Looking for the best luxury hotels to book in Crete? Crete has sandy beaches hidden among soaring mountains, palm tree forests growing in the middle of sprawling plains, modern cities that share coastlines with centuries-old buildings. The streets are lined with architecture that reflect styles of the Minoans, the Venetians and the Ottomans, as well as contemporary Greeks.
Experience Crete’s history, enjoy a variety of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, stay along the northern coast in Chania or Heraklion, or for those who prefer the great outdoors; head to Rethymnon or Agios Nikolaos for the many beautiful beaches. Visit the most amazing beaches of Greece here, or on Pinterest.
Crete Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Crete is from mid-May to June or from September to October. May brings with it warmer waters and beautiful wildflowers that can be spotted throughout the island’s natural attractions. If you plan on going during the summer, plan on taking your vacation in June, as July and August bring in lots of crowds, which may compromise the comfort of your stay if you are headed to the island for an escape. The heat from the high season cools down in September and October, along with room rates and tourists, making this the best time to visit.
Summer is everyone’s favorite time to vacation to Crete. Average temperatures average in the low 70s and 80s; tourists and residents alike hit the beach. But as temperatures rise, so do hotel prices, not to mention wait times at popular attractions and restaurants. Also, consider getting your day started early: You can avoid long lines by getting to the top sites first.
Best Crete Beaches
Its raw beauty is undeniable, with glassy aquamarine waters and swirls of pastel-pink sands kissing the shore – a natural phenomenon caused by thousands of shells washing up over the years and tingeing the white sands. Sunbeds and umbrellas for hire are scattered across the main beach and lagoon; the shallow waters are perfect for families.
This is one of the finest beaches in Crete with plenty of room to spread your towel, superbly clear water and see-forever views. A handful of tavernas and villas to rent dot the sloping hill backing the beach. While the waves rolling off the Mediterranean may not be ideal for families, windsurfers are in their element here, and everybody appreciates the famous Falassarna sunsets, when the burning orange slowly melts into that incredible sea.
Preveli Beachis is backed by the craggy cliffs of Kourtaliotiko Gorge and with jungly riverbanks lined with tall, lush palms. Access to the beach requires a knee-pounding climb down a steep path (and a real thigh-burner on the way back up) but waiting at the bottom are bone-white sands and clear waters for snorkeling.
Balos Beach has lily-white sands, vivid turquoise waters and a wonderfully wild and remote setting on the Gramvousa Peninsula. Backed by scrubby hills, the beach and its lagoon is not easy to reach, but that doesn’t put off the regulars who brave the precarious and rocky dirt-road drive to get here, or the day trippers who hop aboard a boat for a precious couple of hours.
Kommos Beach is a beautiful wide arc of sand backed by dunes and ringed by patchy green mountains. A steep, winding road leads down to the swirling Smurf-blue waters, pearl-white sands and views of ancient Minoan settlement ruins (off limits to the public). The wind produces some decent-sized waves here so it’s not suitable for young families, though the nudists at the northern end of the beach don’t seem to mind.
Best Crete Tours & Activities
Quad Safari Half Day
Go to hidden-away corners of Crete few travelers get to see with this guided all-terrain vehicle tour. Follow your guide off-road to quiet tracks far from the traffic and crowded resorts. Explore the near-abandoned ghost village of Achlada, where only a few locals still live, and Fodele, the birthplace of El Greco. Book Your Quad Safari Half Day Tour Here.
Crete Land Rover Safari with Lunch and Drinks
Explore the diverse palm forests, gorges, and beaches of Crete on a full-day Land Rover safari. Rumble along remote roads in the gorgeous Rethymno region, passing landmarks like Prasses Gorge and Potamon Dam and stopping to swim in the Libyan Sea. Get a taste of Cretan country life when you visit traditional villages like Spili, and try local cuisine with included lunch at a tavern. Skip the hassle of a rental car and let a sturdy 4×4 and guide show you the best of the island’s scenery and culture. Book Your Crete Land Rover Safari Tour Here.
Stand -Up Paddleboard and Snorkeling Tour in Crete
Explore the Cretan coastline from a standup paddleboard on this guided tour around beautiful Marathi Bay. After a short instruction and safety lesson, head out into the bay, exploring smaller islets, diving spots, and a small cave system along the way. Stop from time to time to snorkel with the marine life or catch your breath on the beach. This tour is good for all ages and experience levels, a great way to enjoy time with friends and family on the water. Book Your Stant-Up Paddleboard & Snorkeling Tour Here.
Off-Road Buggy Adventure in Crete
Explore Crete’s rugged interior on a full-day off-road buggy trip from Hersonissos. Drive or ride a 4-wheeler and travel through picturesque villages and countryside up to the Lasithi Plateau, framed by the Dikti Mountains. Follow black-topped roads and off-road trails, traverse olive groves and mountain slopes, and stop for photos and to visit the Kera Kardiotissa monastery (own expense). Traditional taverna lunch, driving instructions, and port and hotel drop-off in the Hersonissos area included. Book Your Off-Road Buggy Adventure Here.
Zeus Cave-Traditional-Villages-Old Windmills-Olive Oil Factory-Small Group
Spend a full day exploring Crete with a local guide. Visit Psychro Cave, the birthplace of Zeus, and a platanus tree that is according to local legend, the oldest tree on the island. You’ll also tour the villages of Mochos and Krasi and enjoy a traditional Cretan lunch in a local restaurant. Book Your Zeus Cave – Villages – Olive Oil Factory Tour Here.
Best Crete Restaurants
Avli has curving, cave-like ceilings and a luscious patio bursting with glossy orange trees, fat palms and potted ferns. It’s luxurious but rustic feeling – meaty stews are topped with edible flowers, meze bites overflow from pretty ceramics, while a lengthy wine list from local Greek wineries. Telephone: 30 28310 26213 Web: Avli
In a restored sea captain’s mansion, stone walls and arches provide the backdrop to some of the best food in Crete: traditional cuisine brought to life with modern techniques and presentation. Sensational cheeses, plentiful vegan and vegetarian options, and a brilliant wine list make this a must-go destination. Telephone: 30 28102 88887 Web: Peskesi
Pelagos $11 – 30
Simple is the keyword here: fresh catches from the fleet bobbing in the harbor just beyond are plainly grilled and accompanied by local vegetables and Cretan wines. Salads are a winner, often with unusual combinations, and the pasta is well presented, too, but really you are here for the daily seafood specials. Telephone: 30 28410 25737 Web: Pelagos
Kanali $11 – 30
Fish is the main event, often simply grilled and always impeccably sourced. It may be little more than a beach shack dressed up in Gucci but the kitchen really delivers—a humble lunch here of salad, sardines, and a glass of wine can be a sublime experience, a world away from the nearby resort offerings. Telephone: 30 28410 42075
Migomis offers some of the best views in town. Mediterranean-inspired dishes accompany Greek classics, and the steaks are rightly famous. It’s set in a building from the 1890s, and a piano player complements the atmosphere with a repertoire of classics. Telephone: 30 28410 24353 Web: Migomis
Best Nightlife in Crete
This is one of the island’s hottest dance clubs and it gets packed in the summer months when guest DJs are flown in to do their sets. Music veers from dance to Balearic trance, with a few Greek classics thrown in. Telephone: 30 28210 68578 Web: Mylos Club
For an authentic spot to listen to some of the best Cretan music you can’t find better than this seaside tavern. Parasiris and family hand out brimming carafes of raki or flip brizola pork chops on a battered barbecue. Telephone: 30 2831 072750 Web: Iliod
Punch-packing tumblers of raki or wine from the barrel are served with saucers of meze –crisp Cretan rusks drizzled with olive oil, tomato pulp and sprinkled with oregano; shrimps in a garlicky sauce – as well as more substantial dishes, including tender slow-cooked lamb. Most nights they have Cretan music – get there before 10pm to get best seats. Telephone: 30 2821 041570 Web: Ta Xalkina
Cocktails made with local produce can be startlingly good. Try their sweet and spicy Mastixa Sour made with mastixa liqueur from Chios blended with lemon juice and Angostura bitters, or their range of punch-packing raki-based beverages. Telephone: 30 69481 73755 Web: Stone Project
As its name suggests, this popular city bar sits beneath gently rustling leaves of elephant-sized, sweet-scented eucalyptus trees close to Heraklion’s massive Venetian walls. It’s a magnet for city dwellers. At night, candles flicker on tables, cocktails are served and there are chunky burgers and good-sized portions of homemade yogurt tsatsiki, freshly made Greek salad and other tasty snacks. Telephone: 30 69920 57825 Web: Eukalyptos