Shrouded in myth and beauty, this magical island has been captivating visitors for thousands of years.

Home to one of the world’s most ancient civilizations, pristine white beaches, dramatic peaks, and a unique cuisine, Crete truly has it all for travelers.

In modern times, Crete, like so many Greek islands, can seem like a tourist trap. But there’s so much more to this incredible place if you know where to look.

These days it’s hard to find a place in Europe that isn’t swarming with tourists in the high season, and that can put people off from visiting, including me.

I spent months living on this island and still haven’t gotten my fill. Backpacking Crete is an iconic experience and it’s something you’ve got to do at least once! That’s why I’ve created this Crete travel guide to give you all the travel tips, tricks, and hacks you’ll need in order to explore this vibrant island to the fullest.

I’m going to show you just how to navigate the more touristy parts of the island, as well as how to get off the beaten path and explore the lesser-known gems that await intrepid travelers.

Let’s get into it!

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    Agia Triada Monastery
    A Greek isle unlike any other.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

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    Why Visit Crete?

    Sharing the stage with islands like Mykonos and Santorini, it’s worth asking: is Crete worth visiting? This island flies under the radar. Most people traveling in Greece choose to skip it in favor of more famous spots.

    And that’s their loss because a trip to Crete is one of the best ways to spend your time in the Mediterranean!

    Chania Harbor Boats Crete
    Chania’s rustic Venetian Harbor, still alive and kicking.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    This is the largest island in Greece and it is so packed with its own culture, food, traditions, gorgeous towns, and stunning natural beauty that it may as well be a different country.

    Staying on Crete means having everything you could want: awesome mountains and canyons, delicious cuisine, beaches ripped straight from a postcard, rich history, and exciting nightlife.

     All for way less money than you’d spend in a place like Santorini.

     This is not an island you want to skip!

    How Much Time Should I Spend in Crete?

    At least a week!

    This is Greece’s biggest island and there’s a lot to do, so you’re going to miss out on a ton if you’re only here for a few days. While it’s still possible to explore some of what awaits you on Crete if you’ve only got 2-3 days, the full experience begs for a longer amount of time.

    A Sample 7-Day Itinerary for Crete

    Seven days is the perfect amount of time for a started Crete itinerary. Here’s what I recommend:

    Crete 7-day itinerary

    Day 1 in Crete

    Staying in Chania is the best way to start your adventure on this raucous island. Whether you’re arriving at the ferry port or at the airport, they’re both a good distance from Chania itself. Just make sure you skip out on taking a taxi! They’re expensive and buses to Chania’s center run regularly, so there’s no need to waste 30 Euros.

    Today is for exploring: venture around Chania’s gorgeous Old Town, spend time at Nea Chora Beach, and check out Chania’s many taverns and cafés, the possibilities are endless and it’s up to you to decide how you spend your day in this city.

    Chania Harbor Golden Hour Crete
    Sunsets on the harbor are glorious.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    The one thing you absolutely have to do is catch the sunset from the Venetian Harbor. Greece is famous for its unforgettable sunsets and this harbor might be one of the best spots in the country for experiencing Golden Hour.

    Chania is my recommended base for the first 3 days of this trip because A. Cocoon City Hostel is awesome and B. Chania is the best spot for reaching all the locations on these first few days of the trip!

    Day 2 in Crete

    Today you’re venturing to Balos Lagoon, one of Crete’s most iconic spots known for its pristine white sand and glowing turquoise waters. This enclave on Crete’s western coast truly is stunning.

    This is without a doubt one of Crete’s can’t-miss spots, but getting here isn’t as straightforward as catching a bus. The road to Balos isn’t paved after Kissamos and is pretty rough by European travel standards, so it’s not as easily accessible as most of the island.

    bird eye view of Balos
    Beautiful even in cloudy weather.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    You’ve got three good options: you can rent a car from Chania, or take the bus to Kissamos and then rent bicycles from one of the many rental shops in town. You can also take a ferry tour that takes you not only to Balos but to a few small islands offshore as well, but that is gonna be on the pricier side of things.

    If you’re renting a car, it’s very important that you don’t tell the company you’re renting from that you plan on taking the car to Balos, as they probably won’t rent to you if you let that slip.

    Unless you’re driving an absolute shitbox, whatever car you’ve got can more than handle anything the Balos road can throw at it, so don’t worry about your car not being able to make it.

    a bicycle next to a small stone church overlooking the water in crete
    My not-so-trusty, wrist-murdering steed in front of a chapel on the way to Balos.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    While the road isn’t that bad, I would recommend against driving there yourself unless you’ve got some off-roading experience. Taking a bicycle is the adventurous option!

    You CAN spend the night in Kissamos, but I’d recommend going back to Chania as Kissamos is just kind of a boring place, and not as well-linked to other parts of the island.

    Day 3 in Crete: Exploring Elafonisi

    Another day, another iconic place to visit in Crete (and my personal favorite among the island’s famous beaches): Elafonisi Beach.

    Time for a truth bomb: Elafonisi is advertised both in Crete itself and seemingly everywhere on the internet as the “pink sand beach,” conjuring images in your mind of strolling on a vibrant pink beach and I’m here to tell you: that’s a lie.

    Pink Sand and clear water seen while backpacking crete
    Balos Lagoon often has more pink sand than Elafonisi, but this is the most you should expect to see anywhere on Crete regardless of when you’re there.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    There’s almost no pink sand, and you might see a few small strands of pink here and there depending on the tide, but the sand on this beach is overwhelmingly a normal color.

    That being said, the shamelessly false advertising doesn’t mean that Elafonisi isn’t a paradise: smooth sand, gorgeous water at a temperature that’s perfect to swim in year-round, and wildly colorful sunsets define this spectacular beach. (Pro tip: do not skip out on sunset here! It’ll be way less crowded and the view is unreal.)

    group of friends hanging out on the beach in crete greece
    Exploring this beach with a damn good crew of backpackers is something you’ve got to do.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    Buses run here in summer where you’ll probably have to fight for good spots both on the beach and in the water. But in the off-season months, it’s easy to rent a car with friends and have the entire beach to yourself.

    If you’re coming here by car, I recommend driving along the stunning coastal road. That being said, if you plan on going back to Chania or Kissamos to spend the night, don’t drive on this road in the dark and stick to the main road instead.

    Days 4 and 5: Plakias

    Now you’re exploring what is one of the island’s most surreally beautiful villages: Plakias. While the town itself is small, this region is packed full of things to do.

    Whether you stayed the night in or near Elafonisi or are coming from Chania/Rethymno, Plakias is easy to get to, and the trip will take you a few hours, but naturally a trip from Elafonisi will take longer.

    It’s better to spend two days here simply because there just isn’t enough time in one day to see all this amazing town has to offer.

    Plakias Stormy Shores while backpacking crete
    Plakias has one of the most powerful, emotional coastlines I’ve ever seen.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    Hike the old Plakias tunnels, kayak across the bay, or explore the dramatic coastline, it’s your choice: Plakias is full of adventure, and if you’re looking to just chill, the beaches here are nothing to sneeze at either.

    One thing you’ve absolutely got to do is hike to the summit of the nearby Timios Stavros Church. Keep in mind that this is a significant time investment, but a spectacular panoramic view of the southern coast awaits if you decide to make the trip! The view of the region’s dramatic cliffs and hills dropping down into the Mediterranean is unmatched.

    The Plakias Youth Hostel is your best budget option for accommodation in this otherwise pricy town, with bunks costing 12-15 Euros a night and an easy, short walk to the town center, beach, and nearby hills.

    Plakias Golden Hour witha. breen hill and the coastline in the far background
    And the sunsets here are straight out of a fairy tale.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    Kalypso Beach is a short distance from Plakias and while it is spellbinding, it’s also small, so competition for a spot is gonna be stiff during the summer months.

    This achingly beautiful town is one of my favorite spots in all of Crete, and it’s one of the few places I often daydream of getting back to. No matter how much time you spend in Plakias, trust me that it won’t be enough.

    Day 6: Rethymno

    Returning to Crete’s northern coast brings you to the iconic city of Rethymno, one of Crete’s largest cities and equally full both of ancient history and breathtaking scenery.

    Like Chania, Rethymno was settled by Venetians and thus has a historic fortress, a gorgeous old town, and a traditional port.

    Wandering through the old town at sunset is a magical experience despite the shops and throngs of tourists you’ll inevitably encounter, with gorgeous splashes of color waiting around every corner.

    two tourists walking on Rethymno Streets
    Wandering Rethymno’s streets during the low season.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    While this isn’t a party destination, you can still find yourself effortlessly spending the entire night hopping from one tavern to the next until the sun comes up, and you might even find yourself being invited by locals for a good time as well.

    Rethymno is also home to a long, spectacular beach that makes for a great spot to relax and sleep off a hangover!

    Day 7: Heraklion

    Time to get your party hats on: if there is nightlife to be found on Crete, you’re gonna find it in the bowels of the island’s biggest city.

    You won’t find much in the way of scenery but Heraklion is undeniably fun and full of plenty of taverns and clubs to explore on a scale you won’t find anywhere else on Crete.

    an old stone ruin in crete
    Cool? Yes. Historically accurate? Ehh.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    History buffs will also want to catch the museum near the port as well as the ancient Minoan Palace at Knossos. It’s possible to get a joint ticket for both that’ll cost you 15 Euros at most.

    Being as obsessed with history as I am, I personally liked the museum but I’ll be honest, unless you really love ancient history, you can skip out on hitting up Knossos as there’s really not much left to see.

    4000+ years of earthquakes and empires have left little more than rubble for modern visitors to explore, aside from a few modern-day reconstructions that may or may not be accurate.

    Major Attractions in Crete

    If you’re only in Crete for a short time, there are a few places that are can’t-miss.

    The Old Town of Chania

    Chania OT Streets
    The old town is insanely colorful.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    One of Greece’s most beautiful old towns, Chania’s historic center is enchanting and unforgettable. Chania (pronounced “Hania”) has been inhabited for thousands of years and it shows: you can see ruins dating back over 4000 years mixed in with the city’s Venetian surroundings.

    Elafonisi Beach

    This might be Crete’s most beautiful beach: turquoise blue waters wait at the edge of a smooth, wide coastline with plenty of spots to chill out and swim.

    It doesn’t matter if you’re here in the middle of summer or winter, the water here is always perfect.

    Samaria Gorge

    Samaria Gorge sits in the island’s mountainous center and is probably Crete’s most well-known hiking spot.

    Photos don’t do it justice.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    This is a breathtaking experience and if I’m being honest, I did not expect to see something like this on Crete before arriving! The canyon walls are astounding to take in and surprisingly imposing. Samaria has some of the best hiking in Crete and that’s saying a lot.

    Sadly, Samaria is only officially open during the summer months but it’s still easy to explore the surrounding area most of the year. Be ready to commit an entire day to this experience regardless of what time of year you’re visiting.

    Spending More Time in Crete?

    Crete is a HUGE island and there’s countless more things to do and off the beaten path gems to discover, so keep in mind that this is just a tiny sample of what Crete has to offer!

    Agios Nikalaos, Omalos, Kournas Lake, Seitan Limani Beach, and more are but a few examples of what awaits travelers who choose to spend more time on this one-of-a-kind island.

    No matter how much time you spend here, once you leave this island’s shores, I promise that you’ll find yourself wanting more.

    Top Things to Do in Crete

    You’ll find that, like Greece in general, most of the best things to do in Crete are not expensive, and often free.

    Here are a few of my favorites:

    1. Explore the historic districts of Chania and Rethymno

    These two cities are thankfully just a short bus ride apart, and venturing through either of them will give you your daily dose of color and then some.

    Chania Harbor Night
    The harborfront is gorgeous in both towns.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    The two most beautiful settlements in Crete and possibly all of Greece (that’s some strong competition!), a visit to the island simply isn’t complete without having roamed through both of these idyllic seaside destinations.

    2. Hit up Falasarna Beach

    This beach is one of the best examples of Crete’s dramatic coastline with a massive, smooth beach surrounded on land by olive tree groves, hills, and steep cliffs. Falasarna is unfairly beautiful.

    This coastline really is awesome.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    Falasarna is rare among Cretan beaches in that its relatively powerful waves make it one of the best surfing spots on the island, so if you’re looking for a good spot to catch some waves this one’s pretty hard to beat! Though some rocky portions along the beach mean it isn’t ideal for beginners, though.

    3. Hike Samaria Gorge

    Samaria Gorge is one of Crete’s most well-known hiking spots and for good reason. The gorge’s steep, massive walls will leave you in awe, and the lush mountainside forests capped off with snowy peaks (depending on time of year) make for truly majestic scenery.

    I was speechless when I arrived at Samaria because I didn’t think that kind of scenery would exist on Crete and damn, was I wrong. Samaria is a can’t-miss. Keep in mind that this is a full-day commitment with most tours starting around 6 in the morning.

    4. Kournas Lake

    Kournas is a gorgeous turquoise-blue lake not far from Rethymno, and it’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon.

    There’s plenty to do in summer when the nearby shops and taverns will be in full swing for the season. In winter everything will be closed, but you will have the entire lake to yourself, and swimming is basically perfect.

    5. Explore Plakias

    Easy to get to and probably the greenest region on Crete, this picturesque – albeit windy – town is a place you can’t skip out on while you’re exploring the island.

    Whether you looking to go hiking, climbing, kayaking, swimming, or just relaxing at this amazing Greek beach with an impossibly beautiful backdrop, Plakias has it all.

    6. Hike to Gouverneto Monastery

    Definitely on the less touristy side of things, this hike will have you venturing through the mountains of Crete’s northern coastline in near-total silence and isolation while exploring ancient ruins and soaking in breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

    Gov Hike
    I am not kidding about those dramatic coastal views.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    To top it all off, once you’ve finished the hike you can cool off at the crescent-shaped white sand beach of Stavros Bay. This is the perfect day trip to do from Chania, and you can find the coordinates to the trailhead here.

    Pro tip: towards the beginning of the hike, you might find yourself needing to go through a gate in a fence depending on which direction you’re coming from. It should be open and if not, going around is only a slight detour.

    7. Explore Agios Nikolaos

    Agios Nikolaos is one of Crete’s port towns and is unbelievably scenic in that postcard sort of way that comes to mind when you think of Greece: sun-soaked white buildings overlooking that gorgeous blue Mediterranean Sea with boats dotting the harbor.

    This is a can’t-miss spot and a great base for exploring the eastern side of the island. Ferries from other islands arrive and depart here, and buses to other hubs of Crete run regularly as well.

    8. Find a Random Gorge to Hike

    Literally no matter where you are on the island, there is always a gorge to hike that’s just a short distance away. They’re cheap and easy to get to, and in return, you’ll get a short trek that’s full of spontaneous fun.

    Gorge Hike
    Scenes from a typical Cretan hike.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    The owners of your hostel will always be happy to oblige if you want specific recommendations and directions, and depending on the time of year they’ll be organizing group trips for the hike!

    You’ll find yourself wandering through canyons, clambering over boulders, and strolling through olive tree groves in near-perfect weather AND you’ll be back in time to down a Mythos beer and catch the sunset on the beach.

    9. Check out Seitan Limani Beach

    Even though it’s tiny and crowded in high season, this is one of the more unique beaches you’ll ever see so it’s still worth the trip!

    If you’re visiting during the shoulder season or winter, it’s especially worth giving this place a shot as there’s a decent chance you might have it all to yourself.

    The Best Places to Stay in Crete

    When it comes to affordable backpacker accommodation, Crete is a bit of a mixed bag. There are a few places that are truly awesome and cheap (for Europe), and depending on where you want to stay you won’t find hostels at all but will have to opt for pricier Airbnbs or guesthouses.

    Cocoon City Hostel – Chania

    Relaxing in Cocoon’s kitchen.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    By far the best hostel on the island and probably one of the best in Europe, this amazing hostel has everything: safe, clean facilities, an awesome staff, a great location, a bar and a pool, lightning-fast internet, not one but two fully furnished kitchens, and a ton more!

    A dorm bed costs around 15 dollars a night, while you can expect to pay about $45 for a private room.

    I stayed at this hostel for a while and loved every second of it, and no matter what time of year you’re visiting, you’re going to have an unforgettable experience.

     Plakias Youth Hostel

    Plakias Youth Hostel, Crete Greece

    This is easily the cheapest game in town for staying in the otherwise pricy Plakias with dorms costing around 12-15 dollars/night.

    Not far from Plakias’ gorgeous coastline, a few restaurants and taverns, and the rugged hills, this hostel is in the middle of all the action.

     Heraklion Youth Hostel

    Heraklion Youth Hostel, Crete Greece

    If you’re looking for a cheap place to stay in the island’s capital, Heraklion Youth Hostel is there to answer the call.

    Dorms are a bit more expensive here at around $22-23 dollars per night, but you get clean facilities, a good staff, and a fantastic location in the middle of the city near the port.

    Rethymno Youth Hostel

    Purple Hour
    Always, always catch the sunset in Rethymno.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    Right in the heart of Rethymno’s historic old town, this hostel is the best base for exploring one of Crete’s prettiest cities and its hilly surroundings.

    Great facilities, staff, location, and more, a dorm bed here should cost you around $17 per night.

    It’s good to know that there are obviously several more hostels on the island that I haven’t listed here, and while they’re totally fine places to stay (as far as I know) I also don’t think they belong in the same tier as these truly legendary hostels I’ve mentioned above!

    Crete Travel Costs

    Greece is one of the cheapest places in Europe for backpacking, and Crete might be the best island for stretching out your money. This still isn’t Southeast Asia, but it’s more than possible to explore this mythical island on a budget: the cost of living in Crete is low for both digital nomads and short-term travelers alike.

    As with most places, your accommodation costs will be the bulk of your daily expenses, but it’s still easy to keep your daily costs low and have fun doing it.

    A Daily Budget in Crete

    A Daily Budget in Crete
    ExpenseBroke BackpackerFrugal TravelerCreature of Comfort
    Total Per Day$11-$70$50-$145$150+

    Crete on a Budget – Top Tips and Tricks

    This isn’t Rome or Amsterdam, so it’s much, much easier here to save money and make it last than it is in most other places in the EU, but you’ll still be using a ton of budget hacks to make the most of your time on Crete!

    • Hungry? Grab a gyro! Costing as little as $2, this classic Greek street food is delicious and filling. This is the perfect answer to eating well on the cheap.
    • Drink Mythos. Greece’s iconic beer costs as little as $2 per bottle (you can find them for $1.50 at some places) which makes it well-suited to fit all your alcohol-related shenanigans. Skip out on those fancy taverns and grab a beachside beer instead.
    • Camp. If you’ve got a decent hammock or tent, Crete is a great place to try camping. Plenty of excellent campsites exist both along the coast and in the center of the island, so this is a great way to cut back on costs.
    • Take the public bus. Costing less than the intercity buses, hopping on one of these will save you time and money, and always, always skip out on taking a taxi unless you’re completely out of all other options.
    • Cook your own food. Restaurants on Crete can be pretty cheap, but most hostels on the island have decent to amazing kitchens (looking at you, Cocoon) which gives you the option of cooking your own great meal on the cheap.

    Why You Should Travel to Crete with a Water Bottle

    Drinking the tap water in many places on Crete is a good way get diarrhea, so you’re gonna need to be prepared! It’s also important to travel responsibly: Crete is beautiful, but there IS a garbage problem in a lot of places on the island, so we need to do our part to keep the places we visit clean.

    That’s where investing in a filtered water bottle for your travels comes in. The Grayl Geopress is one of the best out there: it’s completely zero-waste, you can drink water from literally anywhere using the filter, and in the long run, it’ll save you tons of money you would have spent on plastic bottles.

    Save $$$ • Save the Planet • Save Your Stomach!
    backpacker drinking using grayl geopress filter bottle

    Drink water from ANYWHERE. The Grayl Geopress is the worlds leading filtered water bottle protecting you from all manner of waterborne nasties.

    Single-use plastic bottles are a MASSIVE threat to marine life. Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle. Save money and the environment!

    We’ve tested the Geopress rigorously from the icy heights of Pakistan to the tropical jungles of Bali, and can confirm: it’s the best water bottle you’ll ever buy!

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    Best Times to Visit Crete

    I’ll be honest: as with the best time to visit Greece in general, the answer to this one depends on you and what you’re looking for. Winter doesn’t really exist on Crete, so both the summer and “winter” months have their advantages!

    Summer is going to give you high temperatures near the coast, with pretty much perfect swimming conditions and comfortable hiking weather in the center of the island.

    It’s also easier to get around in summer as there are far more bus and ferry routes running during high season, and a lot more options for tours without having to rent a car.

    Crete Hills
    Weather on Crete in December is unbearable, as you can see.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    But there are downsides too: higher prices, weather you might find too hot, and inescapable throngs of tourists crowding what feels like every corner of the island.

    If you go in summer, be ready to spend more and deal with crowds, which means either getting there early in the day or staying late if you want a less-crowded vibe.

    Shoulder months like October and November give you lower prices and thinner crowds, but there’s still a good chance that you’ll have to deal with lots of people in the more touristy parts of the island.

    Hiking in the low season is also pretty much perfect.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    Crete’s Mediterranean climate means sunny, comfortable temperatures year-round so you can visit even in the middle of December and January and still have awesome beach days!

    While nights in the winter months can get chilly – think around 8-10 C – the days are usually a comfortable 20-25 degrees with sunny skies.

    Buses don’t run as often as they do in summer, but it’s still easy to get where you want to go. If you want to go explore somewhere like Elafonisi Beach – where buses don’t run to in winter – you can easily find other travelers to share a Crete car rental with that will end up costing about as much as a bus ticket.

    A storm overtaking Chania in late January.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    In winter, whether you’re exploring Crete’s many scenic cities or towns, its stunning beaches, or hiking through the mountainous center, you and your crew of fellow adventurers will undoubtedly have it all to yourselves.

    And that is glorious.

    It’s part of what makes traveling in the off-season such a great thing to do, and if you ask me, Crete is one of the best places to do it. Do not skip on thinking about spending some time here in December or January, it’s magical.

    The one time of year you shouldn’t bother planning a trip is for late January through mid-March. This is Crete’s rainy season when the island gets pretty much all of its rain for the year, so expect heavy rains on a daily basis.

    What to Pack for Crete

    No matter what time of year it is, always add your swimming gear to your Greece packing list! It never gets too cold so pants and a light jacket are all you’re going to need on the cold end of the spectrum with temps near the coast reaching 8C (46F) at the lowest.

    Crete’s mild climate means you get to pack light, so take advantage and save some weight in your backpack.

    That being said, if you’re visiting in the low season and plan on doing some hiking in the mountainous center of the island, you’ll need to bring some heavier gear to keep warm as it can snow quite often up there.

    Somewhere to hide your cash
    Pacsafe belt
    Somewhere to hide your cash

    Travel Security Belt

    This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.

    For those unexpected messes
    For those unexpected messes

    Microfiber Towel

    Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

    When the power goes out
    Gifts for backpackers
    When the power goes out

    Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

    A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.

    A way to make friends!
    A way to make friends!

    ‘Monopoly Deal’

    Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

    Keep your laundry organized and stink free
    Keep your laundry organized and stink free

    Hanging Laundry Bag

    Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

    Cops pulling someone over on the side of the road
    The historic moment capturing the one time I saw the cops actually doing their jobs on Crete.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    Is Crete Safe?


    Overwhelmingly, Crete is a very safe place to travel to. Welcome to relaxed, slow island life where you don’t have much to worry about, and even the police rarely do anything.

    In the months that I’ve spent there, I’ve seen the cops pull somebody over exactly one time, and…that’s it. Nothing else. So it’s definitely a good choice for solo travelers.

    This island’s got a chill vibe and while you should take the same safety precautions you would when traveling anywhere else, you have very little to worry about in the way of being unsafe!

    Getting Insured BEFORE Traveling to Crete

    That doesn’t mean you should skip out on some good travel insurance – don’t leave it off your packing list!

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

    Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

    How to Get Into and Around Crete

    There are two main ways to get to Crete: by ferry or plane. If you’re coming from Athens, the ferry is always an option and many people do it for “the experience” but a plane ticket costs about as much as the ferry does and also saves you about eight hours, so it’s your call.

    If you’re coming from nearby islands like Santorini or any of the Cyclades, the ferry is a much better option and is around a two-hour ride (four max) to the island of the Minotaur.

    North Coast of crete island
    There are much, much worse places to spend a few hours on a ferry.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    How to Get Around Crete

    Thankfully, traveling in Crete is easy year-round! Plenty of buses run between major hubs, and during high season buses and ferries take visitors to places like Balos, Elafonisi, and many of the tiny islets that sit just off the coast of Crete.

    Visiting in the low season means missing out on these types of transport, but it’s still easy to find a crew at your hostel and split the costs for renting a car which will end up costing about as much (maybe less!) as an organized tour would.

    That being said, even during the shoulder and low seasons both the public and intercity buses still run several times daily, so you’ll never have any trouble getting around. Crete is a big island, but it’s not one of those places where you’ll struggle getting from one place to another.

    Day Trips From Crete

    So the answer to this one is a bit complicated. While it is technically possible to take day trips to other major islands, just the commute would take so long that there’s almost no point in trying.

    For example, a ferry to Santorini takes a minimum of two hours one-way (possibly four) so that’s a HUGE chunk of your day gone just waiting on a boat and you won’t be able to properly enjoy the island before having to head home.

    an extremely old Motorcycle with broken pieces hanging off of it
    You CAN technically rent this, but it’s a real fixer-upper.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    It’s for that reason that I highly recommend just spending a night or two in Santorini (or Karpathos, Kythera, etc.) and then coming back if you plan on using Crete as a base.

    Within Crete itself though there are countless day trips you can do and it’s very possible to spend a day romping across to one of the tiny islets just off the coast, like Chrisi island, Agii Theodori, etc. during the high season when ferries are running.

    Nightlife in Crete

    Crete is not the place you go to find a legendary nightlife scene – it’s much less at the forefront of the island’s vibe than party islands like Mykonos, but it’s still possible to have an awesome time after dark!

    Even bigger cities like Chania and Rethymno don’t have big nightlife scenes: clubs do exist, but they tend to be smaller, and you’re more likely to have a night of spontaneous fun at a tavern than you are partying at a club.

    Heraklion is the biggest city on the island and it’s the place with the most options! Plenty of great bars, restaurants, and clubs populate the city’s landscape, so it’s very easy to get lost and find yourself wandering through the city’s nightlife until well after the sun comes up.

    Dining in Crete

    Cretan cuisine is delicious, (somewhat) healthy, and best of all, it can be cheap with huge portion sizes if you look in the right places.

    Unlike Santorini where you’ll shell out what feels like an arm and a leg for a decent meal at a restaurant, there’s no shortage of eateries on Crete where you can eat damn well on the cheap.

    a platter of greek meat bread and vegeatables at a restaurant in crete
    This giant platter of meat cost me 8 bucks at Kapari Restaurant.
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

    As long as you avoid harborfront taverns and restaurants, you’ll have no trouble finding a place to sit down and eat for affordable prices.

    These restaurants are always just a short walk from the most touristy areas and the food is going to be better anyway, so it’s a win-win as long as you can stomach not having that harborside view while you chow down on souvlaki.

    Final Thoughts on Visiting Crete

    When you’re sharing the stage with iconic destinations like Meteora, Santorini, Mykonos, and more, it’s easy to fly under the radar. But this island is one of the most unforgettable places I’ve ever been to and not a place you want to miss out on exploring!

    Paradise, adventure, delicious food, Crete’s got it all. This is one of the few places in the world where you can spend your morning hiking through high mountains and your afternoon relaxing on a picturesque beach with ivory-white sand, all in the same day.

    That’s just one of the countless traits that make Crete a must-visit destination. This is an oasis that gives you an experience you can’t find anywhere else in Greece, and no matter what your Crete itinerary may be, you’re going to remember your time here as a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

    Lights framed in front of the Sunset along the sea in crete
    See you in Crete!
    Photo: @nathanjordanphotography

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