Wondering where to stay in Crete? It’s a big island with lots of choices. Here’s a rundown of top destinations including accommodation options to help you out.
*Updated April 2017
Where to Stay in Crete?
Crete is the largest island in Greece. Its interesting to me that it is more than double the size of the longest and largest island in the United States that I grew up on: Long Island, New York. To give you an idea of the size, it takes more than two hours to drive across Long Island.
Greece’s Largest Island: Crete
With its sheer breadth alone, Crete naturally boasts so many interesting places to explore from fortresses, ancient sites to beautiful beaches and old towns – it has everything that a visitor who comes to the Mediterranean hopes to experience up close.
Like Greece itself, it would take a lifetime to really discover it all. I highly suggest staying for at least a week. Anchor yourself in one, or even two places. It just depends on what you want to see and do.
Here’s a rundown of the top destinations, cities that are great stopping points for exploring all that the island has to offer. I also list my tried and tested suggestions for hotels, traditional houses and villas in Crete.
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below — all places I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally experienced. If you book from these links, I receive a small commission which helps to run this website — but at absolutely no extra cost to you.
Where to Stay in Crete: Heraklion
Heraklion is the fourth largest city in Greece and not an island village as some first-time visitors expect. I don’t think its the prettiest city – at all – but it has its urban charms, gritty feel and it’s got great plus points like nightlife, shopping, cafe culture and fantastic restaurants.
While in Heraklion, check out the Koules Fortress built by the Venetians. I also recommend the fantastic Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. A half-hour drive from the city center takes you to to Knossos, a Minoan palace dating back to an amazing era. It is one of my favorite archaeological sites in Greece.
Where to Stay in Crete: Heraklion
Olive Green Hotel
This is a fantastic modern boutique hotel in downtown Heraklion.
The Olive Green Hotel is a stay experience that combines some pretty amazing attributes: Cretan hospitality, high-tech innovation and top boutique services. It is walking distance to the main sights of the city too. From €75 per night, low season. Check out my full review here.
Click here to check availability and the best prices for the Olive Green Hotel.
About a 15-minute drive outside of Heraklion takes you to this peaceful community of villas tucked in between scenic mountains.
It’s the perfect hidden place for those who simply want to relax and feel totally at home. Great pool and breathtaking view. Family friendly. From €100 per night, low season. Check out my full review here.
Click here to check availability and the best prices for the Mourtanakis Residence.
Where to Stay in Crete: Chania
Chania is the second largest city and is considered one of the most picturesque, since much of its Venetian buildings remain intact. Its old town is a big draw, a web of alleys with lovely restaurant lined walkways, beautiful churches, fountains and an impressive Venetian style harbor.
For more, check out my post: Top 15 Things to Do in Chania.
Chania is home to a maritime museum and an archaeological museum. The city is also a popular base for the adventurous looking to explore the Samaria Gorge which boasts one of the longest ravines in Europe.
Where to Stay in Chania
The Samaria has a very convenient location, just steps from Chania’s amazing old town.
The pool is a great refreshing option for anyone on summer holiday. The breakfast was rich and the service hospitable. Fantastic Wi-Fi throughout the property. The rooms were perfect. Full review here. From €130 a night, double standard room, low-season.
Check your dates and book the Samaria Hotel here.
I think a traditional Greek guesthouse experience is even better when a Greek family is behind it.
The Lourakis family offered a wonderful traditional stay experience. I loved the traditional design of their houses and overall environment. Family friendly. A half hour drive from Chania. From €100 per night, low season. Full review here.
Where to Stay in Crete: Rethymnon
Rethymno is the third largest town on the island. Like Chania, it is an outwardly beautiful place thanks to its well-preserved Venetian architecture. The old town of Rethymnon combines the history of Crete with a close proximity to a long stretch of sandy beach.
Where to Stay in Rethymnon
Amazing Villas in Crete
These beautiful villas own a relaxing and cozy atmosphere.
You are surrounded by what Crete prides itself on – the land! I loved the privacy of the villa and having a large pool all to yourself is always great while you’re vacationing in Greece. Another big plus for me was the proximity to Rethymnon which is a wonderful historic city full of things to do. Check out my full review here.
Click here to check the best prices and availability for Amazing Villas.
In the old town of Rethymnon, this boutique hotel was once a 17th-century mansion. The design is a meld of Cretan and Venetian influences. A bit of the old world elegance meets cozy. I stayed in the Champagne Suite which had a lovely marbled hot tub. Avli is also a name in gastronomy, with one of the best restaurants in Crete. From €115 per night.
Click here to check availability and the best prices for Avli.
I had a lovely stay at this boutique hotel housed in a refurbished 19th-century building. It maintains a unique atmosphere in the core of Rethymnon’s historic old town. There’s a breezy courtyard fringed with lemon trees and a plunge pool. This is an adults only property to keep the atmosphere peaceful. Younger guests must be 15 years and up. From €55 per night, low season.
Check availability and book your room at Pepi Studios here.
Set along the west of Mirabello Bay, Agios Nikoaos carries a different vibe when compared to the other cities on the island. It manages to keep a small town feel while offering much to do. The central landmark of the town is Voulismeni Lake, a scenic place to have a drink or a great meal.
Also, small boats leave the harbor to visit the Venetian fortress of Spinalonga, a barren rocky islet that was once the last leper colony in Europe.
Click here for recommended hotels in Agios Nikolaos.