands.

The final days can be spent enjoying the tranquillity of Southern Crete, discovering secluded villages, unspoilt beaches and local traditions. Seven days is a more fulfilling holiday, allowing you to immerse yourself in the island's diverse culture, history and natural beauty.

Samaria Gorge. Crete, Greece © proslgn/Shutterstock

Samaria Gorge. Crete, Greece © proslgn/Shutterstock

10 days in Crete

A ten-day trip to Crete promises an action-packed, exciting journey. Start in Heraklion, where you'll explore the ancient Palace of Knossos and savour Cretan cuisine. Head to the Venetian old town of Rethymno and take a challenging but rewarding hike through the Samaria Gorge.

In Chania, admire Venetian architecture and take a day trip to the charming Elafonissi beach. You can also visit the hidden gems of the island such as the archaeological complex of Phaistos, the Diktean Cave and the ancient ruins at Gortina.

Water enthusiasts can go snorkelling, diving, windsurfing and sailing. Taste local wines and raki at wineries and take part in traditional festivals. A ten-day trip will reveal Crete's multifaceted culture, history, natural beauty and a host of activities that will make for an unforgettable adventure.

Mouth-watering Greek Moussaka

Moussaka - traditional Greek dish © Shutterstock

14 days in Crete

A 14-day journey through Crete promises an all-encompassing exploration of this captivating island. Begin in Heraklion, where the Minoan Palace of Knossos takes you on a journey through ancient history. Sample Greek cuisine, peruse lively markets, and explore the treasures of the Archaeological Museum.

Rethymno beckons with its Venetian old town, and the Samaria Gorge presents a stunning hike. In Chania, a vibrant waterfront awaits, as well as a day trip to the mesmerizing Elafonissi Beach.

Extend your journey to embrace the rich history of Arkadi Monastery, the pristine beauty of Preveli Palm Beach, and the serene Lassithi Plateau. Dive into the heart of Crete's nature with hikes in the White Mountains and visits to the Botanical Park and Gardens. 

Savour local wines with vineyard tours and immerse in Cretan traditions at local festivals. A 14-day Crete odyssey ensures a comprehensive immersion in the island's diverse culture, history, nature, and countless activities.

Taverns in the Old Town of Chania, Crete, Greece

Taverns in the Old Town of Chania in the evening, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Ready for your dream Crete itinerary?

As the largest island in Greece, Crete is distinctly different in culture and atmosphere from mainland Greece. Thousands of years of unique culture and rich history complement the island's unspoilt natural beauty. Explore Crete at your own pace on pur unique, 10-day road trip along the coast of Crete.

Days 1-3: Heraklion

Heraklion, the first stop on this Crete trip, holds the keys to the island's rich history and vibrant culture.

The Palace of Knossos, an ancient Minoan wonder, will take you on a fascinating journey back in time. Explore the charming old town, adorned with Venetian and Ottoman architecture, and savour local cuisine in quaint tavernas.

Day 1

  • Arrival at Heraklion airport & self-drive to your hotel
  • Free evening to explore Heraklion

Day 2

  • Exploration of the Minoan Palace of Knossos
  • Visiting the Archaeological Museum
  • Afternoon wine tasting in a nearby village

Day 3

  • Relaxing Day on one of the beaches near Heraklion 
  • Private Historical Tour covering Archanes, Psiloritis Mountain and Ideon Andron (birthplace of Zeus)

Days 4-5: Rethymno

Rethymno offers a tranquil interlude where history and relaxation harmonize. You will meander through the well-preserved Venetian old town, with its winding alleys and charming architecture. 

The formidable Fortezza fortress unveils panoramic vistas and centuries of history, while local museums deepen the connection to Rethymno's past. Serene beaches like Preveli and Balos provide a tranquil coastal escape, making Rethymno a haven for history enthusiasts and those seeking seaside serenity.

Day 4

  • Departure from Heraklion to Rethymno
  • Visiting the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Eleutherna and the Monastery of Arkadi along the way
  • Tasting traditional Cretan cuisine and local wine in a 17th century restaurant in Kapsalina
  • Check-in to your hotel in Rethymno

Day 5

  • Rethymno Old Town Exploration
  • Visiting a local bakery famous for fyllo pastry leaves and syrup sweets
  • Dinner at a local restaurant located in a Venetian building

Days 6-8: Chania

Chania, a picturesque town in Crete, is a must-see. It's beautifully preserved Venetian old town is a charming maze of narrow streets and historic buildings set against the backdrop of the picturesque harbour. 

Stroll along the waterfront for a taste of fine dining. History buffs can visit the Archaeological Museum of Chania for a glimpse into the island's past. A day trip to Elafonissi Beach promises a relaxing holiday with its pink sands and clear waters. Chania embodies the essence of Crete's rich heritage and natural beauty.

Day 6

  • Departure from Rethymno to Chania
  • Stops at Preveli Beach and the Monastery of Preveli along the way
  • Check-in to your hotel in Chania

Day 7

  • Tour of the Chania Old Town including Venetian Lighthouse and Grand Arsenal
  • Visiting the Hassan Pascha Mosque
  • Walk to the Splanzia ruins and Miaouli Beach
  • Exploration of the museums

Day 8-10: Platanias

Platanias, a quiet gem on days 9 and 10, offers a tranquil holiday in Crete. Relax on its pristine golden beaches and enjoy the clear waters. The village charms with its traditional Cretan atmosphere, emphasised by the welcoming tavernas. 

A visit to the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete allows you to discover a variety of plant species. Platanias also serves as a convenient point for day trips to attractions such as Agia Triada Monastery and Kissamos, providing the perfect combination of relaxation and cultural exploration.

Day 8

  • Departure from Chania to Platanias
  • Check-in at the beachfront resort
  • Day at leisure at the famous beach of Platanias

Day 9

  • Day at leisure at the beach of Platanias, Falarsana Beach or Balos Beach

Day 10

  • Drive back to Heraklion airport and departure
Elafonissi beach in Crete © Shutterstock

Elafonissi Beach in Crete © Shutterstock

When is the best time to visit Crete?

Choosing the ideal time to visit Crete depends on your preferences. Summer, from June to August, is ideal for beach lovers as the weather is warm and sunny. Spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) have a more balanced climate, and fewer tourists and are perfect for sightseeing and outdoor activities. 

During the winter months (November to March) there are fewer tourists, providing a quieter atmosphere and lower prices. This period suits those interested in historical sights, hiking and immersing themselves in the local culture. Thus, the best time to visit Crete depends on your desires and weather conditions.

Read more about visiting Crete in:

Preveli palm beach on Crete island, Greece © Shutterstock

Preveli Palm Beach on Crete Island, Greece © Shutterstock

Getting to & around Crete

Travelling in and around Crete is easy. You can reach the island by air: the international airports in Heraklion and Chania offer direct flights from major European cities. Alternatively, you can opt for a scenic sea journey on ferries or passenger ships from Athenian ports such as Piraeus.

To get around Crete, car hire is a popular option, allowing you to explore the island at your own pace. The road network is well-developed, making it easy to reach various destinations. Public buses and taxis are also readily available, and bicycles or scooters can be hired in some areas. 

For a more leisurely experience, the historic centres of towns such as Chania or Rethymno can be explored on foot. Crete offers a variety of transport options to suit a wide range of travellers' preferences.

Stifado, greek food © Food Via Lenses/Shutterstock

Stifado Greek food @ Shutterstock

Average cost per day in Crete

In Crete, daily expenses depend on your choice. Budget travellers can expect 40-60 € per day. This covers basic accommodation, meals at local restaurants, public transport and some entertainment. 

Middle-income travellers can spend around €80-150 per day, while those seeking luxury can spend over €200 per day. However, it is worth noting that these are rough estimates and costs may vary depending on personal preferences and the current economic situation.


Windsurfing in Crete, Greece @ Shutterstock

Prepare for your Crete itinerary

Love the sound of Crete? Get yourself The Rough Guide to Crete. For more island inspiration, read up on the best Greek Islands to start planning your trip.  

Alternatively, if the idea of planning leaves you cold, browse our customisable Greece itineraries. For the best preparation for your Greece trip, also check out our list of tips for travelling in Greece.

Olga Sitnitsa

written by
Olga Sitnitsa

updated 30.10.2023

Online editor at Rough Guides, specialising in travel content. Passionate about creating compelling stories and inspiring others to explore the world.

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