Crete Region

Based at its capital city Heraklion, the region's administrative centre and divided into four regional units: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Lasithi

Knossos, Heraklion, Crete Region, Greece
Knossos, Heraklion, Crete Region, Greece (Credit: Torsten Ritschel on Pixabay)


It is impossible to sum up Crete, the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, briefly. Located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea, the island of Zeus and Zorba, is renowned for thousands of years of culture and history and wild natural beauty. Explore endless kilometres of golden coastline, impressive mountainscapes, steep gorges, famous archaeological sites such as the Minoan palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, frescoed Byzantine chapels, the celebrated palm forest in Vai, the Samaria Gorge. Heraklion, Crete’s lively capital, Rethymno, a Venetian jewel of a city, Chania, another charming seaside town, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, Ierapetra, Malia, Hersonissos, Sitia, Sfakia… are all deserving of a visit.


Crete is where the first European civilization—the Minoan—thrived. The Minoans established a naval empire in the Mediterranean and their civilization reached its peak in the 16th century BCE. Their civilization was devastated by the Thera eruption a massive volcanic explosion. After that, power in the region passed decisively to the Mycenaeans. Later, the invasion of the Achaeans and later the Dorians marked the end of the Minoan period. Crete was occupied at 67 BC by the Romans and became part of the Byzantine empire from 325 AD to 824 AD. In 1204, in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade, Crete was eventually acquired by the Venetians. During the Cretan War (1645–1669), Venice was pushed out of Crete by the Ottoman Empire. There were significant rebellions against Ottoman rule. The Greek War of Independence began in 1821, with extensive Cretan participation. The Turks were expelled by Greece in 1898, after which the island held autonomous status until its union with Greece in 1913. Crete was the last stand off of the Allied forces in Greece during the Second World War. On May 9, 1945, the German Commander signed an unconditional surrender at the Villa Ariadne at Knossos, effective “10 o’clock Greenwich Mean Time on the tenth day of May 1945.


Crete is one of Greece’s leading regions for producing olives and olive oil, grapes, wine, vegetables and fruit. Most of that produce is exported. Tourism has replaced agriculture as the economic mainstay of the island and contributes a large proportion of the gross domestic product.

>Gross regional product:

Total: €9.4 billion Per capita: €17,800


Crete and a number of islands and islets that surround it constitute the Region of Crete, the fifth most populous of Greece’s regions. The Dodecanese are located to the northeast of Crete, while the Cyclades are situated to the north. The Peloponnese is to the region’s northwest.

Region’s capital: Heraklion Region’s area: 8,450 km2 Region’s population (2021): 624,408 Postal Address: Region of Crete, Eleftheria Square 71202, Heraklion, Greece Region’s Website: Region’s tourism website: Email: Tel: +30 2813 400342

Stavros Arnaoutakis Regional Governor of Crete

Stavros Arnaoutakis was born in 1956 and grew up in Archanes of Heraklion. He is an economist. He is the first elected regional governor of Crete, having successfully contested the 2010, 2014, 2019 and 2023 regional elections.

Explore the four regional units of Crete. Click on each box to find out about history, museums, top attractions, beaches, gastronomy, festivals, activities, transportation, accommodation and much more.