Where To Stay in Crete: Best Hotels and Places To Stay With Kids, For Couples and Best Beaches With or Without A Car

  • Post last modified:Last Updated on May 16, 2022
a collage of where to stay in crete for the best hotels and resorts for families with kids and couples
Where are the best locations to stay in Crete for families and couples, with or without a car

What should you consider when picking the best places to stay in Crete to suit your needs and itinerary? This travel guide shares insider tips on where to stay in Crete with kids, for a romantic couples getaway, to the best hotels for beautiful beaches and epic nightlife, with or without renting a car.

Planning a vacation in Greece and wondering where’s the best place to stay in Crete? You’re not alone! As fellow travel addicts who have enjoyed the most EPIC vacation in Crete, we asked ourselves the same question. And it’s a great question to ask, by the way.

You see, Crete is not only the largest island in Greece. But also the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. Crete is around a third of the size of Hawaii and more than double the size of Mallorca.

This is why it’s pretty important that you pick the best location to stay in Crete. After all, no one wants to spend their long-awaited vacation driving in a car instead of enjoying the beach, right?

But finding the best places or towns to stay in Crete isn’t one-size-fits-all. It depends on your personal needs and what you have planned for your Crete travel itinerary.

And that’s where we come in! This ridiculously detailed Crete travel guide will help you decide where to stay on the island to best suit YOU.

From the best hotels and resorts for families with kids and luxury adult-only hotels for couples, the best part of Crete to stay in for beautiful beaches and unforgettable nightlife, to the best towns to base yourself in Crete with or without a car.

safetywing advert for travel insurance that covers covid treatment and quarantine costs

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Check out our Disclosure for more information.

Should I Rent A Car in Crete?

Before we jump straight into the best locations and places to stay in Crete. Let us answer one of the most frequently asked questions travelers ask when visiting Crete for the first time. And that question is: ‘Should I rent a car in Crete?’

a red vw car rental parked on the side of the road in crete with a backdrop of the ocean
Do you need to rent a car for getting around Crete?

This is a really important question to ask yourself before planning your itinerary in Crete. It will determine what activities you can do on the island and help you narrow down where it’s best for you to stay in Crete.

We will be writing a detailed guide for driving in Crete in the future. But for now, we’ll give you a quick rundown so you can decide whether you need to rent a car in Crete.

Do You Need A Car in Crete: The Pros & Cons

Crete is one gorgeous island and one of our favorite travel destinations. But we won’t lie – driving in Crete is not for the faint-hearted.

Driving on the main highway on the north of Crete is pretty straightforward. It’s the other main roads and often, unpaved dirt paths that are the problem.

Not only will you have to prepare yourself to navigate around plenty of holes and hairpin turns. But also dodge cats, shrews, mountain goats, and other wildlife crossing the road at night with nothing but your headlights to guide you.

an unpaved dirt path that is commonly found driving in crete greece
Driving in Crete can be challenging at times

Driving in Crete is not easy. But the good news is that you do not need a car in Crete to visit the most famous beaches, attractions, and sightseeing spots.

There are pros to renting a car and driving in Crete though. It’s the only way you’ll be able to explore Crete off the beaten track and discover hidden gems and beaches away from the crowds. Plus, it will allow you to have a more flexible travel itinerary and let you go where your heart takes you.

So do you need a car in Crete? Ultimately, it’s up to you and what type of vacation you want in Crete. If you’re not sure yet, we’d recommend reading our 21 Best Beaches in Crete guide to help you decide.

We’ll also list both options for where to stay in Crete with or without a car to help you plan your own unforgettable Crete vacation.

Where To Stay in Crete Without a Car

So, where is the best part of Crete to stay without a car? We’d recommend staying in the north part of Crete.

Not only do these towns and villages have everything you’ll need from restaurants, cafes, shops, and a huge variety of hotels all within walking distance. But it’s also the best location to stay in if you want to take public transport in Crete.

Most bus transfers for guided and private tours also include free pickup and drop-off from the towns in north Crete. So it’s the best place to base yourself to visit the most popular Crete attractions without a car.

But where exactly should you stay in the north part of Crete? That will depend on what you want to see and do in Crete.

It takes at least 4 hours to drive from east to west Crete. We’d recommend picking a town on the east, west, or south part of Crete depending on what’s on your travel itinerary.

Save Me For Later

greece travel guide for tips on where to stay in crete island
Pin me on Pinterest!

Best Places To Stay in West Crete Without a Car

If you plan to explore west Crete without a car, we’d recommend staying in Chania, Kissamos, or any town or village in between.

It’s the best place to base yourself to see the most famous beaches in Crete. Like pink sand Elafonisi beach, dreamy Balos beach, and the former pirate island, Gramvousa.

Make sure to book your Crete excursions online to skip the queue:

Where To Stay in Chania

Chania is one of the oldest towns in Crete. The city is most famous for its rich history, culture and distinct old town, new town atmosphere.

History and architecture lovers will enjoy spending hours wandering down the narrow streets of old town Chania. Admiring how the city’s facades capture all the different civilizations that have flourished here throughout the centuries.

And if history isn’t your forte (like us), Chania offers some of the best nightlife in Crete and is a haven for foodies.

the historic old town of chania with a view of the harbor and mosque at sunset
The historic old town of Chania at sunset

So where should you stay in Chania? We’d recommend staying in the old town of Chania. This is the best part of Chania to stay without a car. You’ll be within walking distance of museums, and archaeological sites, as well as the best shopping, restaurants, and nightlife in Chania.

Hotels are cheaper in the new town of Chania. But it’s very busy and lacks the charismatic vibe that old town Chania is known for.

Best Places to Stay in Chania, Crete

Hostels and Budget-Friendly Hotels in Chania, Crete

If you’re backpacking in Crete, here are more budget-friendly hostel options in Chania.

Mid-Range Hotels in Chania

For more options, click on the map below to compare hotel prices in Chania.

where to stay in chania in crete with a list of budget, mid-range and luxury hotel options for old town chania
Click on the map to compare hotel prices in Chania

Luxury Hotels in Chania

Where To Stay in Kissamos

Kissamos is another great town to base yourself in if you want to explore west Crete without a car.

The port city of Kissamos does not have the old town charm that Chania has. But hotels, vacation apartments, dining out, and shopping in Kissamos are cheaper compared to Chania.

a view of the port city of kissamos in crete with residential buildings, the ocean and mountains in the background
The port city of Kissamos in west Crete

All the amenities like beaches, restaurants, cafes, and shops as well as car and boat rental shops are all within walking distance. Plus you’re close to the harbor to take the daily ferries to Balos beach, Gramvousa Island, and even Antikythera Island, off the northwest coast of Crete.

Best Places to Stay in Kissamos, Crete

There is plenty of hotel and vacation apartment options in Kissamos. But here are some recommendations to get you started:

Click on the map below to compare hotel prices in Kissamos and find more options:

a map of kissamos with tags to compare hotel prices
Click on the map to compare hotel prices in Kissamos, Crete

Best Place To Base Yourself in Central and South Crete Without a Car

The best location to stay in if you’re planning to explore central and south Crete without a car is in Rethymno or Heraklion.

These are the two best towns to base yourself in Crete. Especially if you want to visit the most famous beaches in west Crete AND some of the best Crete attractions in central and south Crete without renting a car, like:

And, of course, bus transfers for guided and private tours include free pickup and drop-off to the most beautiful beaches on west Crete too:

Where To Stay in Rethymno

Rethymno is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Crete. But also one of the best preserved medieval cities in Greece.

Like Chania, Rethymno is famous for its old town charm and rich, cultural history. But Rethymno is different in that the old town felt smaller, cozier and less commercial compared to Chania.

a man walking through a narrow alleyway in rethymno crete with restaurants and cafes
It’s common to find these cute, little alleyways in Rethymno

We loved meandering through the picturesque alleyways in Rethymno. There are plenty of cute cafes and mouth-water restaurants to choose from and it’s especially romantic after sunset.

Rethymno is also known for great nightlife and has a much nicer beach compared to Chania.

Best Places to Stay in Rethymno, Crete

So where is the best place to stay in Rethymno? We recommend staying in old town Rethymno. Not only will you get the best atmosphere here. But it’s also the best place to stay in Crete without a car.

Old town Rethymno is within walking distance to the Old Venetian Harbour for catching ferries. And the central bus station is also nearby if you plan on taking public transport in Crete.

Hostels and Budget-Friendly Hotels in Rethymno, Crete

Mid-Range Hotels in Rethymno

Click on the map below to compare hotel prices in Rethymno and find more options to suit your budget.

a map of rethymno in crete for comparing prices of hotels and resorts
Click on the map to compare prices of hotels and resorts in Rethymno

Luxury Hotels in Rethymno

Where To Stay in Heraklion

If you’re wondering where you should stay in Crete for sightseeing, then Heraklion is the answer.

It’s the best part of Crete to stay in if seeing famous archaeological sites like the Palace of Knossos, Phaistos Palace, and visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is on your Crete travel itinerary.

And that’s not all! Heraklion is the best town to base yourself in if you plan to explore northeast Crete without a car.

the historic venetian fortress in heraklion
The capital city of Crete, Heraklion, is the best place to stay for sightseeing

Like visiting the gorgeous coastal town of Agios Nikolaos and exploring Spinalonga Island, sailing to Dia Island, taking a day trip from Crete to Santorini, attending a traditional Cretan cooking class, or going on an olive oil farm and wine tasting tour.

Heraklion is also one of the best locations to stay in Crete for families with kids. There are a few waterparks and aquariums in Heraklion that the kids will love. And it’s easy to get around by foot and public transport too.

Best Places to Stay in Heraklion

Heraklion is the capital and the largest city in Crete. So it can be a bit busy if you’re looking for a quiet and relaxing vacation. But for those who love to do and see as much as possible on vacation, you’ll never run out of things to do in Heraklion.

So where exactly should you stay in Heraklion to maximize sightseeing? We’d recommend staying in the old city center of Heraklion, west of the harbor and the main highway entering the city. Most of the top attractions in Heraklion on located here. So you can easily visit them without a car.

Hostels and Budget Hotels in Heraklion, Crete

Mid-Range Hotels in Heraklion

Click on the map below to compare hotel prices in Heraklion and find more options.

suggestions of where to stay in heraklion for sightseeing
Click on the map to compare hotel prices in Heraklion

Luxury Hotels in Heraklion

Best Places To Stay in East Crete Without a Car

If you plan to explore east Crete, we’d recommend staying in Agios Nikolaos or Sitia. It’s the best location to stay in eastern Crete to go off the beaten track without renting a car.

East Crete is relatively less explored and hence less crowded vs the west. Hotels, restaurants, and shopping in east Crete tend to be cheaper too. And let’s not forget about the stunning beaches.

Oh yes – there are plenty of gorgeous yet quiet beaches in east Crete. The two most famous beaches in east Crete are Voulisma and Vai beach. But there are plenty of hidden gem beaches to discover on the east coast of Crete with an adventurous spirit.

Public transport is available in both these towns but they’re less frequent vs western Crete. So it may require a bit more planning to explore east Crete without a car.

Where To Stay in Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos is a magnificent coastal town famous for its beauty and lively atmosphere. There are plenty of restaurant and cafe options in and around the town center and it’s a great shopping destination too.

And for those who want to explore beyond Agios Nikolaos. You can easily go on a semi-submarine cruise, visit Zeus’s Cave, take a day trip to Chrissi Island, visit the famous Vai Palm Beach, explore the mountainous region of Lassithi by safari car and see the charming fishing village of Elounda on a guided tour.

harbor view of agios nikolaos in crete
The stunning coastal town of Agios Nikolaos

If you plan to explore northeast Crete without a car, we’d recommend staying around the town center of Agios Nikolaos near the harbor. Everything you’ll need will be within walking distance and this part of town has the best atmosphere too.

Best Hotels and Places to Stay in Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos has hotels and vacation apartments to suit everyone’s budget. Here are some recommendations to get you started:

Where To Stay in Sitia

The beautiful seaside town of Sitia is probably one of the least touristy towns in Crete. It’s one of the best places to base yourself if you prefer to mingle with locals and avoid the tourist crowds.

It’s easy to get to Sitia from the airport. You can either fly directly into Sitia Airport. Or fly into Heraklion Airport and take the ferry to Sitia.

Once you’ve arrived in Sitia, it’s easy to get around town without a car. But if you want to explore the quiet beaches beyond Sitia, you’ll need to rent a car.

the coastal town of sitia in east crete has very few tourists
Mingle with locals in the gorgeous town of Sitia

We’d recommend staying close to the town center of Sitia so that you’re within walking distance of everything you’ll need.

There are beautiful beachfront hotels in Sitia. But many of them are located a few kilometers from the town center. So you’ll need to walk a bit if you plan to head into Sitia town for restaurants or shopping.

Best Places to Stay in Sitia

Sitia may be less touristy than other towns in Crete. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t fabulous hotels and resorts here.

Click on the map to check the full list and compare accommodation and hotel prices in Sitia. Here are some hotel recommendations to get you started.

a map of sitia in east crete to compare prices for hotels and resorts
Click on the map to compare hotel prices in Sitia

Best Place To Base Yourself in Crete

We’ve already covered where to stay in Crete without a car. But what if you’re planning to rent a car in Crete? What is the best place or town to base yourself in to explore the best of Crete?

We rented a car and drove over 2,000 km in Crete. Exploring as much as humanly possible on both east and west Crete. So we can share a few tips on which town to best stay in Crete depending on who you’re traveling with and what’s on your travel itinerary.

Yes – we said that this Crete travel guide would be ridiculously detailed. So here’s a summary of the best towns to stay in Crete for families with kids, couples, the best beaches, and the most epic nightlife.

Where To Stay in Crete For Families with Kids

There are a number of family-friendly towns to stay in Crete with kids. Not only are these towns close to the beach. But these beaches are especially great for families because they have access to amenities like outdoor showers, change rooms, sunbeds and umbrella rentals, and most importantly, lifeguards on duty.

They’re also within walking distance to restaurants, cafes, shops, and hotels or vacation apartments. So you can easily plan a family vacation in Crete with or without a car.

Here’s a summary of where to stay in north, east, west, and south Crete for families with kids.

Best Towns To Stay in Crete For Families With Kids

Istro, North East Crete

Istro is one of the best towns to stay in Crete if the kids love the beach. It’s within walking distance of Voulisma beach (one of the most popular beaches in northeast Crete) and Agiou Panteleimonos beach.

voulisma is a family-friendly beach in east crete
Breathtaking Voulisma beach near Istro

With a car, you can easily take a short drive (15 to 20 minutes) to explore the charming coastal towns of Agios Nikolaos and Elounda.

We’d recommend staying in the town of Istro so you can easily access both beaches on foot. Here are some options:

Find more hotel options in Istro and compare prices here.

Stalis, North East Crete

Another great place to base yourself in Crete is Stalis. It’s a great all-around town to stay in east Crete for couples or a group of friends. But it’s particularly popular for families with kids.

stalis beach with sunbeds, umbrellas and lifeguards on duty
Stalis beach is very popular for families with kids

This is actually where we based ourselves when we explored east and south Crete. We loved that there were many beachfront hotel options and that there are plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops within walking distance.

In our opinion, Stalis is one of the best towns to stay in Crete with or without a car. You could easily rent a scooter, buggy or take public transport if you want to explore the neighboring towns like Malia and Hersonissos without renting a car.

Here are some family-friendly places to stay in Stalis. If you’re traveling to Crete as a couple and prefer staying at a hotel, you can compare prices here.

Platanias, North West Crete

Platanias is another great town in Crete for families with kids. Similar to Stalis, you can get to everything you need within walking distance. But Platanias is a much bigger and more developed town compared to Stalis.

a view of resort town platanias in crete greece
Platanias is another great family-friendly town to stay in

So we’d recommend staying in the middle of Platanias (towards Platanias beach and SeaKing Adventures). It’s the best location to stay to explore either side of Platanias town without a car.

The beach at Platanias is family-friendly too. But it’s a pebble beach rather than the traditional sandy beach you’ll find at Stalis. So no building sandcastles here. But the kids will love finding all the beautiful pebbles along the shore.

There are plenty of hotels and vacation rentals in Platanias. Here are some options to get you started:

Matala Town, South Crete

Matala is another great place to base yourself in Crete with kids. Matala town is known for its charismatic and hipster vibe. Not only is its gorgeous beach within walking distance. But it’s also situated right next to one of the top archaeological attractions in south Crete – the Matala Caves.

family-friendly matala beach next to archaelogical site matala caves in crete
Matala beach is surrounded by some of the most unique landscapes

Matala beach is absolutely breathtaking and very family-friendly too. There are lifeguards on duty, outdoor change rooms and showers, and of course, sunbeds, umbrellas and cocktails on demand.

Matala is a pretty small town. So you won’t need to rent a car unless you want to explore other beautiful south Crete beaches. You will however need to book a transfer from Heraklion Airport to get to Matala town if you don’t rent a car in Crete.

Is your heart set on Matala? Here are some vacation apartment options in Matala.

Click on the map below to compare prices and find more hotel options in Matala, Crete:

map of matala town with prices for hotels and vacation apartment rentals in south crete
Click on the map to compare prices for hotels in Matala

Falasarna, West Crete

If you’re taking your family to Crete to see its famous pink sand beaches, then the best town to base yourself is in Falasarna in west Crete.

Not only is it a shorter drive to pink sand Elafonissi beach. But you’ll find pink sand at Falasarna beach too! Only without the tourist crowds!

falassarna beach is a lesser known pink sand beach in crete greece
Enjoy the pink sand beach of Falasarna away from the crowds

Falassarna is another family-friendly beach with lifeguards on duty and one of the best beaches for watching sunsets. What more could you ask for?

There are some stunning hotels and vacation rentals in Falasarna. Here are some options to get you started:

You can find more hotel options in Falasarna and compare prices here.

Palekastro, East Crete

Palekastro is another great place to base yourself in east Crete. Especially if you’re planning to take the kids to the famous Vai beach.

Vai beach is renowned for not only having the largest palm tree forest in Crete but entire Europe! It doesn’t hurt that the beach itself is incredibly stunning too.

vai palm beach in east crete
Palekastro is near one of the most famous beaches on east Crete – Vai beach

This beautiful beach on east Crete comes with all the amenities. Parking is close by, there are restaurants, toilets, outdoor showers, sunbeds, and umbrella rentals. So it’s very family-friendly and you could easily spend the entire day here with the family.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any hotels or vacation apartments within walking distance of Vai beach. Palekastro is the nearest town so you will need to rent a car if you plan on staying here.

Here are some recommendations to get you started:

Find more hotel options in Palekastro and compare prices here.

Where To Stay in Crete For Couples

Crete is a great all-around destination for families with kids, a group of friends, or couples. But what we love about Crete is that there are adults-only hotels and resorts that are especially couple friendly.

So if you’re planning a couples romantic getaway in Crete to celebrate a honeymoon, birthday, wedding anniversary, or simply just spoiling your other half for no reason, here are some suggestions for where to stay in Crete for couples.

Best Crete Hotels for Couples in North East Crete

a collection of luxury resorts and spas in hersonissos crete for where to stay for couples on honeymoon
Luxury resorts in Crete – perfect for a couples romantic getaway

Best Crete Hotels for Couples in North West Crete

a collage of romantic luxury hotels in west crete that are ideal for couples
A glimpse of the best boutique hotels in west Crete

Best Crete Hotels for Couples in East Crete

the best crete hotels and resorts on east crete - the elounda beach hotel and villas and the domes of elounda autograph collection
The best Crete resorts on the east coast of the island

Best Places To Stay in Crete for All Inclusive Resorts

Don’t be fooled by Crete’s rustic and wild natural beauty. There are some insanely incredible (and luxury) all-inclusive resorts in Crete.

These all-inclusive resorts are the best places to stay in Crete if your vacation goal is to relax and have all your meals and drinks taken care of for you.

There are lots of all-inclusive resorts in Crete. So much so, that we’ll divide them into where to stay for all inclusive resorts for couples (adults-only) and the best options for families with kids.

Best All Inclusive Crete Resorts For Couples (Adults Only)

a collection of adult-only all inclusive resorts that are best places to stay for couples in crete
Luxury all-inclusive resorts for the perfect couples romantic getaway

Best All Inclusive Crete Resorts For Family Vacations With Kids

a collection of the best all inclusive resorts in crete that are best for families with kids
Some of these family-friendly all inclusive resorts have their own waterparks

Where To Stay in Crete for Best Beaches

One of the most common questions people ask when planning a vacation in Crete is, ‘Where to stay for the best beaches?’. As fellow beach lovers and wanna-be mermaid (and merman), we asked ourselves the same question.

And the answer depends on how long you’re staying in Crete and what kind of beaches you want to see.

You see, Crete is a massive island. You’ll need at least 1 week to explore the best beaches in each quadrant of Crete.

We’d recommend staying in west Crete if you want to see the most iconic and famous beaches in Crete like Seitan Limania beach, Balos and Elafonissi beach. You can find the best places to stay in Crete for these beaches in our West Crete Beaches guide.

collage of best beaches to visit on the west coast of crete
The most beautiful beaches in west Crete

If you prefer going off the beaten track, we’d recommend staying in east Crete. It’s relatively less explored and hence less crowded compared to west Crete. But the beaches there are just as incredible, if not more.

Where’s the best place to stay in east Crete for beaches? Find the best places to stay in our Best Beaches in East Crete travel guide.

And finally, if you’re looking for the most unique beaches to visit in Crete, we’d recommend staying in south Crete.

Here you’ll find the ‘Caribbean Island of Europe’, a red sand beach that feels like it belongs to the planet Mars, and a palm forest beach that will transport you to an African oasis.

Read our South Crete Beaches guide to find out the best places to stay to explore these unique attractions.

a collage of best beaches to visit in south crete which include preveli, matala beach, red beach and chrissi island in greece
Find the most unique beaches in south Crete

Best Beach Hotels in Crete

And if you simply can’t get enough of beaches (we feel you), here are some of the best beachfront hotels you can find in Crete.

Best Place To Stay in Crete for Nightlife

And finally, where are the best places to stay in Crete for nightlife? 

You’ll find some sort of nightlife in most towns in Crete (like Platanias and Stalis). But if you’re looking for nightclubs and not just bars and pubs, then these towns in Crete are the best to stay for nightlife.

tips on where to stay for the best nightlife in crete island
Party the night away and enjoy some of the best nightlife in Crete

Malia

Malia is so famous for its nightlife, that it has an entire strip dedicated to it – the Malia party strip. It’s basically a mini Las Vegas for trendy bars and epic nightclubs.

If you’re traveling to Crete for the nightlife, we’d recommend staying close to the city center where it’s within walking distance of the nightlife. Here are some recommendations:

Find more hotel options in Malia and compare prices here:

Hersonissos

Another best place to stay in Crete for nightlife is Hersonissos – just a short 15-minute drive from Malia. Here you can dance the night away and party till the sun comes up, right next to the beach!

The most popular nightclubs in Hersonissos are the New York Beach Club, King Scorpio Beach Club, Drunk Havana, and Palm Beach Club.

There are many hotels and vacation apartments in Hersonissos. Here are some recommendations to get you started:

Heraklion

The capital city of Crete, Heraklion, offers some pretty legendary nightlife too. Some of the most famous bars and clubs are Swing Thing, The Bitters Bar, and Jailhouse Rock Bar.

If you’re planning to party in Heraklion, make sure to stay in the old city center of Heraklion, west of the harbor to be within walking distance of the best nightlife.

Book your hotel in Heraklion and compare prices here.

Chania

Chania is not only famous for its old town charm but its epic nightlife too. Party it up with locals at Senso, Barraki, and DNA Night Club.

We’d recommend staying in old town Chania to be within walking distance of all the best bars and nightclubs.


Thank You For Reading

If you enjoyed reading this guide, share it with your friends and family. Have a question or need advice? Reach us via Email, WhatsApp or Messenger. And if you’d like to leave a comment, tweet us. Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe!

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases. Although it won’t cost you a cent, these earnings help us continue doing what we love, creating amazing content just for you!

Buy Us A Coffee

Our content is free and always will be. But if this guide has saved you time, money or made your life easier, feel free to buy us a coffee. We’ll really appreciate your support.

Support Our Work

Can’t donate? No problem! You can still support us by buying products and services that we recommend. Check out our resource page for all offers and discount codes.