December 5, 2022

Our Guide to Four Must-Visit Towns in Crete

With many retaining an old-world traditional charm, these towns in Crete are some of the …

By Nardia Plumridge




Loutro, Crete | Photo Source: Linternaute

With many retaining an old-world traditional charm, these towns in Crete are some of the best to visit for a truly authentic Greek island escape.

Matala Beach, Crete | Photo Source: Milada Vigerova, Unsplash


A quiet fishing village with a laid-back feel and a long sandy beach, Matala remains an idyllic and popular seaside destination. A bohemian heritage dating back to the ’60s led to songstress Joni Mitchell singing about the town on her 1971 album Blue, and that whimsical charm remains today with Matala’s quaint laneways filled with shopping boutiques and dining options. Many of the latter boast seaside seats with spectacular views; where legend has it, Zeus emerged from the waters disguised as a bull. Further up the beach, man-made caves carved into sandstone cliffs are also legendary, with a history dating to the Neolithic Age, and which today you can explore for a small entrance fee.


A picturesque promenade along a colourful port is lined with fishing boats, cafes and taverns, with architecture heavily influenced by its rich Venetian past. Wander Rethymno’s narrow lanes to discover old yet elegant mansions, churches and leafy gardens with a medieval flair. Yet its heritage goes even further, with Classical, Hellenic and Roman remains found at the Archaeological Museum (the marble statue of Aphrodite that dates to the 1st century AD is worth the entrance fee). The museum is perched on Paleokastro Hill beside an imposing medieval castle, the star-shaped 16th-century Fortezza, that overlooks Rethymno town and the sparkling Sea of Crete.

Rethymno, Crete | Photo Source: Greece Travel Ideas

Chania Town

Arguably one of the most beautiful towns in Crete for its picturesque port, old town charm with medieval roots with added Egyptian and Ottoman influences. And a worthy visit with so much to explore. From the Cathedral of Eisodion tis Theotokou to the Archaeological Museum of Chania in the former monastery of St. Francis. To the Nautical Museum housed in the 16th-century fortress of Firka with its model ships and naval paraphernalia detailing the town’s maritime past. For a decent souvenir, head to the Leather Market for excellent shopping and a nod to Chania’s heritage as a leather-making hub. While the Municipal Market of Chania is a must-do for foodies, housed in a listed building dating to 1913 filled with butchers, grocers and other food stalls where you can witness the daily bustle of the locals and sample Cretan products like cheeses, olives, honey and the national drink of Crete, raki.

Loutro, Crete | Photo Source: Kayak


With its whitewashed buildings coloured by blue shutters, pink bougainvillaea, and a bay of turquoise water, it’s a classic Greek island image that makes Loutro a popular destination – and worth venturing to. Access is by boat, or a long hike, from Chora Sfakion on Crete’s south coast, so those who make an effort are greeted by this luring small town with narrow alleys leading up to Lefka Ori or the White Mountains. Being a fishing village, it’s only natural to find along the waterside several fish taverns with checked tablecloths and fresh seafood on the menu, ideal for a long lunch. While a rocky pebble beach has sun lounges for hire, you can hike a portion of the E4 path, past centuries-old castle ruins, that boasts incredible views across the Libyan Sea.

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