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Top Historical Places in Crete: A Traveller’s Guide

Whether you’re a fan of Greek mythology, history, art, or culture, you’ll find Crete one of the best Mediterranean islands to visit at least once. Legend has it that the Greek god, Zeus, was born on the island. Apart from this, you’ll discover more mythical and amazing stories as you rent a car in Heraklion and visit the historical places in Crete.

But with so many places to visit, it can get overwhelming to plan your trip. Where do you start? Here is a list of historical places you can consider visiting with your rental car when coming from Heraklion.


Knossos is among the must-see archaeological places in Crete, and it’s just a short drive from Heraklion. Earliest records show that it was inhabited from the Neolithic period in the 7th millennium BC. Here, you’ll find the palace of King Minos, who, according to mythology, was the son of Europa and Zeus. His wife, Pasiphae, birthed Minotaur, a humanoid monster imprisoned in the underground labyrinth built by Daedalus.


The remains of the palace of Phaistos is around 62 Km southwest of Heraklion, nestled on a low hill at 100 m above sea level, and surrounded by the Lassithi and Psiloritis Asterousia Mountains. Given its location, you will need to rent a car in Heraklion to get there. One of the most famous accounts about ancient Phaistos is by Homer, who mentioned its involvement in the Trojan War. The area thrived since the Neolithic era, even in the middle of the Bronze Age or the third millennium BC.


Gortyn is an ancient village about a 40-minute drive from Heraklion. It was built on Messara plain, where it was assumed the earliest inhabitants of the island lived in the late Neolithic period. As such, it’s among the most important cities on the island and boasts one of the biggest Greek archaeological sites with a 6,000-year history.


Heading 37 Km east of Heraklion will take you to the archaeological site of Malia, which is north of the island. The eastern part is home to the Minoan palace, which overlooks the sea. According to legend, the palace was the home of Sarpedon, King Minos’ brother.

Discover more historical places by renting a car in Crete.

Crete is home to more historical places waiting for you! So, rent a car in Heraklion from us at CRETARENT. Our high-quality and economical cars will make it easier to travel around this breathtaking island without worries. Every car hire service comes with 24/7 road support and free car navigators, baby seats, and maps. Book here to get started!

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