Cosmopolitan Cretan Towns

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Our exciting Cretan towns! 

Whilst dreaming of her beaches, olive groves and mountains, don't forget Kriti's thriving towns.

With a total population over 620,000 Crete welcomes nearly 4 million tourist visitors every year.

Many Cretans live in the four capitals; or share their time between the capital and the village.

Each has a different character and pulse for the traveller to discover.

Cretan Towns - Town by Town


Chania Χανιά, with its picturesque Venetian harbour is a fascinating blend of the modern and historic patchwork of Cretan life. Built on an ancient site, the old town with its narrow twisting streets, art galleries and cafés is characteristic of Kriti's wealth of culture.

Ferries arrive into Souda port near Chania and flights arrive into Chania Airport, both just 15 km from town, capital of the western Region of Chania.

Here are our selections for accommodation in the old town of Chania...

Tip - use Chania Airport Code CHQ

The Old Venetian Harbour of ChaniaThe Old Venetian Harbour of Chania - Palazzo di Mare Taverna by the bay


Rethymnon Ρέθυμνο surrounded by beaches and crowned by the ruins of a Venetian fortezza, Rethymnon also has a contrast of historic and modern architecture, with excellent restaurants and cafés. The University of Crete is based just outside of town.

When staying here, we suggest small guesthouses within the walls of the Old Town...

Capital of the Rethymnon Region, this busy town is well located in the central north of the island, making it a good choice for exploring all regions, and north and south coasts.

Rethymnon Old Harbour and Venetian Lighthouse with the new town across the bayRethymnon Old Harbour and Venetian Lighthouse with the new town across the bay


Heraklion Ηράκλειο is the capital of the island and one of the most wealthy cities in Greece. It is modern, upbeat and diverse. We are happy to share our knowledge of the town to those who might think to overlook it, there is plenty to see and do in Heraklion.

Ferries arrive into Heraklion Port just 1 km from town and flights arrive into Heraklion Airport just 4.5 km from the centre of town.

Our suggestions for Heraklion accommodation are here...

Many visitors come into Heraklion to see the ancient site of Knossos and the other sites of Phaistos and Malia, historic locations of importance in the Minoan era of the island's past.

The Heraklion Region boasts mountains and beaches, wineries and olive farms.

Tip - Use Heraklion Airport Code HER

Heraklion has a thriving cafe bar sceneHeraklion has a thriving cafe bar scene - seen here at Parko 240

Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos Άγιος Νικόλαος is a hilly town surrounding the beautiful Lake Voulismeni. Agios Nikolaos has its own charm and pulse. Come and have a peek at one of the Mediterranean's prettiest harbours. Info on tavernas, cafes and ancient sites...

The Beach of Kitroplateia looking over Mirabello Bay is a lovely town beach, meanwhile many visitors take the ferry from this port on to further ports in Karpathos and Rhodes...

From here, visit the Region of Lasithi with mountains and plateaux, gorges and beaches, loads of wide open spaces and a rich food culture.

Tip - Use Heraklion Airport HER or Sitia Airport JSH

View of Lake Voulismeni from Zygos CafeView of Lake Voulismeni from Zygos Cafe in Agios Nikolaos

Some of our smaller, regional Cretan towns follow below.

Kastelli Kissamos

Kastelli-Kissamos Κίσσαμος on the north-west coast of Crete, is a small coastal town with an interesting history. Pirate Barbarossa was active here. Some of the most beautiful wild beaches of the island are nearby, such as Balos Lagoon, Gramvousa Islet and Falassarna Beach.

More information about Kissamos here...accommodation, nearby beaches and gorges, cooking classes.

Tip - Use Chania Airport CHQ

Cretan Towns

Palaiochora Παλαιόχωρα on the south-west coast of Crete, is where the mountains meet the sea. This charming small town or large village juts out on a peninsula into the sea. From here you can beach hop, hike in the Lefka Ori, or sail to Gavdos Island. Whales and dolphins can be seen in these clean turquoise waters.

Walk the E4 European hiking trail, relax at numerous beaches or explore the mountains.

Visit the pristine undeveloped beach of Elafonisi from here by boat, or take the south coast ferry along to tiny inaccessible villages such as Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro.

Tip - Use Chania Airport CHQ



Moires in central Crete, Greece

Moíres Μοίρες in the Messara of Iraklion, in the centre of the island, is a busy market town. The Messara is a huge central valley rolling north to south in the middle of the island. It has been written about, fought over and appeared in mythology.

Today Mires is a vibrant agricultural community, with a huge market every Saturday. It is close to the ancient sites of Phaistos and Gortys, and the villages of Zaros, Vori and Kamilari.

Tip - Use Heraklion Airport HER

Sitia in Eastern Crete

Sitia Σητεία in the east of Crete is not often visited by tourists, however travellers will find plenty of interest here in this solidly Greek town. As Lasithi has a vibrant agricultural activity, especially with the olive harvest, Sitia is a wealthy town, over-looking beautiful Sitia Bay and surrounded by the wide open landscapes of Kriti.

More about Sitia and your options for accommodation here...

Tip - Use Sitia Airport JSH

The name Kazarma derives from 'Casa di Arma' from the Venetian occupation. Now it is a ruin after an earthquake in 1508 and an attack from pirate Barbarossa in 1538.The name Kazarma derives from 'Casa di Arma' from the Venetian occupation. Now it is a ruin after an earthquake in 1508 and an attack from pirate Barbarossa in 1538.


Ierapetra Ιεράπετρα is a large town in the south east of Crete, surrounded by beautiful beaches and rugged mountains. Access the remote and uninhabited Chrissi Island from here by boat.

More about Ierapetra and your choice of where to stay...

Tip - Use Heraklion Airport HER or Sitia Airport JSH

Kales Fortress Ierapetra CreteLooking over Kales Fortress over the bay to Ierapetra Crete

Map with Towns of Crete Marked

Getting Here

Take a 1 hour flight from Athens to Heraklion with Aegean Airlines or Olympic Air, with many flights available per day.

Or take a 9.5 hour overnight ferry from Pireaus port of Athens to Heraklion port.

More on flights and ferries below.

More Information

There is so much to enjoy in our beautiful Cretan towns:

Some itineraries for Cretan towns here

Heraklion travel planning

Chania travel Q&A

5 Days in the West of Crete e-book

5 Days in the East of Crete e-book

Dish Bar is next to Agios Titos Church in the centre of HeraklionDish Bar is next to Agios Titos Church in the centre of Heraklion

Anastasi & Apostoli - authors of We Love Crete

"We trust you have enjoyed these tips from the team at
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