Wondering where to stay in Crete? This handy guide breaks down the best places to bed down, area by area.

Pals, if you haven’t yet visited Crete – then why not? It’s a gorgeous Greek island (the biggest, in fact) that offers an abundance of vacation options, from jam-packed culture seeking to total R&R.

But with so many things to do across the entirety of the island, figuring out where to stay is where things get a little bit tricky.

Don’t worry, I’ve done all the donkey work for you and compiled this killer guide that covers where to stay in Crete. 

So, whether you’re dreaming of soaking up the historical sights that pepper the island, want to eat as much Greek food as possible, or fancy lazing on the beach for days on end (or a little bit of everything), this guide has got you covered.

Read on to discover where to stay in Crete, area by area.

Best Places to Stay in Crete: At a Glance 

Best Places in Crete to Stay – Top Picks Hotel 
Best Overall Crete AccommodationElounda Gulf Villas
Best Crete Hotel for Luxurious StaysElounda Beach Hotel & Villas
Best Crete Hotel for Budget-Friendly Stays Ikaros Art Hotel
Best Crete Hotel for Boutique Stays Chania Flair Deluxe Boutique Hotel

Where to Stay in Crete 

Rethymno Crete

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Crete – it’s an island full of vibrant towns and cities, each with a unique offering for travellers. 

And you’ll be happy to hear that, whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in ancient Greek culture or enjoy a more relaxed stay in a beachside villa, there are many options for accommodation. 

Crete boasts gorgeous cities like Heraklion, Chania, and Rethymno, which is a definite advantage of staying here. Though that doesn’t mean you can’t find a more rural option, such as Agios Nikolaos, if you want a less urban stay. 

Heraklion: Where to Stay in Crete for Nightlife 

Heraklion City Crete Greece

On the island’s eastern side, you’ll find the capital of Crete, Heraklion. This city is full of brilliant things to do, including some of the best beaches in Crete, incredible archaeological monuments, and a pumped-up nightlife scene. 

Heraklion is also significant as it boasts vast cultural heritage and influences – from Venetian architecture to prehistoric Minoan art. 

Another thing I love so much about Heraklion is the abundance of fantastic cafés and restaurants dotted around the city, providing easy access to delicious food. 

Heraklion Highlights

  • Crete is famous for its archaeological treasures, so many come to this island to see them. If you fancy getting in on the action, take this skip-the-line guided walking tour of Knossos Palace. 
  • As I’ve mentioned, Heraklion has fantastic nightlife, so you should try the local liquor, Tsikoudia, if that’s your vibe. It has a sweet taste and you’ll usually be offered it with food.
  • If you want to get out of the city and explore the Mediterranean, I have the perfect tour for you. This private sailing boat trip will take you to Dia Island, with ample opportunity to snorkel and swim.
  • Whether you’re a little bit of a shopaholic or just want to pick up a small gift for a friend, visit Heraklion’s Old Town. It’s full of boutique shops selling locally-made clothing and jewellery. 

Suggested Crete Hotels in Heraklion

  • Galaxy Iraklio Hotel – located just outside the city’s centre, this stylish hotel is the perfect option for a luxurious stay. Besides the elegance and simplistic design of Galaxy Iraklio, it also has fantastic offerings, such as a freshwater pool, free wellness centre, and complimentary breakfast. 
  • Aquila Atlantis Hotel – You’ll find this modern hotel in the heart of Heraklion. It has designs and architecture that will relax you, such as marble floors, wooden finishes, and pops of classic Greek blues. For a truly memorable stay, get a room with a view of the Mediterranean. 
  • Legacy Gastro Suites – This is the perfect spot to relax after a day exploring the city’s ancient ruins. It features the artistic contributions of various Greek designers, poets, and artists, as well as pops of vibrant colours mimicking Greece’s flora and fauna. Make sure to try the food at its all-day restaurant, which elevates traditional Cretan cuisine.

Chania: Best Place to Stay for First Timers 

Chania Crete

If you’re not quite sure where to stay, I say head to Chania – a great choice of city for where to stay in west Crete. 

It’s also the ideal spot for first-timers on the island, as it’s a city full of sights and is close to renowned natural attractions, such as Samariá Gorge and Balos Beach. What’s more, it’s only a 50-minute flight from Athens.

Chania has a long history of being under foreign control, from the Romans and Venetians from the North to the Byzantines and Ottomans from the East. 

These influences have resulted in a multicultural city, which you’ll notice in its famous landmarks, such as the Venetian Lighthouse or the Küçük Hasan mosque.

Chania Highlights

  • As I’ve noted, the city has a lot of cultural diversity, making it unique. A great way to see this is by walking through Chania’s Old Town and seeing ancient buildings, such as the Church of Agios Nikolaos, the Byzantine Fortress of Kastélli, and the old Venetian Port.
  • If you’re a foodie, this wine and olive oil tour is a great day trip from Chania. You’ll get to taste delectable Greek wine and learn about the incredible traditions of olive oil-making. You’ll even see the oldest olive tree in the world, over 3,000 years old.
  • For art lovers and history buffs, check out the Archaeological Museum of Chania. It harbours over 3,000 pieces from the Neolithic period to the Roman era, so it’s a brilliant way to spend your day. 
  • A great way to experience the nature around Chania is by hiking Samariá Gorge. This full-day Samaria Gorge trek excursion is a fantastic way to do this, and it includes hotel pick-ups and drop-offs and an English-speaking guide. 

Suggested Crete Hotels in Chania

  • Chania Flair Deluxe Boutique Hotel – Very close to Chania’s Old Town, you’ll find this 5-star option is perfect for a sophisticated stay. The hotel’s minimal yet tasteful decor complements the sweeping sea views that guarantee to take your breath away. Moreover, this hotel is perfect for intimate getaways, as it’s an adults-only option. 
  • The Tanneries Hotel & Spa – This hotel mixes traditional Greek aesthetics with modernity through hand-paved stone walls, neutral decor, and sleek wooden floors. This does not make it less homely as you’re guaranteed a comfortable night’s rest, and the staff truly follows the Greek tenet of philoxenia (hospitality). What’s more, you’re only a stone’s throw from nearby beaches. 
  • Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa – This superb hotel sits just 300 metres from Chania’s Harbour and in the middle of the Old Town. It’s in a 17th-century Venetian mansion, but its amenities, such as satellite TV and free WiFi, are not outdated. I doubt you’ll notice, as the surrounding views will preoccupy you. Start the day with a sumptuous (included) breakfast and end it with one of Casa Delfino Spa’s packages. Or, you could head up to the rooftop terrace for cocktails.

Elounda: Best Place in Crete to Stay for Beach Lovers 

Elounda Crete Greece

On Crete’s eastern coast is the charming village of Elounda. It is the perfect spot to stay on Crete if you prefer a more relaxed experience of the island. By no means do I mean that the rest of Crete is overwhelming, but you’ll love the calm atmosphere of this stunning town.

People have lived in Elounda since Minoan times, which classic literature lovers might recognise from Homer’s writing. Nowadays, it’s a getaway for celebs and politicians, which I can understand as it’s optimal for peace and quiet. 

It’s the best spot to stay in Crete for beach lovers, as it has clear waters and coastal paths with gorgeous sea views.

Elounda Highlights

  • Just south of Elounda is the Sunken City of Olous. This was a Greek city that dates back to the Minoan Age. You can still see the ruins today by walking to them. Grab a snorkel and dive in if you want to get up close.
  • Find the supposed birthplace of Zeus with this Zeus Cave and Lassithi Plateau day tour from Elounda. It’s an inclusive package with lunch, drinks, and transportation.  

Suggested Crete Hotels in Elounda

  • Elounda Gulf Villas – This is perhaps the best hotel on this list. It’s a luxurious option, just outside of Elounda. You’ll love the brilliant views of the dark-blue sea, either from your private villa or poolside. The phrase “attention to detail” perfectly describes this hotel, from the complimentary bottle of champagne in your fridge to the private beach club.  
  • Elounda Orama – This superb hotel has a prime location 350 metres from Elounda Beach and 100 metres from several restaurants. It’s got fantastic offerings, from a rooftop gym to a barside pool. It also includes spacious rooms and a restaurant which offers buffet-style dining. 
  • Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas – This resort is the optimal option for a peaceful stay and to meet all your desires. You won’t want to leave here, as they have tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts, a private beach, three swimming pools, and seven restaurants.   

Agios Nikolaos: Where to Stay in Crete without a Car

Agios Nikolaos Greece

Coming to Agios Nikolaos (or “Ag Nik” to locals), you’ll feel like you are stepping into a postcard. 

It’s the ideal Cretan town if you don’t have a car, as there’s a great public transport system and the town is pretty walkable. Large bodies of water surround Ag Nik, whether it’s Lake Voulismeni or Mirabello Bay.

You’ll adore this town for its warm hospitality and relaxed way of life. But just because it’s quiet does not mean it’s void of things to do or places to eat. Quite the opposite – you’ll find quite a few tavernas and restaurants around the area, where you might even share a drink with a local. 

Agios Nikolaos Highlights

  • Visit Spinalonga Island by taking this guided boat cruise from Ag Nik. You’ll get to explore the Spinalonga Fortress, which dates back to the Venetian period.
  • Learn all about olives and olive oil at the Cretan Olive Farm, but you can also take a pottery or cheese-making class.

Suggested Crete Hotels in Agios Nikolaos

  • NIKO Seaside Resort – Relax in comfort at this hotel, perfect after a day of exploring Ag Nik. It boasts two communal infinity pools, but if you prefer some privacy, you can get a room with a personal pool. They provide various activities too, from movie nights to bicycles available to rent. 
  • Ikaros Art Hotel – This is a great budget-friendly option in Ag Nik. While it’s more affordable, it has brilliant amenities, from breakfast in your room to private balconies with splendid views. It’s the perfect option for a homely stay and fantastic, friendly service.  
  • Minos Palace Hotel & Suites – This is the perfect option for those looking to destress – whether it’s at the hotel’s private beach or taking a dip in the infinity pool. It also has two restaurants offering à la carte and buffet dining with a mix of local and international cuisine.

Rethymno: Where to Stay in Crete for Couples 

Rethymno Crete

On the island’s north coast, central to Chania and Heraklion, you’ll find the city of Rethymno, Crete. Typically it’s overlooked as a holiday destination, with tourists coming to the previously mentioned larger cities. 

However, the city is excellent in its own right. It’s the perfect spot for an intimate stay with a partner, whether as a honeymoon destination or just for a weekend. Its Old Town is as characterful as they come, with tavernas and landmarks reminding us of Rethymno’s multicultural past. 

Rethymno Highlights

  • This city is a brilliant starting point for some of the most memorable walks in Crete. One option that’s an hour’s drive from Rethymno is the hike up Mount Ida, which takes around three or four hours.
  • Go back to the past on this pirate boat cruise. It includes lunch, drinks, and snorkelling equipment.

Suggested Crete Hotels in Rethymno

  • Civitas Suites Hotel – This aparthotel is centrally positioned in Rethymno’s Old Town, perfect for sightseers. Your rooms will make you feel zen with neutral tones, while the hotel’s restaurant will invigorate your tastebuds with skillfully-created cocktails.
  • Palazzino Di Corina – This is a brilliant budget-friendly option for couples within a fantastic old building. You’ll love the antique furnishings, courtyard pool, and spiral staircases.
  • Thalassa Boutique Hotel – This four-star boutique hotel is right on the coast. You’ll want to stay longer here, as it has a quaint private beach, spacious rooms, and a beachfront restaurant. 

Where to Stay in Crete: Frequently Asked Questions 

Practical Tips to Consider Before Booking Your Crete Accommodation

  • Need help figuring out what to pack for your Grecian trip? Check out my Greek packing list to help you avoid any last-minute stress.
  • Visiting any other Greek islands or the mainland? Take a look at my Greece travel guide for some valuable tips. 

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