Where to Stay in Crete, Greece

Last Updated on November 23, 2022 by Helen E. White

Where to Stay in Crete: The small island on the map of the Mediterranean is very diverse. Each corner has its own unique features, and often even resorts located a few kilometers from each other differ quite significantly. Therefore, Grekoblog decided to combine the most popular resorts of Crete in one article, so that travelers preparing for a trip can get some idea of ​​​​the places that travel agencies most often offer.

Where to Stay in Crete

Useful Advice: Choose a resort for a holiday in Crete, first looking at the prices of last-minute tours. After all, often the price of a trip to neighboring hotels even in the same resort can differ significantly.

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Tourism in Crete: an Overview

Crete is visited by a large number of tourists and it is easy to see why. The island has a rich cultural heritage, beautiful topography and obviously stunning Aegean coastline. Crete was the center of such great things as the Minoan civilization, one of the first in Europe. There are many remnants of this culture in many places in Crete.

The second interesting historical aspect of Crete is the Venetian buildings and structures. The island was ruled by the Venetians for many years and left a huge and important legacy in Crete.

You can get to Crete using two options:

  • The first is by ferry, you can take a ferry from the port of Piraeus (near Athens) to Chania or Heraklion. If you want to compare and book your ferry tickets to Greece, check direct ferries.
  • The second is by plane, for those who fly in Crete, there are two main airports, one in Chania and the other in Heraklion. Transportation from these airports is very easy no matter where you want to go. Local buses are available at each arrival point. 

The 6 Best Places Where to Stay in Crete

One of the best places to stay in Crete is definitely Heraklion.

Heraklion is the largest city on the island of Crete, as well as the location of the island’s largest airport. Heraklion is definitely the place with the best infrastructure in Crete. If you want to enjoy the beach, Ammoudara is a great option and its sandy beaches are definitely worth a visit.

Chania is probably the second largest in Greece. Like Heraklion, it offers excellent transport links, both by ferry and by plane.

Best Places to Stay in Crete

The Old Town of Crete is quite picturesque and is a great place to stay if you want to enjoy the Cretan atmosphere. The city also offers a wide variety of beaches and is a great place if you are going to enjoy the nightlife.

Another great place to stay in Crete is Rethymnon. Rethymno is 1.5 hours from Heraklion and 1 hour from Chania. This cozy city of about 40,000 people is a great option if you want to spend a rather relaxing holiday enjoying the beauty of Crete.

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1. Chania

Chania is the second largest city of Crete, located on the coast of the Aegean Sea, 145 kilometers from Heraklion. This resort town, which attracts a harmonious mixture of Greek culture and Venetian heritage, is one of those places where you should definitely go to Crete.

Chania

Tourists love Chania for its unusual architecture, abundance of natural and historical attractions, interesting museums, and a wide variety of entertainment venues.

Young people who want to immerse themselves in the very center of the hectic resort life usually choose hotels in the city itself, while older tourists and families with children prefer to relax in the vicinity – the beaches are more gentle there, and the sea is much cleaner and calmer.

The city of Chania is often called Venice without canals.

The main tourist place of the resort is the port with an old lighthouse and its surroundings. The museums of Chania are also very popular – Maritime, Archaeological and Byzantine.

Relatively close to the city is the picturesque Samaria Gorge, Zoniana Cave, the ruins of the Venetian and Turkish fortresses, an ancient convent, and an ancient city in which the ruins of buildings of the 7th century have been preserved.

The city is also an excellent base for traveling to Gramvousa Island and Balos Bay. But for a tour to Santorini, Chania is not very convenient, since it is very far from the port of Heraklion, from where most of the tourist routes to Thira (Fira) depart.

And 6 kilometers from Chania, near the village of Varipetro, there is an excellent Limnoupolis water park with magnificent pools, slides and even an artificial river.

2. Hersonissos

Hersonissos – a former seaport, from which only a few old buildings remain, has won the glory of the youth and party resort of Crete.

In this small town, located near Malia, about 25 kilometers from Heraklion, the most fashionable clubs, discos, taverns and pubs are concentrated.

Hersonissos

Life at the resort is seething – music sounds until the morning, shops are open until late, and even fun dance parties are organized on the beaches.

There are practically no attractions in Hersonissos itself – ancient port facilities, a Roman basilica and several medieval buildings, several water parks, interesting excursions to nearby historical sites, to Heraklion and Knossos, as well as exciting sea voyages to the island of Santorini and Athens.

There are many excellent beaches on the coast of Hersonissos – sandy and sandy-pebble, crowded and secluded. There is also a nudist beach – it is located near the port.

3. Rethimno

Rethimno

The third largest city of Crete, Rethymno, located 78 kilometers from Heraklion, is perhaps not inferior in popularity to Chania, although much more compact.

Tourists coming to Rethymno have the opportunity to get acquainted with its magnificent architectural sights – the ancient port, over which the Venetian lighthouse towers, the Fortezza fortress, the Rimondi fountain located in the historical part of the city, and ancient monasteries.

The local archaeological museum is famous for its collections of exhibits of the Minoan civilization, as well as an exhibition of statues from the Greco-Roman period. In the summer, traditional festivals are held in Rethymnon, gathering fans to have fun and dance in the streets.

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Tourists find Rethymno charming, especially remembering the old port

Fans of excursions enjoy visiting the famous Kurtaliot Gorge, overgrown with lush Mediterranean vegetation, as well as the Saintoni Cave, which fascinates with the radiance of bizarre stalactites and stalagmites.

Both in the city itself and in its environs there are many excellent sandy beaches with crystal clear water and a gentle entrance to the sea, which is important for families with children.

The infrastructure of the resort is well developed – hotels for every taste and budget, shops, shops, taverns, restaurants, clubs and bars.

4. Malia

Malia is a town in the northern part of Crete, which can be safely recommended to those who do not know where to go in Crete, as one of the best resorts for family holidays. It is easily accessible from Heraklion, which is only 30 kilometers away.

Malia

Malia can be divided into two parts – old and new. The old part of the city is narrow streets, cozy flowering courtyards, and small Byzantine churches, the new one is modern shops, clubs, bars, and discos.

When choosing a hotel to stay in, it should be borne in mind that at the height of the tourist season it is quite noisy in the center – if you do not plan to actively participate in nightlife, it is better to stay closer to the outskirts.

A couple of kilometers from Malia, the ruins of a palace of the Minoan period, not inferior in size to that of Knossos, were discovered, in addition, here you can see the ruins of residential buildings of that time and visit the ancient seal workshop.

The exhibits found during the excavations are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum, equipped with one of the reconstructed buildings.

In addition, the resort is an excellent base for trips to Heraklion and exploring the many attractions of this part of Crete, including the Palace of Knossos, the Cave of Zeus, the monastery of Kera Kardiotissa with a miraculous icon, the island fortress of Spinalonga. And from here it is very easy to get on regular excursions to Santorini.

5. Elounda

Elounda

Elounda is positioned as the most fashionable resort in Crete. This is a favorite vacation spot for famous politicians, movie stars and other VIPs. The most prestigious hotels, elite restaurants, fashion stores, popular nightclubs and discos are concentrated here.

Elounda is a favorite vacation spot for famous politicians, movie stars and other VIPs

Entertainment in Elounda on Crete is more than enough – the cleanest, well-equipped beaches, yacht clubs, diving centers, tennis and volleyball courts, discos, and nightclubs.

From Elounda, tourists go on excursions to Heraklion and Knossos, located 80 kilometers away, Malia, as well as to nearby Agios Nikolaos.

From here you can go on a boat trip to the flooded ancient city of Olous, to the island fortress of Spinalonga, as well as to Athens and Santorini. However, according to the popular Cretan guide Victoria, vacationers in Elounda often prefer not group, but individual excursions. There will be no problems with them here either.

6. Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos is one of the main tourist centers of Crete, located on the shores of the picturesque Mirabello Bay, 63 kilometers from Heraklion.

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Agios Nikolaos

For a comfortable stay in Agios Nikolaos, there is everything – excellent beaches, excellent hotels of various price categories, all kinds of entertainment for every taste, as well as luxurious shops for shoppers.

Agios Nikolaos is called the Cretan Saint-Tropez

The most famous attraction of the resort is the beautiful lake Voulismeni, one of the two freshwater reservoirs of Crete.

Of the historical sights, the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, the main temple of the city, as well as the ancient church of Panagia Vrefotrofou, built in the 12th century, are worthy of mention. In the city museums – Archaeological and Ethnographic, unique gold jewelry, stone vases, dishes, as well as other household items are presented.

Check Out Our Guide to the Best Places to Stay in Crete, Greece

Our guide covers Heraklion, Chania, and Retmino and also shows the cost of traveling to this amazing island.

Crete is undoubtedly one of the most loved summer vacation destinations in Europe. Its abundant sunlight and its majestic landscape help the island to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can admire the island with Venetian historical sites and beaches so beautiful that you will be left without a deposit. Crete is also the largest island in Greece; it has its own history, culture and traditions. 

Crete has three major cities and many villages. Many of the locals prefer the Cretans living in the villages and enjoying a slow, stress-free lifestyle.

Best Places to Stay in Crete

Hospitality and generosity are two characteristics that are sure to be experienced when interacting with the Cretan people. The real beauty of Crete is its delicious and varied environment.

You can easily travel around the island from the beach to enjoy the rich and interesting scenery of the countryside. Everything is close, regardless of whether you are walking or driving.

Cost of Travel in Crete

The cost of a trip to the island depends on the period of the year, as Crete is a very seasonal destination. Crete is very diverse and there are options for those looking for a budget holiday as well as expensive travel.

Travel in Crete

Crete as a whole is significantly cheaper than most Western European destinations. Even during the summer months, a trip to the island will be cheaper than if you visit the coast of France or Italy. Food is relatively inexpensive. A good lunch in an average restaurant usually costs around 15 euros. As a general rule for Crete, the further you go from the tourist spots in the center of Heraklion or Chania, the lower the prices. 

Best Time to Visit Crete

Crete is definitely worth a visit, regardless of the season. Obviously, the island gets busier during the summer months and has a much more relaxed vibe in the winter. 

Visiting Crete from May to the end of September is ideal if you want to enjoy the beaches to the fullest. Peak season follows the same trend as the rest of Europe, with July and August being the busiest months. Arriving during spring or early autumn will give you an advantage as you will avoid the crowds and still enjoy the good weather and good water temperatures on Cretan beaches. 

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