Crete Island Guide



Crete has been a favourite destination of mine for many years, and I always recommend it to friends and family, particularly those who haven’t visited Greece before. Its large size offers numerous advantages, including competitive prices driven by competition for tourists and abundant local produce. The island is easily accessible through two international airports and has a well-developed road network and public transport system. Additionally, Crete boasts a vast array of resorts and attractions to explore.


I first visited Crete with my parents and grandparents over 25 years ago. By then, I’d already been to Rhodes and Zakynthos, but as a teenager, I was too young to appreciate the unique qualities of each island; I just loved the hot, sunny weather and the cool, refreshing sea. The two weeks we spent in Makry Gialos on the southeast coast were amazing. We liked it so much that we returned the following year. That time, my best friend joined us, and we had a blast: running along the beach, swimming in the sea during the day, and playing pool in one of the bars in the evening.

Since that initial trip, I’ve explored myriad parts of Crete, including Elounda, Malia, Kokkini Hani, Kato Gouves, Analipsi, and Hersonissos. In 2021, I finally ventured to the western side of the island, spending nine nights in Palaiochora on the southwest coast before travelling all the way across the island. Along the way, I visited Chania, the inland village of Spili, and the southern settlements of Plakias, Agia Galini, and Matala. I ended the journey in Sitia, staying overnight before ferrying to Karpathos the next day.

The best thing about Crete is its size, which ensures there’s something for everyone: lively party resorts like Stalis, Hersonissos, and Malia for young revellers; quiet seaside villages like Georgioupolis and Elounda for those seeking a peaceful retreat; vibrant cities like Chania, Rethymno, and Heraklion; and a wealth of outdoor activities, such as hiking in the Samaria Gorge. Of course, there are also some fabulous beaches for soaking up the sun!

The interactive map below shows some of our favourite hotels, restaurants, beaches, and places of interest in Crete. Click the markers to see more details.

Getting To Crete

One thing that makes Crete unique as a Greek island is that it has two international airports: one just east of Heraklion, the other just northeast of Chania. These effectively split the island into two halves: east and west. If you plan to stay anywhere east of Rethymno, Heraklion is the more convenient airport. Rethymno itself is slightly closer to Chania airport, but either one will do (roughly a 1-hour transfer by car). If you plan to visit one of the resorts further west, such as Georgioupoli, Palaiochora, Kissamos, or Chania itself, then Chania airport is the one to choose.

You can also reach Crete by ferry, with regular services from Piraeus to Chania and Heraklion. If you plan on visiting multiple islands during your stay, there is also a daily service between Heraklion and Santorini (Thera).

Where to Stay in Crete

There are many tourist resorts on the island; these are some of the more popular ones that we’ve visited:

Agios Nikolaos

Located on an east-facing coastline roughly an hour’s drive from Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos is one of the largest towns on the island. It’s a popular tourist destination with a large selection of bars and restaurants and plenty of hotels, both large and small. It lacks a decent beach, but there are plenty nearby to choose from, providing you have transportation or are happy using the local buses.


Just north of Agios Nikolaos lies Elounda. It is a much smaller resort, but still popular with tourists in the summer season. There are several luxury hotels dotted around the nearby hillsides, while the town itself has a decent beach and a good selection of bars and restaurants.

Its proximity to Spinalonga makes it a good destination if you plan to visit the island or any of the villages along the northern coastline.


Don’t be too put off by its reputation as a party resort for the younger generation. While the main strip is laden with bars and clubs, there are quieter spots and plenty of beach space for everyone. The old town, further back from the coastline, is very pretty and worth a visit.


Tucked out of the way on the southwest coast, Palaiochora is a popular seaside resort located on a small headland with a large main beach to the west and a smaller one on the eastern side. About a 90-minute drive from Chania, it does take some effort to reach but is worth it for the relaxed atmosphere, great selection of shops and tavernas and wide, sandy beach.

Crete Highlights

With unique locations such as Spinalonga, plus water parks, caves, and numerous great beaches, Crete has something for everyone. The large main road that runs across the north of the island makes it easy to get around, and there is an excellent local bus service covering most of the island, though smaller villages and resorts may only have one or two connections a day.

Crete Beaches

Crete is a large island with a vast array of excellent beaches in almost every corner of the island.

Find out more about Crete Beaches here.

Crete Accommodation

Crete offers various accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences, including hotels, villas, apartments, guesthouses, and campsites. There is something for everyone, from luxury resorts to traditional guesthouses and camping.

Crete Accommodation

Crete FAQs

What is Crete like for a holiday?

Crete is a great holiday destination. It offers a wide variety of resorts, sights, and attractions, as well as a fantastic selection of beaches, bars, and restaurants.

Where to stay in Crete?

Crete has a huge selection of resorts. Some of the most popular include Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, Hersonissos, Chania, Stalis, Malia, and Palaiochora.

How many days to spend in Crete?

Due to its large size, you would need several weeks to explore the entire island, but a week is sufficient to get a taste of the island. This time can be spent in a single resort or across several areas.

Where is Crete?

Crete is the most southerly Greek island, just 200 miles off the coast of North Africa. Its westernmost point lies directly south of Athens, while its eastern tip sits below the western edge of Turkey.

Where to avoid in Crete?

There are no bad areas of Crete, only places that will suit some visitors better than others. If you’re looking for a quieter and more traditional Greek holiday, it’s a good idea to avoid more lively resorts such as Malia, Hersonissos, and Stalis.

How many days in Crete do you need?

Crete is a vast island and would be difficult to fully explore in a single visit unless you have three or four weeks to spare. It’s best to divide the island into east and west and visit them separately. Then, you can spend 7-14 days and get a good taste of each area.

Videos of Crete

Here are some videos of Crete we’ve filmed over the years:

Crete Blog Posts

Learn more about Crete by reading our blog posts from recent visits:

More Blog Posts