Where to stay in Crete without a car?

In this article, we will look at Where to stay in Crete without a car?, I will share with you what I believe are the best areas to stay in Crete without a car (including a helpful map), where I stayed in Crete, and the best hotels in Crete for all budget visitors.

Crete is a beautiful island in Greece with a diverse range of attractions and activities. While having a car can be convenient for exploring the island, it’s not absolutely necessary. 

Crete has a fairly well-developed public transportation system that includes buses, taxis, and ferries, making it possible to explore the island without a personal vehicle. 

Crete is served by 2 airports, Chania and Heraklion. You can take a public bus, hotel shuttle, or taxi from these airports to your accommodation.

If you want to explore different parts of the island or visit nearby islands like Santorini, you can use the ferry services. There are several ports on Crete, including Heraklion, Chania, Rethymno,  Ag. Nikolas, and Sitia, where you can catch ferries to other Greek islands and Athens. 

The island has an extensive network of public KTEL buses that connect most towns including Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Agios Nikolaos. The main bus terminal in Heraklion serves as a hub for many routes. You can check the schedules online or at the local bus stations.

Taxis are available in most tourist areas. They are a convenient way to get around if you’re willing to pay a bit more than bus fare. Be sure to agree on the fare with the driver before starting your journey.

Many towns on Crete have bicycle and scooter rental shops, which can be a fun and environmentally friendly way to explore the local area.

In many tourist areas, you can explore on foot. Hikers will also find a wide range of hiking trails in the island’s mountains and gorges.

Many tour operators on Crete offer organized excursions to popular attractions and sights. These tours often include transportation, so you won’t need a car to participate.

Keep in mind that while it’s possible to get around Crete without a car, some more remote or less touristy areas may be less accessible by public transportation. Planning your itinerary in advance can help you make the most of your visit to Crete without a car.

Where to stay in Crete without a car?

The best areas to stay in Crete without a car are Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, Malia, and Plakias. They are all major tourist towns on the island that are easily explored on foot and well-connected to buses, so you don’t necessarily need a car while staying here.

In general, Chania is the best place to stay in Crete for first-time visitors. It is a picturesque town on the northwest coast of Crete. You can easily explore the Old Town and harbor on foot. Additionally, there are buses and taxis available for day trips to nearby beaches and attractions.

During my trip to Crete, I didn’t rent a car, and I stayed in Chania at Porto Veneziano Hotel. It has a fantastic location, on the waterfront of Chania’s Old Venetian harbor. I was able to explore many of China’s most famous sites on foot. Breakfast was very good with lots of choices.

Map of the best areas and neighborhoods in Crete without a car:

Map of the best areas to stay in Crete without a car
Map of the best areas to stay in Crete without a car

Let’s get into the details of the best areas to stay in Crete, especially for travelers without a car. I’ll explain to you how to reach each area, how to get around, as well as the best things to do and some suggestions of the best places to stay in each area for every budget.

7 Best areas to stay in Crete without a car:

1. Chania

Chania is one of the best areas to stay in Crete without a car, especially for first-time travelers. It is one of the island’s major cities and a popular tourist destination located on the northern coast of Crete.  

Chania is easily accessible from Chania International Airport, which is located around 15 km from  Chania city center. To get from Chania Airport to Chania Town you can take a taxi, public bus, or hotel’s shuttle. It is around a 15 minute taxi ride and 45 minutes bus ride.

In addition to the airplane, you can reach Port Souda in Chania by ferries from Piraeus port in Athens. But, there is no ferry link from other islands to the port of Chania. Port Souda is located around 4 km from Chania, and you can use a bus to get from the power to Chania Central Bus Station.

Chania is well-connected by public bus, making it a great base for day trips to places like Rethymno, Heraklion (home to the Palace of Knossos), and the Lassithi Plateau.

Chania is designed to be pedestrian-friendly, with many streets closed to traffic. This makes it a pleasant place to walk around and explore.

Chania’s Old Town is a charming and historic area with narrow, winding streets, colorful Venetian and Ottoman architecture, and a beautiful harbor. It is one of the most well-preserved old towns in Greece.

The Venetian Harbor in Chania is a stunning focal point of the city. It is lined with waterfront restaurants, cafes, and shops. The historic lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor is a popular spot for photos.

History buffs can explore the Maritime Museum of Crete and the Archaeological Museum of Chania, which houses artifacts from the Minoan and Roman periods.

The area around Chania offers numerous beautiful beaches. Some of the popular ones include Elafonissi Beach with its pink sands and Balos Beach with its crystal-clear waters.

Located nearby, the Samaria Gorge is a famous hiking destination. It is one of the longest gorges in Europe and offers stunning natural scenery.

Chania is known for its delicious Greek cuisine. You can enjoy fresh seafood, traditional Cretan dishes like dakos and lamb dishes, and try local wines and olive oils.

Chania’s history is marked by the influences of the Venetian and Ottoman Empires. You can see these influences in the city’s architecture, including the Venetian walls and buildings with Turkish-style balconies.

Best places to stay in Crete in Chania without a car:


2. Rethymno

Rethymno is one of the best places to stay in Crete without a car. It is located halfway between Chania and Heraklion, easily accessible from both airports. The Old Town is pedestrian-friendly and is within walking distance to the beach. 

Rethymno is one of the four main cities in Crete, along with Heraklion, Chania, and Agios Nikolaos. Located on the north coast of the island, it is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, beautiful beaches, and vibrant cultural scene.  

You can reach Rethymno by ferry from Athens to either Heraklion or Chania first or by flying into Chania International Airport or Heraklion International Airport, both of which are a few hours’ drive away.

Rethymno has a long and diverse history, with influences from the Minoans, Venetians, Ottomans, and more. The Old Town of Rethymno, in particular, reflects its Venetian and Ottoman heritage, with well-preserved buildings, narrow streets, and a picturesque harbor.

The Old Town of Rethymno is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Greece. Its charming labyrinthine streets are lined with Venetian and Ottoman architecture, including mosques, churches, and old mansions. The Venetian Fortezza fortress, overlooking the town, is a prominent historic landmark.

Rethymno is home to the Rethymno Town Beach, located near the Old Town, and the long sandy beach of Platanias, which is popular with tourists.

Rethymno’s Venetian Harbor is a picturesque spot for a stroll. It’s filled with colorful buildings, waterfront restaurants, and cafes where you can enjoy fresh seafood while taking in the views.

The Archaeological Museum of Rethymno is a great place to explore the island’s history.

From Rethymno, you can visit scenic gorges like the Samaria Gorge or Imbros Gorge, go hiking in the White Mountains, or explore picturesque villages in the region.

Rethymno is a fantastic destination for travelers who want to experience both the history and natural beauty of Crete while enjoying a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. 

Best places to stay in Crete in Rethymno without a car:


3. Heraklion

Heraklion is a great base on Crete for car-free travelers as it serves as the main gateway for travelers visiting the island. It is the largest city and the administrative capital of Crete, located on the northern coast of Crete.

Heraklion has a major international airport, Heraklion International Airport “Nikos Kazantzakis,” named after the famous Greek writer and philosopher. It provides essential connections for tourists traveling to Crete. The city also has a ferry port with connections to other Greek islands and the mainland.

 Heraklion has a rich history dating back to ancient times. It was known as Knossos in antiquity and was home to the Minoan civilization, one of the earliest European civilizations. The ruins of the ancient Palace of Knossos, which was the center of Minoan culture, are located just outside the city.

During the medieval period, Heraklion came under Venetian rule and was known as Candia. Many Venetian fortifications and buildings can still be seen in the city, including the impressive Koules Fortress that guards the harbor.

Heraklion is home to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which houses a vast collection of Minoan artifacts, and the Historical Museum of Crete. The city also boasts a vibrant waterfront area, beautiful churches, and a bustling market.

Besides its historical and cultural aspects, Heraklion is a bustling modern city with shops, restaurants, cafes, and a lively nightlife scene, particularly during the tourist season.

Best places to stay in Crete in Heraklion without a car:


4. Elounda

Elounda is a picturesque coastal town located in Crete’s northeastern part and is known for its stunning natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, and luxury resorts.  It’s an ideal place for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or simply a peaceful escape on the island of Crete.

Elounda is located 1 hour drive by taxi from its nearest airport Heraklion Airport. You can also take a bus from Heraklion Bus Station A to Agios Nikolaos (75 minutes), then change to another bus to Elounda (30 minutes).

Elounda is famous for its breathtaking landscapes, with views of the Mirabello Bay and the surrounding hills. The area is adorned with olive groves and colorful flowers, creating a charming atmosphere.

Elounda offers several beautiful beaches where visitors can relax and swim in the clear waters. Some popular beaches in the area include Elounda Beach, Plaka Beach, and Kolokytha Beach.

Just off the coast of Elounda lies the island of Spinalonga, which is known for its rich history. It was originally a Venetian fortress and later served as a leper colony during the early 20th century. You can take boat trips to explore the island and its historical ruins.

Elounda and the surrounding region boast several archaeological sites, including ancient settlements, tombs, and ruins from the Minoan period. The Palace of Malia and the ancient city of Lato are nearby attractions for history enthusiasts.

Best places to stay in Crete in Elounda without a car:


5. Agios Nikolaos 

Agios Nikolaos is one of the best places to stay in Crete with no car. It serves as an excellent base for exploring other parts of Crete, including nearby towns like Elounda, the Palace of Knossos in Heraklion, and the beautiful beaches and villages of eastern Crete.

Agios Nikolaos is a picturesque coastal town located on the northeastern coast of Crete, a short bus ride to the south of Elounda. It is the capital of the Lasithi regional unit and is known for its beautiful landscapes, charming harbor, and vibrant atmosphere. 

Agios Nikolaos is built around a picturesque, deep-blue, circular lake called Lake Voulismeni. The lake is surrounded by cliffs and has a mysterious and mythical reputation, as it is said to be bottomless.

The town is surrounded by several beautiful beaches, including Ammos Beach, Kitroplatia Beach, and Almiros Beach. These sandy shores offer a perfect place to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean sun.

In and around Agios Nikolaos, you can explore various archaeological sites, including ancient Minoan settlements like Gournia and the Lato Archaeological Site.

Agios Nikolaos has a vibrant nightlife scene, especially during the summer months. You can find bars and clubs where you can enjoy live music, dancing, and socializing.

Best places to stay in Crete in Agios Nikolaos without a car:


6. Malia

Malia is a popular tourist destination located on the island’s northern coast. It is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and historical sites. It is especially popular among young travelers looking for a vibrant nightlife scene and a beach holiday

Malia has several stunning beaches with golden sands and crystal-clear waters. The main beach, Malia Beach, is the most popular and offers various water sports activities, sunbeds, and beach bars.

Malia is renowned for its lively nightlife. The town is filled with bars, clubs, and pubs, making it a favorite destination for partygoers. The strip in Malia is famous for its vibrant nightlife scene.

Minoan Palace of Malia is one of the major historical attractions in the area. The Minoan Palace of Malia dates back to the Bronze Age and offers a glimpse into ancient Cretan civilization.

The old town of Malia features narrow streets, traditional Greek architecture, and quaint tavernas. It’s a great place to explore and experience the local culture.

There are several water parks in the vicinity of Malia, such as the Star Beach Water Park, which offer fun and entertainment for families and thrill-seekers.

Malia serves as a good base for exploring other parts of Crete. You can take day trips to nearby attractions like the Palace of Knossos, Heraklion, and the picturesque village of Agios Nikolaos.

Please note that the atmosphere in Malia can be lively and bustling, particularly during the summer months, which may not be suitable for those seeking a quieter vacation experience.

Best places to stay in Crete in Malia without a car:


7. Plakias

Plakias is a beautiful coastal village located on the southern coast of Cretee. Plakias has become a popular tourist destination in recent years due to its natural beauty and its reputation as a laid-back and relaxed holiday spot.

Plakias boasts several beautiful beaches with crystal-clear waters and a backdrop of rugged mountains. The main beach in the village is a long crescent of sand that offers plenty of opportunities for sunbathing and swimming. There are also smaller, more secluded beaches in the area.

The surrounding region of Plakias is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, trekking, and exploring the nearby gorges and mountains are popular activities. 

The Kotsifou and Kourtaliotiko Gorges are both within easy reach of Plakias. Additionally, water sports like windsurfing and snorkeling are popular due to the favorable wind conditions and underwater life.

Plakias serves as an excellent base for taking day trips to nearby attractions like Preveli Beach and Monastery, the ancient city of Phaistos, and the coastal town of Agia Galini.

Best places to stay in Crete in Plakias without a car:


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In conclusion, Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, Malia, and Plakias are the best places to stay in Crete without a car. Chania is the favorite base of many first-time travelers, but all other towns are also lovely and charming with plenty of things to do and see for visitors.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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