7 Days in Crete: The Best Itinerary
You’re traveling to Crete and you’re looking for the best 7 days Itinerary?
You’re at the right place!
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this detailed 6, 7 or 8 days itinerary in Greece. During your trip, you will discover East Crete must-see attractions.
And if you prefer to spend 7 days in Crete staying in just 1 place, you can click here.
During your trip to Crete, you will have the opportunity to visit Heraklion, Spinalonga island, Vai beach and the most beautiful beaches of the East as well as Zakros Gorge and Matala.
In this travel guide, in addition to the best places to visit, you will find a list of the best accommodations depending on your budget. And as always, I will also give you all my best tips to make the most of your stay!
So, what are the best things to do in 7 days in Crete? Where to stay?
- 7 Days in Crete: The Best Itinerary
- 1) Heraklion (1 day)
- 2) Elounda (2 days)
- 3) Sitia and the beaches of East Crete (2 days)
- 4) Island of Chrissi and Matala (1 day)
- 5) Return to Heraklion (1 day)
- 7 days in Crete, staying in 1 place
- 7-day tour in Crete – With a travel agency
- How to get to Crete: flights & ferries prices
- Renting a boat in Crete
- You’re traveling to Crete? These articles will help you!
1) Heraklion (1 day)
To visit Crete in 7 days, you must arrive in Heraklion.
Thanks to its international airport, it is the best connected city in the East of the island. You can compare flight prices for Heraklion at the end of the article in the section “Going to Crete”.
For this 7-day itinerary in Crete, you will need to rent a car. To compare the rates of all the rental companies present at Heraklion airport and make your reservation, please go to the website Rentalcars.com.
This is the most practical site because you will directly see which rental company offers the lowest prices or which has the best reputation thanks to customer reviews.
And if you don’t already have insurance included with your credit card, you can also benefit from comprehensive insurance (optional) which covers expenses in case of accident or theft.
If you already know the dates of your 7-day trip to Crete, click on the button below to compare prices now:
For this first day, you must visit Heraklion.
If you are interested in history, you can’t do better than starting with a visit to the historical museum of Crete (€5). With an audio guide in English (very rare in Greece!), you can learn more about the whole Byzantine period up to the 2nd World War.
With a less than a 5 minute walk from the museum along the seafront, you must then go to the fortress of Koules (€4). The rooms of the fortress have an exhibition on the history of the place. You can also climb the ramparts to admire the view.
Continue on a walk through the old town of Heraklion, which is located along the rue 25 Avgoustou and the surrounding streets. In addition to the shops and restaurants, you must visit:
- Agiou Titou square where the church is located
- The Town hall
- Saint Mark’s Basilica
- The Morosini Lions Fountain
- The rue 1866.
It’s then time to discover one of the must-see sights of this 7-8 day tour in Crete: the archaeological museum of Heraklion.
The 27 rooms are chronologically organised and display a remarkable collection of objects ranging from the Neolithic period to the Roman period.
Among the best known objects are those dating from the Minoan civilisation and found at the archaeological site of the Palace of Knossos (next visit on the agenda).
The museum being the main place of interest to see in Heraklion, there is always a huge crowd. You really must buy your ticket early to avoid queuing.
You can choose from 2 types of tickets:
- The classic entry ticket, that needs to be purchased by clicking on the green button below:
- The combined ticket including the museum + the Palace of Knossos.
This is the one I recommend because it will also help you skip the queue for palace. It also includes a downloadable audio guide for both sites:
The visit to the museum goes hand-in-hand with Knossos, so you must continue by visiting the most famous archaeological site in Crete.
Being located 5 km from Heraklion city centre, you will have to go there by car or take the public bus (line no. 2 – departure from the bus station located 200 metres from the museum).
At the peak of the Minoan civilisation, the Knossos palace formed a vast complex consisting of the residences of the king and the queen, those of officials and priests, baths, warehouses where food was stored and a theatre.
Today, some parts have been reconstructed but it still takes a lot of imagination to visualise the place as it is almost entirely ruined.
Among the things to see, you will find the frescoes, the throne room and the queen‘s room (the Megaron).
As I told you, entrance to Knossos is included in the combination ticket with the archaeological museum (click here) but if you want to know everything about the history of the place, you can book it too (click on the orange links):
- A digital tablet that displays the relics in the palace in 3D + Audioguide in English. The price of the ticket is added to the rental of the tablet.
- Guided tour of the Palace of Knossos in English – Small group of 8 people maximum.
After this first day full of exploration, return to Heraklion for the night.
Where to stay in Heraklion?
- Intra Muros Hostel: Hostel located a 5-minute walk from the old town. Dormitory bed from 21€. Strong points: comfortable, warm welcome, cleanliness, roof terrace. The best choice for cheap accommodation in Heraklion!
- Kronos Hotel: Located just next to Heraklion fortress. Double room with impeccable cleanliness and balcony (some with a sea view) from 65€, breakfast included. Strong points: the location is perfect for visiting Heraklion, good breakfast and friendly staff.
- Atrion Hotel: Located in the historical centre. Comfortable and warm double room with balcony from 85€, breakfast included. Strong points: excellent location and excellent breakfast. It’s my favorite hotel for its excellent value for money in Heraklion!
- DOM Boutique Hotel: Located in the heart of the old town. Modern, spacious and elegantly decorated double room from 110€, breakfast included. Strong points: excellent breakfast, attentive staff, setting, very good bedding. This is my recommendation for an upscale stay in Heraklion!
- GDM Megaron: This 5-star hotel is also located in the centre of Heraklion, not far from the Venetian port. The hotel offers beautiful rooms with a balcony from 190€, breakfast included. Strong points: rooftop swimming pool, wellness area, exceptional breakfast, great staff. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Heraklion!
2) Elounda (2 days)
The following day, to continue your 7-8 day stay in Crete, you must go to the Lassithi plateau. From Heraklion, you can drive to the plateau in just 45 minutes.
On this day, you can take the time to explore this rural area and its typical villages while enjoying nice views all along the road.
I recommend the following itinerary:
- The Panagia Kera Kardiotissa monastery offers a quick visit to its small chapel with beautiful frescoes and a beautiful view of the mountains.
- Visit to the Homo sapiens museum. The car park offers a beautiful view of the whole plain but the museum itself is not worth visiting.
- Visit the cave on Mount Dicte that is also called the Cave of Zeus or the Cave of Psichro. This is the main tourist attraction of Lassithi, as legend has it that this is where Zeus was born. To get to the cave, you will have to walk about 10 minutes on a path that goes up quite steeply and then down a long staircase because the cave is very deep. Price: €6
- Next to the cave car park, you can visit the Greek Mythological Park, which depicts scenes from Greek mythology that you can experience with an audio guide in English. Frankly, I was a bit worried that it wasn’t worth it, but I was pleasantly surprised: the decor is well done and the explanations are clear.
- The Lasinthos Eco Park, where entry is free. There are several weaving, pottery, candle-making workshops where you can attend demonstrations. If you are travelling with children for 7 days in Crete, there is also a small farm with goats and ponies.
- The ancient city of Lato: a renowned archaeological site that also offers a beautiful view of the entire bay below – The ruins of this ancient fortified city date from the 4th and 3rd century BC. Entrance costs €3.
- Panagia Kera Church, located in the village of Kritsa, is known for its extremely well-preserved Byzantine frescoes.
From Kritsa, you can reach the seafront and the small town of Agios Nikolaos in 20 minutes by car.
By parking your car in the municipal car park (costing €3/day), you can walk along the sea to see the Voulismeni lake in the centre of the city. There are shops and restaurants all around.
Then drive up to the last stop of the day, 10 km North of Agios Nikolaos: Elounda.
Spend the night in Elounda.
Today, you must stay in Elounda and to discover one of the unmissable places on a 7-day road trip in Crete: Spinalonga island.
Spinalonga owes its fame to Victoria Hislop’s novel, “The Island”, which takes place on the island. The novel is world-famous and has even been adapted into a series and a film.
To get there, you will have to take the boat at the Elounda port. The return ticket costs €12 and there are departures every 1/2 hours in peak season. Spinalonga is 15 minutes away.
Once you land there, entry to the site costs €8.
Spinalonga is an ancient fortress built in the 16th century which later served as a leper colony in the 1900s. Today, you can walk in the old buildings of the village, the leper hospital, the church and the fort.
You can also climb up the hill to enjoy the view of the peninsula and the Elounda coast.
It takes a good hour, or even a little more to go around on foot.
Then take the boat back when you want. By now It will certainly be time for lunch in one of the taverns of Elounda.
In the afternoon, drive to the Spinalonga peninsula, at the end of the village of Elounda.
Take the small track (1 km) and park at the end of the path. A 10-minute walk down to the sea will take you to Kolokitha beach.
With its shallow turquoise waters, its white sands and the magnificent setting, this small creek is just magnificent. It deserves its place among the most beautiful beaches to go to Crete in 7 days!
There is usually a bit of a crowd as some of the tour boats stop on the way back after having been to Spinalonga but if you go a little to the right, you also have 2 other, quieter coves.
Between swims, you can also walk on either side of the beach, along the peninsula which is really untamed.
Spend another night in Elounda.
Accommodation in Elounda
- Adrakos Apartments (Adults Only): Located on the road between Agios Nikolaos and Elounda. Cosy and comfortable studios and apartments, with kitchenette, from €50 per night, breakfast at €11. Strong points: unobstructed view of the entire bay, swimming pool, comfortable beds.
- Elounda George Studios: Located at the entrance of Elounda on arrival from Agios Nikolaos. Studio rooms for 2 people with kitchenette and balcony from €55 per night. Strong points: cleanliness, facilities, warm welcome.
- Kalypso Suites Hotel: Located in the centre of Elounda. Modern double room with fancy decor from €80 per night. Strong points: location, comfortable rooms, very nice owner. It’s my favorite for its excellent value for money in Elounda!
- Elounda Akti Olous (Adults Only): Located at the end of Elounda, towards the peninsula. Modern double room with sea or garden view from €90, breakfast included. Strong points: the rooftop with its swimming pool and bar, private parking, good breakfast, private beach.
- Elounda Heights (Adults Only): Located in the mountains of Elounda. Studio and apartment with sea view from €95, breakfast at €8. Strong points: the view, excellent breakfast, swimming pool and beautiful garden.
Elounda is a well-known seaside resort and the place where you will find the best luxury hotels on the island.
Here is my selection of the most beautiful 5* hotels in Elounda for your 2-week stay in Crete:
- Royal Marmin Bay Boutique & Art Hotel: This luxury hotel offers spacious rooms with sea view and a large terrace from €185 per night, including breakfast. Strong points: private beach, large swimming pool with a magnificent view, friendly staff.
- Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection: Magnificent suites with very elegant decoration, some with jacuzzi or private swimming pools starting from €250 per night, breakfast included. Strong points: splendid Spa, the beach, the view, superb location.
- Blue Palace Elounda, a Luxury Resort: Luxury bungalow with sea view and lounge area from €300, breakfast included. Strong points: the 2000m² spa and its facilities (hammams, saunas, jacuzzi, indoor swimming pools), private beach, excellent restaurants.
- Cayo Exclusive Resort Spa: Superior room with private pool from €330, breakfast included. Strong points: heated pool, calm atmosphere, excellent breakfast, attentive staff. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Crete!
3) Sitia and the beaches of East Crete (2 days)
Today, to continue this 7-day itinerary in Crete, you must now start heading East.
The next stop will be the city of Sitia but you could take stops during the day.
Start by stopping at the beautiful Voulisma Beach, a 25-minute drive from Elounda. Ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, you will immediately understand why after seeing its turquoise colour and shallow water.
Rest assured, you won’t be able to resist taking a dip! You can also try water activities such as the buoy rides or jet ski.
After a refreshing dip, get back on the road to the village of Mohlos, 30 minutes away. On the way, you can also admire the pretty views.
Located on the seafront, this small, quiet, and picturesque village is very pretty with an island located in front of it, which you can swim to easily from the beach. The water is very clear and it is very pleasant for swimming.
If you haven’t had lunch yet, you’ll find several family-run inns where you can have a good local meal and enjoy the surroundings peacefully.
The rest of the day will be a little more athletically-oriented, with a hike in the Richtis Gorge.
To do this, drive up to the village of Exo Mouliana (35 minutes from Voulisma) where you’ll find the well-designated car park for the Gorge, along the main road. If the one on the left is full, you have another one on the other side of the road.
From the car park, it takes about 20 minutes on foot (downhill) to reach the starting point of the hike on the Lachana bridge. You will find a security hut where you will have to pay the €3 for the entrance.
From here you will have to walk for about 1 hour in the forest. It’s quite easy as the path is flat but there are a few passages in the rocks which require nimble dexterity, so make sure you are wearing at least a pair of sneakers and avoid flip-flops.
You will then arrive at the very pretty Richtis waterfall, 65 feet high, where you can take beautiful pictures and swim in its pool.
Once there, you can walk back in the direction you came from or continue to the seaside with a 30 minute walk. You will arrive at a small, pebbled beach but the water is very deep and the place quite windy, so it’s not ideal for swimming.
From the beach, if you are tired and you don’t want to walk back, you can take a taxi that will take you back to the car park. The taxi number is displayed on the beach trees. It costs €25 for 2.
Then reach the town of Sitia (15 minutes drive) for the night.
We continue this 7-8 day tour in Crete with the discovery of the Easternmost part of the island.
The agenda for the day will be relatively similar to yesterday with stops at very beautiful beaches and a small hike in the middle.
From Sitia, the first stop of the day is at the Moni Toplou monastery, a 20 minute drive away. The monastery (€4 entrance fee) includes several spaces converted into small museums and mainly displaying engravings. The church is also famous for its beautiful icons.
Then continue for 9 km and you will arrive at the beaches of Itanos. These are 2 small, sandy beaches that are very pretty and very quiet. They are not very crowded because they are not part of the classic tourist circuits.
Then continue on the road and in less than 5 minutes, you will be at Vai beach, much better known than its neighbours. It is considered one of the most beautiful beaches to see during this 7-day stay in East Crete.
And its reputation is well-deserved because it is indeed a beautiful sandy beach with crystal clear waters and bordered by a forest of palm trees. You can rent deckchairs/parasols for €10 to 15 (depending on the location).
On the beach you will also find inns/cafes and you can indulge in water activities: jet ski, paddle boat, buoy rides.
You must take the stairs to the right of the beach to get to the view point.
If you don’t feel like staying on the beach all day long, you can take a short walk through the Zakros Gorge. This gorge is about a 40-minute drive south of Vai Beach.
For the record, the Gorge is called nicknamed “The Valley of the Dead” because during the Minoan period, the dead were buried in the many caves dug into the cliff surrounding the Gorge.
There are 2 entrances to the Gorge:
- The car park and entrance A are located first on the road, on the left. There is a sign. Passing through here, the path goes down to the bottom of the Gorge. It takes about an hour and a half to walk to the village of Kato Zakros, where the Gorge ends.
- The car park and entrance B are located 1.4 km below on the main road. Also marked by a sign. This path overlooks the Gorge and offers beautiful views. The walk to the village takes 1 hour.
This hike is considered one of the must-do activities in Crete in 7 days.
You can then turn around or take a taxi that will take you back to the car park (€12 or so for the journey).
If you don’t feel like hiking, you can also drive down to the village. From the road, you will arrive at a beautiful view point of the end of the Gorge.
To end the day in style, you must go to one of my favourite places in Crete: Xerokampos and its beautiful beaches! This dream spot is just a 10-minute drive from Zakros.
You will find a succession of coves and beaches, all more beautiful than the others.
And guess what, they are still not very crowded! There are plenty of places where you can relax without anyone and swim in the incredible turquoise waters.
I particularly liked 2 beaches:
- Katsounaki beach (Maps.me name), also called “ Paralia Anola” (Google Maps): a pretty cove with fine sands accessible by car via a dirt road.
- The Ambelou beach (on Maps.me) or “Paralia Mazida Ammos” (if you search on Google Maps) which is just beautiful! You can park all along the road and access the beach directly.
Return to Sitia for another night. From Xerokampos, it is just over an hour away by car.
Where to stay in Sitia?
- Nora Hotel: Located in the port of Sitia. Very simple and basic room starting from €35. Strong points: cleanliness, very kind owner, sea-view.
- Hotel Petras Beach: Located just opposite the beach. Nice and spacious room from €45. Strong points: the beautiful garden and its flowery terrace, friendly staff, close to the sea.
- Hotel El Greco: Located in the centre of Sitia. Comfortable and warm double room with balcony from €50. Strong points: warm welcome, calm atmosphere, view.
- Sitia Beach: Located in the bay of Sitia. 5* hotel with very spacious and bright double rooms with balcony, from €120 per night, breakfast included. Strong points: swimming pool, spa with sauna, hammam, jacuzzi, private beach, location. My favourite for its excellent value for money!
- Oceanides Luxury Apartments: Located 3 km away from the centre. 2 bedroom, well-equipped, and spacious apartments from €250. Strong points: superbly maintained garden, magnificent pool area, perfect welcome from the owner, peace and comfort. The pefect choice for a luxury stay!
4) Island of Chrissi and Matala (1 day)
For the second-last day of your 7-day road trip in Crete, you must first go to Ierapetra, a 1 hour drive from Sitia.
The city is the departure point for boat trips to Chrissi island. Boats depart every day between 10:30am and 12:00pm, the journey takes about 1 hour and it will cost between €20 and €25 per person for the return journey.
You don’t necessarily have to book in advance because these are big tourist boats that can carry hundreds of passengers (which also means that you shouldn’t expect to be alone on the island…).
Once there, you will only need a few minutes’ walk to get to the main beach and its turquoise waters: Golden Beach.
There are also other beaches which can be reached on foot all around the island and are much less frequented.
Boats leave from Chrissi from 4:30 pm.
A few things to know about the island of Chrissi:
- It is a nature reserve, so the island is totally wild: there are no restaurants, toilets or facilities.
- There is no shade on the beach. You can rent parasols on the boat for € 4 or sit a little further under the trees (but spots are quickly taken).
- Bring water, picnic materials, and sunscreen.
- There are many sharp rocks, you will absolutely need shoes to go in the water.
- Avoid going to Chrissi if it’s too windy, it won’t be very pleasant on the beach (or during the boat trip!).
If you don’t necessarily like spending 4 to 5 hours on the beach without being able to leave earlier or if you don’t like the tourist beaches, you don’t have to go to Chrissi.
You can resume the itinerary from now on.
From Ierapetra, it takes 2 hours 20 minutes to reach Matala.
This small seaside resort is famous for its neolithic caves carved into the cliffs. Used as a Roman necropolis in the time, they were, used as a squatting spot by a community of hippies in the 60s.
And one can understand why they chose this place, when you realise that the caves overlook a nice cove with translucent waters, perfect for swimming (and at the time, to have a good guitar session in the evening by the fire!).
The caves can be visited for €4.
Matala also has another beach that can be reached by a path that goes up from behind the village. Take the stairs and follow the signs that say “Red Beach”. It takes 30 minutes to walk there.
It is a small beach with golden sands, and has a bar and a toilet but the water is quite deep.
Even if you don’t want to walk to Red Beach, you must at least climb the first set of stairs and take a right to go and see the view of the caves and Matala.
Spend the night in Matala.
Where to stay in Matala?
- Hotel Orama Matala: Located 10 minutes on foot from the centre. Double room, simple but comfortable, from €55, breakfast included. Strong points: the warm welcome, calm atmosphere, swimming pool.
- Matala Bay Hotel Apartments: Located 500 metres from the beach. Spacious double room with comfortable bedding from €70, breakfast included. Strong points: location, swimming pool, excellent breakfast.
- Nikos Hotel: Located 100 metres from the beach. Double room with balcony from €70. Strong points: warm welcome, private parking, near the beach
- Valley Village: Located 15 minutes on foot from the centre of Matala. Double room from €60 or bungalow suite at €80, breakfast included. The suites are super spacious, with 2 terraces and a jacuzzi. Strong points: swimming pool, quiet atmosphere, private parking, full breakfast. It’s my favorite for its excellent value for money in Matala!
5) Return to Heraklion (1 day)
Now you are at the seventh and last day of this 7-day drive in Crete, which means you will have to return to Heraklion.
It takes about an hour and a half from Matala to reach the city.
But if you are taking a flight at the end of the day or the next day, you must take the opportunity to finish visiting the island or choose a very nice activity from my selection.
Here are my selections (your choice):
- A boat trip from Matala to the islands of Paximadia.
You will take a traditional wooden boat that leaves around 10.30am and takes 90 minutes to reach the beach of Paximadia. Guests can enjoy snorkelling (masks and snorkels provided) and a barbecue lunch included.
Return to Matala around 5 pm.
The company organising the excursion is called Mare Sud Tours and has a kiosk in Matala (no website).
- A small group cruise to the island of Dia from Heraklion
- Another boat trip (click here) also from Heraklion
- A day at a water park. There are 2 in Heraklion: the Watercity Waterpark and the Acqua Plus water park (ticket available here!).
- A quad bike trip (available in the mornings or afternoons from Agia Pelagia – 30 minutes from Heraklion).
The trip lasts 3 hours and 30 minutes and is really great because the route is off the beaten track. The guide is also very nice and speaks English.
However, you must book in advance by clicking on the button below:
- Explore the wine region of Crete, which is located in the South of Heraklion. May estates offer vineyard visits and wine tastings. On the road between Matala and Heraklion, you can stop at the Diamantakis estate .
7 days in Crete, staying in 1 place
Would you prefer to spend 6, 7 or 8 days in Crete, staying only in Heraklion?
You should read my article by clicking here: What are the things to do in Heraklion?
You will find all my tips on how to organise your week in Heraklion.
If you don’t want to rent a car, with organised trips, you can also go to some of the places I talk about in this itinerary like:
- One-day Land Rover Safari across the Lassithi Plateau with an English-speaking guide
- Cruise to the famous island of Spinalonga
- Trip to the small island of Chrissi
- Jeep safari to the Preveli beach
7-day tour in Crete – With a travel agency
On Voyagetips.com, I give you all my best tips and itineraries to plan your trip to Crete by yourself. (All my Crete guides are here)
However, if you prefer to book a Crete tour with a travel agency, I recommend you to check the 10 best Crete tours by clicking the button below:
Do not hesitate to give us your opinions and suggestions on our 7-day itinerary in Crete!
If you have any questions for organising your 7 day tour in Crete, please feel free to ask me in the comments.
How to get to Crete: flights & ferries prices
To get to Heraklion, the best is to take a flight.
Heraklion Airport is just a 10-minute drive from the city centre.
As always, you should book your plane tickets as early as possible to get the best prices. You have to know that the flight prices to Corsica can vary a lot throughout the year!
So to check the rates and schedules, you can use our flight comparator, in partnership with Skyscanner:
Heraklion can also be reached by ferries from the port of Piraeus in Athens. It’s 8h30 to 9h30 journey.
To check prices and schedules of ferries to Crete, simply click on the button below:
Renting a boat in Crete
If you want to rent a boat for a nice day at sea during your stay in Crete, you should book it with Samboat.
Motorboats, sailboats, yachts, small boats without a license, with or without a skipper: they simply have the most complete offer for boat rental!
So, what are you waiting for to book your boat trip in Crete? 😊
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🚤 Book your rental boat
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
⛴️ Book your ferry tickets in Greece
🚅 Book your train tickets
✈️ Book your flight
You’re traveling to Crete? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Crete: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Crete are listed there.
- 27 Best things to do in Crete: All the best places to visit and activities
- Itinerary: 4-5 days in Crete – Itinerary to prepare a short stay in East or West Crete
- Itinerary: One week in Crete – The perfect itinerary to visit Western Crete
- Itinerary: 7 days in Crete – The best itinerary to visit East Crete in 1 week
- Itinerary: 10 days in Crete – How to visit Crete in 10 days
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Crete – The perfect itinerary for 14-15 days in Crete
- Road trip to Crete: The best itineraries for 5, 7, 10 and 15 days
- Chania: The 15 best places to discover
- Heraklion: TOP 13 places to visit
- Rethymnon: The 13 best things to do
- Balos Beach: All my best tips to visit Balos Lagoon!
- Elafonissi Beach: The definitive guide to discover Crete’s famous pink sand beach
- Palace of Knossos: The definitive guide to visit the most famous archaeological site of Crete
- Samaria Gorge: How to plan the best hike in Crete
- Where to stay in Crete? The guide to the best hotels, ordered by city and budget