Where to Stay in Crete: Insider’s Guide to the Best Places to Stay on the Island (2024 Update)

GREECE - CRETE - CHANIA - OLD TOWN

Crete, the biggest Greek island, is a fantastic place for a long vacation, since the island is so big, finding where to stay in Crete is key to having a convenient base to explore the different regions. Every area caters to different things to see and do, so you need to keep your interests in mind before finding the best place to stay in Crete for you.

Whether it is Crete’s amazing beaches, mountain paths, picturesque villages, or old towns, this guide will walk you through the best places to stay in Crete, no matter what kind of traveler you are. 

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Where to Stay in Crete
Top Places To Stay on Crete Island

Best Places to Stay in Crete

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If you’re planning to come to the island this summer, you might be wondering what are the best places to stay in Crete.

It’s good to remember that to find the right place for you and your family, you should first know what you want to do on such a huge island.

For that reason, here you will find the best places to stay in Crete region by region, keeping in mind the best things to do in each area.

Alley in Chania, stone buildings, Venetian architecture

Unless you’ve been to Crete before, it’s often difficult to choose where to stay. The island is big and you must juggle different interests to reach a balance.

Therefore, in this guide, we will explore the best places to stay in each of Crete’s four regions. You can combine many places in one itinerary, or just go for one area at a time.

Where to Stay in Crete: Best Areas to Stay in Chania Region

Chania, the westernmost region of the island, is a fantastic place to stay in Crete. It has a gorgeous old town, ideal for those who enjoy walking after dinner, but also some of the best beaches on the island, high mountains, and the largest gorge in Europe, Samaria.

Let’s see now, the best areas to stay in the region of Chania

1. Chania Town

best places to stay in Crete

IN SHORT: The city of Chania is an excellent place to stay for families interested in local culture, history, and sightseeing. With its romantic atmosphere, it is also perfect for couples. In the last years, the city has also been attracting solo travelers and digital nomads who find a welcoming work environment in Workhub Chania.

The beautiful city of Chania, in western Crete, is the second most important city on the island.

Chania is also the capital and main town of the region of Chania, a place known for its stunning beaches and incredible gorges.

If driving around the region is something you would like to do during your holidays, then staying in the town is a good idea to combine day trips to different areas of the region (for instance, Elafonisi, Balos, or the White Mountains).

>> Want to see the best of the region but don’t want to drive? Jump in my van, and I’ll drive you there! Read more…

This would allow you to return to town at the end of the day to enjoy the old harbor, some of Chania’s best restaurants, and nightlife there.

The city of Chania has a modern town where you can go shopping and entertainment or enjoy a cup of coffee at the traditional city garden (kipos) and a charming old town, the most beautiful ancient settlement on the island.

Where to stay in Chania

This picturesque part of the city is a gorgeous place to stay in Crete. It has a beautiful Venetian harbor with the characteristic Egyptian Lighthouse and an old mosque right by the sea.

A stay in the old town is great to be close to the best restaurants and bars, some of them facing the sea, but also to visit churches and museums.

Chania - Crete

The old town is a maze of gorgeous alleys full of charm, you can head here to explore typical artisan workshops and souvenir shops but also marvel at the gorgeous ancient Venetian mansions and Turkish homes, many of them transformed into incredibly beautiful boutique hotels.

In the old town, it is also possible to visit the historic public market (Agora), located on the border between the old and modern town, as well as a farmer’s market every Saturday, which takes place on the eastern edge of the old town, in the area known as Koum Kapi.

The modern town is perfect for some retail therapy. You will find countless shops, including international brands such as H&M or Zara.

Mosque by the sea, Chania, Crete

Nearby neighborhoods include the aristocratic district of Halepa, now home to the New Archaeological Museum of Chania as well as the historic house of Venizelos, the first Greek Prime Minister.

Another convenient neighborhood is Nea Chora, with a fantastic seafront dotted with some of Chania’s best restaurants.

In the modern area of Chania, you will also find the public bus station, from where you can take the bus to the port and the airport, but also to other important cities, such as Rethymno and Heraklion.

From here, there are also buses to the beach of Elafonisi, Paleochora, and Chora Sfakion. 

Recommended Places to Stay in Chania Town

Check out these places in Chania town.

Where to stay in Chania:

  • Cocoon City Hostel: A good budget place to stay in the modern town, just a few meters from the Central Bust Station. They offer a shuttle service and bikes to rent, a comfortable and cheap way to navigate the city. The hostel has spacious rooms with private bathrooms, rooms with shared bathrooms, and mixed dorms.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

2. Akrotiri Penisula: Stavros or Kalathas

Stavros Beach, Crete
Stavros Beach

IN SHORT: Akrotiri Peninsula is a tranquil area very close to the center. It is a place I know very well (I live here!) and it is. an ideal spot for calm holidays for families. Besides, there are excellent beaches and good restaurants as well.

The wonderful Akrotiri Peninsula is a top area to stay in Crete. It is near the center of Chania, about 10 kilometers from the old town (a short 15-minute drive).

On the Akrotiri Peninsula, you will find some of Chania’s best beaches, many of them perfect for families.

In the area, two small seaside villages are great for a relaxing holiday and a quieter pace of life, these are Kalathas and Stavros.

Kalathas, Akrotiri Crete
Kalathas Beach.

Kalathas is a fairly small settlement, popular for its gorgeous wide sandy beach.

There are just a few restaurants and tavernas, a couple of convenience stores, and not much more, but the very close town of Kounoupidiana will be the place to go for supermarkets and gas stations, pharmacies, and even restaurants.

Beach, mountain
Stavros Beach.

Stavros is a lonely seaside village about 25 minutes from the center, quite close to the Airport (which is also in Akrotiri).

Stavros was the filming place famous dance scene in the movie Zorba The Greek. The main beach is family-friendly as it offers a shallow lagoon with clean water that is very safe for kids and protected from winds.

If you plan to stay in the area, you will need a car to move around and explore nearby places such as Agia Triada and Gouverneto monasteries, Venizelos’ Tombs, or the nearby ancient ruins of Aptera.

If you don’t want to explore and are only worried about getting to Chania town, there is a bus service that connects both Kalathas and Stavros to Chania’s bus station.

Recommended Places to Stay on the Akrotiri Peninsula

Check out these places to stay in Akrotiri.

Where to stay in Akrotiri:

  • Villa Krini: Located in Kalathas, the property is a 12-minute walk from the beach and has a swimming pool surrounded by a sun terrace and a garden. It offers self-catering units with a balcony, an open-plan kitchenette, and a dining area. It’s located 10 km from the center of Chania and 8 km from Chania International Airport.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

You might also want to read: 2 Fantastic Days in Chania and +45 Beaches in Chania Region (West Crete).

3. Platanias – Agia Marina

PLATANIAS CRETE
Beach of Platanias

IN SHORT: Platanias and Agia Marina are two small seaside resorts big enough, though, to skip going to the center of town for entertainment, shopping, restaurants, and clubs. The area is good for travelers interested in all-inclusive resorts only steps from the sea.

One of the most popular areas to stay in the Chania region includes the seaside resorts of Agia Marina and Platanias, located towards the west of the city center.

Both villages are one next to the other and form a huge seaside town with tons of night entertainment, restaurants, bars, and even nightclubs.

The areas of Agia Marina and Platanias are home to dozens of hotels, many of them featuring all-inclusive services and private beach areas.

best places to stay in Crete
Platanias.

The lively settlements are perfect if you don’t want to go to Chania town for entertainment every single day of your stay.

Offering also easy access to the National Road, the place allows shorter drives to Omalos and Samaria, Elafonisi, Balos, Falasarna, and many other spots west of the old town.

The area is also connected to the center of Chania with a frequent bus service, so you don’t need to rent a car if you are planning to stay over here.

Both Agia Marina and Platanias feature a beautiful wide beach with calm waters right opposite the small islet of Theodorou.

Recommended Places to Stay in Platanias and Agia Marina

These are some of the places I recommend for a stay in this area of Chania:

Where to stay in Platanias and Agia Marina:

4. Paleochora

best places to stay in Crete

IN SHORT: The relaxing seaside town of Paleochora is located on the Lybian Sea coast, in the southern region of Chania. It is a small town with a fantastic hippie vibe, beautiful beaches, and a laid-back atmosphere. There is much to do in Paleochora, making it perfect for couples of all ages and families with kids.

Home to a unique and relaxing vibe, Paleochora is a remote seaside town on the southern coast of the Chania region. It is a perfect place for a long stay made of days at the beach and excursions in the south.

Among the places to visit in town, you can explore the ruins of the old castle, the picturesque and colorful alleys, and the best beaches in the area.

From here, it is also possible to visit the nearby Elafonisi (there are walking excursions and boat rides available), but also enjoy other outdoor activities including horseback riding, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, safari rides, and fishing trips.

best places to stay in Crete

From Paleochora, different ferry rides will take you to visit important southern villages such as Loutro, Sougia, Agia Roumeli, and the nearby island of Gavdos too.

When planning a stay in the area, don’t overlook renting a car to explore. Although there are buses connecting Chania town with Paleochora, a car will offer freedom of movement to discover the whole region.

Recommended Places to Stay in Paleochora

These are some of the best accommodations in Paleochora.

Where to stay in Paleochora:

  • On The Rocks: One of the most popular places to stay in Paleochora, this is a fantastic 2-star hotel, only a 3-minute walk from the beach and a short walking distance from the center of Paleochora. The rooms have balconies with sea views, air conditioning, and a minibar. The hotel also has a gift shop and a spacious terrace.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

5. Loutro and Chora Sfakion

best places to stay in Crete
Loutro village.

IN SHORT: These two neighboring villages on the southern coast of Crete are great for those seeking solitary beaches and adventures, such as exploring the gorges of Imbros or Aradena, or after a hike through Samaria. Both villages are utterly peaceful, specially Loutro, where there are no cars!

Loutro and Chora Sfakion are two seaside villages worth visiting in the Chania region.

Chora Sfakion is located close to the fantastic gorge of Imbros, one of the most popular places to go hiking in Crete.

Loutro and Chora Sfakion are ideal for a holiday far from the hustle of Chania.

Loutro

best places to stay in Crete
Loutro.

One of the most picturesque villages on the island, the fishing village features traditional white-washed houses and a pristine pebble beach.

The village can be accessed either on foot (hiking a coastal part of the E4 European path – about 2 hours from Chora Sfakion) or by boat (arriving from Chora Sfakion or Agia Roumeli).

Loutro has a peaceful, lonely atmosphere with a small range of hotels to choose from.

It is a popular place for day trips from Chania, with a lot to see in the surrounding area, including lonely beaches such as Sweetwater and Illingas.

Venturing a bit further, it is also possible to explore Chora Sfakion, Frangokastello, and the Aradena Gorge.

Port Chora Sfakion Crete
The port of Chora Sfakion.

Chora Sfakion

This is a gorgeous little town at the end of the Imbros Gorge is a somewhat important port in the south of Chania.

From here, you can take the ferry to visit Gavdos Island as well as other southern settlements including Sougia, Paleochora, Loutro, and Agia Roumeli, right at the exit of Samaria Gorge. 

The seaside area features small tavernas and traditional restaurants as well as a few family-run hotels. From Chora Sfakion, it is possible to visit the seaside village of Frangokastello or even drive to the southern town of Plakias in the Rethymnon region.

You can reach Chora Sfakion by bus from the center of Chania, but a rental car is more than recommended to explore the area.

Recommended Places to Stay in Loutro and Chora Sfakion

These are some of the best places to stay in the area… and I’ve tested them all!

Where to stay in Loutro and Chora Sfakion:

  • Villa Niki: This is a little gem hidden behind the hotels on the waterfront in Loutro, it is a favorite place to stay in the village as it is in a quiet location, a short distance from the beach and the waterfront taverns. It has great views of the bay and the mountains.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

6. Kolymbari

best places to stay in Crete

IN SHORT: Kolymbari is a calm village about half an hour from the center of Chania offering access to the Rodopou Peninsula, making it a glorious place for those who enjoy exploring off-the-beaten-track beaches.

If you’re looking for a place to stay that is calm and relaxing, but still quite near the center of Chania, then you can check the area of Kolymbari, towards the western side of the region.

Kolymbari is a small village at the base of the Rodopou Peninsula, home to some incredible and lonely beaches.

Menies beach, Rodopou peninsula, Crete
Menies, Rodopou Peninsula.

In Kolymbari, you will also find tavernas and restaurants, as well as a few shops. The area, known for the excellent wines and olive oil it produces, is about 25 minutes by car from the center of Chania.

There are several good hotels, some of them perfect for families. If you choose to stay in Kolymbari, take into account that you will need a car to move around.

From here, you can easily reach the beaches of Elafonisi, Balos, and Falasarna as well.

Recommended Places to Stay in Kolymbari

These are some of the most popular and best-reviewed places to stay in Kissamos.

Where to stay in Kolymbari:

7. Kissamos

best places to stay in Crete
The beach of Kissamos during sunset.

IN SHORT: The small village of Kissamos offers a few interesting things to do, it is quiet and relaxing, as well as a good choice for families. It’s in a convenient area on the northern coast close to the city of Chania and near important beaches such as Balos and Elafonisi.

Although not exactly close to the center of Chania (at least 45 minutes by car, even more during the peak season), the area is very popular for those who come to Crete for a beach vacation.

It is, in fact, one of the best places to stay in Chania for beaches.

Kissamos is an ideal place to explore the extreme west of Crete, check archaeological sites (Polyrrenia and Phalasarna), and even hike gorges such as Samaria, Topolia, Sirikari, Rokka, and Agia Eirini.

The area is a perfect place to stay if you want to take day trips to the different beaches because it is close to the popular Falasarna, and Elafonisi.

Besides, from the port of Kissamos depart daily cruises and boat trips to Balos Beach and Lagoon.

Recommended Places to Stay in Kissamos

These are some of the best hotels to stay in the area of Kissamos.

Where to stay in Kissamos:

8. Kalybes and Almyrida, Apokoronas

KALYVES CRETE
Kalyves.

IN SHORT: The areas of Kalyves and Almyrida in the traditional area of Apokoronas are popular among British tourists and ex-pats. The area is surrounded by the high White Mountains, hosting beautiful traditional villages, ancient monasteries, and good wineries.

Two popular villages not far from the center of Chania, in the eastern area of the region are Kalyves and Alyrida.

Virtually one next to the other, Kalyves offers a fantastic location, a bit uphill, with stunning views of the Souda Bay.

The village has some hotels, restaurants, and facilities catering to tourists, but the feel is more of a local town than a tourist area.

The beach of Kalyves is wide and popular too.

ALMYRIDA CRETE
Almyrida.

Almyrida, about 3 km east of Kalyves, has better bus connections with the center of Chania, although renting a car is a great idea if you plan to stay in any of the two settlements.

There are also plenty of hotels, tavernas, beach bars, and restaurants in the area, but it has more of a touristic feel than Kalyves.

Recommended Places to Stay in Kalyves and Almyrida

Where to stay in Kalyves and Almyrida:

9. Georgioupolis

Chapel and path to the sea - Georgioupoli, Crete
The most famous image of Georgioupolis.

IN SHORT: The area of Georgioupolis is a super family-friendly destination. The small seaside town has restaurants, bars, and gorgeous hotels and studios as well as entertainment for the children. The beach in Georgioupolis is especially safe for kids.

This small seaside resort is located east of Chania town, also close to the Rethymnon region. The beach is shallow and the sea is crystal clear, perfect for families.

Life in the village revolves around the main square, where you can find plenty of tavernas and bars.

The tiny settlement features a gorgeous beach with a scenic small chapel at the end of a man-made trail.

There are dozens of pretty hotels, affordable self-catering apartments, and several shops along the tranquil streets leading to the seaside promenade.

best places to stay in Crete
The beach of Georgioupolis.

Not far from the area, it is possible to visit the most important lake in the region, Lake Kournas, a perfect place for a day out.

Also close to Georgioupolis, is the mountain village of Argyroupolis, with its gorgeous mountain springs and grill restaurants.

Just out of town, on the main National Road, it is possible to catch the bust (either to Chania or Rethymnon), however, the best way to explore the area is with a rental car.

Recommended Places to Stay in Georgioupolis

These are some of the places we recommend checking out in Georgioupolis.

Where to stay in Georgioupolis:

Where to Stay in Crete: Best Areas to Stay in Heraklion Region

best places to stay in Crete

In this section, we will focus on the Heraklion region. Although a bit less popular than Chania, the area is a rich cultural spot on the island, offering plenty of places to discover for those interested in history and culture, including stunning archaeological sites and museums.

And if you’re interested in food and wine will be happy to know that Heraklion is home to one of the most important wine regions in Greece and some of the best restaurants on the island. On the southern coast, the region boasts incredible beaches too.

Being the capital of the island, Heraklion is well-connected to all the other cities and many important villages in Crete.

Let’s see now, the best areas to stay in Heraklion.

1. Heraklion Town

Places to visit in Crete by car: Heraklion
The city of Heraklion and the Venetian Fortress, the Koules.

IN SHORT: This is a great place to stay in Crete if you are planning to rely on public transport. The capital of Crete offers easy access (by public bus) to many remote areas in Crete. Here is also the port of Heraklion, where daily ferries arrive from Athens and other islands. In town, there are tons of things to do, also for families.

Heraklion is the most important city and capital of the island.

And even when not many people choose Heraklion as their place to stay in Crete, the town is home to Crete’s most important port and airport, so you might probably land in Heraklion when coming to Crete.

The city is worth a stay, even short, for you to discover the impressive museums and archaeological sites scattered in the region.

The most important of all is the impressive Minoan Palace of Knossos, only 15 minutes from the center of town.

best places to stay in Crete

However, there are also other sites to visit, such as the archaeological site of Malia. The site of Phaistos, though, is better reached from the southern coast.

In Heraklion, there are museums, including the remarkable Archaeological Museum of Heraklion and the impressive wine region of Heraklion is also minutes from the center.

The city hosts hundreds of hotels, restaurants, bars, and tavernas, a beautiful central square with the famous Liontaria Fountain, a cathedral, pretty churches, and pedestrian streets perfect for shopping, sightseeing, and nightlife as well.

Heraklion is a great destination for families (with plenty of things to do for kids), as well as for solo travelers.

The city is also a convenient place to stay if you plan to visit other Greek islands.

From the port of Heraklion, there are frequent sea connections to Athens but also to Santorini, Mykonos, and many other Cycladic Islands.

You might also like to read: Best Things to Do in Heraklion or Heraklion Accommodation Guide.

Recommended Places to Stay in the City of Heraklion, Crete

These are some of the best places to stay in the center of Heraklion Town.

Where to stay in Heraklion:

  • So Young Hostel: Perfect for backpackers and solo travelers, this hostel is only 4 minutes from Heraklion Archaeological Museum, a perfect location if you don’t want to rent a car. The hostel offers rooms with shared or private bathrooms and also a free shuttle service to Amoudara Beach.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

2. Agia Pelagia

best places to stay in Crete

IN SHORT: The pretty seaside village of Agia Pelagia is a popular place where to stay in Crete and for a reason. It has a quiet atmosphere, there are beautiful beaches, and the village offers restaurants, shops, and kid-friendly entertainment.

One of the most popular seaside resorts in the Heraklion area is the fishing village of Agia Pelagia, on the north coast.

This charming, little village is about 20 minutes by car from the center of the city and offers a wide range of accommodations as well as other facilities including, beautiful beaches and coves, tavernas, seaside restaurants, and souvenir shops.

Where to stay in Crete: Agia Pelagia

In the area, small villages such as Mades and Ligres are worth a visit for their unique character and picturesque beaches.

There are several other beaches to enjoy in the area, such as Mononaftis, Kladissos, and Filakes

The area around Agia Pelagia is good for water sports and swimming, and it is also possible to rent a boat or go on a fishing trip.

Recommended Places to Stay in Agia Pelagia, Crete

These are some of the best accommodations I’ve personally tried in the area. of Agia Pelagia.

Where to stay in Agia Pelagia:

3. Hersonissos and Koutouloufari

best places to stay in Crete
The beach in Hersonissos.

IN SHORT: These seaside villages are very popular among young travelers interested in nightlife and beach parties. There is plenty of hotels, restaurants, shops, water parks, and a lot of nightlife entertainment. Prices range from budget to expensive.

Two of Crete’s most attractive places for younger visitors are the seaside towns of Malia and Hersonissos, both east of Heraklion.

Hersonissos is a coastal town catering to tourists looking for all-inclusive resorts and exciting nightlife.

The village is well known for its number of nightclubs, discos, and beach bars.

Yet, it is also a good place for families with teens, who are still very young and have to travel with their parents but still want their share of night fun during the summer months.

best places to stay in Crete
Koutouloufari.

In the area, it is possible to visit the traditional village of Koutouloufari, up the hill and facing the sea, with a more quiet and traditional atmosphere, ideal to dine or enjoy a relaxing walk after a day by the sea.

Moreover, the place is close to fantastic water parks and theme parks, ideal for families with kids of all ages.

Recommended Places to Stay in Hersonissos and Koutouloufari

Check out these hotels and resorts in Hersonissos and Koutouloufari if you want to stay at a popular seaside resort near Heraklion Town.

Were to stay in Hersonissos and Koutouloufari:

4. Malia

best places to stay in Crete
Malia, Crete.

IN SHORT: Malia is the must-go place in Crete for nightlife. The area is popular among young European travelers for its affordable bars and plenty of discos. There are some great party hotels perfect for young visitors as well.

Lively, catering to young travelers interested in nightlife and entertainment, Malia is a coastal town about 30 minutes from Heraklion.

The village, ideal for young couples and groups of young friends not only offers dozens of beach bars and discos along the famous Malia Strip, but it also has a picturesque old area with a characteristic charm as well as many beautiful beaches.

GREECE-CRETE-HERAKLION-MALIA-BEACH
Malia Beach.

Not far from the center of Malia, it is also possible to explore the mountains, the Heraklion wine region, visit the Minoan Palace of Malia, or explore other beaches in the area, including Analipsi, Stalida, and Anissaras, all of them the West.

The famous beaches of Milatos and Sissi are also close by, east of Malia.

Malia can also be a good destination for families, with convenient prices and featuring tons of things to do that will keep kids entertained.

There are several video game arcades, fast food restaurants, sports and safaris, and attractions such as the stunning Reptile Rescue Centre

Recommended Places to Stay in Malia

These are some of the best hotels and resorts in Malia, Crete.

Where to stay in Malia:

5. Archanes

best places to stay in Crete

IN SHORT: Not far from the center of Heraklion (about 40 minutes by car), this is a traditional, awarded village recently restored to its utmost splendor. Life in the village is easy-going, there is a small square with kafenia and tavernas. It is the best place to stay in Crete to explore Heraklion’s wine region.

In the heart of the wine region of Heraklion, the pretty village of Archanes, at the foot of the sacred Mount Jiouktas,  is great to spend a few days in Crete.

It’s conveniently close to the capital of the island (about 14 km) but far enough to experience a completely different vibe.

If you want inspiring landscapes, the upper village of Epano Archanes has been restored with an initiative that improved the village, retaining its traditional features.

The best thing to do is to rent a house in Archanes if you want to have a first-hand experience of the island’s serene lifestyle surrounded by picturesque traditional alleys, blooming gardens, and fantastic mountain scenes.

Recommended Places to Stay in Archanes

These are some of the best rental homes in Archanes, Crete.

Where to stay in Archanes:

  • Villa Arhontiko: This is a 4-star traditional accommodation, 300 meters from the center of Arhanes, at the foot of the sacred mount Jiouktas. The house is a fine example of 19th-century inland Cretan architecture. There are 4 independent apartments fully equipped that can accommodate 2 to 4 people all year round.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

6. Matala Beach, Crete

street art Matala Crete
A colorful corner in the village of Matala.

IN SHORT: Matala is one of my favorite destinations on the island and a stunning place to stay in Crete. It features relaxed night entertainment and a unique hippie vibe which makes it perfect for couples and solo travelers.

One of the most picturesque and attractive places to stay on the southern coast of Crete is the hippie village of Matala, facing the Libyan sea.

It is a bit more than an hour from the center of Heraklion and a great place for a summer holiday on the island.

The town, famous for the impressive caves that you will find on one of the sides of the beach, is a lively village with plenty of hotels, shops, and restaurants as well as pubs and coffee shops by the sea.

A stay in the area of Matala is perfect for a holiday that combines relaxation with some nightlife, music, and a unique atmosphere.

Not far from Matala, it is possible to visit unique beaches such as Agiofarago (located at the exit of a magnificent gorge), the fantastic naturist Red Beach, a short hike from Matala, or the ancient site and beach of Kommos.

Crete with teens - Phaistos Palace
Visiting Phaistos with my son, last summer.

Also rich in culture and historic importance, Matala is not far from the Archeological Site of Gortyna and the impressive Minoan Palaces of Phaistos, probably even more interesting than the overcrowded Knossos Palace.

Keep in mind that although the choice of hotels is varied, there are not as many properties to book as in the center of Heraklion, so it is a good idea to also consider the nearby settlements of Sivas, Kamilari, Pitsidia, and Kalamaki when looking for a place to stay.

These places are often more convenient in terms of pricing and availability and are only minutes from Matala Beach.

You might also want to read: How to Get from Heraklion to Matala or Best Hotels in Matala.

Recommended Places to Stay in Matala

When looking for a place to stay in Crete, give Matala a try! These are some of the most convenient places to stay in the area.

Where to stay in Matala:

  • Kritamos Villa & Apartments: This family-run property is only 200 meters from the village of Kamilari. It offers self-catering maisonettes and apartments with furnished balconies, a kitchen or kitchenette as well as dining and seating areas. The property is 2 km from Kalamaki Beach and a very short drive from Matala. The archaeological site of Phaistos is 3 km away.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

7. Kaloi Limenes

best places to stay in Crete

IN SHORT: The area around Kaloi Limenes is ideal for a very quiet holiday, for those who have spent a stressful year at work and only long for an area where to disconnect and relax, without noise, or chaos. There is not much to do, but that is exactly the charm of Kaloi Limenes.

Also located on the southern coast of Heraklion, right under the shadows of the Asterousia Mountains, this is one of the most laid-back places you can choose to stay in Crete.

The small village features just some basic shops, convenience stores, and a couple of very good traditional tavernas.

The main reason to visit is the gorgeous beach with turquoise waters and the tranquil atmosphere.

best places to stay in Crete

In the area, you will find both sandy and pebble beaches as well as plenty of hiking paths, places for outdoor activities, and gorgeous landscape views.

The area is quite isolated yet, many tourists adore the village and return year after year.

For this reason, booking in advance is key to finding the right place to stay.

If you love to drive in Crete, keep in mind that this is one of the few villages on the coastline of Asterousia that you can reach by a good asphalt road.

Recommended Places to Stay in Kaloi Limenes

These are some of the places to stay in Kaloi Limenes that you should check out before booking.

Where to stay in Kaloi Limenes:

Where to Stay in Crete: Best Areas to Stay in Rethymnon Region

Rethymnon, Crete - the old harbor

The fascinating region of Rethymnon is located right between Heraklion and Chania, which makes it a great destination to move around the island and visit different areas during your trip.

The capital of the region, also known as Rethymnon, is the third most important city in Crete.

Just like Chania, it also features a charming old town with Venetian and Turkish influences, while the modern city is home to one of the most important universities on the island.

The city is not only alive and bustling all year long, especially at night, but it is also an important touristic destination in the hottest months of the year.

Any place in the region of Rethymno is a great destination all year round, and one of the best places to stay in Crete during the winter.

It is perfect for families, couples, and solo travelers as well.

For travelers eager to explore, the region hosts some unique monasteries (Arkadi and Preveli), the important archaeological site of Ancient Eleftherna with its small but interesting and modern museum, and there are also some fantastic beaches on the southern coast.

GREECE - CRETE - RETHYMNON - ARKADI MONASTERY
Arkadi Monastery.

Chania and Heraklion are a short bus ride from Rethymnon (about 60 and 90 minutes, respectively) which makes it one of the most convenient regions where to stay in Crete.

Buses to Chania and Heraklion depart every hour from the main bus station, located just steps from the Venetian Fortress.

Let’s see the main areas where you can stay if you choose to spend your time in Rethymnon.

1. Rethymno Town

best places to stay in Crete
The Fortezza at night.

IN SHORT: This is a great place if you’re looking for entertaining things to do in Crete, it is a fantastic winter destination as well, hosting the important Carnival of Rethymnon. The city has a unique flair, beautiful boutiques and shops, amazing hotels, and some of the best restaurants on the island.

Along the Rethymnon coastline, there are several hotels with beach access while the old town boasts some picturesque and luxurious boutique hotels hosted in former mansions and aristocratic houses.

In the old town, it is possible to wander the ancient alleys, stroll along the small Venetian harbor, or visit the imposing fortress facing the sea, the Fortezza.

The old town also features several characteristic souvenir shops, pubs, traditional raki bars, taverns, coffee shops, restaurants, and self-catering accommodations.

But you can also discover remarkable churches, museums, mosques, and many other interesting buildings.

The modern city is home to shops, banks, supermarkets, and many other convenience facilities.

Near the municipal garden of Rethymnon, locals and tourists alike take advantage of the weekly farmer’s market (every Thursday) to stock on local produce, such as honey, cheese, and fresh greens.

You might also want to read this Rethymnon Accommodation Guide and this genius itinerary for 2 Days in Rethymnon.

Recommended Places to Stay in Rethymnon Town, Crete

These are some of my absolute favorite places to stay in town.

Where to stay in Rethymnon town:

  • Hotel Olympia: Located less than 200 meters from the sandy beach in town, the hotel is ideal for families. It is also close to the old town (about 1.5 km) which you can reach by walking or taking the bus at the nearby bus stop. The property has an outdoor pool, a swimming pool for kids, and a garden bar.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices

2. Panormos

Panormos - Crete
Panormos, Crete.

IN SHORT: Panormos is an excellent location where to stay in Crete with many traditional corners, beautiful walks, seaside taverns, and a stunning shore on the northern coast of the island.

The picturesque beach town of Panormos is located on the north coast of Rethymnon.

The village is small and easy to explore on foot, however, a car is recommended to move around further in the region.

In the seaside settlement, travelers will find narrow alleys with traditional Cretan houses made of stone, souvenir shops, delicious tavernas, a harbor, and three different beaches, calm and sheltered from the winds.

GREECE - CRETE - PANORMOS VILLAGE

The town of Panormos is located in what is believed to be the site of the ancient city Panormus.

One of the most remarkable things to visit in town is the ancient Basilica of Agia Sophia one of the greatest Christian churches in Greece.

The impressive Melidoni Cave is one of the several places to visit nearby. Also, the seaside village of Bali is within a short drive of Panormos.

Panormos is a great destination for all kinds of travelers, from families with kids, to mature couples and honeymooners too.

Recommended Places to Stay in Panormos

These are recommended places to stay in this gorgeous Cretan village.

Where to stay in Panormos:

3. Bali

best places to stay in Crete
Bali, Crete.

IN SHORT: This small seaside village promises relaxing holidays mixed with entertainment as well as several water sports and underwater activities. There are several bays to pick from… one more beautiful than the other!

Another gorgeous area to stay in the region is the seaside resort of Bali a small but picturesque settlement with three beautiful bays.

The main area of the village, located up a soft hill, offers gorgeous views of the beaches and the rugged coastline.

The most famous bay in Bali, Evita Bay, is an ideal location for water sports and recreational activities by the sea.

Whee to stay in Crete: Bali

The village, catering to couples and mature travelers, is in a picturesque but quite isolated area, therefore it will be necessary to rent a car if you want to move around in the village itself or have the freedom to explore other beaches nearby.

Bali, however, is not far from the main National Road. Here, it is possible to take the bus that takes you to Chania, Rethymnon town, and Heraklion.

Recommended Places to Stay in Bali, Rethymnon

Check out these hotels and resorts near the sea in Bali, Crete.

Where to stay in Bali, Rethymno:

  • Bali Star Resort Hotel: This 3-star beachfront hotel is a beautiful and value-for-money accommodation. It’s a short distance from the beach, built amphitheatrically on a small peninsula. It offers a restaurant, a large garden, a playground, a pool, and a beach bar. The rooms have all modern comforts while free parking is also available at the property.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.
  • Bali Star Resort Hotel: This 3-star beachfront hotel is a beautiful and value-for-money accommodation. It’s a short distance from the beach, built amphitheatrically on a small peninsula. It offers a restaurant, a large garden, a playground, a pool, and a beach bar. The rooms have all modern comforts while free parking is also available at the property.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

4. Plakias, South Rethymnon

best places to stay in Crete
Bay of Plakias, South Rethymnon.

IN SHORT: Plakias is one of the nicest coastal towns in the south of Rethymnon, the small, calm village is a favorite among people traveling to Crete every year. Nearby, there are amazing beaches, some of them nudist-friendly, and the area is also good for immersions and other submarine sports.

Located on the southern coast of Rethymnon, Plakias is an important seaside village home to a gorgeous beach and near many small coves and smaller beaches, including Ammoudi, Damnoni, Rodakino, and Ammoudaki.

Some of these are famous nudist beaches and also home to important scuba diving centers both snorkeling and scuba are two of the main reasons to visit the area.

Plakias is a great place to stay if you want to explore the south of Crete, although a car will be necessary to move around since the area is quite isolated.

TRIOPETRA BEACH - CRETE
Triopetra Beach.

Not far from Plakias, it is possible to hike the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, visit Peveli Beach with its gorgeous palm trees and river, as well as the Preveli Monastery, and venture further east to spend a day on the magnificent beaches of Agios Pavlos, Triopetra, and Ligres, among the most beautiful beaches in south Crete.

Plakias is also close to the neighboring region of Chania, and the coastal trip from Plakias to Frangokastello is among the most beautiful road trips you can take in Crete.

Recommended Places to Stay in Plakias

These are some of the best places to stay in Plakias and the nearby area.

Where to stay in Plakias:

  • Hapimag Resort Damnoni: This is a beautiful, 4-star aparthotel facing the beach of Damnoni, about 1 km from the spectacular Kalypso Beach, and minutes from Plakias. There’s an outdoor pool, a sun terrace, a restaurant, and a private beach area. Rooms have a seating area and coffee-making amenities. There are on-site water sports facilities and bike hire available.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

5. Anogeia

best places to stay in Crete
Anogia (Anogeia), Rethymnon.

IN SHORT: Anogeia is the right place where to stay in Crete for those who want to experience life in a traditional mountain village, taste delicious meals, hike, and enjoy a very quiet lifestyle.

Stay in the mountains for a change and discover the magnificent landscape of the Psiloritis, the highest peak on the island. But also unique traditions and a different kind of lifestyle…

A traditional village such as Anogeia is the perfect destination for those interested in discovering a typical Cretan mountain village.

It is also possible to go hiking in the mountains or venture into some of the imposing caves of the region, such as Sfendoni Cave or Chainospilios.

best places to stay in Crete

Here, you will be able to taste some delicious local dishes, explore unique customs, and marvel at the sound of the local music, costumes, and rituals.

Mingle with the locals in the square of the village, learn about the Cretan Lyra, and surround yourself with some of the most magnificent landscapes in Crete.

Recommended Places to Stay in Anogeia

These are the best places to stay in Anogeia, Crete.

Where to stay in Anogeia:

6. Spili

GREECE - CRETE - RETHYMNON - SPILI - FOUNTAIN LION HEADS

IN SHORT: The gorgeous mountain village, often filled with tourists during the main hours of the day is located on the road that leads to the southern coast of Rethymnon. It is a place with a few traditional taverns and shops in the main square and not much to do. The place is tranquil and a good base to visit many of the beaches in the south of the region.

Another of my favorite villages in the mountains of Rethymnon is the picturesque Spili, an important town on the road connecting the northern capital of the region with the southern beaches of Agios Pavlos, Triopetra, Ligres, and Preveli.

The village is known for the Venetian lion heads fountain featuring identical lion heads right in the main square.

From each of the 25 lion heads, there’s a constant flow of water coming directly from the Psiloritis which always keeps the same temperature.

Recommended Places to Stay in Spili

These are some of the best accommodations you can find in the area of Spili.

Where to stay in Spili, Rethymnon:

  • Domus Polymnia: This is a gorgeous property in Spili, 28 km from Agia Galini. The restored, traditional stone-built house features mountain views and it is 15 minutes from the closest beach. Rooms offer a blend of traditional style and modern comforts, offering accommodation for up to 6 guests. The villa also has a hot tub and BBQ facilities.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

7. Agia Galini

best places to stay in Crete

IN SHORT: Agia Galini, on the southern coast of Rethymnon, is a lively seaside resort popular among tourists from the Balkan countries, with a nice center with shops and tavernas, plenty of accommodation, nice beaches, and a touristic port. There are also several good beaches within a short drive from the village.

This famous seaside resort is on the south coast of Rethymnon, on Messara Bay.

It’s located about 60 km from the city of Rethymnon and it attracts tourists from April to October.

Where to stay in Crete, Agia Galini

Despite being extremely popular among European tourists, the village has managed to keep its authentic atmosphere almost intact.

The place is good for those who don’t wish to drive as there are buses from Heraklion and from Rethymnon.

Recommended Places to Stay in Agia Galini

These are some of the best hotels in Agia Galini.

Where to stay in Agia Galini:

  • Lenikos Resort: The resort stands at the highest point in the village, offering amphitheatrical views of the bay. It has 3 swimming pools with sun loungers and offers different types of accommodation, all with a view of the sea and kitchen facilities. Some rooms offer a living room with a fireplace and a hydromassage shower.
    Click here for more information and the latest prices.

Where to Stay in Crete: Best Areas to Stay in Lasithi Region

Lasithi Mills - day trips in Lasithi Crete

The lesser-known area of Lasithi, the easternmost region in Crete, is a good place to stay in Crete if you’re looking for authentic villages, nice mountain rides, and some of the most solitary beaches on the island.

The capital of the region, Agios Nikolaos, is an important town on the northern coast of the island with plenty of things to do (even for free!).

Within a short drive from Agios, it is possible to visit the mountain villages around the Katharo Plateau, such as Kritsa or Kroustas, and the gorgeous church of Panagia Kera, one of the finest examples of Byzantine frescoes on the island.

Another great place in the area is Elounda, a beautiful seaside resort with exclusive accommodation, located only 10 minutes from Agios Nikolaos.

Vai Palm Beach
Vai Beach.

Opposite the bay of Elounda, Spinalonga is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Crete, home to a famous former leper colony.

The region is also home to the Lasithi Plateau, the Psychro Cave, and the Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark, one of the 4 natural parks on the island included in the UNESCO list of protected natural areas (together with the Psiloritis Geopark in Rethymnon, the Gorge of Samaria in Chania, and the Asterousia Mountains in Heraklion).

Other important places to visit in the region include the famous Toplou Monastery, the palm tree beach of Vai, the Minoan Site of Zakros, and the cities of Ierapetra and Sitia.

Let’s see the best areas in Lasithi for your Crete stay.

1. Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos, Crete

IN SHORT: Not as big as Heraklio or as lively as Chania, Agios Nikolaos is a great place where to stay in Crete for some nightlife and plenty of nice beaches, historic sites, and a good variety of excursions available in the area.

The capital and most important city in the Lasithi region is Agios Nikolaos, a coastal own facing the Sea of Crete, perfect for solo travelers, couples, and families.

This somewhat small town in eastern Crete is a picturesque destination, it features a gorgeous lake that is connected to the sea through a narrow inlet. 

Agios, as locals love to call their city, has a somewhat international feel to it.

There are several boutique stores, restaurants, and souvenir shops along the main pedestrian road, interesting churches, and a few remarkable museums

best places to stay in Crete
Voulismeni Lake, Agios Nikolaos.

In the area, you can explore some unique beaches, and dozens of fantastic restaurants and, if you also rent a car, venture along the mountain roads to reach the Lasithi Plateau (about an hour’s drive from Agios), the southern coast, and the easternmost beaches of Itanos and Vai.

Not far from Agios, it’s easy to reach the former leper colony of Spinalonga and the little fishing village of Plaka.

East Crete hosts amazing, isolated beaches, and a fantastic uninhabited island that you can visit with a boat from the coastal town of Ierapetra, on the shores of the Libyan Sea

You might also want to read about the Best Places to Stay in Agios Nikolaos

Recommended Places to Stay in Agios Nikolaos, Crete

There are dozens of hotels, some of them really convenient, in the area of Agios, close to the beach and Lake Voulismeni, these are the ones we recommend.

Where to stay in Agios Nikolaos:

2. Ierapetra

best places to stay in Crete

IN SHORT: The fourth most important city and commercial center on the island is Ierapetra, the most remarkable city on the southern coast. The place is perfect for a holiday in a somewhat big town but still far from more busy cities, such as Heraklion or Chania. Another selling point is that this is the best area in the south to reach the spectacular Chrissi Island.

Another great place to stay in Lasithi (and a favorite of mine) is Ierapetra, the southernmost town in Europe.

Also, a perfect place for a holiday off-season thanks to its warm weather and lack of rain almost all year.

The city features several hotels, many on the beach, as well as traditional taverns, restaurants, and bars.

A waterfront promenade is a great place for shopping or discovering unique landmarks, such as the House of Napoleon, the small port, and the Fort of Ierapetra.

In town, you can also explore an old Turkish mosque and a small archaeological museum.

Mosque of Ierapetra - tzami
The beautiful fountain, the mosque, and the minaret.

Although you can get to Ierapetra by bus from Agios and Heraklion, you will need a car to visit picturesque towns such as the small Myrtos, Makrigialos, and solitary beaches in the east, like Xerokampos or Agia Fotia.

Ierapetra is the perfect base to spend a day at Chrissi, a magnificent, uninhabited island with fantastic golden beaches and crystal-clear seas.

This city is a great place for couples, families, and backpackers. Adventurous travelers can explore unique gorges in the area as well.

Recommended Places to Stay in Ierapetra

These are some of the best places to stay in Ierapetra, South Crete.

Where to stay in Ierapetra:

3. Elounda and the Fishing Village of Plaka

2 days in agios nikolaos crete
Elounda.

IN SHORT: The two contrasting villages are one next to the other. While Elounda is famous for its incredibly luxurious resorts (among the most expensive ones in Crete), Plaka is a humble fishing village with a very traditional atmosphere. Both towns offer excellent access to Spinalonga and lie very close to the center of Agios Nikolaos.

One of the most popular seaside resorts on the island is Elounda, a village by the sea that is home to some of the best hotels in Crete.

It features a beautiful beach with quiet waters on the Mirabello Gulf.

The coastal town has a small port, right opposite the main square which is a great departing point to visit the former leper colony of Spinalonga, a small islet off the coast of Elounda.

Near the center of the village, it is possible to visit the Kolokitha Peninsula, with a beautiful and pristine beach and the ancient underwater ruins of Olous.

Plaka beach in Crete
The beach of Plaka, in Lasithi

Elounda is also minutes from the pristine pebbled shore in the small village of Plaka, another great place to stay in the area, and also a departure place for a short trip to Spinalonga Island.

Plaka is smaller and more relaxed than Elounda, it has a beautiful pebble beach and plenty of traditional, fish taverns along the waterfront.

Recommended Places to Stay in Elounda and Plaka

These are the best places to stay in Plaka and Elounda.

Where to stay in Plaka and Elounda:

  • Blue Palace Elounda: Right on the coast of Plaka, this beachfront hotel is 5 km from the center of Elounda. The 5-star hotel combines luxurious accommodation with award-winning cuisine and a state-of-the-art spa, featuring infinity pools, a water sports center, and 2 tennis courts. Accommodation includes elegant suites and bungalows with a private pool.
    Click here for more information and to get the latest prices.

4. Sitia

Port of Sitia - Things to do in Sitia, Crete
The port of Sitia.

IN SHORT: The city is a tranquil settlement in the east of Crete and an important port. There are good restaurants and shops, as well as easy access to the beautiful solitary beaches in the East.

Located on the easternmost area of the island, Sitia is a gorgeous and relaxing seaside town on the northern coast of Lasithi.

The city features a beautiful Fortress, and a quaint seaside promenade with beautiful hotels, shops, bars, and restaurants.

Sitia is a perfect place to stay to explore (by car, of course), the solitary east part of the island.

Where to stay in Crete for Beaches - vai beach
Vai Beach.

From here, it is easy to reach the imposing Toplou Monastery, visit beaches such as Vai and Kouremenos, and devote time to hiking Richtis Gorge on the northern coast.

Heading east you can explore the Gorge of the Dead and the important Minoan Palace of Zakros, or explore the remote beaches of Xerokampos facing the Libyan Sea.

You might also want to read: Best Things to Do in Sitia.

Recommended Places to Stay in Sitia

These are the hotels and resorts we suggest for a place to stay in Sitia, Crete.

Where to stay in Sitia:

What Kind of Accommodation to Book in Crete

Crete is an island with a wide variety of choices when it comes to accommodation. Suiting every need, every style, and — most importantly — every pocket.
What about you? Where are you planning to stay in Crete?

Hotels & Resorts:
Hotels: Crete has hotels in every category. From family-run hotels to international chains. From 1 to 5 stars.
Boutique Hotels: Usually located in important urban centers. Boutique hotels cater to just a few guests and offer dedicated services.
All-Inclusive Resorts: These are located in special areas, such as Elounda, Agia Pelagia, Platanias, or Kavros.

Check these regional hotel guides:
– Best Hotels in Chania: Accommodation Guide for All Budgets!
– Where to Stay in Rethymnon: Top Hotels in Rethymnon Town and Region
– Where to Stay in Heraklion: Insanely Helpful Accommodation Guide For Crete’s Capital
– Best Agios Nikolaos Hotels: Where to Stay in Agios Nikolaos, Lasithi, Crete
– Best Hotels in Elounda
– Best Hotels in Matala
– Best Hotels in Falasarna
– Best Hotels in Hersonissos

Property rental & Vacation homes:
Budget: This option includes renting a room or a studio (one-room apartment), both via online booking platforms as well as on-site upon arrival.
Mid-range: It’s possible to book small apartments and suburban houses at convenient prices, mostly if booking in advance.
Luxury: You can rent a bigger house or a villa with a pool, bbq, and other amenities.

Even when it comes to homes often promoted as “Airbnbs” I usually prefer to book via Booking.com as it is more reliable and there are no cleaning fees.

Check these rental homes guides:
– Airbnbs and Vacation Homes in Heraklion
– Airbnbs and Vacation Homes in Chania
– Airbnbs and Vacation Homes in Rethymnon
– Airbnbs and Vacation Homes in Agios Nikolaos and Lasithi region
– Airbnbs in and Rental Homes in Paleochora
– Airbnbs and Rental Homes in Elafonisi
– Airbnbs and Rental Homes in Gavdos
– Unique Stays in Crete: Blossom Living Residence in Heraklion

Check these villas for rent in Crete:
– Villas in Heraklion, Crete
– Villas in Chania, Crete
– Villas in Rethymnon, Crete
– Villas in Agios Nikolaos, Crete

Camping:
There are about 15 official camping sites in Crete. Check here for information about some of the facilities
Although Greek law forbids outdoor camping in public places, many tourists camp illegally, especially in the south.
No matter what option you choose, remember to respect the delicate environment of the island. 

Check this guide to camping in Crete:
– Camping in Crete: Where to Camp in Crete + 3 Tips To Have Outdoor Fun!

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More resources to enhance your Crete adventure

Start by checking out my ultimate guide to planning your trip to Crete, packed with helpful essential information. Explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and insider secrets for an unforgettable experience.

When it’s time to plan, explore the best places to visit on Crete Island, discover my tours and activities, and be amazed at Crete’s incredible beaches. If you are exploring specific areas like Heraklion, Rethymnon, Lasithi, and Chania, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Crete

No time to read all my accommodation guides? Check out these places to stay:

More useful travel resources

  • Check out all the digital travel guides I’ve specifically written about Crete. They are affordable and practical to check from your mobile.
  • Find convenient ferry tickets with Ferryhopper.
  • Welcome Pickups offers a convenient pre-paid airport transfer service, while Discover Cars is my favorite engine for finding a rental car on the island.
  • To book adventures, tours, and cultural experiences, I recommend Get Your Guide for its flexible cancellation policy.

Pin this Guide to Where to Stay in Crete for your Next Vacation!

Best places to stay in Crete, Greece


About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the Crete. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

1 thoughts on “Where to Stay in Crete: Insider’s Guide to the Best Places to Stay on the Island (2024 Update)

  1. Sarah says:

    Great informative article! I wish I came across this prior to my trip to Crete! We booked an airbnb in Heraklion for our entire trip not realizing how big the island is and how much there is to see.

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