Greece’s largest island has quickly developed a reputation as a party island with crowds of revellers in the busier resorts looking for their next shot of ouzo, but you shouldn’t let that put you off visiting this sun-soaked island.
Crete is filled with fine beaches, ancient treasures, dreamy villages, wonderful cuisine, and hospitable locals who hold their traditional culture in high regard.
There are still many quieter, less commercialized resorts, villages, and secluded coves to explore and more hidden locations that are barely touched by tourism. From spending many breaks on this beautiful island, here is my choice for the quietest and most authentic and unspoiled places to visit in Crete which are perfect for travel snobs…
1. Sissi – a charming, pretty and quiet small Greek resort also home to a golden sand beach
If you think of a sleepy Greek fishing village, you probably have images of small boats bobbing in quartz waters, piles of multicoloured nets, and fishermen unloading their catch before nipping off to the Taverna for a cheeky ouzo.
Well, you don’t need to imagine, as you’ve just thought of Sissi in beautiful Crete!
As about as non-commercial as it gets, Sissi is everything you want from a pretty Mediterranean fishing village. The local fare in many of the harbour tavernas is about as close as you can come to freshness, maybe even caught meters from where you sit. You won’t find parties and bars here, oh no.
But what you will find is a collection of properly local eateries, a few small and sandy beaches, and crystal clear water if you want to go for a dip. A wonderful place to visit and stay in Crete!
My must-do highlights of Sissi
- Spend the day at the idyllic Kalimera Kriti Beach where the smooth waters are ideal for swimming.
- Go for a scenic hike on the trails surrounding the village for spectacular views of vineyards, olive groves and traditional villages.
- Soak up the charm of the winding roads and Insta-worthy colourful houses with a wander through the village.
Where is Sissi Located?
Sissi is located on the north coast of Crete a 40-minute drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our beautiful hotel choice for Sissi – Grecotel Meli Palace
- To book, check prices or dates for Grecotel Meli Palace
Our beautiful self-catering choice for Sissi – Sissi Lux Villas
- To book, check prices or dates for Sissi Lux Villas
2. Elounda – a swish but relaxed and more authentic resort with a gorgeous sandy beach which is one of the best places to visit in Crete
Offering plenty of five-star luxury, Elounda is stuffed with beautiful resorts and classy hotels. It’s not perhaps as quaint as some of the other places on this list but what it lacks in tradition it more than makes up for in swankiness and still manages to retain an air of what makes Crete so great.
Several celebrities (including Brad and Angelina in happier days) have been spotted walking on its sandy shores, this combined with it being a hotspot for European dignitaries just adds to the appeal.
It’s a bit of a trek from Chania airport, so if you’re going, fly to Heraklion. There are numerous beaches to visit, and if they are a bit far or you want to go further afield, as a bigger resort you can find hire cars for the standard rate.
Fortunately, the prices in Elounda don’t have a Hollywood price tag.
Elounda is a good middle ground for those who don’t want utter isolation, but still want to keep their break fairly relaxed.
My must-do highlights of Elounda
- Discover the ancient ruins of the underwater town Olous with a diving or snorkelling tour.
- Take a boat trip over to the famous Spinalonga Island for a beautiful view across the bay to Plaka and Elounda.
- Enjoy dinner at one of the town’s favourite restaurants for fish and seafood specials, Kanali.
Where is Elounda located?
Elounda is located in east Crete around an hour’s drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our beautiful hotel choice for Elounda – Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection
- To book, check prices or dates for Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection
Our beautiful self-catering choice for Elounda – Elounda Black Pearl Villa
- To book, check prices or dates for Elounda Black Pearl Villa
3. Agios Nikolaos – one of the best places to visit and stay in Crete which has lots of nearby beautiful sandy beaches
Agios Nikolaos, Or just ‘Agios’ if you prefer, is a bustling town and working port. It’s located just to the east of Heraklion, meaning it is easy to get to if you don’t want to spend too much time with pesky transfers.
The town isn’t strictly a ‘beach resort’, so there’s plenty to see and do besides basking.
There are churches tucked away in winding streets, and for those of you who want to enjoy a waterside view without the sand, the town is built around a beautiful lake (Lake Voulismeni), where you can take in the views, whilst also dining in style in one of a multitude of lakeside restaurants.
Both a beautiful and quiet place to visit in Crete.
My must-do highlights of Agios Nikolaos
- Stroll around the boutiques and do some shopping, where you can find unique handmade clothing, souvenirs and local produce.
- Explore the Mediterranean Sea in a different way with a semi-submarine tour where you can discover underwater treasures.
- Visit the Cretan Olive Oil Farm to experience how the local olive oil, wine, raki and pottery are made by viewing, smelling and tasting.
Where is Agios Nikolaos located?
Agios Nikolaos is located on the east side of the island around a 50-minute drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our beautiful hotel choice for Agios Nikolaos – Minos Palace Hotel & Suites – Adults Only
- To book, check prices or dates for Minos Palace Hotel & Suites – Adults Only
4. Panormos – a small traditional Cretan fishing village which makes a great quiet place to stay
Did somebody say wine? Panormos – a small and charming traditional Cretan fishing village located on the northern coast – has a few little extra bits that make it attractive, and a winery, it also has guided tours and tasting as well making it an attractive proposition indeed.
There are actually three beaches within walking distance from the cobbled stone street village, all of which are pretty shallow and nestled amongst some really lovely local topography, allowing for some rather nice snorkelling experiences.
My favourite was Geropotamos Beach, there is a rather attractive stone arch to the west and, on the east, a freshwater river running directly into the sea.
My must-do highlights of Panormos
- After a fun-filled day, relax and rejuvenate with a treatment from Relaxika Massage Specialists & Spa.
- Spend an afternoon at the Aqua Park in Marine Palace which hosts some of the wildest water slides.
- Go on a cycling adventure by an E-bike tour with JoyRide.bike to discover more of the island’s unique landscape.
Where is Panormos located?
Panormos is located on the North Coast of the island around a 50-minute drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our beautiful hotel choice for Panormos – The Royal Senses Resort Crete, Curio Collection by Hilton
- To book, check dates or prices for The Royal Senses Resort Crete, Curio Collection by Hilton
5. Plakias – great for those seeking a quiet and relaxing Crete holiday with a golden beach
If you are looking for a bit of space then Plakias offers one of the largest beaches in Crete. What really amazed when I was in Crete was how quiet it is. If you are staying one or more nights, you don’t need to worry about thumping music or all-night parties.
It’s super sedate. If it tickles your fancy there is a ‘naturist’ beach off to the east. Beach balls aside there is more to Plakias than sand and sunshine.
It is home to a substantial palm date forest, which is accessible by foot or by car. Walking through the forest is sublime, and the river that cuts through it is clean enough to swim in (we should hope so as it leads directly out onto Plakias beach).
My must-do highlights of Plakias
- Explore through the breathtaking palm groves and into the gorge for an unforgettable and magnificent experience.
- Catch the most photographed and vibrant sunset at The Plakias Dragon landmark, created from rock formations.
- Slow down and relax along the sandy shores of the beach with an afternoon or day of sunbathing.
Where is Plakias located?
Plakias is located along the south coast of the island around an hour and 40 min drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our beautiful hotel choice for Plakias – NERĒA Boutique Hotel
- To book, check dates or prices for NERĒA Boutique Hotel
6. Kato Zakros – a gorgeous hideaway far away from the hustle and bustle
Located to the eastern side of the island of Crete, Kato Zakros is a bit out of the way, but well worth the visit.
You are properly in the land of Greek mythology, I expected Jason and his argonauts to pop over the horizon at any moment whilst we sat on the beach. Mythology aside you can visit the ruins of the Minoan Zakros palace, which is a genuine archaeological site.
If commercial isn’t your thing then there are numerous guesthouses in the area, all offering their own unique brand of hospitality, many with floral and fragrant herb gardens.
With that and the relative peace and quiet, it’s an ideal spot to just be on this wonderful island.
My must-do highlights of Kato Zakros
- Visit the historic Minoan Palace of Zakros which was only discovered in the early 1960s, and has been kept in good condition.
- Walk along the pretty E4 path to explore Gorge of the Dead where you can find several photo opportunities on the way.
- Spend some time enjoying one of the beaches, famous for the clear waters, and see the small gardens surrounding them.
Where is Kato Zakros located?
Kato Zakros is located on the east coast of the island around a 3 hour journey from Heraklion airport.
Our accommodation choice for Kato Zakros – Terra Minoika Boutique resort
- To book, check prices or dates for Terra Minoika Boutique resort
7. Kalamaki – a lovely more-low and relaxed Crete resort town
Kalamaki is a relatively new town in Crete, it has more of a purpose-built feel to it. It’s a relaxed resort town (well compared to its busier neighbours) and if you want a no-nonsense turn-up and relax on the beach holiday then this is a good choice.
The beach is large and there are a range of tavernas and shops offering food at a very reasonable price. It’s known for its calm waters, and for being a nesting site for endangered loggerhead sea turtles.
My must-do highlights of Kalamaki
- Have some fun at the Mini Golf course, an ideal activity for those in a group or with family.
- Take an after-dinner stroll to check out the entertainment along the main street of an evening.
- Rent a pedal boat or kayak from one of the beach kiosks to explore the sea.
Where is Kalamaki?
Kalamaki is located on the south coast of the island around an hour’s drive from Heraklion airport.
Our self-catering accommodation choice for Kalamaki – Golden Sun Resort – Adults Only
- To book, check prices or dates for Golden Sun Resort – Adults Only
8. Sougia – one of the most relaxed and undeveloped places to explore in Greece
Sougia is a small village located by the Libyan sea, it can be a bit of a drive, especially from some of the more developed areas, but that was half the fun!
The scenery as you traverse the coast road with steep hills and lush greenery gives views that will take your breath away.
Once you’ve driven (carefully) to the town you’ll find a laid-back vibe and easy-going atmosphere that is synonymous with most of the lesser-known spots on the island.
If you want a bit of light culture there is a church (Agios Panteleimon) on the Western side of the village, it has a gorgeous mosaic floor and is not commercial in any way (if you want to see it you’ll have to go to the kiosk on Sougia beach and ask for the key yourself…seriously)!
My must-do highlights of Sougia
- Discover peaceful, uncrowded scenery walking through the beautiful Agia Irini Gorge.
- Visit the secluded beach, if you can find it, to enjoy a swim along the calm and quiet bay.
Where is Sougia located?
Sougia is located on the South West coast of the island around a 3 hour 20 minute drive from Heraklion airport.
Our beautiful accommodation choice for near Sougia – Monastery Estate Retreat
- To book, check prices or dates for Monastery Estate Retreat
9. Falassarna beach – often voted as being one of the best beaches in Greece
Despite the small size of Falassarna, it’s a popular spot and has a reputation for being one of the best beaches in Crete.
The beaches in this area are all sandy, clean and stretch as far as the eye can see! But there is also an ecological interest – Falassarna is part of the Natura 2000 network due to the extensive array of flora and fauna the area has to offer.
It’s vulnerable to high winds – but on the other hand, this makes it ideal for surfers. Falassarna Beach has won prizes for being the most beautiful beach in Crete and is always one of the top ten beaches in Europe, with its wonderful, fine white sand and warm, crystal-clear water.
My must-do highlights of Falassarna
- Experience a paragliding ride overlooking the coast to admire the island from a different perspective.
- Go on a cruise over to the beautiful Balos Lagoon filled with blue and green water, before heading to the historic site of Gramvousa.
- Take a surf lesson and have some fun out on the ocean riding the waves whilst looking back over the stunning coastline.
Where is Falassarna?
Falassarna is located on the west coast of the island around a 2 hour 40 minute drive from Heraklion airport.
Our accommodation choice for Falassarna – NK Apartments
- To book check prices or dates for NK Apartments
10. Triopetra beach – a beautiful and undeveloped wide sandy beach
Triopetra is surrounded by Siderotas mountain, olives groves, and of course, the seafront, the area is named after the three majestic rocks that rise out of the ocean at the edge of the peninsula.
The smaller of the two beaches, Small Triopetra (or Koumado), is more an enclosed, sandy, and rocky bay. Here, you can available of the offerings from the nearby tavernas and umbrellas are available.
Bored of sunning yourself? You can always visit the amazing chapel of Prophet Elias. Meanwhile, the main beach of the area, West Triopetra or Chatzi, is characterised by beautiful coarse sand which casts unusual colours across the beach and water.
It is famous for its never-ending stretch of sand, fabulous sunsets and peaceful atmosphere.
My must-do highlights of Triopetra Beach
- Admire the breathtaking rock formations along the coast on one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete.
- Go snorkelling along the shallow waters to discover the wonderful underwater world.
- Chill out to soak up the glorious and warm sun rays.
Where is Triopetra Beach located?
Triopetra Beach is located on the south of the island around a 2 hour drive from Heraklion airport.
Our self-catering accommodation choice for Triopetra – Triopetra Green Dream
- To book check prices or dates for Triopetra Green Dream
11. Elafonisi Lagoon – a popular beauty spot to visit in Crete
This is a natural beauty spot which is an absolute pearl, but you’ve got to time it right. Up until fairly recently, Elafonisi was one of Crete’s best-kept secrets, sadly social media selfie-lovers got a firm grasp of it, so it can get seriously busy in the high seasons.
However, don’t let that put you off. Go in the shoulder months and you’ll be rewarded with a day trip to remember.
The lagoon itself is actually an island that can be reached by paddling out to it. Don’t expect anything in the way of amenities when you get there (it’s actually a nature reserve and is treated accordingly).
If you’ve braved the paddle (or walked over the sandbar leading to the island) you’ll be rewarded with water that is the temperature of bathwater, soft pink sand (particular to this area only), and pictures that you’ll treasure…Prizes awarded for spotting a sea turtle…and deducted for duckface Instagram posts…enjoy!
My must-do highlights of Elafonisi Lagoon
- Lay back and relax along the unique and idyllic pink sands surrounded by crystal-clear lagoon waters.
- Enjoy the magnificent scenery surrounding the beach or from one of the sand dune viewpoints.
- Take a hike across the lagoon and through the sand dunes to discover hidden gems around the area.
Where is Elafonisi Lagoon?
Elafonisi Lagoon is located on the west coast of the Greek island of Crete around a 3 hour 20 minute drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our rustic chic accommodation choice near Elafonisi Lagoon – Kalomoira’s Apartments
- To book check prices or dates for Kalomoira’s Apartments
12. Plaka – a beautiful small village located on the coast
I just want to mention don’t confuse your Plaka’s, as there are two, one of which is inhabited and built purely for ex-pats.
The one we are talking about is ideal if you’ve decided to stay in or near Agios, as it’s just around the bay.
Plaka has a lovely beach, especially lovely if you don’t like sand getting everywhere, as it’s made from pebbles.
Considering you are only down the road from one of Crete’s busiest towns, it’s pretty quiet and relaxing.
You’ll find the standard Greek beachside fare if you want to have a halftime break, and nestled in its backstreets are a multitude of boutique-style shops selling some handmade, and some not-so-handmade trinkets.
My must-do highlights of Plaka
- Go for a swim in the crystal clear waters at Plaka Beach, well known for being a tranquil haven.
- Have a go at the thrilling skill of waterskiing or rent a boat to explore the island from Plaka Watersports.
- Look around the array of clothing boutiques and souvenir/gift shops located along the backstreets.
Where is Plaka?
Plaka is located on the coast on the east of Crete around an hour’s drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our accommodation choice for Plaka – Sun and Sea Plus Resort
- To book, check prices or dates for Sun and Sea Plus Resort
13. Glyka Nera – one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete
Glyka Nera is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete and definitely one of the most unspoiled places to visit on the island, with deep blue water and fine white sands.
There are two routes to the beach – by boat or for the most extreme, there is a path from Chora Sfakion and another from Loutro.
These hikes can be strenuous and at some moments, hair-raising but they are well maintained. On the beach itself, there is a tavern that sells local nibbles and drinks as well as sunbeds.
Due to the presence of cold spring water streams, the seawater can be cold, even in summer but the beach itself is stunning. If you chose to arrive by boat, the route and views are particularly beautiful.
My must-do highlights of Glyka Nera
- Discover the incredible aerial viewpoints of the beach by following one of the hiking trails around the bay.
- Chill out along the shores with an afternoon of sunbathing or have a dip in the sea when it gets a bit too hot.
- For those who love to be outdoors, spend the night camping under the shade of the tamarisk trees.
Where is Glyka Nera?
Glyka Nera is located on the south coast of Crete a 2 hour 30 minutes drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our accommodation choice near Glyka Nera – Myrto Hotel
- To book, check prices or dates for Myrto Hotel
14. Tripiti to Sougia coastline – for unspoilt scenic coastal views
The walk between these two areas is truly stunning, the path along the way is marked with cairns to guide your route – thankfully – as it is easy to get distracted by the views! Although elements of the walk can be tiring, it’s most definitely worth it.
Although the panorama can make you trigger happy with the camera, don’t ignore the beauty right beside you on the path – a Venetian fort, ancient churches, ancient cisterns, and the breath-taking remains of the ruined ancient town of Pikilassos, not to mention the beautiful flora and fauna that you encounter along the way, including lots of olive trees – resist the urge to pillage!
The walk can take upwards of two hours depending on ability and speed, but also inclination, make sure you take your time to soak up the beautiful views and atmosphere.
My must-do highlights of Sougia
- Be sure to stop and admire the historic sites along the way which are part of the islands’ story.
- Live in the moment and soak up the gorgeous views overlooking beautiful turquoise waters.
- Capture an array of Insta-worthy shots of the surrounding scenery along the trail.
Where is Sougia located?
Sougia is located on the South West Coast of Crete around 3 hour and 20-minute drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our accommodation choice for Sougia – Stairs Homes & Suites
- To book, check prices or dates for Stairs Homes & Suites
15. Myrtos village – a small, relaxed and simple village and beach
Located in the south-eastern corner of the island is this tranquil, pristine, white-washed village full of traditional charm.
The village itself is loaded with a rich history, including a museum which houses finds of Minoan archaeological importance found nearby and you can hear tales about the town’s colourful past and folklore in the many local tavernas.
The beach of Myrtos is a hidden treasure which, rarely gets crowded and provides a real opportunity to take a load off and truly relax.
For those who love to explore there are ruins all over the area dating from the Neolithic and Roman periods which, with a bit of tenacity can be uncovered and discovered. Essentially, Myrtos has something to offer everyone – from a secluded, sandy seafront to a large dose of historical culture.
With all these unique and unforgettable experiences lying across the island of Crete, it is hard not to feel guilty for so easily dismissing it into the realm of partying, disco balls, and all-nighters.
Clearly, the island has so much more to offer – aside from the famous mythology and legends, there are also sites of architectural, historical, and natural importance, that will leave any visitor completely enthralled!
My must-do highlights of Myrtos village
- Spend the day at Myrtos Beach which is Blue Flag awarded and one of the warmest beaches in Europe.
- Learn about the architectural treasures from around the area and history of the village at the Myrtos Museum.
- Take a drive to Selakano Forest and explore the charming trails filled with waterfalls.
Where is Myrtos village located?
Myrtos village is located on the south coast of Crete an 1 hour 20 minutes drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our self-catering accommodation choice for Myrtos – Myrtos Mare Suites
- To book, check prices or dates for Myrtos Mare Suites
16. Ligaria – a quaint seaside village which is home to a crescent-shaped beach
I loved Ligaria – a small and charming seaside village located on the north side of Crete – especially its lovely beach which has the same name. With steep sandy-coloured rocks dropping directly into the sea in this horseshoe-shaped bay and crystal clear water it is postcard perfect.
The area is popular with locals, which should tell you something, and as a result, the beachside cuisine in the local tavernas is to a pretty high standard.
It is slightly commercialised, but that said if you like the occasional deep-fried or sugary treat delivered to your lounger whilst you catch the sun, it’s not too bad at all!
My must-do highlights of Ligaria
- Experience some fine dining and traditional Cretan dishes at one of the tavernas.
- Try out a new water sport at their Blue Flag awarded beach, making it an ideal spot to spend time in the water.
- Visit the Monastery of Panagia Deligara that is built on the ruins of the original monastery.
Where is Ligaria?
Ligaria is located on the north coast of Crete around a 30 minute drive from Heraklion Airport.
Our accommodation choice for near Ligaria – Irida Hotel Apartments
- To book, check dates or prices for Irida Hotel Apartments
17. Heraklion – one of the best places to stay in Crete
Heraklion is Crete’s capital and the largest city on the island. It is a port city that offers an urban vibe with a touch of nature.
It doesn’t matter where you go you will always find greenery spots. If you want to explore the culinary, you will have a vast variety of restaurants and amazing coffee shops. The city has an airport which makes this place a number one spot to start exploring the area.
One of the main things to do in Heraklion is to catch a ferry to visit Santorini, Mykonos and other places. Greece has over 1000 islands of which only 227 are inhabited.
My must-do highlights of Heraklion
- Visit the Bronze Age city and Palace of Knossos for the outstanding architecture left within the ruins.
- Check out the Heraklion Archaeological Museum to see ancient and iconic displays around the history of the town.
- Stroll around the vibrant Old Town and along the scenic harbour filled with fishing boats.
Where is Heraklion located?
Heraklion is located on the north coast of Crete and is home to the main airport of the island.
Our accommodation choice for Heraklion – Infinity City Boutique Hotel
- To book, check prices or availability for Infinity City Boutique Hotel
18. Milatos – a pretty and sleepy Crete coastal village
If finding tucked-away coves and exploring craggy rocks appeals to you then Milatos a small quaint Crete village may be the place for you.
It lacks the sweeping white sand of some of our other suggestions, but it also lacks the footfall, making it ideal for a day trip.
If you are a true adventurer take your flashlight and head up to Milatos caves. It’s not particularly health and safety friendly, but if you are brave enough you’ll be rewarded with a view of a hidden church built within the caves. Cool or what?
My must-do highlights of Milatos
- Explore the Milatos Cave after walking up a scenic trail to the entrance, and make sure to take a torch to see inside.
- Indulge in great food and wine at Meltemi Taverna whilst watching a breathtaking sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.
Our self-catering accommodation choice for Milatos – Vasia Villas
- To book, check prices or dates for Vasia Villas
19. Paleochora – a small and quiet town which is located on a small peninsula
A small town located on a small peninsula in southwest Crete, Paleochora is ideal if you want a bit of both. By that, I mean you want to indulge in some serious chilling, but also maybe want to have a good time in the evening too.
There are some bars, but they are more likely to be full of civilised locals than your standard 18-30 gangs.
After a day at the (pebble) beach, you can step out in your Sunday best and pace up and down the walkway paralleling the seafront whilst wondering if you have time to look at the menu before you are accosted by the occupants (I’m joking, they are lovely and generally friendly more than pushy).
My must-do highlights of Paleochora
- Go for a swim at Pachia Ammos Beach, which is known for being one of the best beaches along the South coast.
- Visit the Paleochora Castle for picturesque and Instagrammable panoramic views over the town.
- Indulge in Al Fresco dining and drinks in the evening along the Paleochaora Piazza.
Our accommodation choice for Paleochora – Harbour Studios And Apartments
- To book check prices or dates for Harbour Studios And Apartments
20. Loutro village – a tiny and remote seaside village to stay in Crete
Definitely one of the most unspoiled places to visit in Crete, the pretty peaceful village of Loutro evokes some strong emotion when you land here – it is truly like stepping back in time!
A small village consisting simply of a few hotels and tavernas, shops and restaurants, and a church, but what Loutro lacks in modernity it makes up for in nostalgia and panorama.
It is flanked by steep, mountainsides, home to a sizable herd of goats (judging from the clinking of bells) as well as a tepid sea, sheltered by a lush bay.
No roads lead here and there are no nightclubs or nightlife. Visitors here can simply detox from life and tackle long-awaited books, take walks along the stunning scenery or simply eat, drink and be merry.
My must-do highlights of Loutro
- Rent a boat to explore more areas around the breathtaking southern coastline.
- Visit the historic Koules of Loutro fortress ruins which were once one of the largest in the area.
- Wander around the pretty streets of the town and taste some local seafood street food.
Our self-catering accommodation choice for Loutro – Panoramic view House Livaniana
- To book, check prices or dates for Panoramic view House Livaniana
21. Tsoutsouros – a picturesque Crete village untouched by tourism
Another sleepy Crete village, Tsoutsouros is undeveloped and charming (just how we like it). There are numerous beaches dotted about, and if you are staying for more than a few days it can be good fun to try a different one each day.
Again due to its relative remoteness, you’ll be able to leave your disco shoes at home as we’ll have none of that here, thanks very much.
However, if you would like to sit outside one of its handful of tavernas with a carafe of the local red and a plate of vine leaves then this is the quiet place to visit in Crete for you!
My must-do highlights of Tsoutsouros
- Enjoy a swim in the magical waters which are said to be therapeutic and healing by many locals.
- Explore the Iantos Eileithyia Cave where the daughter of Zeus and Hera was worshipped.
Our accommodation choice for Tsoutsouros – Triton Hotel
- To book, check prices or dates for Triton Hotel
22. Domata – a lovely beach located in a secluded cove
Perhaps, Domatas unspoiled beauty has been preserved this long because the region has no roads or infrastructures.
Access to this haven can be achieved through E4 trail but the climb can be treacherous in places as it climbs to an altitude of 700m, so it’s not for the fainthearted but on arrival, you will no doubt agree that this is one of the finest beaches in all the Greek islands.
Most likely, it will only be you, the sound of the lapping water, the bristling sun and the rustle of the pine trees. For those who don’t fancy a steep, heady climb on their holidays, it is possible to hire a fishing boat in Agia Roumeli to take you to Domata.
Aside from the peacefulness of the region, it is hard not to be astounded by the artwork the elements left behind- a series of terraces in the rock face which, will undoubtedly leave you awestruck.
My must-do highlights of Domata
- Hike along the E4 trail with some adrenaline-pumping climbing points to access the beach.
- Savour the sounds of tranquillity along the shores of this secluded and unspoilt location.
- Go snorkelling in the uncrowded waters to enjoy the gorgeous underwater world.
23. Margarites village – a pretty village to visit that’s known for its production of ceramics
Margarites is located in the very centre of the island of Crete, it’s an unspoiled village surrounded by the vibrant green hills of the Rethymnon region and is as well known for its picturesque panorama as it is for its extensive pottery trade.
Even the briefest of strolls through the village will showcase many of the wonderful pottery studios.
The architecture of the village looks like it just sprang from a WWII novel, winding streets, brightly painted buildings, plenty of brick and crumbling plaster.
There is a Venetian architrave, Byzantine churches, frescos from the 14th century, and oodles of lush green countryside as a backdrop.
And oh the food! Courgette balls, broad beans, moussaka and mezedakia. The beauty of Margarites does not need to be explained or even described, the minute it comes into view- it will take your breath away.
My must-do highlights of Margarites village
- Wander around the pretty village, famous for its pottery, to enjoy several unique shops and exhibitions.
- Take a trip to Metaxakis Winery for a tour and tasting, as well as enjoying tasty olives and bread.
- Don’t leave without buying a piece of handcrafted pottery as a souvenir to remember the trip.
24. Lentas – a very quiet Crete village great for lovely beaches and peaceful walks
Isolated, authentic, and very tranquil, Lentas isn’t for Crete thrill-seekers or partygoers. For all intents and purposes its a real treasure.
There are a few tavernas and perhaps the occasional cafe bordering the shallow rocky beach. It is truly non-commercialised, and we hope it stays that way.
If it gets a bit too quiet for you, Diskos is only around the corner, where tented villagers of camping earthy types take up half the beach, and you can buy handmade trinkets from pop-up hippy shops. Wonderful!
My must-do highlights of Lentas
- For those who love exciting adventures, take a via ferrata tour to discover inaccessible hidden points of the area.
- Find a spot near a bar or taverna along the beach to enjoy a day of sunbathing accompanied by food and drinks.
25. Lefka Ori – a mountain range which is one of the best places to explore in Crete
The wonderful White Mountains are located in Western Crete, and their gleaming shine is the dominant feature of the region.
Visitors to the area might be shocked to find that it retains its snowcaps until the middle of spring and offers innumerable hiking opportunities from the Samaria Gorge to the Askifou plateau to Mount Ida herself.
Mount Ida is the tallest peak of the range, named after the daughter of the King of Crete according to Greek mythology.
What delights visitors the most about the White Mountains is the central and southern part of the Lefka Ori which, due to the high altitude, resembles a lunar landscape and offers visiting hikers a surreal experience of walking on the moon which, is wholly unique to the northern hemisphere.
My must-do highlights of Lefka Ori
- Go on a full-day 4×4 safari tour to explore the beautiful landscapes and admire their agricultural systems across the land.
- Hike to one of the peaks located within the mountain range to see the most spectacular views overlooking the island.
26. Samariá Gorge – a major but beautifully preserved tourist Crete tourist attraction
The beautiful unspoilt Samariá Gorge is a major tourist attraction of the island and was created by a small river running through the White Mountains.
The most famous part of the gorge is the stretch known as the Gates where the sides of the gorge close into a width of only four meters and soar up to a height of almost 300 meters.
The gorge became a national park in 1962, particularly as a refuge for the rare kri-kri (Cretan goat), which is elusive on the rest of the island.
It is an absolute must for visitors to Crete is to complete the walk down the gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea, at which point tourists sail to the nearby village of Sougia or Hora Sfakion, where they could spend a night or they could catch a coach back to Chania.
Although be warned, the walk takes five to seven hours and can be strenuous, especially at the peak of summer.
My must-do highlights of Samariá Gorge
- Pop into the Museum of Natural History of Samaria Gorge to learn about the history and surrounding areas before your hike.
- Keep going, the first part of the trail is the hardest but once you get past that the hike is well worth the effort.
- Admire the spectacular Flora and Fauna located along the trail.
We also have posts on…
- Places to visit in Greece
- Places to visit in Cyprus
- Places to visit in Turkey
- Places to visit in Croatia
- Places to visit in Bulgaria
- Unspoilt places to visit in Kefalonia
- Unspoilt places to visit in Italy
Our accommodation choices disclaimer.
Emma-Clair Ni Clearaigh – writer and photographer
With itchy feet, an inquisitive nature and an ardent wanderlust, Emma Clair has always been a traveller at heart. Hailing from the Emerald Isle she calls a small coastal town near Dublin home, but has lived in a few countries including Saigon, Vietnam where she resided for over a year, now she balances travel and travel writing with teaching and a passion for vintage interior design. She counts supping on Bloody Marys on a rooftop in Manhattan, downing Singapore slings at the Raffles Hotel, daring a paraglide on the Grand Cayman, spending an exotic Christmas in Malaysia and exploring the Angkor Wat, Cambodia as her all time favourite travel moments. Although, she’ll always have a special place in her heart for the city where she makes her annual pilgrimages – Paris, her true city of lights. Find Emma-Clair on Instagram or Facebook.