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Greece's Largest Island Is Packed With Ancient History, Gorgeous Resorts, and a Stunning Pink-sand Beach

Get ready for plenty of fun in the Grecian sun.

rocs travel crete

Best Hotels and Resorts

Cities to visit, best things to do, best beaches, best time to visit, how to get there, how to get around.

Gautier Houba/Travel + Leisure

Crete, Greece's largest island, clocks in at more than 3,000 square miles and offers plenty of ancient history, incredible food, and natural beauty to explore. But you don't have to take my word for just how special Crete is. 

"I often describe Crete as a compact, island version of California. We have surfing and backcountry skiing in winter. In summer, we have canyon hiking, mountaineering, and, my personal favorite, hidden beaches only accessible by boat. And the shoulder seasons are — chef's kiss — perfection," Anastasia Sotiropulos, a tour guide based in Chania, Crete, shared. "The real treasure of Crete, though, are the people. The farmers, cheesemakers, fishmongers, artists, restaurateurs, winemakers, musicians, and homemakers create unique experiences for those lucky enough to visit this incredible island." 

Top 5 Can’t Miss

  • Stay at a hotel with stunning Mediterranean views, like Elounda Bay Palace or Domes of Elounda. 
  • Explore the ancient Palace of Knossos. 
  • Catch some sun on Elafonissi Beach, one of the world’s most beautiful pink-sand beaches. 
  • Wander the streets of Chania’s Old Town to admire Venetian, Turkish, and Greek architecture. 
  • Visit during the shoulder season to avoid the hottest temperatures and largest crowds.

Ready to start exploring for yourself? Here's everything you need to know to plan a trip to Crete.

Gautier Houba/Travel + Leisure

Elounda Bay Palace

This luxury hotel has long been beloved for its mix of elegance and charm. The rooms and suites here open up to sweeping views of the azure Mediterranean waters, and the hotel's private beaches ensure you can always find a chair (and an umbrella). Make an appointment at the Chenot Spa, which offers massages, facials, and body treatments using science-forward ingredients and techniques. 

Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection

Looking to stretch out? Domes of Elounda is the place to be. Known for its breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and the historic island of Spinalonga, the resort is home to just suites and villas, which open to fantastic patios with private plunge pools. Yes, this hotel comes with its own spa, but guests can also indulge in an in-room treatment to truly never lift a finger. 

Courtesy of Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa

Blue Palace

Blue Palace was named a Travel + Leisure reader favorite in the 2023 World's Best Awards , and in 2024, it's getting a whole new look. The renowned hotel is reopening as a modernist boutique hotel with just 47 bungalows and suites, all with brand-new interiors and some with private plunge pools. But even if you don't book a room with a pool, that's okay, as the hotel sits just steps from the beach anyway. 

Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa

Find yourself in a 17th-century Venetian mansion-turned-boutique hotel at Casa Delfino . The hotel, located in the heart of Chania's Old Town, allows travelers to stay amid the action while also offering a retreat-worthy rooftop garden that comes with sweeping views of the sea. It's a perfect place for families thanks to its one and two-bedroom suites. 

A visit to Chania's Old Town is a must, thanks to its charming Venetian, Turkish, and Greek architecture. To make the most of your time in Old Town, book a tour with a guide who can show you all the best sights and all the prime spots to get a great meal. 

Get in a little more Venetian architecture at Rethymno Old Town , one of the best-preserved historical districts in Crete. The city is built around the Venetian fortress, which provides fantastic panoramic views from its hilltop location. Don't skip the artisan shops where you can find the perfect souvenir. 

No visit to Crete is complete without a visit to its capital, Heraklion . Here, visitors can check out numerous historic sites, the Archaeological Museum mentioned below, and all the city's bustling markets, cafes, and bars. And as a bonus, the Palace of Knossos is just a short drive away. 

Elisanth_/Getty Images

Explore the Palace of Knossos.

Dive into more than 4,000 years of Greek history at the Palace of Knossos , Crete's most iconic archaeological site. The ancient complex is absolutely massive, and it comes with a gorgeous view of the sea thanks to its position high on the hill. "Crete's most famous archaeological site is the great Minoan Palace of Knossos, the oldest, largest, and most elaborate of these sites," Peter Sommer of Peter Sommer Travels , shared. "In its wide courts, shaded colonnades, and intricate arrangements of room after room, floor after floor, one can really come to grips with a civilization from far back in the Bronze Age, and grapple with questions that are still hotly debated – what did these palaces look like, what were they for, who lived in them, and how did they function?"

Hike the Samaria Gorge.

Outdoor lovers will adore spending a day hiking through the Samaria Gorge, a lengthy hike through Crete's White Mountains. The hike stretches on for nearly 10 miles through ancient cypress and pine forests and the abandoned village of Samaria before ending at the sea. However, the most famous part of the hike has to be the "Gates," where the gorge is just 13 feet apart but is more than 1,500 feet high. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time if you plan to hike the entire trail. The park's official site estimates that it takes about five hours to complete the journey. 

David C Tomlinson/Getty Images

Visit the Old Venetian Harbor of Chania.

Take a stroll through the Old Venetian Harbor of Chania and take in all the colors of Greece. Travelers can walk past homes and buildings showcasing Crete's unique melding of history, including all its Venetian, Ottoman, and Greek influences. Shop in its boutiques, grab a frappe in a cafe, view the massive fortress, and dine on plenty of fresh ingredients (hello, Greek salads) at its waterfront restaurants. Just make sure to have your camera ready, as its colorful buildings make for the perfect Instagram backdrop. 

Learn something new at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.

Get an even deeper education on the island's history with a visit to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum , which houses the world's most comprehensive collection of artifacts from the Minoan civilization. Its most famous exhibit is the Phaistos Disc, a clay disc sporting more than 240 symbols that is said to be more than 3,000 years old. As the museum notes, "experts have not yet a definitive conclusion of the contents of the inscription," so maybe you can uncover what it all means during your visit.

Elafonissi Beach

Get ready to step foot on one of the world's most beautiful and romantic beaches, Elafonissi Beach . The stretch of shoreline is well-known for its pink sand — created by millions of crushed seashells —that disappears into shallow, turquoise waters. The beach, which is part of a nature reserve, is an ideal spot for families with small children thanks to the calm waters, but there are also plenty of spots for adults to put down their towels and umbrellas for a quiet day at the beach. 

Balos Lagoon

One more brilliant beach to visit is Balos Lagoon , a beach made up of brilliant white sand that's lapped by unbelievably blue water. "One of the most popular must-see places in the Chania region is the Balos Lagoon with hypnotizing turquoise waters and a panoramic landscape," Alonso Marly, a travel expert at Skylux Travel , said. "I suggest visiting the beach early in the morning to experience the lagoon at its most tranquil and skip the tourist crowds." 

Find a different style of landscape at Vai Beach , famous for the palm forest lining the coast. Once again, it's a spot where travelers can find warm, sandy beaches and beautiful blue waters, just this time with the bonus of tree shade for the perfect beach snooze. 

Related: 15 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Greece

The best time to visit Crete is from June to August when the weather on the island is at its prime. As WeatherSpark notes, the warmest weather can be found between early June and late September, when the average daily high temperature hits above 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Things get particularly hot in July, when the average temperature hits 84 degrees. 

"When it comes to the best times to visit Crete, keep in mind that the island is seasonal, and during winter months, most of its attractions are closed," Marly added. "However, throughout the high season, it is full of life day and night." 

But, if you're looking to escape the crowds, try plotting a visit during the island's shoulder seasons, which fall over April to May and September to early October.  

 "If possible, I recommend visiting the island during the shoulder season when it's not too hot and crowded – from April to June or September through October — to make the most of your authentic Greek holiday, full of sunshine and unforgettable experiences," Marly said.  

Crete is accessible via its international airports in Heraklion (Heraklion International Airport, HER) and Chania (Chania International Airport, CHQ). Heraklion is the island's busiest airport, and it is also the second-largest airport in Greece, just behind Athens. Several major airlines fly into the airport, including Emirates, Aegean, RyanAir, EasyJet, and KLM. 

For those looking to avoid the airport, there is a ferry option, but be warned: It's a long ride. Travelers can hop aboard a ferry from Piraeus Port in Athens to Heraklion or Chania, but the ride can take between nine and 10 hours.

Related: Everything You Need to Know to Plan Your Perfect Greek Islands Vacation

The best and easiest way to get around Crete is with your own car. Remember, this is Greece's largest island, so if you want to explore more widely, you will need some wheels. There are a ton of rental car companies on the island, including big names like Avis, Budget, and Hertz, all ready to loan you a ride. 

Public Transit

Crete also has a robust public bus system that can get you to most points of interest. Just note the buses here tend to move more slowly than cars, but it's also a rather affordable option, with rides starting at just a few euros. 

Scooters are also a rather popular mode of transportation here, as they are in almost all of the Greek islands. Visitors do need a valid license to rent scooters and must wear a helmet while riding. 

  • Crete Itinerary - how to spend 5, 7, 10 or 14 days in Crete

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The tour to Greece was a pleasant surprise for me! Perfect organisation, pleasant team, amazing landscapes and cultural sites!

Thinking about holidaying in Crete , but don't know how to design your trip? In this article we provide ideas on planning a 5, 7, 10 or 14 day Crete itinerary. Let us guide you through the wonders of this magical Greek island and create unforgettable memories on your journey.

How to plan a perfect Crete itinerary

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The Historical and Mythological Cyclades islands

10 days  / from 2632 USD

The Historical and Mythological Cyclades islands

The Cyclades islands include two of the most famous Greek Islands: Mykonos and Santorini. Visit these and some of the smaller, quieter, islands. With white washed houses, narrow cobbled streets, blue domed roofs and stunning beaches, they are what Greece is all about.

A secluded villa stay on Mainland Greece

9 days  / from 2226 USD

A secluded villa stay on Mainland Greece

Stay in a secluded private villa with magnificent views to the sea and explore this beautiful corner of Mainland Greece with your own rental car. Under the impressive Mt Taygetos in Southern Peloponnese, the region of Mani will give you a snapshot of authentic Greece.

Along the Coast of Crete: from Heraklion to Platanias

10 days  / from 2012 USD

Along the Coast of Crete: from Heraklion to Platanias

As Greece's largest island, Crete's culture and atmosphere is distinctly different from mainland Greece. Thousands of years of unique culture and rich history complement the island's untamed natural beauty. Explore Crete at your own pace with this unique self-drive trip!

Planning the perfect Crete itinerary is an exciting task involving exploration, relaxation and cultural immersion.

Start by determining the length of your stay. Then decide on your interests. Crete offers a wealth of experiences, from historical sights like the Palace of Knossos to the idyllic beaches at Elafonissi. Balance your schedule to include the main tourist attractions as well as the hidden ones.

Transport is essential, so hire a car or use public transport. Accommodation options range from charming villas to beach resorts. Another thing to consider is the timing of your trip. To help you with that, we prepared a guide on when to go to Greece .

Want to save yourself the trouble of planning? Contact our local Greek experts and embark on your dream holiday hassle-free.


Metala Beach, Crete @ Shutterstock

When choosing the ideal length of a Crete trip, the first thing to understand is the scope of how you want to explore the island.

For a short but intense trip, 5 days is enough to explore the historical treasures of Heraklion, enjoy the charm of Rethymno and bask in the sun. Extending your stay to 7 days allows you to visit the picturesque town of Chania, hike the stunning Samaria Gorge and sample Cretan culinary delights.

A 10-day stay delves into Crete's rich history, exploring quiet mountain villages and discovering secluded beaches, while a luxurious 14-day trip allows you to truly immerse yourself in every facet of Crete, from its famous landmarks to hidden gems. So the perfect length of trip will be as unique as your interests and sense of adventure.

Set on taking a trip? Browse our inspirational Greece itineraries .

The North Entrance of the Palace with charging bull fresco in Knossos at Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

The North Entrance of the Palace, Knossos at Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Embarking on a 5-day trip to Crete, you have the chance to have an amazing mix of experiences even in such a seemingly short period of time. Start your adventure in Heraklion, where the ancient Palace of Knossos invites you to travel back in time. Explore the city's lively markets and sample Cretan specialities.

Next, move on to Rethymno, a charming coastal town with a Venetian old town and picturesque harbour. Afterwards, immerse yourself in the Samaria Gorge, a hiker's paradise, and savour the beauty of nature.

End your five-day trip in Chania, which will reveal a captivating mix of history, architecture and seafront charm. Five days in Crete is a concise but fascinating introduction to the island's rich culture, history and natural beauty.

Knossos Palace ruins. Heraklion, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Ruins of Knossos Palace in Crete, Greece @ Shutterstock

A 7-day trip to Crete will allow you to delve deeper into the island's treasures. Start in Heraklion, where you'll explore the archaeological wonders of Knossos and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the city.

Head west to Rethymno, where gorgeous Crete beaches and coastal charm await. Don't miss the opportunity to take a fascinating hike through the rugged Samaria Gorge.

Your adventure continues in Chania, where Venetian architecture and a lively seafront beckon. Take an excursion to the idyllic Elafonissi beach, famous for its pink sands.

The final days can be spent enjoying the tranquillity of Southern Crete, discovering secluded villages, unspoilt beaches and local traditions. Seven days is a more fulfilling holiday, allowing you to immerse yourself in the island's diverse culture, history and natural beauty.

Samaria Gorge. Crete, Greece © proslgn/Shutterstock

Samaria Gorge. Crete, Greece © proslgn/Shutterstock

A ten-day trip to Crete promises an action-packed, exciting journey. Start in Heraklion, where you'll explore the ancient Palace of Knossos and savour Cretan cuisine. Head to the Venetian old town of Rethymno and take a challenging but rewarding hike through the Samaria Gorge.

In Chania, admire Venetian architecture and take a day trip to the charming Elafonissi beach. You can also visit the hidden gems of the island such as the archaeological complex of Phaistos, the Diktean Cave and the ancient ruins at Gortina.

Water enthusiasts can go snorkelling, diving, windsurfing and sailing. Taste local wines and raki at wineries and take part in traditional festivals. A ten-day trip will reveal Crete's multifaceted culture, history, natural beauty and a host of activities that will make for an unforgettable adventure.

Mouth-watering Greek Moussaka

Moussaka - traditional Greek dish © Shutterstock

A 14-day journey through Crete promises an all-encompassing exploration of this captivating island. Begin in Heraklion, where the Minoan Palace of Knossos takes you on a journey through ancient history. Sample Greek cuisine , peruse lively markets, and explore the treasures of the Archaeological Museum.

Rethymno beckons with its Venetian old town, and the Samaria Gorge presents a stunning hike. In Chania, a vibrant waterfront awaits, as well as a day trip to the mesmerizing Elafonissi Beach.

Extend your journey to embrace the rich history of Arkadi Monastery, the pristine beauty of Preveli Palm Beach, and the serene Lassithi Plateau. Dive into the heart of Crete's nature with hikes in the White Mountains and visits to the Botanical Park and Gardens. 

Savour local wines with vineyard tours and immerse in Cretan traditions at local festivals. A 14-day Crete odyssey ensures a comprehensive immersion in the island's diverse culture, history, nature, and countless activities.

Taverns in the Old Town of Chania, Crete, Greece

Taverns in the Old Town of Chania in the evening, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

As the largest island in Greece , Crete is distinctly different in culture and atmosphere from mainland Greece. Thousands of years of unique culture and rich history complement the island's unspoilt natural beauty. Explore Crete at your own pace on pur unique, 10-day road trip along the coast of Crete .

Days 1-3: Heraklion

Heraklion, the first stop on this Crete trip, holds the keys to the island's rich history and vibrant culture.

The Palace of Knossos, an ancient Minoan wonder, will take you on a fascinating journey back in time. Explore the charming old town, adorned with Venetian and Ottoman architecture, and savour local cuisine in quaint tavernas.

  • Arrival at Heraklion airport & self-drive to your hotel
  • Free evening to explore Heraklion
  • Exploration of the Minoan Palace of Knossos
  • Visiting the Archaeological Museum
  • Afternoon wine tasting in a nearby village
  • Relaxing Day on one of the beaches near Heraklion  or
  • Private Historical Tour covering Archanes, Psiloritis Mountain and Ideon Andron (birthplace of Zeus)

Days 4-5: Rethymno

Rethymno offers a tranquil interlude where history and relaxation harmonize. You will meander through the well-preserved Venetian old town, with its winding alleys and charming architecture. 

The formidable Fortezza fortress unveils panoramic vistas and centuries of history, while local museums deepen the connection to Rethymno's past. Serene beaches like Preveli and Balos provide a tranquil coastal escape, making Rethymno a haven for history enthusiasts and those seeking seaside serenity.

  • Departure from Heraklion to Rethymno
  • Visiting the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Eleutherna and the Monastery of Arkadi along the way
  • Tasting traditional Cretan cuisine and local wine in a 17th century restaurant in Kapsalina
  • Check-in to your hotel in Rethymno
  • Rethymno Old Town Exploration
  • Visiting a local bakery famous for fyllo pastry leaves and syrup sweets
  • Dinner at a local restaurant located in a Venetian building

Days 6-8: Chania

Chania, a picturesque town in Crete, is a must-see. It's beautifully preserved Venetian old town is a charming maze of narrow streets and historic buildings set against the backdrop of the picturesque harbour. 

Stroll along the waterfront for a taste of fine dining. History buffs can visit the Archaeological Museum of Chania for a glimpse into the island's past. A day trip to Elafonissi Beach promises a relaxing holiday with its pink sands and clear waters. Chania embodies the essence of Crete's rich heritage and natural beauty.

  • Departure from Rethymno to Chania
  • Stops at Preveli Beach and the Monastery of Preveli along the way
  • Check-in to your hotel in Chania
  • Tour of the Chania Old Town including Venetian Lighthouse and Grand Arsenal
  • Visiting the Hassan Pascha Mosque
  • Walk to the Splanzia ruins and Miaouli Beach
  • Exploration of the museums

Day 8-10: Platanias

Platanias, a quiet gem on days 9 and 10, offers a tranquil holiday in Crete. Relax on its pristine golden beaches and enjoy the clear waters. The village charms with its traditional Cretan atmosphere, emphasised by the welcoming tavernas. 

A visit to the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete allows you to discover a variety of plant species. Platanias also serves as a convenient point for day trips to attractions such as Agia Triada Monastery and Kissamos, providing the perfect combination of relaxation and cultural exploration.

  • Departure from Chania to Platanias
  • Check-in at the beachfront resort
  • Day at leisure at the famous beach of Platanias
  • Day at leisure at the beach of Platanias, Falarsana Beach or Balos Beach
  • Drive back to Heraklion airport and departure

Elafonissi beach in Crete © Shutterstock

Elafonissi Beach in Crete © Shutterstock

Choosing the ideal time to visit Crete depends on your preferences. Summer, from June to August, is ideal for beach lovers as the weather is warm and sunny. Spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) have a more balanced climate, and fewer tourists and are perfect for sightseeing and outdoor activities. 

During the winter months (November to March) there are fewer tourists, providing a quieter atmosphere and lower prices. This period suits those interested in historical sights, hiking and immersing themselves in the local culture. Thus, the best time to visit Crete depends on your desires and weather conditions.

Read more about visiting Crete in:

Preveli palm beach on Crete island, Greece © Shutterstock

Preveli Palm Beach on Crete Island, Greece © Shutterstock

Travelling in and around Crete is easy. You can reach the island by air: the international airports in Heraklion and Chania offer direct flights from major European cities. Alternatively, you can opt for a scenic sea journey on ferries or passenger ships from Athenian ports such as Piraeus.

To get around Crete, car hire is a popular option, allowing you to explore the island at your own pace. The road network is well-developed, making it easy to reach various destinations. Public buses and taxis are also readily available, and bicycles or scooters can be hired in some areas. 

For a more leisurely experience, the historic centres of towns such as Chania or Rethymno can be explored on foot. Crete offers a variety of transport options to suit a wide range of travellers' preferences.

Stifado, greek food © Food Via Lenses/Shutterstock

Stifado Greek food @ Shutterstock

In Crete, daily expenses depend on your choice. Budget travellers can expect 40-60 € per day. This covers basic accommodation, meals at local restaurants, public transport and some entertainment. 

Middle-income travellers can spend around €80-150 per day, while those seeking luxury can spend over €200 per day. However, it is worth noting that these are rough estimates and costs may vary depending on personal preferences and the current economic situation.


Windsurfing in Crete, Greece @ Shutterstock

Love the sound of Crete? Get yourself  The Rough Guide to Crete . For more island inspiration, read up on the  best Greek Islands to start planning your trip.  

Alternatively, if the idea of planning leaves you cold, browse our customisable Greece itineraries. For the best preparation for your Greece trip, also check out our list of tips for travelling in Greece .

The Rough Guides to Greece and related travel guides

In-depth, easy-to-use travel guides filled with expert advice.

The Mini Rough Guide to Athens

Travel advice for Greece

From travel safety to visa requirements, discover the best tips for traveling to Greece

  • Culture and Etiquette in Greece
  • Eating and drinking in Greece
  • Getting around Greece: Transportation Tips
  • How to get to Greece
  • Travel Tips Greece for planning and on the go
  • Best time to visit Greece
  • How to get from Athens to Crete

Find even more inspiration here

Souvlaki © Shutterstock

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Olga Sitnitsa

written by Olga Sitnitsa

updated 30.10.2023


Online editor at Rough Guides, specialising in travel content. Passionate about creating compelling stories and inspiring others to explore the world.

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  • If you’re looking for a cheap hotel in Crete, you should consider visiting during the low season. You'll find cheaper accommodations in Crete in January and February.
  • Hotel room prices vary depending on many factors but you’ll most likely find the best hotel deals in Crete if you stay on a Saturday. The opposite is true for, Monday, which is usually the most expensive day.
  • Book at least 85 days before your stay begins to get the best price for your Crete accommodation.
  • The cheapest 3-star hotel room in Crete found on KAYAK in the last 2 weeks was $17, while the most expensive was $216.
  • How long should you stay? KAYAK users usually book their accommodation in Crete for 5 days.
  • Crete is a great island to visit throughout the year, as it is favoured with a warmer climate. That being said, you should avoid booking hotels during the school holidays, as this time of year is more chaotic to travel and reduces the availability of hotels for you. If possible, book your hotel outside of this period and you’ll find more hotels in general that are better priced.
  • If you are travelling with children, then it may help to look for a hotel that is close to some children’s entertainment such as a water park. For instance, Karteros Hotel is one such hotel in Karteros that is around a 10min drive from Watercity Waterpark Crete. Similarly, Anemos Inn, in Kokkini Chani, is about a 7min drive away from the same water park.
  • If you are travelling to Crete during the summer, you should be aware of Take Off Festival, which is an annual urban music festival that takes place on the island, normally in June. This is a very popular event, so it is likely that you will find hotel bookings, especially in Malia, are harder to find and that rooms are more expensive. If you plan to travel during this period, it is suggested that you book as far in advance as possible.
  • If you want a couple’s getaway at a hotel that offers spa treatments, then you will find that most establishments with this facility are located on the north of the island, so it is best to begin your search there. For instance, you could stay at Casa Delfino Hotel and Spa, which has a spa bath, steam room and wellness centre where you can get a massage. 

FAQs when booking a hotel in Crete

What is the most popular destination in crete.

Based on KAYAK hotel searches, the most popular destination is Chania (60% of total searches to Crete). The next most popular destinations are Heraklion (19%) and Hersonissos (14%). Searches for hotels in Rethymno (8%) are also popular.

How much is a cheap hotel in Crete?

KAYAK users have found double rooms in Crete for as cheap as $14 ( Hersonissos ) in the last 3 days. The average price is $160.

How much is a hotel in Crete for tonight?

In the last 72 hours, users have found Crete hotels for tonight for as low as $15 ( Hersonissos ). Users have also found 3-star hotels from $17 ( Mália ) and 4-star+ hotels from $28 ( Hersonissos ).

How much is a hotel in Crete for this weekend?

In the last 72 hours, users have found Crete hotels for this weekend for as low as $30 ( Bali ) per night. Users have also found 3-star hotels from $30 ( Bali ) and 4-star+ hotels from $55 ( Bali ).

Where are some recommended hotels for golf in Crete?

If you’re looking to play golf during your stay in Crete, then you should look to stay at a hotel in the north of the island, as this is where many of the courses are. For instance, you could stay at Mistral Hotel, which is only a roughly 18min drive from the popular resort of Crete Golf Club.

Which hotels in Crete are good for nightlife?

Crete is renowned for offering great nightlife to tourists. One of the best places to stay for this type of holiday is in Malia, which boasts many popular bars and nightclubs. You could, for instance, stay at Anastasia Hotel, which is well located near busy bars. From this hotel, you can reach bars such as Anesea Cocktail Bar in about 6min on foot. Alternatively, you could also get a taxi to Beachcomber Bar Restaurant, Stalis, in around 4min, which is located in a busy area for nightlife.

What part of Crete has a lot of luxury hotels?

You will find a large portion of the luxury hotels on the north coast of Crete, with there being many five-star establishments to choose from. For example, you could stay at Aquila Atlantis Hotel, in Heraklion, which offers guests an outdoor pool and tennis courts. Alternatively, Rethymno Mare Royal & Water Park, in Rethymno, offers its guests a private beach.

Where to stay in Crete?

Top crete destinations.

  • Hotels in Chania
  • Hotels in Heraklion
  • Hotels in Hersonissos
  • Hotels in Rethymno
  • Hotels in Bali
  • Hotels in Agios Nikolaos
  • Hotels in Elounda
  • Hotels in Kokkini Hani
  • Hotels in Mália
  • Hotels in Gouves
  • Hotels in Platanias
  • Hotels in Palaiochora
  • Hotels in Sitia
  • Hotels in Kissamos
  • Hotels in Georgioupoli

Hotels in Crete

  • Hotels in Plakias
  • Hotels in Stalos
  • Hotels in Galatás
  • Hotels in Piskopiano
  • Hotels in Agia Pelagia
  • Hotels in Panormos
  • Hotels in Milatos
  • Hotels in Agia Marina
  • Hotels in Stavros
  • Hotels in Loutro
  • Hotels in Anissaras
  • Hotels in Kalyves
  • Hotels in Adelianos Kampos
  • Hotels in Agia Galini
  • Hotels in Agioi Apostoloi (Crete)
  • Hotels in Analipsi
  • Hotels in Ierápetra
  • Hotels in Matala
  • Hotels in Tsoutsouros
  • Hotels in Kolymvari
  • Hotels in Darátsos
  • Hotels in Sougia
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Getting around Crete is easy by boat, car, bus or bike

Jul 23, 2022 • 6 min read

Tourist with sun hat looking down at the sea from cliffs near Hora Sfakion, Crete

Ferries link beaches and coastal towns all along Crete's southwest coast © Roberto Moiola / Sysaworld / Getty Images

Crete is far and away the largest Greek island, more than double the size of the closest runner-up (under-explored Evia ) and nearly 100 times the size of Mykonos . Getting around this vast and mountainous island is like navigating a small country.

Many people – even those on extended holidays – choose to limit their explorations to one portion of the island, often picking either the east or the west. Fortunately, getting around Crete is easy, albeit sometimes time-consuming.

Covering 8336 sq km (3219 sq miles), Crete is laced with decent – if twisty – roads, plied by a busy network of buses. You can also rent a car, motorbike or scooter, which will give you the freedom to explore many more obscure – and rewarding! – corners of Crete.

There are taxis for local jaunts, and ferries connecting the idyllic beaches along the southwest coast, and intrepid cyclists will find much to challenge their skills in the mountains inland. Here are our top tips for getting around in Crete.

Avoid hassles (and help the environment) by taking the bus

You can get almost anywhere in Crete by bus, and the island's coaches are modern and air-conditioned with frequent service on most routes. Two websites provide schedule and fare information: one is for western Crete , with services centered on the city of Hania , while the other covers services in central and eastern Crete , with services centered on the island's capital city, Iraklio .

Regular buses ply the major roads across Crete, stopping at villages and attractions along the way, and bus fares are cheap – the hourly service linking Hania and Iraklio costs less than €14 and takes 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Small villages off the main roads and remote beaches may only see one or two buses a day, so you might need to plan on staying the night. The unmissable beach at Elafonisi only has one bus a day making the two-hour run south from Hania in the summer.

Iraklio has two bus stations, each with services to different parts of the island, but most large and medium-sized towns in Crete have one bus station. These are usually centrally located and have services such as toilets and mini-marts. In smaller towns, there will simply be a bus stop on or near the central square or another prominent spot. In rural areas, you can hail the bus from the roadside.

When traveling on busy routes such as the trip from Hania to Iraklio, it might be worth buying a ticket online to have a seat reservation during holiday periods. Don't expect to just turn up and get a seat in the period immediately before and after Greek Easter.

Otherwise, you can buy tickets from booths at bus stations. In small towns, a cafe near the central stop may sell tickets or you can simply buy them on the bus. Fares are fixed and regulated by the government, and many buses have free wi-fi.

A woman taking a photo through a car window near Balos Beach, Crete

A hire car makes for easy exploring in Crete

Renting a car (or motorbike) in Crete is easy, with vehicles much in demand during the touristy months from April to October. The main airports in Hania and Iraklio both have dozens of rental firms, including all the major international brands. However, as is common across Greece, you can often get the best deals from local firms, so it pays to shop around. Away from the airports, local firms are often the only sources for rental cars across the island.

You can reduce the cost to your wallet and the environment by using buses as your main source of transport, saving renting your own wheels for a day or two exploring stunning mountainous landscapes, tiny villages and isolated beaches.

The main roads in Crete are in good shape, but allow plenty of time for journeys, as you'll be tempted to stop often – to explore a village, take in a view or go for a hike. Also, Crete's mountainous landscape means lots of curvy and sometimes treacherous roads. The sparkling beaches at Elafonisi are only 75km (46.6 miles) southwest of Hania, but driving here will take at least two hours.

Note that road signs are sporadic – download local maps to your phone mapping app before you set out as mobile service can cut out just when you need it most. And be prepared for local drivers with a lax attitude towards staying in their lane, obeying speed limits and proceeding cautiously around blind curves.

People on the beach by the lagoon at Elafonisi, Crete

Take a ferry to reach Crete's stunning beaches

On Crete's beautiful southwest coast, a network of passenger ferries links the beaches and resort towns in summer – a few villages can only be easily reached by boat. You can catch a small boat or water taxi at many stops between Elafonisi in the west and Hora Sfakion in the east. Confirm schedules ahead, especially for smaller beaches, where ferry services may be limited. Fares are typically under €10 per person.

Hail a taxi for short trips and post-hike pickups

Taxis can be found in the cities and most places tourists congregate. Make sure the driver uses the meter – in remote areas taxis may not have a meter, so agree on a price before setting off. Central taxi stands in smaller towns often display a list of local taxi fares, which will save you any anxiety about over-charging.

There are no ride-sharing services on the island, so keep the number of a local taxi company handy if you plan to call for a cab at the end of a hike .

Woman mountain biking on coastal road in Crete

Rent a bike for local exploring – but be ready for Crete's hills!

You can rent a bike in larger towns and tourist areas – expect to pay around €20 per day or less. However, with Crete's winding roads, perilous drops and manic drivers, setting out by bike is not for the faint-hearted. Those up to the challenge will find that the roads curving through the island's peaks and gorges offer sublime rides.

Accessible transportation in Crete

For travelers with mobility issues, getting around Crete is tough going. Buses do not have lifts and taxis designed to accommodate disabled people are only available in Hania and Iraklio. Hiring your own vehicle may be the easiest option, or arrange a trip with a specialist operator such as Eria Travel . For more information on accessible travel, see Lonely Planet's Accessible Travel Resources .

Why I love riding Crete's buses

Today, Crete's buses are modern, safe and have comforts like air-con and wi-fi, but I'm always taken back to a 1985 trip to the then-isolated hippie beach town of Matala. As our rickety bus sped over the primitive roads, the driver misjudged a turn and slammed into the corner of an ancient stone house, shearing off numerous huge stones. However, he didn't miss a beat as he hit the gas instead of the brakes, while we passengers brushed off the glass and stone debris!

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