8 Best Areas to Stay in Crete for Tourists

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by Lizzie Fitzgerald

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If you’re planning a trip to Greece’s largest island and are looking for the best areas to stay in Crete, you’re sure not to be alone. Crete is a mammoth Greek Island – there’s so much to see and do, and deciding where to stay can be a daunting task!

Greece is the land of paradise islands. With over 200 inhabited islands, there are few as evocative as Crete. There is much more to the island than just Chania or Heraklion and the island has a lot to offer visitors no matter what you’re after.

Whether you like beaches, nightlife, romantic towns, or are looking for somewhere for all the family – you’ll be sure to find it on this beautiful island.

Best Places to Stay in Crete

Chania – Best City for a Classic Crete Experience

Whilst it is the largest city in western Crete, Chania feels anything but busy; it’s homely and welcoming. The old town is centred around the beautiful Venetian harbour which is perfect for strolling and discovering the town’s restaurants, kafenion and tavernas.

Exploring the old harbour and the back alleys of the old town is a journey back through the history of Crete. Dotted around the old town you’ll see Roman and Byzantine ruins, wander past an old Ottoman mosque whilst soaking in the totally Greek vibe.

If you’re a foodie, Chania is one of the best places to explore Crete’s cuisine which is rich in unique meats like goat and snail, fresh seafood, and otherwise hard-to-find sheep and goat cheeses.

Chania is the perfect place to stay because it has an airport, ferry port, plenty of nearby beaches and a huge amount of accommodation both inside and outside the old town. Without a doubt, anyone who has stayed in Chania will agree, it is amongst the best places to stay in Crete and is also convenient if you’re visiting Crete without a car.

Port of Chania
Port of Chania

Where to Stay in Chania

Casa Leone Hotel – This 3-star hotel in Chania is perfect for mid-range visitors. They have a great location, a number rooms to choose from and daily breakfast available for guests.

Porto Veneziano Hotel – This luxury hotel located right on the water is the perfect romantic spot in Chania. They have a myriad of plush and comfortable rooms to choose from (some boasting sea views), a hearty breakfast served each morning and plenty of amenities for guests to use.

Suites Pandora – This aparthotel is an excellent choice if you want the convenience of your own flat while staying in Chania. They offer a number of suites and apartments, all are fully furnished and include equipped kitchens. Some also have sea views and the location is perfect for exploring the city.

Cocoon City Hostel – Those looking for a social atmosphere or budget travellers to Crete will love this highly-rated hostel. They have a great location for exploring Chania and offer both dorms and private rooms.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Chania hotels!

Agios Nikolaos – Best Town for a Laid-Back Holiday

If you’re looking for a great base to explore eastern Crete, look no further than Agios Nikolaos.

This charming town is only about an hour’s drive from Heraklion, and whilst it’s a regional capital, life here moves slowly and no one is in a rush. The town serves as the hub for 20 or smaller villages, so it’s a great spot to people watch locals going about their business.

The town is centred around Lake Voulismeni, a small lake which has since been connected to the sea. The lake is where you’ll find plenty of fishing and pleasure boats, small tavernas and bars looking out over the tranquil water.

There are many hotels outside of the centre of town that have beautiful views of the sea, and a myriad of small hotels and apartments in town.

The laidback pace of life makes Agios Nikolaos one of the best towns to stay in Crete.

Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos

Where to Stay in Agios Nikolaos

Sunlight Hotel – Mid-range visitors will love this 3-star hotel in Agios Nikolaos. They have a range of lovely rooms to choose from (some with sea views and balconies) along with an on-site bar and swimming pool.

Hotel Port 7- Boutique Collection – This upmarket, luxe hotel situated on the beach in Agios Nikolaos is a great choice for those looking for a plush hotel in Crete. They have a number of wonderful rooms to choose from, breakfast on offer each morning and plenty of other amenities for guests to enjoy.

9 Muses Apartments – If you’d like your own apartment, this aparthotel is an excellent option. They have a range of flats available along with a wonderful location in the centre of Agios Nikolaos.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Agios Nikolaos hotels!

Heraklion – Best Area for Nightlife & City Vibes

If you’re looking for a short break to get a taste of Crete then look no further than the island’s largest city – Heraklion. It’s incredibly accessible with both a bustling port and an international airport a stone’s throw from the old town.

Whilst it is a city, and it feels like a city, Heraklion’s thriving university means it’s a great place for food (modern, international and traditional), and the best place to stay in Crete for nightlife.

The bars and clubs here hum well into the night and it’s affordable, welcoming and sociable. In the summer months, the beach bars on the outskirts of the city offer great views, drinks and DJs at a fraction of the price of other Greek Islands.

The main attraction in Heraklion is the ancient city of Knossos and the incredible ruins of the Knossos Palace, located just outside the city. This excavated city gives us an insight into how life was in the Bronze Age, and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum does a great job of bringing this city to life.

There’s a wide range of pensions and apartments inside the old Venetian walls, as well as bigger-name hotels.

Port of Heraklion
Port of Heraklion

Where to Stay in Heraklion

Metropole Urban Hotel – This is an excellent mid-range option located in the centre of Heraklion. It’s cool and modern with a number of great rooms on offer. There are also plenty of amenities, including room service and an on-site bar.

Artion Boutique by Enorme – Those looking for luxury in Heraklion will love this boutique hotel in the city centre. Well-located for exploring all of the highlights of the city, they have a number of great rooms on offer there is a great breakfast option available each morning.

Pavo Art Hotel – This cool aparthotel is a great choice for those looking for their own space in Heraklion. Excellently situated for exploring Crete’s capital city, they have a number of chic flats available that range in size and are fully furnished with everything you may need.

Intra Muros Hostel – If you’re travelling solo or on a tight budget, this hotel is an excellent option. Offering both dorms and private rooms, they have great common areas and self-catering facilities and an excellent location in the centre of Heraklion.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Heraklion hotels!

Rethymno – Best Area for Couples

If you loved Chania, but it felt too touristy, then drive an hour to the west and you’ll find Rethymno (also sometimes spelt Rethymnon).

Packed with old-world charm, it’s by far one of the best towns to stay in Crete — if not all of Greece! Rethymno’s old town is a Venetian fortress, but the city has grown far beyond that.

The best place to visit is within the ancient walls. Inside streets wind, cafes pop up on open squares, and the sea breeze whips past Ottoman relics.

Rethymno is an evocative town and has a very romantic feel to it, also making it one of the best places in Crete for couples.

To the east of the town, you’ll find the beautiful 12 km long Rethymno beach, which has everything from lively beach bars to quiet sleepy sands – making it a contender for the best beach in Crete. It’s also an important spot for nesting sea turtles!


Where to Stay in Rethymno

Menta City Boutique Hotel – Located in the centre of historic Rethymnon, this little boutique hotel is a perfect base in this area of Crete. There are a number of rooms on offer and a range of amenities including a pool, bar and small spa/wellness centre.

Calla Luxury Seafront Suites – Those after a luxury escape when visiting Crete will love this 5-star hotel in Rethymnon. Located directly on the beach, they have a number of luxe rooms to choose from and countless fantastic perks and amenities for guests to enjoy.

Petalo Suites – If you’d like your own space while staying in Rethymnon then this aparthotel is an excellent choice. There are a number of great flats to choose from, all fully furnished, a central location and a number of amenities for guests to enjoy.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Rethymnon hotels!

Hersonissos – Best Area for Families

Whilst it’s a big departure from the “authentic” Crete, Hersonissos is amongst the best areas for families.

Hersonissos is by far the most popular resort town in all of Crete, simply because it offers something for everyone. The area is awash with package hotels offering all-inclusive stays, pools, sun loungers and every trapping of modern tourism.

If you are travelling with young children or elderly family members this is a great choice because of the variety available. And if you’re looking for a great beach resort in Crete, then this is a great option, as well.

Hersonissos is an easy 20-minute drive from Heraklion airport to the resorts, so is within easy reach of the city, but is a world away from the frenetic pace of the island’s capital.

You can eat at one of the many traditional tavernas available in Ano Hersonissos, the old town, which keeps prices low to tempt tourists to their tables with excellent quality food.

There are also some excellent Minoan-age sites nearby which make for excellent day trips away from the pool.


Where to Stay in Hersonissos

Sergios Hotel – This 3-star hotel in Hersonissos is perfect for mid-range travellers looking for a comfortable escape in Hersonissos. There are a number of comfortable rooms to choose from, a restaurant and pool bar on-site and plenty of other amenities, as well.

The Nest Resort – This resort is perfect for those looking for a luxury escape in Hersonissos. They have both typical rooms and villa options available, a gorgeous pool to enjoy along with an unbeatable seaside location making it one of the best hotels to choose from in the area.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Hersonissos hotels!

Elounda – Great for a Romantic Getaway

If you are looking for another relaxed spot in eastern Crete, then Elounda is the perfect place. This small town is only home to around 3000 residents but has plenty to offer.

Elounda hugs the coast, and only goes a few streets back, but along the shore, you’ll find delightful small beautiful beaches, excellent seaside restaurants and a seriously laidback vibe.

The area is a mashup of local cafes and luxury resorts, and somehow it just works. Personally, I think it’s one of the best places on the island for couples.

There isn’t a wealth of tourist attractions in Elounda itself, but the nearby uninhabited islands of Kalydon & Spinalonga offer endless exploring. Kalydon has wonderful beaches, the most famous are Kolokitha and Vathi.

Spinalonga is the real gem of the area – this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an island fortress that was Greece’s major leper colony until a cure for the disease was found.

Thousands of people were shipped here once the disease was discovered, but many were born here, and Spinaglonga was the only life that they ever knew.

Nowadays this ghost town is an incredible place to explore, and is a poignant reminder of how lucky we are to live without this disease as a constant threat.


Where to Stay in Elounda

Selena Hotel Elounda – This lovely hotel in Elounda is a great base for mid-range visitors to this lovely coastal town. There are a number of great rooms on offer, a beautiful swimming pool to splash around in and countless other perks for guests to enjoy.

Elounda Palm Hotel & Suites – This luxury hotel is perfect for those who are after the ideal form of rest and relaxation in this part of Crete. They have a restaurant and bar on-site along with a beautiful pool to enjoy – not to mention the range of delightful rooms to choose from.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Elounda hotels!

Loutro – Best Town for a Remote Escape

If you think Elounda sounded laidback, just wait until you hear about Loutro!

Loutro is located in the southwest of Crete, it’s so isolated that you can only get there by hiking or by getting a small ferry from Sfakia, which is also incredibly remote. Once there, the village has no roads, and relaxation is guaranteed.

So why would you want to go somewhere so remote? Well, the water is amongst the clearest in Greece, and you could do far worse than spending a day fishing or snorkelling in these waters.

There are some excellent tavernas here, the sunsets are incredible and the locals are a welcoming and curious lot.

Many visitors will first hike the incredible UNESCO Samaria Gorge, before arriving at Agia Roumeli on the southern coast.

Then walk the additional hour along the beautiful coastal path to reach Loutro, where the sea will wash away all of your aches and pains and recharge your soul in this beautiful slice of paradise.

This is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay if you like the quiet life.


Where to Stay in Loutro

Daskalogiannis Hotel – If you’re looking for beach hotels in Loutro, then this place is an excellent option. Located on the waterfront, they have a number of wonderful rooms to choose from and it is a great place to stay in Crete for couples and families alike.

Villa Niki – These apartments are a great choice for those who’d like their own self-catering option while staying in this town in Crete. They have a number of differently sized flats available and a great location for exploring the area and all it has to offer.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Loutro hotels!

Sitia – Best Area for Outdoor Activities

For hiking, wild mountains, rugged beaches and archaeological sites, Sitia is an underrated destination.

Located in the far east of Crete, Sitia has a small airport and ferry links to Heraklion, which is about two hours’ drive to the west.

Once you arrive in this small city (home to about 10,000 inhabitants), you’ll have a hard time spotting another international tourist outside of the few resorts!

Your best chance will be at the beautiful harbour where people descend for their evening strolls, and you can find plenty of delicious food options.

Just past the harbour, you can find the long sandy Sitia beach – it’s unpretentious and you can usually get free umbrellas as long as you order something from one of the restaurants. If you’re looking for something laid-back, then Sitia may be the best place to stay for beaches.

This is also a great spot to base yourself if you’re a windsurfer looking to explore the craggy coves of Eastern Crete.


Where to Stay in Sitia

Hotel El Greco – This basic yet comfortable hotel is located only 300 metres from a beautiful sandy beach. They have a range of rooms to choose from along with a great breakfast available for guests each morning.

Porto Kaza – These bright and comfortable apartments on the coast of Crete are a great choice for those looking for a place to stay in Sitia. There are a number of different flats to choose from and they offer a great location and stunning sea views.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Sitia hotels!

These are just a few of the incredible places that you can stay in Crete. The island is awash with tiny towns, bustling cities, and beautiful coastal resorts.

Crete has something for everyone and its variety and diversity are why it’s such a popular Greek Island to visit.

Are you planning to visit Crete? Have any questions about where to stay? Let us know in the comments!

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Lizzie is a writer for The World Was Here First. She loves travelling and discovering new places but also often finds herself returning to her favourite destinations. She has a particular affinity for Greece where she has visited countless islands and destinations on the mainland.


  1. Should we spend a night in Elafonssi beach? Then should we stay in Chainia and just do day trips to other places? We have about 5 nights in Crete?

    • We love Crete. 7 days car rental from Chania airport through Booking.com is costing us £60 in mid-Oct. We are staying 7 nights;

      2 nights in Chania = explore the town, eat around harbour, snorkelling trip with Captain Nick’s “glass bottom” boat. Then drive down to Hora Sfakion for 3 nights = swimming, gorge exploring, day trip drive to eg Frangokastelli, Prevelli etc, and boat to Loutro.

      Then back through foothills of Lefka Ori to Chania to pick up old coast road (scenic) West to Falasarna for last 2 nights-= remote, archeo. site, more nice beaches.

      Then drive on last day on further “scenic” roads down to Elafonisi lagoon and beach for picnic lunch, and across and down to Paleohora (small to mid size seaside resort) and drive back on the quicker main road up from there to Chnia airport for evening flight home.

      Hotels and airbnb are very available from start of October on, we have found. And cheaper.

      Rough Guide to Crete (new ed is out but 2019 ed is also fine) will detail all above places and more. So not necessary to stay in one place.Chania is lovely but 5 days and cheap car hire could offer a lot more experiences if you are willing to drive. Bus transport is a possible alternative but of course slower and less flexible. Chania to Khora Sfakia no problem but other places might need taxi as well as bus. Hope this is of interest. Have fun. Learning a bit of Greek helps too.


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