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CRETE Travel Guide

A PARADISE ISLAND FULL OF HIDDEN GEMS 

THE BEST HOTELS IN SANTORINI

BASICS

santorini travel guide 

CRETE Travel Guide:
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

We have gathered and answered the most frequently asked question about Crete

Low season (Nov – Mar): Sights, tourists attractions and restaurants scale back their hours or close down. Beach resorts close down. 

Shoulder season (Apr-Jun & Sep-Oct): Shoulder season is the best time for hiking and outdoor activities. The temperatures are moderate. Hot and rainy days can be expected interchangeably. Lower rates and higher availability for lodgings. 

High Season (Jul – Aug): You can expect hot days and balmy pleasant evenings. The sea is warm providing the best conditions for swimming. You can expect heavy traffic at popular beaches. Prices for lodgings are at their peak.

If you want to get a proper grasp of the island we would recommend staying at least 14 full days. With a high intensity of movement you will be able to see majority of the natural wonders of mountain and sea and several of Crete’s most famous historical treasures. You will also get a chance to feast on mountain-village cuisine and compare it with the seafront one. 

However, with 7 days in Crete you can get a good grasp of the Western side of the Island that will give you a fantastic holiday with the right balance of culture, architecture and paradise beaches. In your 7 days itinerary make sure to visit Hania town to wonder around its beautiful Venetian-harbor. Your cultural visit can be followed by an escape to our 3 favorite beaches in Crete: Balos, Elafonisi and Preveli (in no particular order)

Crete is a big island with a varied landscape across its 4 key regions: 

The region of Chania, or Hania, is located on the western side of Crete island. It is a perfect place if you are planning to visit small villages and Crete’s best beaches. There is also an amazing Chania Town with the characteristic Venetian, Turkish and traditional architecture. 

Choose Chania for: Picturesque town, architecture, family friendly holidays, romantic destination, luxury hotels, exotic beaches, amazing landscapes, great gastronomy. 

The region of Heraklion is known for its lively beaches on the northern side and idyllic family-friendly destinations on the southern side. This area is a home to the traditional mountainous villages and ancient sights including world-famous Minoan palaces of Knossos and Phaestos.

  • Choose Heraklion for: Popular destination for families, luxury hotels, party destination, archaeological sights, nightlife, nice beaches.

The region of Rethymno: Located between busy regions of Heraklion and Chania, Rethymno keeps calm pace even in the high season. You will love Rethymno for its Venetian style, traditional villages and pretty beaches for long, relaxing days.

Choose Rethymno for: Picturesque town, architecture, romantic destination, beautiful beaches and great gastronomy.

The region of Lassithi: Apart from the busy resort of Elounda, the picturesque region of Lassithi gives an authentic sight of the traditional Cretan life. Holidays in this secluded region will bring you to amazing beaches, interesting monasteries and seaside villages. 

Choose Lassithi for: Family friendly destination, luxury hotels, great food, nice beaches, remote places, calm atmosphere, authentic Cretan life, beautiful landscapes.

Crete is a very safe destination. Violent crime is rare, with a petty crime in the bigger cities is the only real concern for visitors – however it’s still uncommon. Stick to common sense rules, keep you valuable belongings close, especially on the beach. 

If you are driving, stay cautious as Crete’s roads are known for being under-developed and really winding, on top of that there is no real signage. 

Overall follow the rule: if you don’t do it at home, don’t do it in Crete

Car: The best way to explore the island while keeping your own pace is a car rental. Car rental services are widely available in towns and resorts. Remember that many roads are paved but winding, narrow and missing missing a proper signing systems. Some unpaved roads will require 4WD. 

Bus: Public transport services are widespread in the high season between major towns, but they don’t reach many small villages and beaches. Keep in mind that the timetable is significantly reduced over the low season. A 90-minute drive from Heraklion to Rethymnon costs €8.30 EUR ($9.35 USD).

Taxi:  Taxi services in Crete will charge approx. €1.40 per kilometer. Bear in mind that you will be charged a surcharge for the journey to/from the airport.

Low cost:  If you are tight on budget you can expect to spend around $50/ day. This budget includes a bunk bed in a lively hostel, public transport, street/market food and spending some time cooking by yourself, free attractions and hanging out on the beach

Mid- range: Bringing your budget up to $120/a day will cover a private room in Airbnb, eating out in a low to medium ranged restaurants/cafes, scooter rental and some paid attractions.

High budget:  on a luxury budget of $250/a day you can choose to stay in a comfortable 4-start hotel, eat out including one sophisticated meal in a high-end restaurant, get around with a taxi, and enjoy majority of paid attractions. 

KEY AREAS IN CRETE

CHANIA

A REGION FULL OF ARCHITECTURE SIGHTS AND A BEAUTIFUL NATURE

HERAKLION

A REGION WITH LIVELY BEACHES AND MOUNTAIN VILLAGES 

RETHYMNO

A REGION OF CROSS-CULTURAL  INFLUENCES AND REMOTE SHORES

LASSITHI

FOR A CULTURE TRIP

SHOREDITCH

FOR THE BEST NIGHTLIFE

SOUTHWARK

FOR FOODIES

LASSITHI

A REGION FULL OF BEAUTIFUL BEACHES

THE BEST 5-STAR HOTELS IN SANTORINI

THE BEST BUDGET HOTELS IN SANTORINI

THE BEST HOTELS IN SANTORINI

THE BEST HOTELS IN SANTORINI

HOTELS IN LONDON

CRETE HOTELS BY AREA 

CHANIA

Crete at its Best: The splendid Venetian Port of Hania, pristine, crystal-clear waters, pink-sand beaches connected through winding roads make Western Crete a perfect place to go for those looking for a place that has it all.

CASA DELFINO HOTEL & SPA *****

FROM $247/NIGHT

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MINOAN PALACE RESORT  *****

FROM $204/NIGHT

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PORTO VENEZIANO HOTEL ***

FROM $137/NIGHT

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BALOS BEACH ***

FROM $93/NIGHT

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RETHYMNO

Remote Shores and Cross-cultural Influences: There is something about Rethymno’s landscape that feels like a different planet where craggy inlets embrace perfect little beaches that are often footprints-free. 

Kapsaliana Village Hotel ****

From $244/night

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The Syntopia Hotel ****

From $226/night

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May Beach Hotel ***

From $115/night

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Pepi Boutique Hotel ****

FROM $94/NIGHT

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HERAKLION

Ancient Sites, Hiking, and Activities for Kids:  Being a home of the greatest concentration of Minoan Ruins Heraklion is a perfect place for archaeology fans – but not only. From the spectacular gorges to kids-friendly aquariums, adrenalin-packed water parks, and hands-on museums Heraklion is a delight for those who are looking for active holidays. 

Amirandes Grecohotel Resort *****

From $445/night

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Abaton Island Resort & Spa  *****

From $252/night

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Thalori Traditional Village ***

From $126/night

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Petousis Hotel & Suites ****

FROM $115/NIGHT

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LASSITHI

Beyond the Main Beach: Find yourself in some of Crete’s finest mountains, deep gorges, and quiet beaches surrounded by a lost-world like surroundings. If you are looking for a more personal, peaceful, and authentic place Lassithi should be on your list.

Beachfront Villa ****

FROM $821/NIGHT

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Radisson Blu Beach Resort*****

FROM $244/NIGHT

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Sitia Beach *****

FROM $127/NIGHT

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Meliti Hotel ****

FROM $85/NIGHT

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CRETE HOTEL GUIDE

CRETE HOTEL GUIDE

HAWKSMOOR SEVEN DIALS

FOR THE BEST STEAK

CRETE – TOP 5 ACTIVITIES 

CRETE Travel Guide

1

Hania's Old Town >>

Hania's Old Town

Hania's Old town, famous for its Venetian Harbour, pastel-colored townhouses, and picturesque promenade will take you through some of the island's best dining spots, boutique hotels, quirky cafes, and boutique shops with some unique handmade goods made by the local artist.

2

Elafonisi Beach >>

Elafonisi Beach

This paradise beach, hidden deeply in the wild southwest, beyond the mountains and little villages. You will fall in love with Elafonisi for its clear turquoise waters and pink-and-cream sands. Be aware that it gets busy in the high season, however, during autumn it is heavenly.

3

Samaria Gorge >>

Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge is the most visited Canyon in Crete that will take you from peaceful Omalos all the way to the Lybian Sea in one, long ( approx. 6 hours) walk. Make sure that you start early as it is a whole-day escapade.

4

Palace of Knossos >>

Palace of Knossos

Travel back in time all the way to the Bronze Age, and explore the culture of Minoans who attained an impressive level of civilization for what's dated 4000 years ago. All up until the 20th-century significant evidence in frescoes, scriptures, seals, and jewelry was buried under the Cretan soil, now available for the public in Knossos, Crete's most visited tourist attraction.

5

Kournas Lake >>

Kournas Lake

We find Kournas Lake a hidden gem of Crete - the only freshwater lake in Crete placed in a beautiful landscape. Lying in a valley among the hills, about 4 km from Georgioupolis in Chania Prefecture (west Crete). It is the ideal place for an afternoon walk or a day trip nearby. Many people like to have an afternoon picnic there. The landscape is lovely and relaxing, whether you want to go for a walk in the countryside, swim or ride a pedalo on the lake.

WHERE TO EAT ON CRETE

MORE ACTIVITIES ON CRETE

ELIA RESTAURANT

CRETAN DISHES TURNED INTO ARTISTIC CREATIONS

THEODOSI RESTAURANT

TRADITIONAL FOOD EXPERIENCE

FERRYMAN TAVERN

INTIMATE, FAMILY-OWNED RESTAURANT WITH

HERITAGE REACHING BACK TO 1974

HERB'S GARDEN

THE FRESHEST FISH AND SEAFOOD DELICACIES

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