Archaeological sites and Museums in Crete

Crete travel guide

Archaeological sites and Museums in Crete

Opening Hours for Archaeological Sites, Museums and Monuments in Crete

  • April - September (Summer period): Monday: closed / Tuesday - Sunday: 08.30-19:30
  • 1 November - 31 March (winter period): Monday: closed / Tuesday-Sunday: 08.30-15.00
  • 08.30-15.00 Holy Saturday, Easter Monday, Holy Spirit Day, 15 August, 6 January, Shrove Monday, 28 October
  • Good Friday (until 12.00)
  • 1st January, 25 March, Easter Sunday, 1st May, 25-26 December: closed


Some archaeological sites and museums might have different opening hours.

Free of charge Entrance:

During the following days, the entrance to all archaeological sites, museums, archaeological collections and monuments is free:

  • All Sundays from November 1st -March 31st
  • All Legal Holidays
  • March 6th, in commemoration of Melina Merkouri
  • April 18, International Monuments Day
  • May 18, International Museums Day
  • June 5, International Day of environment
  • Last Weekend of September, celebration of European Cultural Heritage.

Archaeological Sites and Museums in Crete


Aptera One of the most important cities of ancient (7th c. B.C.) western Crete. Aptera was built on a site 15 km. from Chania, south of Souda bay, near the village of Megala Horafia, which had a view of the whole plain of Chania.
The city walls still standing today are reminiscent of the Cyclopean walls of Tiryns and Mycenae. One can also see the remains of a small 1st c. B.C. temple of Demeter, a Roman theatre and the enormous vaulted cisterns of the Roman period – according to one source they were used for grain storage – preserved in excellent condition.
Falassarna This town, the port of Polyrrhenia, lay to the west of it, in the base of the extreme northwest peninsula of the district of Chania. The ruins-remains of Cyclopean walls, tombs, house foundations, sculptures carved out of the rocks, most notably a throne – are found near the village of Koutri. Free

Firkas Fortress

Fort Firkas is by the Venetian port of Chania. Firkas (military unit) was built in 1629 and is considered a significant historic monument for Crete. In February 16th 1897, the flag of the Great Powers was raised here, pronouncing Crete's autonomy. At the same place, 16 years later, on December 1st 1913, Eleftherios Venizelos witnessed the island's union with the rest of Greece. Today, the fort houses the city's Naval Museum and a small, summer theatre.
Frangocastello Fortress In order to protect the small bay near by, from the pirates, it was decided, in 1371, to construct this fortress. It was barely used during the Venetian occupation, and on the eve of the Turkish attack, it was actually abandoned. In 1828 the Cretan rebels occupied the fortress and during the siege that followed, its towers were destroyed. Free

After 25 years, Kissamos in western Crete has finally found a place to house its archaeological treasures. The exhibits provide a view of local history through the ages, from prehistoric times to late antiquity and the Early Christian period.

Lissos The site was the religious centre of the cities in south-west Crete. It flourished during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The most important monuments of the site are:
The Temple of Asklepios, dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Part of a Roman theatre.

Rock-cut and built chamber tombs.

Polirinnia The ruined walls and acropolis of Polyrrhenia lie 49 km west of Chania, near Selti or Paleokastro. At Kria Vrissi, near Kissamos (Kastelli) , are the remains of a Roman aqueduct. Polyrinnia, an important ancient western Cretan city, was founded with the help of the Achaeans, who succeeded the Minoans as overlords of the island. Free


Apodoulou Three building complexes of the Old Palace period (1950-1700 B.C.), while tholos tombs of the Postpalatial period (1380-1200 B.C.) have also been located in the adjacent area Free
Armeni A Minoan cemetery with tombs carved out of rocks has been unearthed. Free
Eleftherna Recent excavations held at the area brought to light important monuments from a Greek-Roman city Free
The Fortezza fortress of Rethymnon This fortress was built from 1573 till 1580 by the Venetians, for the protection of the inhabitants by the Turkish threat. It is starshaped with three gates and six bastions. Free


Aghia Trias 2.5-3 km, west of Phaistos, were found the ruins of a royal villa, which most probably was the summer palace of the Phaistos rulers. Certain of the more important pieces on exhibit in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum – the larnax, the Harvester Vase, and the impeccably painted frescoes – come from the site Ticket
Fourni at Arhanes Excavations at Fourni have brought to light 26 buildings, most of which had funerary use. The cemetery was used from 2400 B.C. until 1200 B.C. and each complex had more than one architectural phase Free
Gortys (Gortyn) 46 km. south of Heraklion. A city that flourished particularly during the Roman era, Gortys was the capital of the Roman province of Crete and Cyrenaica. It had its origins in the Minoan era, as testified by the ruins of a 16th c. B.C. farmhouse, which has been excavated. The most distinctive monuments are the Praetorium (2nd c. AD.), residence of the Roman governor of the province, and the Nymphaion (2nd c. AD.), where the Nymphs were worshipped; the temple of Pythian Apollo the sanctuary of the Egyptian divinities; and the Odeon, where the famous inscription with the laws of Gortys was found. Plato spoke of these laws, which were written in a Doric dialect and date from the 6th century B.C., with admiration. Ticket
Knossos 5 km. east of Heraklion. Inhabited since the Neolithic era. The first palace of Knossos was built around 1900 B.C. Two hundred years later it was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt, becoming grander and more luxurious. The final catastrophe occurred about 1500-1400 B.C., according to one theory, with the eruption of the volcano in Santorini. Despite this blow, people continued to live there for another fifty years, until a fire swept through the city circa 1400 B.C. The Minoan palaces were not only the residence of the ruling house, they were also administrative and religious centers for the whole region. The ruins of the capital of the Minoan Kingdom include the palace of Minos, the homes of the officials and priests who surrounded him (Little Palace, Caravanserai, House of the Frescoes, etc.), the homes of ordinary people and the cemetery. The palace was a labyrinthine complex built around a central court. This multistoried construction covered an area of 22.000 sq.m. and, in addition to the royal quarters, also contained p1aces of worship, treasuries, workshops and storerooms.


6 €

Komos The Minoan port of Phaistos Closed to the public

Koules Venetian Fortress

Open: 08:30-15:00

closed on Mondays

The symbol of Heraklion. The original name of the fortress was «Roca al mare»; it was built by the Venetians, before the construction of the new walls. It was destroyed by the great earthquake of 1303 and took its final shape between 1523 and 1540. Ticket
Levina (Lentas) Excavations brought to light a sanctuary of Asclepios and Minoan vaulted tombs Ticket
Malia 34 km. east of Heraklion and 3 km. beyond the summer resort of the same name. Excavations have brought to light a palace similar to the ones at Knossos and Phaistos (also built around 1900 B.C. and abandoned about 1450 B.C.). At Hrissolakos (Pit of Gold), archaeologists also unearthed the districts surrounding the Minoan palace and cemetery. The palace covered an area of about 9.000 sq.m. Many of the objects now on display in Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum were found at Malia Ticket
Phaistos (Festos) 63 km. southwest of Heraklion and about 78 km. southeast of Rethimno, was the second most important palace-city of Minoan Crete. The residence of the mythical Radamanthes, the palace was also the nucleus of a setllement inhabited since the Neolithic age. The architectural layout is identical to that of Knossos. Here too the rooms are arranged around a court. On the other hand, in contrast to Knossos, the frescoes decorating the walls were relatively scanty, the unpainted floors and walls being covered with a lining of pure white gypsum. The area of this palace was 9,000 sq.m Ticket
Tilissos 14 km. southwest of Heraklion lie the ruins of one of the oldest Minoan cities of central Crete, including three large buildings, residences of the local lords Ticket
Vathipetro 19 km. south of Heraklion is where the ruins of a large Minoan mansion, a country estate belonging to a local nobleman, were discovered. The ruins include a winepress, olive press, weaving rooms and a possible potter’s kiln Free


Dreros (Driros) 16 km. northwest of Aghios Nikolaos. The archaeological site of this ancient Greek city comprises two acropolises with an Archaic agora between them. South of the agora is a temple from the Geometric period, the Delphinion, dedicated to Apollo, as well as a large cistern dug between the late 3rd and early 2nd century B.C. Free
Gournia 19 km. southeast of Aghios Nikolaos, 15 km. north of Ierapetra, the best preserved of the Minoan settlements, and one of the most noteworthy archaeological sites in Crete. It appears to date from 1550-1450 B.C. The ruins of the town include small houses and a small palace on top of a hill; even the narrow streets and connecting stairways have survived amidst the foundations of he houses Ticket
Kato Zakros

117 km. southeast of Aghios Nikolaos is the site of a luxurious Minoan palace, the fourth in significance on the island, which produced a number of important finds, now in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. This palace, which covered 7.000 to 8.000 sq.m. and contained royal apartments, storerooms and various work-shops, and the nearby city were destroyed around 1450 B.C. by a violent earthquake, most probably the one that caused a whole section of the island of Santorini to sink into the sea.

Zakros was a major Minoan naval base, which established trading connections with Egypt and Anatolia. It was from here that Minoan farming estates, two sacred peaks, a cemetery and cave tombs have been discovered

Lato 15 km. west of Aghios Nikolaos, is spread out on the slopes of two acropolises. Founded in the 7th century B.C., it was one of the most powerful cities in Crete in its hey-day. The ruins include the city walls, houses and shops from different periods built on terraces Free
Palekastro 90 km. east of Aghios Nikolaos, 20 km. from Sitia, at Roussolakos, has some remains of a port settlement Ticket
Petras Ruins of a Minoan city  
Spinalonga isle It is an islet at the entrance of the Elounta bay. In antiquity there was a fortress of the Olounites. In 1579 the Venetians built a mighty fortress there, which remained under their rule even after the Ottoman occupation of Crete in 1669. During the last years of the Ottoman occupation, it was a safe refuge of Ottoman families. In 1903, by law of the Cretan government, it was appointed as thte place of stay for the lepers of Crete. Ticket


Museums in Crete


Museums in Chania

Chania Archaeological Museum

Tel.: (28210) 90.334

Housed in the Venetian church of San Francesco. Its exhibits from western Crete and other areas date from the Neolithic to the Roman era, and include idols, statues, inscriptions, weapons, pottery, seal stones, coins, jewellery, etc.

Historical Archives of Crete

Tel.: (28210) 52.606

(open daily 8-13.00 except Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays). A rich collection of folklore and material related to the history of the island. The archives are among the largest in the country, second only to General Archives of the Greek State.

Naval Museum of Crete

Tel.: (28210) 91.875

On the mole of the Venetian harbor. Exhibits linked with the island’s history

Museums in Rethymnon

Archaeological Museum

Tel.: (28310) 54.668

The Venetian loggia is a museum containing interesting archaeological finds from the region as well as a fine coin collection.

Historical and Folk Art Museum

Tel: (28310) 23.398

The Museum's collections include over 5.000 items that come from donations, purchases and loans. They are displayed in units; Folk Art collections include weaving, basket weaving, embroidery-laces, costumes, ceramics, metal work, traditional cultivations, traditional occupations, while the historical ones include documents, photographs, maps, weapons, banners and coins.

Museums in Heraklion

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Tel.: (2810) 22.60.92, (2810) 22.64.70.

One of the most important museums in Greece. Here are assembled almost all the finds from the Minoan era. Pottery, stone carvings, seal stones, statuettes, gold, metalwork, the marvelous frescoes from the Royal and Little Palaces and villas of the wealthy, and finally, the unique painted limestone sarcophagus from Aghia Trias.

Heraklion Historical Museum

Tel.: (2810) 28.32.19

Exhibits from the Byzantine, Venetian and Turkish periods and historical documents of more recent Cretan history. Also a rich collection of folk art consisting of local costumes, textiles, woodcarvings and embroidery as well as a representation of a typical Cretan house

St Catherine of Sinai

Monday - Friday: 10.00-13.00

The preserved katholikon of the Monastery and the chapel of Agioi Deka today house a collection of representative works of the Cretan Byzantine and post-Byzantine art.
Archanes Archaeological Collection. Contains finds from the Malia palace, the Fourni cemetery, and the sanctuary at Anemospilia dating from the Minoan era

Lychnostatis Museum in Hersonissos

From 1 April until 31 October
daily: 09:00-14:00
Saturday: closed

The museum has its origins in a private collection formed over a period of thirty years by Giorgos Markakis, professor of ophthalmology, lecturer and writer. The buildings themselves are some of the main exhibits. Built thoroughly with the prevalent raw materials (stone-wood-clay), under the creative architectural improvising of the founder, they possess an aesthetic quality unique in the area. The collections are broad in scope, from agricultural implements to embroideries and from herbs to rhymes.

Museums in Lassithi

Aghios Nikolaos Archaeological Museum

(28410) 22.462

Archaeological Museum. it contains finds from excavations in eastern Crete.
Ierapetra Archaeological Collection. Contains marble statues and inscriptions from the Greek-Roman era
Sitia Archaeological Museum. Contains finds from Sitia, Zakros, Petra, and Palekastro from the Minoan era


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