Best Place to Stay in Crete Greece
If you’re wondering how many days in Crete and where to stay in Crete Greece for first-time travelers, couples, honeymoon, family, beaches, nightlife, or without cars, you are in the right place. In this guide, I will give you an insight into the best areas to stay in Crete and how long you should spend in Crete. Read on as I show you the best of Crete.
Crete is a truly stunning island, and each of its four neighbourhoods and beautiful towns has its own character and attractions. The areas of Chania and Heraklion are the best for sightseeing, visiting well known attractions and enjoying museums. If you’re more interested in stunning natural landscapes then the regions of Lassithi and Rethymnon will be for you.
Where to Stay in Crete Greece – 10 Best Area to Stay in Crete
Crete is a sizable island – the fifth biggest in the meditterannean. Steeped in history, and home to some of the most notorious nightlife in the world, this beautiful island has something for everyone – whether you’re looking to party or for a cultural education, you can narrow down your choices of where to stay based on what you want.
Crete is split into four regions, called ‘Nomos’: Heraklion, Lasithi, Chania and Rethymon. Each has its own main city and character, and you should start off deciding where to stay by choosing the best Nomos for you. Here, we look at what each region has to offer, before cherry picking the best destinations within each of them.
Where to Stay in Crete Greece – 10 Best Areas to Stay in Crete
- Heraklion Region – Best Without a Car
- Lasithi Region – Best Area for Best Beaches
- Chania Region – Best Area Near Airport
- Rethymnon Region – Best Area for Budget Travelers
- Chania Venetian Harbour – Best Area for Nightlife
- Paleochora – Best Area for Hiking, Windsurfing
- Panormos – Best Area for Family
- Malia – Best for Nightlife with Friends
- Elounda – Best for a Authentic Feel
- Matala – Best for Bohemian
Where to Stay in Crete Greece Map
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1. Heraklion Region – Best Area to Stay in Crete Without a Car
As well as being the main city of the region, Heraklion is the capital city of Crete. This means it’s bustling, busy, and full of tourists – so if you’re looking for a laid back destination, the city of Heraklion might be too lively. However it also has a beautiful old town along the seafront which has a certain old-world charm, and it’s home to many museums and other cultural attractions.
The Heraklion region is also home to the ancient site of Knossos, the island’s most famous historical attraction, which lies just five kilometres south of the city and is easily accessible. As well as that, there are also many vineyards inland and a selection of beaches along the coast, making this region a great for an all-round trip of culture, sunbathing and historical exploration.
One of the island’s two international airports is also here, making it easily accessible.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN HERAKLION REGION IF:
- You want a varied trip
- You enjoy cultural attractions
- You don’t mind tourist crowds
2. Lasithi Region – Best Area to Stay in Crete for Best Beaches
On the eastern side of Crete, Lassithi is home to the island’s best beach resorts while simultaneously being the most untouched by tourism. This region is known for its spectacular beaches, unsullied landscape, and pretty rural villages, where you can experience island life without being caught up in the bustling crowds of tourists.
Lassithi is also speckled with plenty of historical attractions including medieval castles, minoan palaces and ancient monasteries.
Lasithi is definitely the region to choose if you want a mixture of nature and history on your visit to Crete, and will be a relaxing destination.
The capital of Lasithi is Agios Nikolaus, a melting pot of a city almost surrounded by water, and teeming with cafes, tavernas, fine restaurants and traditional markets.
YOU SHOULD STAY HERE LASITHI REGION IF:
- You enjoy exploring nature
- You want to stay away from the tourists
- You enjoy a slower pace of life
- You like visiting ancient sites
- You like cities with a friendly atmosphere
3. Chania Region – Best Area to Stay in Crete Near Airport
The home of Crete’s western international airport is an easily accessible ancient city surrounded by beautiful beaches and packed with historical attractions and archaeological sites.
The main city of Chania is Venetian in style and is a major tourist destination, so be prepared for crowds if you stay here. A particular beauty spot overflowing with restaurants and bars is the 14th-century harbourfront.
The city of Chania has plenty of museums, including a folklore museum and nautical museums which are great for family days out, and there’s also an Al Hammam Turkish baths for a relaxing day of self care.
The region is also the starting point of many bus and boat tours, making it ideal as a family destination or for first time visitors who want to explore the island.
YOU SHOULD STAY HERE CHANIA REGION IF:
- You love ancient cities
- You want to go on guided tours
- You want to be close to the airport
- You don’t mind crowds
4. Rethymnon Region – Best Area to Stay in Crete for Budget Travelers
Headed up by Rethmyon, a beautiful medieval city with a magical atmosphere and fantastic Venetian mansions, this region is characterized by stunning mountain scenery, rivers, and traditional villages – this is a paradise for nature lovers and anyone who wants to get a feel for traditional island life.
The Rethymnon region is also a good area for affordable accommodation, so if you’re a solo traveller or backpacker then this is the destination for you.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN RETHYMNON REGION IF:
- You love nature
- You enjoy dramatic scenery
- You like exploring villages
- You’re travelling on a budget
5. Chania Venetian Harbour: Best Area for Nightlife
For beautiful views, a range of luxury accommodation, and beautiful surroundings, Chania’s Venetian Harbour is the ideal choice. The harbour has a lot of choice when it comes to restaurants and bars, so you won’t be disappointed come the evening.
Since Chania town is full of museums and other cultural attractions as well as day tours, this is a fantastic destination if you’re looking for an upmarket holiday either as a couple or a family – you won’t find very much budget accommodation in this area, and it’s worth noting that it’s very difficult to find parking.
YOU SHOULD STAY INCHANIA VENETIAN HARBOUR IF:
- Expense isn’t a concern for you
- You don’t mind late night noise from bars and restaurants
- You want sea views
- You like an old-world feel
- You want to be close to museums and galleries
- You don’t need to park your car
6. Paleochora – Best Area to Stay in Crete for Hiking, Windsurfing
On the south west coast, most of which is rocky and hard to access, sits Paleochora, a low-key and slightly bohemian resort town with a relaxed atmosphere.
It has beaches either side which are good for sunbathing, but which also catch the wind so they are perfect for a spot of windsurfing if you’re feeling adventurous. Its location on the rocky southwest coast also makes it popular with hikers, so if you’re looking for somewhere to explore the island in an active way then this is the place for you.
This is a backpacking centre of crete, so if you’re a solo traveller looking to meet people or are just looking for a holiday on the cheaper end, this could be the destination for you.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN PALEOCHORA IF:
- You enjoy hiking
- You want to try windsurfing
- You are a solo traveller
- You enjoy a low key destination
- You don’t mind windy weather
- You are looking to travel on a budget
7. Panormos – Best Area to Stay in Crete with Family
A traditional village in the Rethymnon region, just outside of the main city, surrounded by plenty of beaches and with an seemingly infinite range of independent seafood restaurants to eat at, you can enjoy a relaxed and cosy feeling holiday here while not being so far away from the city that you can’ travel in and enjoy all the cultural attractions and interesting history that it has to offer.
It’s quiet nature and sheltered beaches make this village a lovely stay for a family holiday, and you can find accommodation for a range of budgets, mostly in the mid-range of prices.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN PANORMOS IF:
- You want to stay away from the crowds
- You’re looking for a family holiday
- You like to feel like a local
- You like trying different restaurants
- You don’t like staying in the city
- You want to be near beaches
8. Malia – Best Area to Stay in Crete for Nightlife with Friends
Malia is best known for its vibrant party scene – most people have heard of this town as a favourite destination for mates’ weekends away or bachelorette and bachelor parties, and for good reason; Malia is certainly the best town to visit for booming nightlife.
However, it does have something else to offer, with a bustling town centre and even a small old quarter with traditional buildings and bars. Although certainly not the most culturally rich area of Crete, there is the palace of Malia close by which is more than worth a visit, and there is a range of accommodation available – from budget to bourgeois.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN MALIA IF:
- You’re looking for amazing nightlife
- You like to go shopping in the day
- You aren’t coming to soak up the history
- You don’t’ mind late night noise
- You are coming with a group of friends
9. Elounda – Best Area to Stay in Crete for an Authentic Feel
Full of character and one of the islands smaller coastal towns, Elounda is one of the best areas to choose for luxury accommodation and five star restaurants – although it does have cheap eateries to offer and a traditional fishing-village feel that make it worth a visit for the budget traveller as well, and there are a few mid range accommodations to be had.
It isn’t far from the city of Agia Nikolaus, and it’s a great base for hiking as it’s surrounded by a network of donkey paths.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN ELOUNDA IF
- You’re looking for a luxury break
- You like to go for walks
- You don’t want to stay in the city
- You enjoy fine dining
- You like an authentic feel
10. Matala – Best Area to Stay in Crete for Bohemian
The most bohemian beach on crete, this is the best destination for young travellers finding themselves or looking for a really relaxed trip. Home of the famous cliff cave houses and an amazingly dramatic natural landscape, Matala is busy with tourists during the day but, since most people just come on a day trip it quietens down a lot in the evening. A fun seaside town, Matala is lively and photogenic.
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Tips for choosing Where to Stay in Crete
As with any destination, you should pick the place you stay in Crete based on what you want out of your trip.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, then you’ll be happy staying in the charming old town of Chania with its picturesque streets and charming cafes, whereas Panormos will be for you if you’re looking for a relaxing family getaway with plenty of choice for sheltered beaches.
Likewise, if you’re someone that enjoys hiking or exploring then you should take into account where the good hiking trails are, and choose somewhere like Paleochora, or the region of Lassithi is filled with dramatic landscapes great for exploring and rambling.
Just take into account the rest of this guide and make your decision based on what you want to fill up your trip with!
- What Is The Most Beautiful Part Of Crete?
- Where Is The Best Beach To Stay In Crete?
- Where Should Couples Stay In Crete?
- Where Should I Stay In Crete Chania Or Heraklion?
- Where To Stay In Crete In June?
- Where To Stay In Crete In May?
- Where To Stay In Crete In April?
- Where To Stay In Crete In September?
- Where To Stay In Crete Young Couple/Honeymoon?
- Where To Stay In Crete For Best Beaches?
- Where Is The Best Place To Stay In Crete For Families?
- Where To Stay In Crete For Nightlife?
- Where To Stay In Crete Without A Car?
What Is The Most Beautiful Part Of Crete?
Samaria gorge, made up of dramatic rock formations coated in pine forest, is an unexpected and almost primeval landscape just south of Chania – a truly stunning destination that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
You should also be sure to visit Elafonisi, the beautiful pink-sanded beach. Although the main lagoon has become a major tourist attraction, if you walk a little further to the nature reserve where sunbathing is not permitted then you will find some stunning views and some peace and quiet.
Where Is The Best Beach To Stay In Crete?
This depends what you’re after from a beach holiday. If you’re looking for more secluded and sheltered beaches you should head towards Panormos, which has plenty of sheltered coves to choose from. Itanos is similarly secluded, with gorgeous turquoise waters and some beautiful ruins to boot.
If you don’t mind the crowds, you could visit the beautiful pink sands of Elafonisi, or probably the most famous of Crete’s beaches – Balos Lagoon. This gorgeous beach is out on the western tip of Crete, and there isn’t much accommodation to speak of at the beach – the best place you can stay is the nearest village of Trachilos, a beautiful destination in itself.
Where Should Couples Stay In Crete?
Chania is a very romantic destination with its picturesque old town, and with plenty of cultural attractions to enjoy visiting together. Rethymon also has a gorgeous old town with a lovely laid back atmosphere and surrounded by pretty traditional villages.
Another great destination for couples is Agia Nikolaus, the capital of Lassithi – this cosmopolitan city is filled with charming tavernas, cafes and restaurants where you can have a romantic meal somewhere different every night of your stay, and the town’s lively yet friendly atmosphere makes for a relaxing getaway.
Where Should I Stay In Crete Chania Or Heraklion?
Chania is a great destination for first time visitors. On the western side of the island, chania is surrounded by spectacular beaches, the stunning White Mountains and is also home to an enormous National Park; this makes it a great destination to experience all the island has to offer, from sunbathing to exploring an ancient city.
On the other hand, Heraklion is close to the ancient site of Knossos and is home to most of the island’s fascinating museums, has many beautiful vineyards just inland – as well as being surrounded by impressive ancient city walls.
Overall, Chania is the better all round destination, but if you want to focus on sightseeing then Heraklion is the right choice.
Where To Stay In Crete In June?
In June, the sea temperatures in Crete reach above 20 degrees and the weather starts to get really hot – it’s the perfect month to jet off on a beach holiday, so you should choose the area with the best beaches.
For a selection of sheltered coves, you should stay in Panormos. If you want to try adventure sports like windsurfing then Paleochora is a great choice, or if you’re looking for a good family beach then stay near the shallow waters of Elephantiasis.
Where To Stay In Crete In May?
May in Crete is just when spring starts to change into summer, with temperatures hitting around 20 degrees – just about warm enough to swim in. It’s also the perfect weather for hiking, so you might want to take this opportunity to visit relaxed Paleochora, surrounded by old donkey trails which make for beautiful walks through the hills and rocky coast – the beaches here are also great for windsurfing.
The region of Lassithi also has beautiful landscapes and some stunning beaches as well.
Where To Stay In Crete In April?
The weather in Crete in April can be a little hit and miss, with a risk of rain and cloudy days. It’s better to stay in a city at this time of year, where you can take the opportunity to go to the beach when the weather is good but there are plenty of museums and galleries to visit when the sky isn’t clear.
Both Heraklion and Chania have a fantastic selection of archaeological museums and other cultural attractions, but Heraklion is closer to the site of Knossos, which is a major attraction for most visitors. On the other hand, Chania has better beaches!
Where To Stay In Crete In September?
Crete is still pretty warm in September, so there’s no particular need to focus on staying on the south side of the island as it will still be hot all over.
You should pick where to stay based on what you want to see, but it would be a nice time of year to go to Lassithi and check out the many hiking trails around there outside of the scorching summer heat and tourist crowds.
Where To Stay In Crete Young Couple/Honeymoon?
Crete is filled with romantic spots perfect for a couple to enjoy for a simple getaway or even honeymoon. One of the most charming spots is the old town of Chania, with a magical atmosphere and picturesque streets perfect for a romantic stroll.
Another great choice would be Falassarna, the best spot for stunning sunset views on the whole island. What could beat an evening stroll along the beach watching the sun melt into the ocean?
Where To Stay In Crete For Best Beaches?
The island is surrounded by fantastic beaches, all of which have their good points – it depends what you’re looking for.
If you prefer a smaller beach that’s a bit more sheltered, then Panormos is a great choice, or if you fancy a bit more adventure then the windswept beaches of Paleochora are great for exploring or trying out windsurfing.
For the traditional long beaches with sunbeds and crowds, head for the coast around Chania.
Where Is The Best Place To Stay In Crete For Families?
Chania is a great destination for families because it is packed with family-friendly activities such as museums, day tours, and plenty of boat trips as well as a lot of different restaurants and cafes to choose from (just in case there are any picky eaters in the group).
It is worth noting though that Chania is a little upmarket, so if you’re looking for a less expensive holiday you might want to put it on the back burner.
Don’t worry if Chania isn’t for you, because Panormos is another lovely family destination. A lovely traditional village, Panormos’ choice of sheltered beaches, relaxed atmosphere and plethora of seafood restaurants make it a great place for a laid back family break.
Where To Stay In Crete For Nightlife?
Most places in Crete have a great offering of tavernas and restaurants, but for the party scene there is no contest with a visit to Malia.
The Malia Strip is 1.5km of non-stop clubs and bars, Malia is very much an unmissable stop on the global nightlife stage.
Where To Stay In Crete Without A Car?
If you want to get some sightseeing done and you don’t have a car, it’s best to stay in either Chania or Heraklion. Heraklion is close to Knossos and it’s easy to get there with public transport.
Chania is full of attractions in its own right, and in addition lots of bus and boat trips start from this city – so you can get around and see the sights without needing a car at all.