The Cities of Crete

The major cities of Crete are strategically placed at attractive coastal locations of the island. With history that mostly start in prehistoric times and equipped with harbors that have always connected the island with other ports of the Mediterranean, the Cretan cities today are modern urban centers but keep alive their historical identity.

From the mansions of Chania, through the Renaissance structures of Rethymnon, to the Great Castle (Heraklion), and on east to picturesque Agios Nikolaos and Sitia, the home of Vicenzos Kornaros… each and every city has its own personality and colour.

They house important monuments and museums, but are also centres of contemporary cultural creations: thus they are major destinations for the visitor who wants to know more about the island of Crete.


Chania, or ‘Venice in the East’, is the second biggest city in Crete, built on the site of old Kydonia. The distinctive colour of the old town with all that it has inherited from earlier manifestations, the iconic Venetian harbour and the unique architecture have together established Chania as one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island.

The third largest city on Crete, built on the site of the older Rithymna, it still retains today the character of its Renaissance appearance: it is a major attraction to visitors from all over the world.

Heraklion is the largest city of Crete and the island’s capital. Its history properly begins in post-Minoan times. Today it is a modern, lively town and an important economic centre. It preserves traces of its long history, and the conquerors who passed through. 

Aghios Nikolaosis one of the most picturesque towns in East Crete, and is the capital of the Lassithi Prefecture. It enjoys a strategic location on the Gulf of Mirabello: in the summer it turns itself into a cosmopolitan tourist resort.

The southernmost city of Crete, Ierapetra has a long history. Today it combines the infrastructure of a tourist resort with easy access to pristine beaches and important ecosystems in the surrounding area.

Sitia is the best ‘ambassador’ for east Crete: genuine, unspoiled, friendly and picturesque. It is the home of ‘Erotokritos’ and the ideal base for the exploration of the easternmost parts of the island.

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