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Where to Stay in Crete in 2024 – 14 Best Areas

Discover the top places to stay in Crete for every traveler. From vibrant beach resorts to tranquil villages, find your perfect Crete accommodation in our comprehensive guide to the island's best areas.
Where to Stay in Crete

Crete is nothing short of a slice of heaven on Earth. Imagine lounging on stunning beaches that stretch along its coast, wandering through lush forests, climbing majestic peaks, exploring quaint villages, and stumbling upon the remnants of ancient civilizations.

The cities here are a blend of comfort and convenience, boasting sophisticated tourist facilities that cater to every need. The island is a playground of endless activities; there’s always something new to see or do in Crete.

Given its vastness, choosing where to stay in Crete is a real head-scratcher for visitors. But fear not!

We’re about to dive into an extensive guide on the best places to stay in Crete. Whether you’re looking for a spot that feels just right or a strategic base for island exploration, we’ve got you covered. Just don’t expect to cover every inch of this island paradise in one go.

1. Chania, where to stay in Crete for first time

Old Port, Chania
Old Port, Chania

Chania is a gem of a city and my top pick for kick-starting your Cretan adventure. Nestled on the island’s western side, it’s renowned for its captivating Old Town, the iconic lighthouse at the Venetian harbor, and its slice-of-heaven beaches. 

Strolling through the Old Town of Chania is like walking through a beautifully preserved piece of Mediterranean history. Despite being battered by history’s trials, it stands proudly, inviting you to lose yourself in its cobblestoned alleys.

Shop for souvenirs, indulge in traditional Cretan cuisine, and enjoy a refreshing cocktail in the gentle breeze.

The city’s crown jewel, the Venetian harbor, with its Egyptian lighthouse and the Neoria, is a sight to behold. Here, the locals will tell you, is where the nightlife buzzes. From seafood tavernas to laid-back bars and chic cocktail spots, there’s a vibe for everyone.

Wander away from the harbor to discover a sprawling marketplace filled with both local treasures and international finds (currently, the Municipal Market is under renovation).

Don’t miss Splatzia square. With its cafes and sycamore trees facing the church of Saint Nicholas, which once served as a mosque, it’s a spot full of history and charm.

Accommodation options in Chania are endless. Whether you prefer a rented room or house in the Old Town or a luxurious boutique hotel, there’s something for everyone.

Prices in the Old Town tend to be on the higher side, but with early booking, you’re sure to find a gem.

Best Hotels in Chania

2. Rethymno, a beautiful town in Crete

Rethymno
Venetian Harbour of Rethymno

Rethymno, perfectly perched between Chania and Heraklion, and flanked by the majestic White Mountains and Psiloritis, is a picturesque city that offers an idyllic getaway, albeit on a smaller scale than Chania.

Its charm and beauty are reminiscent of its larger neighbor, yet it holds its unique allure. The Old Town, with its Venetian Fortezza and the Venetian Harbour or Old Port, serves as the city’s crown jewel, inviting explorers to wander its historic paths.

The narrow lanes of the Old Town are dotted with an array of tavernas serving up local delicacies, making it a foodie’s paradise.

For those looking to dance the night away, the coastal road bars are the place to be, pulsating with life and rhythm. Rethymno’s markets, primarily local shops, are scattered throughout, offering a true taste of Cretan culture.

What sets Rethymno apart is its proximity to quaint villages and the breathtaking beaches of the south. Noteworthy mentions include Preveli with its famous palm forest, Plakias, Triopetra, and Agios Pavlos, each a testament to Crete’s unspoiled beauty.

Choosing to stay in Rethymno is a wise decision, offering a wide array of accommodation options at prices more forgiving than those in Chania. It’s a city that promises an unforgettable stay, blending history, culture, and natural beauty seamlessly.

Best Hotels in Rethymno

3. Heraklion, the largest city and capital of Crete

Heraklion

Heraklion stands as Crete’s bustling metropolis, the largest and most densely populated city on the island. Sandwiched between Rethymno and Agios Nikolaos, it boasts a distinctly urban vibe.

This area is a treasure trove of archaeological wonders and museums, with the Knossos Palace, the heart of Minoan civilization, as its crown jewel.

Wandering through the city, you’ll find yourself in the old town, a maze originally crafted by Arabs and later fortified by the Venetians.

Here, remnants of its historical grandeur are visible through the surviving gates, Chanioporta and the New Gate. A visit to the Martinengo bastion offers a glimpse into the past, housing the grave of the renowned writer Nikos Kazantzakis.

Adjacent to the modern harbor lies the old Venetian harbor, where you can marvel at the shipyards where Venetians once constructed their formidable fleet.

On the city’s west side, the Koules Fortress stands as a testament to the 16th century, offering a window into Heraklion’s storied past.

Choosing to stay in Heraklion presents a unique experience, merging the convenience of urban living with the island’s enchanting history. With endless accommodation options, finding the perfect spot to match your taste and budget is guaranteed. 

Best Hotels in Heraklion

4. Agios Nikolaos, a charming city of Crete

Agios Nikolaos Crete

Agios Nikolaos – means Saint Nicholas – the fourth major hub of Crete, is perched on the island’s eastern edge, rising from the ancient ruins of old settlements to become a charming mid-sized city. Despite its modest size, Agios Nikolaos packs a punch with plenty to offer its visitors.

The city is uniquely embraced by the sea at three key points: Kitroplatia Beach, the enchanting Voulismeni Lake with its adjacent port, and the marina.

The lake, a true gem of the area, is ringed by a lively scene of restaurants, cafes, and taverns, drawing both locals and tourists to its vibrant ambiance.

Kitroplatia Beach, located at the city’s heart, stands out as an excellent choice for those looking to stay in Lassithi, boasting a range of rental rooms and hotels.

Venture around Agios Nikolaos to discover the windmills of the Lassithi Plateau, the picturesque Mirabello Bay, and pristine beaches with crystal-clear waters.

Agios Nikolaos is a city that effortlessly blends natural beauty with cultural richness, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring Crete.

Best Hotels in Agios Nikolaos

5. Sitia, best area to stay in Crete for windsurfing

Sitia, Crete

Sitia, nestled on the northeastern tip of Crete, is a hidden gem far from the tourist trail. Built by the Venetians and later reconstructed by the Turks, this city has a rich tapestry of history woven into its streets.

The area is densely populated, boasting a vast sandy beach where friendly and welcoming locals take immense pride in their heritage.

For nature and history buffs alike, Sitia offers palm-fringed beaches, archaeological sites, and scenic mountain trails that promise adventure at every turn.

Windsurfing enthusiasts, look no further—Sitia is your paradise. Beaches like Kouremenos serve up the perfect conditions for catching the wind in your sails.

A stone’s throw from Sitia, you’ll find the stunning Vai palm forest and beach, a jewel in Lassithi’s crown. This breathtaking locale is a must-visit for anyone exploring Crete’s eastern shores.

In Sitia, cozy hotels and rental complexes abound, many offering the quaint charm of breakfast prep options.

It’s a place where the beauty of Crete is undisturbed, inviting you to experience its authentic side.

Best Hotels in Sitia

  • (€€€) Oceanides Luxury Apartmentsbeachfront apartments with 2 swimming pools, near to the beach
  • (€€) Sitia Bayunits with well-equipped kitchen, swimming pool and breakfast
  • (€) Hotel El Grecoa 2-star hotel with breakfast, 300m. from the beach

6. Hersonissos, where to stay in Crete for beach bars and nightlife

Hersonissos Crete

Just a short 15-kilometer hop east of Heraklion, you’ll find Hersonissos – means peninsula – Crete’s largest tourist hotspot. Whether you’re up for vibrant nightlife or traveling with the family, this place ticks all the boxes.

Though home to a modest population of 3,000 locals, come summer, this number skyrockets.

Hersonissos epitomizes mass tourism with its bustling beaches and an array of shops ranging from eateries and bars to cafes and nightclubs.

The accommodation options are vast, offering everything from cozy to grand luxury hotels complete with all-inclusive deals and family-friendly facilities.

For those looking to add a bit of fun, there’s a golf course and water parks, including Acqua Plus and Star Beach Water Park.

Best Hotels in Hersonissos

7. Malia, best area to stay in Crete for nightlife

Malia Crete

Malia, nestled along the route from Heraklion to Agios Nikolaos in the northern part of Crete, offers a distinct vibe. Once celebrated for its potatoes, the landscape has dramatically shifted from fields to a mix of small and grand hotels.

This town has evolved into a bustling seaside resort, renowned for its nightclubs, bars, and vibrant nightlife. If your ideal vacation involves partying until dawn, Malia is your go-to destination.

For those seeking a quieter experience, the old town awaits with its narrow alleys and flower-adorned houses. Here, you’ll discover taverns with live music and a variety of restaurants, offering a peaceful retreat from the lively beachfront.

Best Hotels in Malia

8. Elounda, where to stay in Crete for Spinalonga

Elounda, Crete

Elounda, a picturesque fishing village on Crete’s eastern coast, nestles in the embrace of the Mirabello Bay. It strikes a perfect balance for tourists, offering neither isolation nor overcrowding.

With its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and archaeological sites, Elounda invites exploration.

Don’t miss the chance to visit the famed island of Spinalonga and the charming inland villages of Plaka, Schisma, Mavrikiano, and Epano Elounda.

And for a touch of history, the Elounda Salt Pans and the ancient site of Olous are must-sees.

If you’re after a bustling nightlife and grand hotels, Elounda may not be your cup of tea. Instead, you’ll find the charm in its rental rooms and quaint hotels, which blend seamlessly with the tranquil vibe of the area.

Best Hotels in Elounda

9. Kissamos, where to stay in Crete for the most beautiful beaches

Balos, Crete
Balos Beach

Kissamos, a mere 30-35 minutes away from the vibrant city of Chania, graces the northwest coast of Crete. This settlement is a treasure trove of both tourist appeal and cultural heritage. The locals here are deeply rooted in agriculture, crafting exquisite wine and olive oil.

In Kissamos, you’ll get a taste of the traditional Cretan lifestyle, complete with charming taverns serving delectable local cuisine. The summer season brings with it a host of events and festivals that are a pure delight.

Surrounding this area are some of Chania’s most stunning and celebrated beaches, including Balos, Falassarna, Elafonisi, and Kedrodasos, offering a slice of paradise for every visitor.

Accommodation options are plentiful, ranging from rental rooms to boutique and luxury hotels, ensuring a comfortable stay for all.

Moreover, you’ll find everything you need within reach: supermarkets, a variety of shops, a health center, banks, a post office, and of course, an array of dining options from cafes to restaurants and taverns.

A key highlight of the area is the Kissamos port, serving as a gateway for trips to Kythira and the Peloponnese, as well as the enchanting Gramvousa and Balos. This makes Kissamos not just a place to visit, but a hub for exploring the greater treasures of Crete.

Best Hotels in Kissamos

  • (€€) Sapphire Blue Suites: a 4-star hotel with swimming pool, bar and breakfast in Kissamos
  • (€€) Nautilus Bay Hotel: a 3-star hotel with swimming pool, restaurant and bar, in Plaka Beach
  • (€) Crystal Bay Hotel: a 3-star hotel with swimming pool 3 minutes’ walk from Kissamos beach

10. Platanias, one of the most popular tourists resorts in Crete

Platanias, Crete
Platanias, Crete / photo: wikipedia

Platanias shines as Chania’s premier tourist destination, boasting a stretch of sandy beach perfect for families. The majority of this beach comes fully equipped with sun beds and umbrellas, ensuring comfort for all.

A lifeguard is always on duty, providing peace of mind, especially on days when the waves grow too mighty for swimming.

The bustling seaside promenade is a treasure trove of amenities, offering everything from clothing and shoe stores to supermarkets, restaurants, taverns, cafes, and even beauty salons and gaming spots.

Accommodation options in Platanias are vast and varied, ranging from cozy rented rooms to sprawling hotel complexes, many of which have built overpasses for easy beach access.

When night falls, the area comes alive with beach bars blasting music and hosting parties, offering a vibrant nightlife scene.

For those seeking an even more intense night out, the neighboring Agia Marina promises an elevated experience with its lively atmosphere.

Best Hotels in Platanias

  • (€€€) Angels Suites: luxury suites with fully-equipped kitchen, 50m. from the beach
  • (€€) Geraniotis Hotel and Resort: a 4-star hotel with swimming pool, restaurant and bar, 200m. from the beach
  • (€) Ariadne Beach: elegant rooms with swimming pool and restaurant, 200m. from the beach

11. Sissi, a romantic place in Crete

Sissi, Crete

Sissi, nestled to the east of Heraklion, ranks as one of Crete’s most enchanting spots for a romantic getaway. It’s cozily tucked away in a natural cove, fringed with palm trees and home to a quaint harbor.

The Boufos beach is a serene escape offering relaxation with its crystal-clear waters perfect for a refreshing swim.

For seafood lovers, the jetty is the place to be. It’s bustling with taverns serving fresh catches, making it a favorite spot among locals from Heraklion for their fish supplies.

Despite its small size, Sissi boasts a wide range of hotels at surprisingly affordable rates, from cozy and budget-friendly accommodations.

And if you’re in the mood for some vibrant nightlife, Malia is just a 10-minute drive away, promising lively evenings and fun-filled nights.

Best Hotels in Sissi

12. Matala, a famous beach in South Crete

Matala Beach, Crete
Matala Beach and caves

Matala, perched on the southern tip of Heraklion, captured the hearts of hippies in the 60s and 70s, who found a haven in the caves dotting the beachfront.

This enchanting spot is a stone’s throw from Crete’s second-largest Minoan Palace at Phaistos, offering a peaceful retreat amidst stunning beaches and historical marvels like ancient Gortyna and the Minoan villa of Agia Triada.

While the village has evolved from its traditional roots due to tourism’s touch, untouched gems like Sivas and Kamilari still retain their authentic charm.

Beachside leisure dominates the scene in Matala. Those looking to venture beyond the sand will find their entertainment within the cozy confines of hotel bars, blending relaxation with subtle nightlife vibes.

Best Hotels in Matala

13. Palaiochora, best area to stay in Crete for families and kids

Pachia Ammos beach, Palaiochora
Pachia Ammos beach, Palaiochora

Palaiochora, nestled in the southern part of Chania region, is a breathtaking resort on Crete’s shores. This seaside village, home to a vibrant community, boasts all the essentials of a top-notch tourist destination – from taverns and restaurants to bars, cafes, shops, and supermarkets.

The area is peppered with numerous beaches, with Pachia Ammos and Votsala or Chalikia being the main attractions, alongside the more secluded Psilos Volakas, Plakaki, Karavopetra, and Gialiskari.

Palaiochora is perfect whether you’re bringing the family and kids for a beach getaway or hanging out with friends. The nightlife here is lively, featuring an array of bars and cocktail lounges that stay buzzing until the early hours.

For those who love to explore, bike rentals offer a leisurely way to see the settlement and its beaches, and the area is also a hotspot for surfing enthusiasts.

Backpackers will appreciate the organized camping available, making Palaiochora a versatile destination for all kinds of travelers.

Best Hotels in Palaiochora

14. Sougia, an alternative place to stay in Crete

Sougia Beach, Crete
Sougia Beach

Sougia, tucked away in the southern part of Chania, Crete, is a hidden gem for those seeking an alternative destination.

Situated 70 km from Chania, the journey there takes you through the scenic route of Omalos, leading to its expansive beach mixed with sand and pebbles, a favored spot for campers.

The beach vibe is laid-back, with beach bars featuring hammocks for relaxation. Venture deeper into the village, and you’ll find Fortuna, a nightlife hotspot hosting some of the island’s most vibrant parties and festivals.

To the west lies a secluded pebble beach, perfect for naturism, adorned with rocks and caves.

Nature enthusiasts will love the area for its trails, including the Agia Irini Gorge, the ancient Lissos Gorge, and the path to Prophet Elias above Trypiti Beach.

For the adventurous, the Samaria Gorge trek ending in Agia Roumeli is a must. From there, a local boat trip takes you back to the quaint harbor of Sougia.

The area is well-equipped with necessary amenities, including taverns, restaurants, and a variety of mainly rental accommodations, ensuring a comfortable stay amidst nature’s splendor.

Best Hotels in Sougia

  • (€€) Idomeneas Apartments: elegant apartments with full-equipped kitchen, 300m. from the beach
  • (€) Galini: apartments 300m. from the beach
  • (€) Arhondiko: rooms with garden, 10m. from the beach

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