The Crete Honeymoon Guide for the Best Resorts & Things to Do
The blissful destination of Greece has long been a honeymoon hotspot, but with more than 6,000 islands, how do you narrow down the list to just one? A Crete honeymoon combines the best elements of the country: gorgeous coastlines with beachside resorts, wineries and olive groves galore, archeological sites rivaling the Acropolis, Venetian harbors that look as perfect as a movie set.
While there aren't any direct flights from the US, there are plenty of ways to reach Crete, since there are two major international airports and a handful of seaports. Catch a ferry from another island like Paros, Ios or Milos, or spend a few nights in the capital of Athens before cruising over to Crete. From sailing the coast on a traditional wooden caïque to horseback riding through valleys, hiking the surrounding hills, and farm-to-table cooking classes, there are endless ways to up the romance factor on the "Island of the Gods," the birthplace of Zeus. Done well and it's considered both an adventurous and unique honeymoon destination. Here's when and where to go on a honeymoon in Crete.
Crete Honeymoon Tips in this Article:
Is Crete Good for a Honeymoon?
Pros of a Honeymoon in Crete
Greece's largest island is a haven for honeymooners—you really have it all here. Resorts are as gorgeous as some of the more well-known islands like Mykonos and Santorini, and many are a destination in themselves and know how to pull out the red carpet for honeymooners. However, the destination is slightly more affordable depending on where you choose to stay on the island.
Cretans are also renowned for their hospitality, bringing treats and surprises for guests to express their appreciation. Hospitality is exceptional throughout Greece, but locals bring a homey touch to everything they do for guests. It's also easily accessible whether it be via ferry or flight, with an enriching variety of things to do and sights to take in from coast to coast.
Cons of a Honeymoon in Crete
Crete is huge, and while road tripping can be romantic, you don't want to spend your entire honeymoon in a car. Don't expect to see everything in a just a few days—it's better to decide whether you want a honeymoon that centers around a resort or choose a region or two that appeals to your interests, whether that be watersports and sunbathing on a beach or wine tasting and touring traditional towns and villages. Since the island is a popular summer destination, hotel rooms and car rentals book out fast, so reserve in advance.
The Best Times of the Year for a Crete Honeymoon
Like many of the Greek islands, Crete is a seasonal destination, so hotels in resort- and tourist-heavy destinations are often only open from late spring through early fall. Winter can be chilly and wet, so you're better off booking other times of the year (although the snow-capped peaks and warm tavernas offer a romantic respite from the cold). July is usually sweltering and crowded, so you may want to skip this peak period.
Best Things to Do on a Crete Honeymoon
Tour the Minoan Palace of Knossos
One of the island's archeological highlights that's conveniently located near the capital of Heraklion, Knossos was once Crete's most prized palace. Legend goes that King Minos created a labyrinth here to contain the mythical Minotaur. Skip the line (and avoid waiting in the heat) on a small-group guided tour, where you can learn more about the Bronze Age beauty and what life was like for the Minoans back then.
Explore the Breathtaking Beaches of Crete
Arguably, several of the best beaches in the world are located on the western part of Crete. Elafonissi's pink sand beaches on the Libyan Sea and Balos Beach's surreal lagoon are just a few and, perhaps, the more touristy palces to relax. While both are beautiful, it's worth beach hopping from coast to coast.
Take in the History of Chania
The Venetian city and dramatic fortress of Chania are worth the visit, especially at sunset when the entire city springs to life and the port area is bustling with locals and tourists dining al fresco. Walk the entire port, then head inland to Old Chania to take in historic shops with a side of gelato.
Visit the Hippie Caves of Matala (Grottes de Matala)
If you're staying near Heraklion, a visit to the hippie caves of Matala are worth the drive. These ancient abodes and rooms carved into the side of jutting limestone have been repurposed throughout millennia (the caves go back to the Neolithic Age) and were home to a commune in the '60s and '70s. Rent a beach chair for the day, soak in the sun, take in the dramatic surroundings, and swim to your heart's content.
Day Trip to Spinalonga Island
While in eastern Crete, stroll around the coastal town of Agios Nikolaos, which sits on the ruins of the ancient city of Lato pros Kamara, or visit one of the nearby beaches like Ammoudi or Ammos. From Agios Nikolaos, hop on board a boat trip for a tour of Spinalonga, an island that was once a leper colony and is home to ruins of a Venetian foretress built to protect the bays of Elounda and Mirabello. If you'd prefer to tour villages on the mainland, cruise in a classic Cadillac on a mini road trip organized by nearby Blue Palace Resort.
Go Wine Tasting
Santorini's assyrtiko gets all the attention, but Crete has a winemaking history that spans back nearly 4,000 years. Discover one of the island's indigenous varietals like vidiano or liatiko on a winery visit and tasting. If you're staying in Chania, head to the nearby Manousakis Winery for mezze like kalitsounia (herb, spinach and cheese pies) and a terroir tasting of five wines. The favorite could be a souvenir that you can sip as a honeymoon memory when you get back home.
The Best Crete Resorts and Hotels for a Honeymoon
A gem of a honeymoon hotel in Crete, St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas is located along its own bay within the Mirabello Bay, giving the experience an even more private and exclusive feel. The Small Luxury Hotels property is for guests ages 16 and up, meaning couples can expect peace, quiet and romance. Accessible too, this heavenly enclave of a five-star resort is just a 10-minute drive from Elounda and a short boat ride away to Spinalonga, as well as easily accessible to main attractions in town too. We wouldn't blame you if you'd opt to stay on the resort though: with private beaches (both rock and sand), multiple dining options (at full and half-board options), and just about the most beautiful infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean, it's the type of place you'll want to post up–and that's why it's perfect for a honeymoon.
One of the more overlooked parts of the island, the northeastern corner between Heraklion and Agios Nikolais is flanked by gorgeous Mediterranean beaches that honeymooners will have practically all to themselves. Book one of recently renovated Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay's new bungalow suites that shows off sweeping sea views. You'll have plenty of options for places to unwind, from the standing tub in the marble-clad bathroom to the swing chairs hanging by the private plunge pool.
One of the best hotels in Crete for honeymoons, Blue Palace's bungalows, suites and villas are built into the hillside overlooking the sea and neighboring island of Spinalonga. Giving Santorini vibes with rooms opening up to private plunge pools carved into the cliffs, this haven will be a hard one to leave. But it's worth it for the sunset view from the veranda of Arsenali Lounge Bar or seaside dinner at Greek taverna Blue Door, which serves preserved family recipes in an intimate space that was once a fisherman's stone house.
Feeling more like a small village than sprawling resort, Cretan Malia Park is a great base for couples who want to explore some of the island's highlights like Minoan palace ruins and Heraklion's Venetian harbor. The laid-back hotel is on the rustic-chic side, covered in natural Mediterranean gardens with the mountains bordering one side and the sea the other. Sip cocktails under thatched umbrellas by the beach shack or take a dip in one of the three pools. A Design Hotel, couples will enjoy the architecture of the hotel. It is a family-friendly resort and something to bear in mind when visiting during the summer.
Blending into the stunning natural landscape, this adults-only property often tops the list of best hotels in Greece for its design-savvy cliff suites and waterfront villas with private glass infinity pools perched over the sea. Cuisine is crafted with handpicked ingredients from small farms around the island, and dishes give a modern spin to Cretan classics. Since wellness is at the core of the concept, couples looking to recharge will find plenty of ways, including an authentic Turkish-style hammam and sea-facing yoga shala.
After landing in the history-rich city of Chania, whose charming Old Town is crowned by a 14th-century Venetian harbor, you'll quickly arrive at the newly opened Isla Brown Chania, where you can start your honeymoon with a dip in the hotel's natural beach. Couples can even book the dedicated Honeymoon Suite with a wraparound deck and private pool overlooking the Aegean.
What to Pack for a Crete Honeymoon
Summers in Crete can be scorching, so you'll want to pack essentials like sunglasses and a hat (don't forget sunscreen!), plus clothing you'll feel comfortable strolling around in. Breezy dresses, linen separates, and comfortable sandals are great daytime staples. If you're sightseeing and touring ruins, you may want to wear enclosed sneakers or espadrilles. A light sweater and longer dresses or pants are great for breezy evenings, and bring a dressier outfit or two for a nice night out.
Fancy footwear isn't necessary here, but you can always elevate an outfit with a pair of wedges or chunky heels. If you forget anything at home, Crete has great shopping, with a mix of international and Greek brands, plus artisan-focused concept shops like three-generation jewelry brand Labyrinth and boutiques like Athens-based Anthologist. Again, it's where you'll want to pick up goodies for your loved ones. If you rent a car, we recommend stopping by local farmstands where you can stock up on artisanal olive oil, honey and beeswax. Don't forget Greek gold at key jewelry shops in Heraklion or Agios Nikolaos, as well as Greek sandals at local boutiques–they source buttery soft materials from their leather suppliers.
–Esther Lee contributed to the reporting of this article.