Crete Travel Guide
Are you looking to spend a relaxing holiday enjoying turquoise sea and beaches but without breaking the bank? At the same time maybe you are wondering if this type of place really exists in Europe?
In this article you will be inspired to visit the Mediterranean Greek island: Crete. You can view budget tips, money saving advice, and recommendations for cheap things do and where to stay.
Why Travel to Crete?
- Easy and cheap to get to from a number of international destinations
- Great value for money
- Authentic experience and less touristy compared to the other Greek islands
- Tasty food
- Spectacular sights and lots of different activities for all interests
- Fantastic beaches, pristine waters, free walking tours and nightlife
Best Time to Visit
Which time of the year you visit really comes down to what appeals to you. Summer is the most popular period but this is also the most expensive in terms of flights and accommodation. We do recommend going to Crete in summer as you will be able to enjoy the beaches and outdoor activities in a warm climate. August is a month to avoid if you are not a fan of the heat.
If you visit out of season you will get great value for money, the months of April/May/September/October are recommended as the weather is warm but cooler than peak summer and the island is not overloaded with tourists.
How Many Days to Stay
One week is enough time to soak up the culture, atmosphere and sights of this island. If you are on restricted time frame or budget a long weekend of two/three days can be enough time to enjoy a relaxed break. If you have more time to spend you might like to search Greece tours where you can visit more destinations in the country in the same trip.
How to Get to Crete
First of whole, one of the fastest and convenient way to reach the island is by air. There are lots of travel companies who offer flights to Crete throughout the year. The cost of flights from popular destinations usually will not cost more than £100 per person, if booked in advance.
Airlines that fly to Crete from the United Kingdom include:
- British Airways, TUI, Thomas Cook, easyJet, Norwegian Air, Primera Air, Jet2, Ryanair,
Other airlines flying to Crete from international destinations include:
- Aegean Airlines, Aeroflot, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Blue Air, Brussels Airlines, Cobalt, Czech Airlines, EL AL Israel, eurowings, Finnair, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Luxair, Norwegian, SAS, Smart Wings, SWISS and Vueling.
To get the best deals you will need to book at least a month earlier and also travel out of the busy summer season. We recommend searching flights on Skyscanner which is the best flight comparison website.
Once you will reach the airport in Chania, one of the main cities of Crete, you can choose to travel by bus (links are guaranteed in all the territory and connect the main points and beaches), taxi or rent a car. If you choose the independent car option, you will get to visit everywhere you want at your own pace and time. You will also get to visit hidden places and off the beaten track locations and be able to plan your itinerary without relying on bus timetables or taxis which can be eat away at your budget.
Renting a Car in Crete
It is better to book a car rental before the arrival as you will get a discounted rate. Usually you will not pay more than €150-200 for one week (high season) (HYUNDAI GETZ 1.2 CC, Kissamos Rent a Car). The prices depend on how many people will use the vehicle and other characteristics or services you require.
You will need to check the small print though as if you are aged under 21 sometimes it isn't possible to rent a car from some companies as it is not always permitted in Greece. When you drive, remember to stay right next to the yellow line of the highway side.
There are lots of options when it comes to places to stay in Crete including hotels, hostels, villas, apartments and AirBnB. If you are looking for somewhere cheap to stay, use Hostelbookers or Booking.com to search for budget accommodation and book well in advance to get the best prices.
Even in the most touristic period of the year, you can find accommodation at affordable prices, for instance near Kissamos at good value for money there are the Mediterranean Apartment & Studios. You can book a little apartment or studio for 50€ per night double room with cooker and en-suite bathroom.
Best Hostels in Crete
These hostels are some of the cheapest and most popular on the island:
- Kumba Hostel, Chania
- So Young Bed Station, Heralkio
Cocoon City Hostel, Chania
Best Hotels in Crete
These hotels offer great value:
- Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa, Chania
- GDM Megaron Hotel, Heraklion
- Caramel Grecotel Boutique Resort, Rethymnon
- Elounda Beach Hotel, Elounda
- Mantraki Hotel Apartments, Agios Nikolaos
Best Places to Visit in Crete
Kissamos (from Chania airport take E65 30 min) is a little but well-connected town of the Western part of Crete. This could be the start point of your excursions and day trips. The town will allow you to reach many of the most beautiful places in this area, and at the same time enjoy its promenade during the night and taste typical greek and Mediterranean dishes in one of its restaurants. One of this is the The Cellar Tavern and its main dishes are pasta with seafood and Greek stuffed peppers (medium prices: 2 – 15 €).
Here are some of the other most popular destinations to add to your Crete itinerary:
- Agios Nikolaos
- Hora Sfakion
- Kato Zakros
Best Beaches in Crete
From Kissamos you can arrive in less than 30 min. in one of the most famous beaches of Crete: Falassarna Beach. Here you will see a long white sandy with lots of locals and places to eat/drink. Take your time to have a walk on the riverside and regenerate yourself relaxing in front of the sea. As this beach is really popular among youth people, you will find group of friends playing football or volleyball at all the hours of the day. If you can wait until the last lights of the day, you will remain amazed by the sunset while you are enjoying a fresh and fruity cocktail at Falassarna Playa Paraiso (cocktails from 5 €).
The most spectacular beach of the entire island and one of the two elected most beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean Sea is Elafonissi Beach and Natural Reserve Park. If you have always desired visit and have a bath in the crystalline water of the Caribbean Sea, here you will find the same colours and breathtaking view. Even this beach is serviced with a car parking area and bars, you can hire a beach umbrella and two deckchairs for less than 10 € per day. The sand is white and pink in some points and the colours of the sea goes from green to blue. After spending the day here, have your dinner in one of the restaurants immersed in the nature and olive trees plantations and end the day with another typical Greek dish.
The other most beautiful beach is Balos Lagoon and Gramvousa Island. These are hidden and paradisiac places, protected by mountains as treasures. To reach the lagoon and the little uninhabited island, buy the one day by boat excursion ticket at the information centre of Kissamos, near the port. The excursion ticket costs about 25€ and without doubts it is worth the visit! Try to ask to your apartment/studio/hotel room owner or receptionist and they will buy for you the tickets if you don’t want or have no possibility to arrive to the info point.
After sailing for 20 min the northern coast of the island, your eyes will remain enraptured at the sight of this paradise: uncontaminated light-blue waters and a sandbar connecting two part of the mainland. First the boat will stop in Gramvousa Island, a Greek old fortress and uninhabited fascinating place. There is a little beach where you can have a bath and then reach the highest point of the islet where you can enjoy one of the wildest, enchanting panorama you have ever seen! Later, the boat will bring you to the lagoon, where you can continue to spend the rest of your day.
Recommended Excursions & Day Trips
If you are not only interested in beaches and nature, organize a daily or afternoon trip to Chania (30 km from Kissamos). Chania is an old village with narrow streets where you can breathe the typical Mediterranean atmosphere with its colours, people and smells. There is even a new main road with shopping centres, but it would be better to immerse yourself in the little family shops down the streets and buy there some souvenirs. You should not leave the old town and its little harbour without having dinner in one of the seaside restaurants, like the Lithos Restaurant, which serves delicious grill mix dishes (for two people 25€).
If you are not tired and interested in the nightlife, try to go to Platanias (20 min from Chania), a little Las Vegas with thousand of shops, rooftop locals, discos and ethnic restaurants to keep on with your night.
Budget & Costs
For one week in Crete you will not spend more than 600 € (a/r flights, accommodation, meals, shopping, car and gasoline, excursion and other).
If you need any other information, do not hesitate to contact me and I hope this travel guide gave information you were looking for and/or make you want to book a flight for Crete!
By Maddalena Visentin