Crete - Where to Stay for first time travelers

Where to Stay in Crete for a first time visit? An insider’s guide 2024

Find out where to stay in Crete, one of the best Greek islands, with my guide!

Crete, the island where the Minoan civilization emerged, is the largest and most popular of all Greek islands. Chania, located on the northwest coast, is a perfect place for first-time visitors, and it is by far the prettiest city on the island. The gorgeous harbour, sea-facing tavernas alongside, and pedestrian back streets paved with sandstones in the Old Town are the impressive scenery that captures attention.

The variety of impressions gathered from the tiniest village and beautiful beaches to awe-inspiring landscapes make Crete a unique island. Moreover, the region’s cuisine is impressive and you’ll surely never get enough of it!

But before we jump into specifics, let’s answer one important question:

We know that different types of people require different advice on travel accommodations. In this guide include the best areas for

  • the first time visitor
  • Families
  • Couples
  • Luxury & Design
  • Solo-Traveler
  • on a budget

Are you more of a visual learner/travel planner?

Lucky for you, we’ve included a map with all of our favorite neighborhoods and handpicked hotels for all of your travel needs.

Check it out below to get a better idea of where you should stay for your first or next visit to the Crete.

This is the extension of our guide to 7 days in Crete.

(This guide is always up to date, the last updated April 2024.)

But, first things first:

Here is the question: Where to stay in Crete for the first time?

The answer is simple: Chania

People say that you shouldn’t plan to visit Chania without saving at least three to four days for it. It has an airport, a ferry harbour and accommodations for all tastes and needs. Additionally, it features a charming and attractive old town and beaches with emerald waters, which are surrounded by picturesque natural beauties.

The Venetian Lighthouse, the recognizable jewel of Chania, was built in the 16th century by Venetians and reconstructed by Egyptians and is considered to be one of the oldest lighthouses worldwide.

In Chalepa, a historic suburb of Chania, is the Archeological Museum. Its permanent collection presents a very rich archeological material.

The subtle beauty of Splantzia Square, which covers the eastern part of the Old Town, will amaze you. Very close to the harbour and not as famous as the lighthouse, it is a place where cafes, bars and restaurants will attract your attention.

The closest beach is a walking distance from the Old Town, and the sandy beaches of Chania are one of the most beautiful in Greece. Swim and sunbathe by the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea and take in the gorgeous mountainside view.

Here’s a full map for you to understand the different areas.

Please note: those might not be the exact names of the districts, neither its absolute borders. I just tried to simplify this information.

📍Best Area:Rethymno
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Best for Families:Elia Agia Marina Hotel
👩‍❤️‍👨 Best for Couples:Royal Sun
💎 Best Luxury HotelCayo Exclusive Resort Spa
🤩 Best Design Hotel:Kadrissos Hotel
😎 Best for Groups:Rimondi Boutique Hotel
🦸 Best for Solo-Traveller:Chania Hostel
💃 Best Hotel for Nightlife:Drossia Palms Hotel and Nisos Beach Suites
🤑 Cheapest Place to stay:Sunshine Studios
👌 Safest Area: Chania

1. Best areas and handpicked hotels for Crete

Continue scrolling or pick your group and travel type on the menu:

1.1 Families
1.2 Couples
1.3 Luxury Traveler
1.4 Design Traveler
1.5 Groups
1.6 Solo-Traveler
1.7 Nightlife-seeking traveler
1.8 Budget Traveler

Bellow, you can find a palette of specially curated accommodations for where to stay in Crete:

1.1 Families

Families do have their own summer beach lifestyle. Agia Marina is perfect for a family holiday, offering a fun and active holiday with a rich choice of water sports such as jet-skiing, windsurfing, paragliding, volleyball and beach tennis. Mitros Taverna and Casa di Mare are perfect places to enjoy the seaside and authentic cuisine.

Can you believe there are 40 soft sand beaches in Chania? Balos, Elafonissi and Falassarna are among the best. Apart from these set-up beaches, there are hidden bays and deserted coves where you and your family can enjoy privacy.

Handpicked accommodations for families

Elia Agia Marina Hotel, Agia Marina

This charming place to stay in Crete, Elia Agia Marina Hotel, is perfect for a family holiday, located next to a crystal water beach. And if the waves are crashing too hard, the outdoor pool will provide plenty of fun for the entire family!

Book Elia Agia Marina Hotel here

Private room at Elia Agia Marina Hotel

Enjoy your stay at Elia Agia Marina Hotel

Hyperion City Hotel and Spa, Chania

This beachfront family-suitable hotel, Hyperion City Hotel and Spa, is very close to the city monuments. In other words, you can easily go out and explore the surroundings. Every corner of the city speaks its own story, so a fun time for the entire family is more than guaranteed!

Book Hyperion City Hotel & Spa here

Relax and unwind at Hyperion City Hotel & Spa

Enjoy your stay at Hyperion City Hotel & Spa

 1.2 Couples

Choosing Crete to spend a holiday with your partner is a great decision.

Rethymno is a splendid place for a delightful couple’s holiday. There are plenty of organized tours. The half-day safari Rethymno Quad, full-day west Crete tour, wine and olive oil tasting, and ancient palaces of Minoan wine routes are just a few of the offers. Rethymno also boasts a great nightlife scene with rooftop bars featuring breathtaking views and cozy pubs, perfect for date nights.

Again, Chania, known for the crystal water, soft sandy beaches and hidden bays, is a great solution for where to stay in Crete, especially for lovebirds looking for their secluded and tranquil nest.

Handpicked accommodations for couples

Muses Suites, Rethymno

On the beachfront and just 1 km from the Rethymno beach, Muses Suites offers you a room terrace, a private bathroom, and exceptional coziness. The patio with sea views is lovely and relaxing.

Book Μuses Suites here

Personal space at Μuses Suites

Relax and unwind at Μuses Suites

Royal Sun, Chania

Rooms at Royal Sun have private balconies, soft-colored furniture, and a well-equipped private bathroom. There is a pool with a sun terrace and a restaurant outside. Besides breakfast, you can taste Greek and Mediterranean dishes later in the day. Finally, the hotel is in a great location, which mostly attracts couples.

Book Royal Sun here

Own bedroom at Royal Sun

Have a great time at Royal Sun

1.3 Luxury traveler

Renowned for its exotic beaches, such as Kolokithia, Elounda, Spinalonga and more, Elounda entices luxury travellers with ease.

Alternatively, Heraklion is the fourth largest city in Greece, famous for the Museum of Minoan and the Palace of Knossos. Aside from its historic vibe, this top place to stay in Crete also boasts a selection of sophisticated establishments where you can feel pleasure beyond your wildest expectations.

Handpicked accommodations for the luxury traveler

Cayo Exclusive Resort Spa, Elounida

This resort, Cayo Exclusive Resort Spa, is located in Elounda, and even before getting there, you can envision the offered commodity. It is within 400 m of Plaka beach, but if you prefer stillness, there is a seasonal pool. The rooms are extraordinarily equipped. Moreover, the food in the 4 restaurants within the resort is balanced to the unexpected needs of the guests, so besides the regular breakfast and dining possibilities, you can ask for a vegetarian, vegan, or gluten and dairy-free menu. As per your needs, car rentals and even private transport are available.

Book Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa here

Single bedroom at Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa

Have a pleasant stay at Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa

City Lion by Semavi, Heraklion

Accommodation in the center of Heraklion town, City Lion by Semavi, is a good chance for a luxury tourist to be close to the beach, historical monuments, and the buzzing center. The rooms are excellently equipped and offer a kitchen with a toaster and an oven, a private shower with all other expected conveniences. So, have you been considering switching your home for the one in Heraklion for a couple of days? There it is.

Book City Lion by Semavi here

Single bedroom at City Lion by Semavi

Have a pleasant stay at City Lion by Semavi

1.4 Design-lovers

The island of Crete is a landmass surrounded by the crystal waters of the Aegean Sea and a perfect place for those seeking an artistic print of their holiday scenery. If you dive into what the island can offer, you might be thrilled, but let’s squeeze the impressions with two places: Chania and Rethymno.

Chania, sometimes spelled Hania, enables you to troll through maze-like alleys and adorable Venetian mansions, fountains and churches. Visiting the Typography and Archeological Museums will digest your artistic needs.

Five art galleries will literally attract you to Rethymno. The best one? The Contemporary Art Gallery.

Handpicked accommodations for the design lover

Kadrissos Hotel, Chania

Kadrissos Hotel, a cute, self-catering hotel with bars and restaurants in the indoor and outdoor areas, is a place where its interiors will surely impress you. Although simple at first glance, the soft colors perfectly reflect the beauty of the surroundings.

Book Kedrissos Hotel here

Make yourself at home at Kedrissos HotelEnjoy your time at Kedrissos Hotel

North Coast Seaside Suites, Rethymno

The North Coast Seaside Suites in Rethymno are the definition of contemporary designs. With simple lines, ultra-comfortable (and stylish!) furniture, and mesmerizing seascape views, this place to stay in Crete paints a picture of modern tranquillity.

Book North Coast Seaside Suites here

Experience comfort at North Coast Seaside Suites

Have a wonderful stay at North Coast Seaside Suites

1.5 Groups

One can hardly decide if Rethymno or Chania is better to be visited by group travellers. Nevertheless, the Old Town, alongside beaches and the nightlife, makes Rethymno a perfect place for a group holiday.

The same as Heraklion, which is one of the most Greek urban centers that unfolds its historical and tourist attractive possibilities. Due to its proximity to other Greek islands, you can even book a day trip to Santorini!

Handpicked accommodations for groups

Rimondi Boutique Hotel – Small Luxury Hotels of the world, Rethymno

Rimondi Boutique Hotel, this luxury hotel, offers a patio view with a pool and palm trees. All of the suites are decorated with fine fabrics and have a minibar, modern bathrooms, and other deluxe amenities. That said, if your group is looking for a luxurious spot where to stay in Crete, this is the ideal option!

Book Rimondi Boutique Hotel here

Private room at Rimondi Boutique Hotel - Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Enjoy your stay at Rimondi Boutique Hotel - Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Infinity City Boutique Hotel, Heraklion

The Infinity City Boutique Hotel features a very sociable atmosphere, which is perfect for groups! Aside from that, you will love its design and comfort, and the breakfast options are not too shabby as well!

Book Infinity City Boutique Hotel here

Personal space at Infinity City Boutique Hotel

Relax and unwind at Infinity City Boutique Hotel

1.6 Solo-travelers

A solo traveller needs a safe stay and places to enjoy newly met company. In this case, Chania and Heraklion are the best places to stay in Crete for lone wolves because of the many interesting places to hang out at night and also turquoise blue water beaches to spend the sunny mornings.

Handpicked accommodations for a solo traveler

Chania Hostel, Chania

You will enjoy the stay in Chania Hostel, a 15-minute walk from the center hostel. The dormitories have comfortable beds and shared bathrooms. Furthermore, the cute garden is perfect for having your breakfast!

Book Chania Hostel here

Make yourself at home at Chania Hostel Youth

Have a great time at Chania Hostel Youth

Mistral Hostel – For Solo Travellers, Heraklion

This solo traveler paradise, Mistral Hostel, is within 200m away from the beach Meleme. It offers two swimming pools, an outdoor hot tub, and adorable sun lounges with umbrellas. Air-conditioned rooms with a private balcony, breakfast buffet, dry sauna, hair and nail salon, and body massage therapy room are just a bit of extra comfort to pamper yourself in.

Book Mistral Hotel – For Solo Travelers here

Own bedroom at Mistral Hotel

Have a great time at Mistral Hotel

1.7 Nightlife Traveler

Visit Malia, the place of hot and hectic nightlife. Overflowing clubs and many parties spilling out onto the streets because the offers are irresistible to reject, is what you become aware of when there. Strip and the Candy are assumed to be one of the best clubs on the beach road.

Handpicked accommodations for nightlife

Drossia Palms Hotel and Nisos Beach Suites, Malia

Such an adorable complex, Drossia Palms Hotel and Nisos Beach Suites, is located amidst gardens and palms just 150m from the beach, offering spacious and tastefully decorated rooms. When the parties go too hard, this place to stay in Crete will offer the best relaxation! Speaking of parties, there are tons of them in the hotel’s vicinity.

Book Drossia Palms Hotel and Nisos Beach Suites here

 Single bedroom at Drossia Palms Hotel and Nisos Beach Suites

Have a pleasant stay at Drossia Palms Hotel and Nisos Beach Suites

1.8 For the Budget Traveler

Very sensitive, but not a less important category of travellers. They can stay in the towns mentioned above, and villages on Crete, but Malia and Maleme are considered ideal.

Malia is a coastal town in the northeast part of Crete. The crystal clear waters and the Minoan Palace make it attractive. According to previous travellers, it is not an expensive town. Even the vibrant nightlife is affordable!

Maleme village is attractive just because there are not any nightclubs there. This is a great place to feel the sea, relax and simply unwind.

Handpicked accommodations for budget traveler

Sunshine Studios, Malia

Will you need more than a nice room with a city view, a desk, a kitchenette, and a private bathroom while staying just 1.3km from the beach? If the answer is no, then Sunshine Studios might have chosen the right spot for where to stay in Crete on a budget!

Book Sunshine Studios here

Make yourself at home at Sunshine Studios Enjoy your time at Sunshine Studios

Alexandros M, Maleme Village

The beach is very close to this accommodation, Alexandros M, just 200m away. Additionally, it offers a swimming pool for kids and a normal-size one. The rooms are fitted with iron beds and have kitchenettes, but there are also many restaurants in the neighborhood with excellent deals.

Book Alexandros M here

Experience comfort at Alexandros M Have a wonderful stay at Alexandros M

2. Best Neighborhood to Stay in Crete

Wherever you settle in Crete will not be a mistake, because it offers exotic beauties, historic sites as well as a gastronomic variety of enjoyment. But, some areas are more attractive than the rest. This would be a list of the most preferred places in Crete:


It is one of the most beautiful places. Located between the prefectures of Chania and Heraklion, it attracts visitors with its Venetian architecture style. It is a nest of both popular holiday sites and secluded ones as well.


It is a northwest coastal city that has everything the tourists ask for. A charming Old Town, a classic Venetian Harbor, amazing beaches and a variety of Cretan cuisine tastes.


This is the biggest town in Crete. It is the urban center and a historical hub at the same time, suitable for sightseeing and for holidays.

Agia Marina

The delightful northwest coastal village with maybe the friendliest locals, is a significant jewel of history and tradition in Crete. Agia Marina sandy beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete.

3. FAQs

What is the best neighborhood to stay in Crete?

The guide suggests that Chania is the ideal neighborhood for first-time visitors to Crete. It boasts a charming Old Town, a picturesque Venetian Harbor, beautiful beaches, and a variety of accommodations catering to different tastes and needs.

Where should you not stay in Crete?

The guide does not explicitly mention areas to avoid in Crete. However, individual preferences may vary, and it's advisable to research specific neighborhoods based on personal preferences and travel priorities.

What should I avoid in Crete?

While the guide emphasizes the diverse and attractive features of different neighborhoods in Crete, it doesn't specifically outline things to avoid. Travelers should exercise general caution, adhere to local customs, and be aware of their surroundings for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Where should I stay in Crete for the first time?

Chania is recommended as the ideal place for first-time visitors to Crete. It features an airport, ferry harbor, a charming Old Town, and beautiful beaches with emerald waters. The city provides accommodations for various tastes and needs, making it a perfect starting point for exploring the island.

4. Map + All Sights

Crete is the largest and most diverse island in Greece, offering something for everyone. To help you plan your trip, we have created a map section that shows the best areas to stay in Crete, based on your preferences and budget.

We hope that this map will help you find the best place to stay in Crete for your first time visit. Enjoy your stay in this beautiful island and discover its amazing culture, cuisine, and nature.

5. Summary where to stay in Crete

Staying on the largest Greek island will be a treat, and now that you know where to stay in Crete, you’re in for a vacation of a lifetime!

If you need any more questions regarding this location or any other mentioned on the site, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

Other European Destinations

Before you run off, here is a few more handwritten articles for you. These will help you to find more unique experiences and enjoy your holidays at fullest.

Any Questions?

There you have it. I hope you have no questions and found your home in my home town.

However, please remember: I am not perfect, and it is likely I missed a few things to point out.

Therefore: Do you have questions? Is anything not clear?

Please please please drop me a comment below with your email! I will reply to you ASAP via email and here in the comments.

In fact, your questions help me to make this article better. So I help you to help me.

Travel Europe Smarter in 2024

Safety: Travel Insurance
Hey Mondo and Safetywing are the best travel insurances.

Find better Flight Deals
Famous Skyscanner is the #1 tool to find great deals for flying to Europe.

Need a Guide?
Take Walks run small walking tours all over Europe. They offer high-quality walking tours with exceptional guides.

Need internet in Europe?
Unleash your mobile freedom in Europe with eSIM card with instant activation, comprehensive coverage, cost savings, and unmatched convenience, all in one tiny chip! More info and discount code here.

Reliable Car Rental
Discover is a top website for renting cars. Read our full review.

More Money-Saving Travel websites

Check out our guide to the best 16 Travel Websites for Europe.
Bookmark this site; it will easily save you money using these recommended websites.

best Travel Sites for Europe