Is Knossos Palace Worth Visiting on Crete? What to Know First

Knossos Palace

Travelers heading to Crete may have heard that the Knossos Palace is one of the best things to see. However, there are some things you should know about this ancient site first! So is Palace of Knossos in Greece worth visiting? Here’s our experience and a few helpful tips to know before you go. 

How to Get to Knossos Palace on Crete

The first thing to know is the location of the Palace of Knossos! You’ll be happy to know that Knossos is only a 20 minute drive from the main city of Heraklion. This is the capital of the island of Crete and where you’ll likely be arriving into. Most people fly, take the ferry into Heraklion, or arrive on a cruise ship like we did! 

From Heraklion you can easily take the public bus to Knossos, rent a car on Crete, or jump on a guided tour. We highly recommend taking a tour to get the full history of Knossos Palace. However, there are plenty of signs around each area of the palace explaining its amazing past.

Make sure to pre-book your tours in advance, especially if you are traveling in the busy summer months. Some of the most popular options are the skip the line group walking tour, or a private tour of the Knossos Greece

If you’re not interested in seeing Knossos Palace this way we still recommend booking your entry tickets before you arrive. This way you will save time by skipping the line. You can even download the audio tour on your phone for a self-guided experience! 

Knossos Palace in Crete

Quick History of Knossos Greece

Knossos is the largest of any ancient palaces on Crete and is also known as “Europe’s oldest city.” The first settlements here were during the Neolithic period as early as 6700 BC. Yes, that’s over 8,000 years ago!

One of the most famous Greek Myths is from Knossos in Theseus and the Minotaur Labyrinth. We won’t go too far into the details of that, but some believe the famous Labyrinth was built right underneath Knossos palace.

Although the first humans were here long before, the first palace wasn’t built until around 1900 B.C. by the Minoan civilization. Between then and 1450 BC it would suffer major destruction from natural events. Knossos Palace would later be rebuilt and was eventually overtaken by the Mycenaeans from mainland Greece.

At its peak, the Palace of Knossos was made up of over 1,000 rooms with 4 separate wings. There were 4 story houses and the city was connected by a maze of corridors and stairs. Its location was key for their survival being both near the sea and on the fertile lands of Crete. 

Unlike the Romans and Greeks, not as much is known about the Minoans. Nevertheless, Knossos gives us a small peak into their architecture, daily activities, and rituals. From what historians and archeologists have gathered, it looks to have been the center of political and economic life on the island.

History of Is Knossos Greece

Buying Your Knossos Palace Tickets

Haven’t bought your tickets online already? Don’t worry! You can grab them at the main entry get after arriving at the Minoan Palace of Knossos. 

If you’re traveling with a tour group like we did then it will typically be included in the cost. History lovers will certainly enjoy the guided tour to learn more in-depth information. Yet, it’s simple enough to explore by yourself if you prefer. 

We visited the palace first thing in the morning in early May. During this time we felt like we had it all to ourselves with only a couple of other tour groups! Still, know that if you go to Knossos Greece during the peak season of July and August it will be very busy. 

Knossos Palace Tickets

Palace of Knossos Restoration 

One thing to know about the Palace of Knossos is that much of it has been restored. The first excavations happed in 1878 when a businessman from Heraklion uncovered a section of the west wing. 

Yet, the real work wouldn’t start until Sir Arthur Evans got there in March of 1900. Sir Arthur was the Director of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. What began is a personal interest quickly turned into a 30 year project and what the British archeologist is now most known for. 

Unsurprisingly, there are many differing opinions about the restoration work done here at Knossos Palace. Some believe it was 100% necessary for preservation of the ancient site, while others think it ruined its authenticity. This will being something to think about when deciding if Knossos Crete is worth visiting. 

Knossos Palace Restoration

West Court of Knossos Crete

The first part of Knossos Palace you will see is the west court. This is one section where they’ve found settlement remains dating back to the Neolithic period. It is not completely known what this area was used for, but it looks to be somewhere that royal parades or processions took place. 

The facade’s architecture is made up of massive blocks that tower to the sky. The two bases in front of the western facade are believed to be some type of altars. Continuing on, you will find the west porch which was a roofed section which opens into the main court.

Another thing you’ll notice right away at the west court is the colorful peacocks! They can be seen playing around the Kephala hill, through the historical site, and even up in the trees. We thought this was a funny addition to an already interesting place.

West Court of Knossos Crete

West Magazines of Knossos 

The next fascinating area of Knossos is the West Magazine. This long corridor consists of 18 small storage rooms. In each floor of the rooms there were a total of 93 cists used for keeping important items safe. The big jars of this area were likely used to hold oil or wine.

This was such an eye opening part of the Palace of Knossos as it gave us a look into the wealth of Minoan Crete. There are even large clay tablets with inscriptions that display records of exchanging trade or money. 

West Magazines of Knossos 

Amazing Knossos Palace Frescos 

Something that really stuck out to us at Knossos Palace was the beautiful frescoes. It’s important to note that these are re-creations. The originals can be found at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. 

While they may not be the real thing, the reproductions showed the daily life of the Minoans here. Many of them depict the early civilizations relationship with animals and nature. In particular, the Bull leaping fresco is one of the most famous. This was one of their earliest games which pre-dates the more modern day bull fighting. 

There is also a mural of a monkey which was interesting as there are not monkeys on Crete. We would find out that the Minoans were unreal sailors and ship builders so they must have come across these animals on other tropical islands.

When looking at the Knossos frescoes, you’ll also notice the men and women were painted in a different color. This was due to the men being tanned from working in the fields during this period.

Knossos Palace Frescos

Knossos Throne Room 

​A part of the palace you will eventually come across is the Throne room. Sir Arthur Evans named it this for the stone seat that’s found in one of the back chambers. Some believe this is where King Minos would hold religious ceremonies of some nature.

The section we were disappointed not to be able to see was the Queen’s apartment. Unfortunately, it was under restoration at the time of our visit. 

Knossos Palace Throne Room

Strange Facts About Knossos Palace 

Honestly, there are endless things to discover at Knossos. One thing that really struck us was their intricate toilet system. Can you believe that this many years ago they had a working system with proper drainage? The Minoans were smarter than you’d think! 

Another area we found unbelievable was the customs house. Sir Arthur Evans believed they were checking and recording people entering the palace here. There is also a small theatre and the “Royal Road” to see where they had performances. 

Facts About Knossos Palace 

Is Knossos Palace Worth Visiting?

Yes! There is a reason this is the 2nd most visited historical site in Greece after the Athens Acropolis. When you have the opportunity to go to Europe’s oldest city, you do it! We also appreciated how easy it was to get here from Heraklion. 

Just be sure to limit your expectations if you’re expecting to see 100% authentic excavation sites. As we mentioned, many main sections of the Knossos Palace are reproductions including the colorful frescoes. A lot what was uncovered is also sitting safely at the Heraklion Museum.

This is the only drawback about Knossos Palace. Even so, the information we learned on our guided tour really blew our minds. It was so fun to use our imaginations and think about what life must have been like thousands of years ago on Crete.

Planning to see more of Crete after Knossos Palace? Check check our 10 Day Crete Itinerary and more of our helpful guides on the island.

Knossos Palace Crete

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

 Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar


Greece Travel Planning 

Explore all our Greece articles to help plan your trip! We cover everything from general travel tips to amazing destinations such as Santorini, Paros, Rhodes, Karpathos, Crete, Milos & more beautiful islands!

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!

When island hopping use FerriesinGreece to compare different routes, prices, and companies. 

 Flights: We always check Skyscanner and Kayak to search for cheap flights. That’s how we got from Crete to Athens for under $50 USD!

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Rental Car: You can book a rental car for around $20 a day in Greece! We use Discover Cars to explore the larger islands with a vehicle.

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for activities in Crete Greece. You can find everything from taking a boat cruise to Balos Lagoon, to a guided tour of Knossos Palace, and Trekking Samaria Gorge.

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

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