Crete tourist guide

The best Polish website dedicated to the Greek island Crete and to a small extent of continental Greece. You will find useful information related to visiting Crete that goes beyond the offer of optional tours. On the website you will also find descriptions of the most interesting places that we visited by visiting this largest Greek island. The content complements the current news, photographs and recipes of Greek cuisine.

Gournia - an unnamed settlement

It is recognized that Gournia was inhabited between 3000 BC and 1200 BC and is now one of the few cities unearthed to such a large extent. In other major cities, archaeologists focused mainly on discovering palace buildings, while in Gournia, apart from the palace, urban buildings, residential houses and a road network were also discovered.

Gournia - general view

A city of empty dishes

The first archaeological work was begun at the beginning of the 20th century by the American archaeologist Harriet Boyd Hawes. Unfortunately, it is not known what the original name of the settlement was, and the current one comes from the names of empty vessels that were found here. In many places you can still see their remains, mainly at the entrances to the houses.


Based on the found pottery, it can be assumed that the first inhabitants began to appear in the late Neolithic period (around 3000 BC), and that this region was still inhabited for hundreds of years, testify to the finds of pottery used among others during burials. The remains of this early period did not leave much, because before the construction of the first palace in the later period, the area was leveled and new buildings were erected on it. The appearance of the palace building changed the organization of the surrounding society. Some villages were incorporated into the new settlement, others simply abandoned their villages and moved to Gournia. At that time, the population was about 400 people. The proximity of the sea meant the development of fishing and maritime trade for the settlement. Located close to the narrowest part of Crete, Gourni has enabled contacts with the Libyan Sea and Africa. Thus, merchants, craftsmen and fishermen were dominant among the inhabitants of Gournia.

Gournia plan of excavations

This brilliantly developing settlement was destroyed by fire and abandoned around 1450 BC. Destruction affected both the magnificent palace and the whole city. Gournia met the same fate as other Minoan centers in Crete at that time. To this day, we do not know the cause of these destructions, many different theories and discussions have arisen on it. One of the most likely is an armed attack or an earthquake.

After these cataclysms Gournia falls into disrepair and oblivion for about 50 years, after which it revives and grows again, covering an area of ​​25,000 square meters divided into 7 districts. It is estimated that the then Gournia was inhabited by about 4,000 people. The palace itself probably became the seat of the district governor, there are speculations that it may have belonged to Minos from Knossos , but it has not been explicitly confirmed (at least one of the sources says so).

The time of the Minoan peace

The city was centered around the palace. It was not fortified, which was the norm in prehistoric Crete, where the "Minoan peace" reigned after all. Thanks to the fact that the greater part of the city was discovered, it is possible to get to know the network of city roads consisting of two peripheral roads and narrower roads perpendicular to them climbing the slope of the hill on which the settlement was located. Naturally, these roads were not adapted to wheeled vehicles, but were only connected to a drainage system. Houses, the remains of which we see today, were small and quite tightly packed. Usually, these were warehouses that were located on the ground floor and were devoid of windows and usually doors, which made that the walls of the houses also acted as walls and were also protected against burglaries. The living quarters were usually located on the first or second floor. Entrances to them led directly from the street up the stairs. The warehouses were delivered from the level of living quarters, in which a flap was opened in the floor and a wooden staircase (or ladder) leading down. The living rooms were built of bricks, had flat roofs adapted to the southern climate. A small room was still built on the roofs, which could be used to sleep during hot weather during the summer months.

House plan AC



In terms of architecture, there was a close similarity between the type of buildings in the city of Gournia and the modern Cretan village, maybe a bit less contemporary ;-). Thanks to unearthing the then residential buildings, day-to-day objects, such as ceramics or bronze tools, carpenters' tools, saw the light of day.

In the mid-15th century, the Achaeans conquered Crete and took over the achievements of the Minoan civilization. For minoan centers, this meant the beginning of the end. Gournia began to slowly depopulate until finally in 1200 BC it was completely abandoned.





Excavations can be visited daily (except Mondays) from 8.30 to 15.00. An entrance ticket to the excavation site costs 2 €. When planning a visit to Gourni, it is necessary to bring a headgear and a bottle of cold water with you, because the sun warms up the stone remains of the city causing solid heat. An additional advantage for lovers of all kinds of excavations is that Gournia is not occupied by tourists like other major Minoan centers.

How to get

Archaeological excavations in Gourni are located on the northern coast of Crete just a few hundred meters from the picturesque bay of Mirambello, almost opposite the Ierapetra located on the opposite coast of the island. If you travel from Istro towards Pachia Ammos, the ruins of Gourni are visible directly from the New National Road on a small hill located on the right side of the road.

Gournia - access map

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Interesting places on Crete

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Malia
Malia

Malia

Information about one of the more known tourist cities of Crete, or about Malia. Description of attractions located in the city of Malia and a description of the specificity of this town.

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Kritsa
Kritsa

Kritsa

Kritsa is one of the largest villages in Crete. The village has a lot of shops with local crafts.

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Lasithi
Lasithi

Lasithi

The Lasithi Plateau is located about 70 kilometers from the capital of Crete - Heraklion. The average height at which the terrain of this plateau is located is 840 m above sea level.

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Dikte Cave
Dikte Cave

Dikte Cave

One of the tourist attractions eagerly visited by people spending their holidays in Crete is the Dikte (Psychro) cave. The main factors that attract people to this cave are a rich and varied dripstone robe and a close connection with mythology.

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Panagia Kera
Panagia Kera

Panagia Kera

Among the olive groves in the place called Logari, which is less than a kilometer from the village of Kritsa, there is a small Byzantine church of Panagia Kera from the 13th-14th centuries.

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Stalida
Stalida

Stalida

Stalida is located directly along the coast and is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Crete, which definitely comes alive with the advent of the tourist season

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Gorge Ha
Gorge Ha

Gorge Ha

Most people crossing the route between Agios Nikolaos and Ierapetra will definitely notice the large crack which is marked by the mountain located east of this road. This majestic geological creation called Ha was probably created as a result of an earthquake.

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Xerokambos
Xerokambos

Xerokambos

Xerokambos is a small settlement in which you will find literally several taverns, and most of the buildings are single-storey and one-story houses. The big advantage of this beach is a gentle sandy descent to the sea.

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Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos (Άγιος Νικόλαος) is a small town with less than 20,000 inhabitants. permanent residents (according to statistical data from 2001). This city is the capital of the Lasithi nomos.

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Elounda
Elounda

Elounda

Although Elounda seems to be a sleepy fishing town to this day, however, appearances should not fool you, because this town and its surroundings can boast of probably the largest number of the best hotels.

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Elounda
Elounda

Elounda

Although Elounda seems to be a sleepy fishing town to this day, however, appearances should not fool you, because this town and its surroundings can boast of probably the largest number of the best hotels.

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Stalida
Stalida

Stalida

Stalida is located directly along the coast and is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Crete, which definitely comes alive with the advent of the tourist season

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Lato
Lato

Lato

The ancient city of the LATO can be found near the charming village of Krista near Agios Nikolaos.

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Gournia
Gournia

Gournia

It is recognized that Gournia was inhabited between 3000 BC. 1,200 BC and is one of the few cities unearthed to a large extent.

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Zakros
Zakros

Zakros

Zakros is the fourth-largest Minoan palace in Crete in importance and size. This latest found, built on the east coast of the island is located in the village of Káto Zákros.

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zakros
zakros

zakros

Zakros is the fourth-largest Minoan palace in Crete in importance and size. This latest found, built on the east coast of the island is located in the village of Káto Zákros.

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Palace in Malia
Palace in Malia

Palace in Malia

The first palace was built around 1900 BC. in the place where there was a quite impressive settlement whose remains were later transformed into the central part of the city.

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Moni Toplou
Moni Toplou

Moni Toplou

Moni Toplou (Μονή Τοπλού) also called as The Great Monastery is one of the most beautiful and important monasteries in Crete.

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Moni Toplou
Moni Toplou

Moni Toplou

Moni Toplou (Μονή Τοπλού) also called as The Great Monastery is one of the most beautiful and important monasteries in Crete.

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Mochlos
Mochlos

Mochlos

Mochlos is a small town located roughly halfway between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia.

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Vai
Vai

Vai

O Vai zrobiło się głośno, gdy w latach 70-tych na tle palmowego gaju nakręcono reklamę kokosowych batoników Bounty.

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Spinalonga
Spinalonga

Spinalonga

This inconspicuous little island located about 5 km from the center of Elounda is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Crete.

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Trypitos
Trypitos

Trypitos

When heavy equipment entered the promontory near Sitia, no one expected that this area contained the ruins of the Hellenic city.

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Richtis
Richtis

Richtis

The abundance of water and shade mean that even at the peak of the tourist season, this place is full of lush vegetation.

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Chamaizi
Chamaizi

Chamaizi

At the top of a cone-shaped hill called Souvloto Mouri, the remains of an unusual building with a unique oval shape were discovered.

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Moni Toplou Winery
Itanos
Itanos

Itanos

The ruins of the ancient city of Itanos are located at the eastern tip of Crete, less than 3 kilometers north of the famous palm beach of Vai. Although there are also nice beaches at Itanos, unlike its well-known neighbor, this place does not attract crowds. There are either accidental stray tourists or excavation enthusiasts here.

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Roussolakos
Roussolakos

Roussolakos

Just over 2 km from Palekastro, next to Chiona beach, there is a large archaeological site called Roussolakos

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Roussolakos
Roussolakos

Roussolakos

Just over 2 km from Palekastro, next to Chiona beach, there is a large archaeological site called Roussolakos

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Ierapetra
Ierapetra

Ierapetra

Ierapetra (Ιεράπετρα) is the fourth largest city of Crete and also the largest town located in the Lassithi prefecture.

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Diaskari - Green Beach
Diaskari - Green Beach

Diaskari - Green Beach

Diaskari Beach, also known as Green Beach, is less than 3 km from Makry Gialos.

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Koufonissi - cruise to the island
Koufonissi - cruise to the island

Koufonissi - cruise to the island

Koufonissi is a small island in the Libyan Sea, located just a stone's throw from the southern coast of Crete.

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Makry Gialos
Makry Gialos

Makry Gialos

Makry Gialos is one of the less-appreciated tourist destinations in Crete.

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Sitia
Sitia

Sitia

Less than 10,000 population of Sitia makes the city the smallest in Crete. Some even go a step further and say perversely that it is rather the largest village of Crete.

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Napoleon's house
Napoleon's house

Napoleon's house

Napoleon's house is one of the few typically tourist attractions in Ierapetra. About what could have happened here in the summer of 1798 and possibly how much in this legend is the truth we write in the article on the page below.

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Zakros and Kato Zakros
Zakros and Kato Zakros

Zakros and Kato Zakros

Zakros is a small town on the east coast of Crete, less than 40 km south-east of Sitia.

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Roussolakos - ruins of the Minoan city next to Palekastro

Roussolakos - ruins of the Minoan city next to Palekastro

Just over 2 km from Palekastro, next to Chiona beach, there is a large archaeological site called Roussolakos, which is worth visiting in this region of Crete.

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Aptera - a city without wings

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The name Aptera means no more or less without wings and is a direct reference to the legendary musical duel for which the Muses were challenged by Sirens, who were half-women and half-birds at the time. They did not have anyone in their territory who would be a worthy opponent in their singing and music. However, the duel with the Muses lost, and crushed by the result of the competition, they threw their wings and feathers to Soudha Bay. According to legends, today we can admire them as islands located at the mouth of the bay.

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