Here is our full gay guide to Crete including the best places to sleep, eat, drink, party and more.
Ever since Seby found out that I’m originally Greek, he’s been begging for us to take a trip to Crete.
A big fan of mythology, all things from Aphrodite to Achilles, it was like he was predestined to end up with a Greek fantasy of his very own.
I finally agreed to go on a trip, but only because I’d been watching the two Mamma Mia films and was getting serious Greek island envy. Just looking at images of the beaches was enough to get me all hot and bothered.
Full of history and culture, the fascinating backstories and tantalizing atmosphere can make anyone fall head over hells for Crete. Sure, the gay nightlife may not be as crazy as some of the other Greek islands, like Mykonos' gay scene, but it’s still very much alive, pulsing with music and pure Cretan energy!
Crete is the largest island of Greece, so there’s a lot to see and do. Towns like Agia Galini, Hersonissos, and Chania are where you’ll find most of the gay friendly bars and clubs. Hersonissos is also a great beach spot, with sprawling golden sands and crystal blue waters that are perfect for diving. Though history buffs will find something to gag over anywhere as practically every street corner is brimming with ancient allure.
Here is our full gay guide to Crete, with all our favorite places, things to see and do.
Heads up: We just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links. That means if you book something through one of those links, we'll get a small commission, at no extra cost to you. It helps us keep our blog going – so thank you in advance for your support! ♥
Live out your Mamma Mia fantasy with GaySail!
GaySail is offering multiple all-gay sailing cruises where you get to hop from one Greek island to another with a fabulous group of gentlemen to hand… The best part? All GaySail cruises are entirely clothing-optional and HEAPS of fun! They're super popular though and get booked out pretty fast so be sure to snap up your tickets asap!
Is Crete safe for gay travelers?
Short answer? Yes. But it depends on where you go.
In more rural areas, religious views are rife. The powers of the Greek Orthodox Church run deep, with many locals harboring very conservative views on homosexuality. Be cautious when traveling through these places or when staying in family guesthouses.
Okay, with all of the bad stuff out of the way, let’s talk about how Crete is an LGBTQ travel hotspot. Cosmopolitan regions, such as Heraklion or Chania, are very gay-friendly, with lots of beaches, including nudist ones, and tons of bars that welcome queer patrons. There are thousands of international travelers in Crete at any given time, so they (thankfully) bring their open-mindedness with them.
Sure, the gay scene may not be as explosive as Mykonos or gay Barcelona, but there are still some gay bars to meet fellow LGBTQ travelers and watch a drag show.
In our own experience of staying in accommodation, hotel owners were always welcoming and didn’t create any issues when we checked in. Though, if you want to have peace of mind before flying over, it wouldn’t hurt to call and ask if they’re okay with two men sharing a bed.
Gay hotels in Crete
Whether you love your beaches as much as we do, or are in need of total isolation, Crete has a hotel experience that is custom made for you. Each of the hotels that we’ve listed below offer something different. Some have a more party-centric vibe with night-time entertainment, rooftop bars, and poolside shenanigans, whilst others are more laidback and chilled. What they all have in common is how gay-friendly they all are!
Elysium Boutique Hotel & Spa
Analipsi near Hersonissos
In a nutshell
- Luxurious adults-only 5 star hotel
- Four restaurants with various cuisine options
- Two bars that serve up delicious beverages
- Pampering spa, swimming pool and wellness center
If we were asked to close our eyes and picture a glamorous gay friendly hotel… this would be it!
No matter how big or small your wallet is, you will feel like the crème de la crème during your stay at the Elysium Boutique Hotel. As even the most basic of rooms are beautifully decorated, offer exceptional views of either the garden or the sea, and a ginormous flat screen TV. We recommend splurging on the higher priced rooms which come with their own private pool and Jacuzzi though.
The appropriately named Euphoria restaurant and Divine bar are a real treat. Expert chefs whip up delicious Mediterranean cuisine, whilst bar staff serve mouth-wateringly tasty cocktails. Seby and I never realized how orgasmic food could be! The wellness center is well worth a visit, especially after a long day of exploring the hilly landscapes of Crete. You can have a relaxing massage, beauty treatment or even join a yoga class.
The gay friendly hotel is also just across the street from the beach, so we also escaped down to the golden sands of Analipsi Beach every chance we got. We even convinced friends a few friends we met at the poolside to come along with us (best way to get a willing photographer to snap your beach pics!). If you don't like getting sand everywhere then, of course, you can simply stay beside the hotel's swimming pool all day.
Prices at Elysium Boutique Hotel start from $240 per night:
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.
Esperides Resort Crete, The Authentic Experience
Kououloufari Village, just outside Hersonissos
In a nutshell
- Gorgeous and huge 5 star gay friendly resort
- Two main swimming pools and a wellness spa
- Based just outside Hersonissos in the traditional Koutouloufari Village
- Four delicious on-site restaurants
A village within a village – is there such a thing as village-ception?
We say so as the Esperides Resort feels like its own mini town wrapped up in the middle of a quaint traditional village. Filled with green gardens, stone statues, several restaurants and bars, with a pool in the center of it all, you could book yourself in for a stay and never leave!
The best room we think is the deluxe room. It’s perfect for couples and offers a choice between garden or seaside views, as well as your own balcony or patio. If you can afford to splurge, you can also choose from suites with private pools or Jacuzzis.
Based in the heart of the town of Koutouloufari, you’ll find yourself within half a mile walk from Hersonissos beach, whilst being a breath away from dozens of cafes, bars, and clubs that are dotted around the town.
We loved having the choice of two main swimming pools and the wellness spa. When it comes to dining options, they have four restaurants on-site, each covering various cuisines, like Mediterranean, Cretan, Italian, and Asian. There are also two additional bars, with glamorous cocktails that’ll give you that “rich woman fantasy” whilst simultaneously giving you superb views of the surrounding town and sea.
Prices at Esperides Resort start from $191 per night:
In a nutshell
- Adults-only studio apartments
- Super private, intimate and cozy
- Close to the vibrant town of Agia Galini
- On-site swimming pool and 5 minutes walk to the beach
What has just four studios, a heated pool, epic mountainous scenery, and a lounge bar? The Galini Breeze, of course!
Made up of four detached studio rooms, this complex is a dream come true for anyone looking for a peaceful gay getaway. After all, staff don’t call it “an oasis of tranquility” for nothing.
We noticed an unusually hands-off approach from the owners. They provided us with all the essential amenities, but otherwise, left us to our own devices. Which we kinda dug… For instance, they stocked up our room with enough tea and coffee to last us for the entire trip. They also put fresh breakfast packages into our fridge, to save themselves (and us) the hassle of making it each morning. The studios come with kitchenettes so you can easily self-cater.
This hotel is definitely the ideal option for anyone who likes to be left alone to their own devices whilst traveling, but the hosts are also available if you want to interact with them! They're super sweet and always on the ground to provide any travel tips or guidance when needed – they gave us a whole range of excellent tips and local places to check out.
Prices at Galini Breeze start from $135 per night:
Villaggio Hotel Hersonissos
In a nutshell
- Range of room types for different budgets
- Lovely rooftop bar and swimming pool
- Close to Hersonissos main square
- Divine on-site restaurant
As the newest kid on the block, Villaggio is a fabulously modern, ultra-chic, and super romantic gay friendly getaway for couples. From its funky exterior design to its rooftop bar and swimming pool, every detail of this hotel is touched with sophistication.
There are various room types depending on your group size or travel budget. Budget travelers will love the standard twin room; simplistic but with a private balcony and complimentary breakfast buffet included. However, we recommend splurging on a junior suite, which has its own private pool and stunning views of the nearby mountains. Perfect for travelers staying on their honeymoon.
Our first night was spent gorging on scrumptious Cretan cuisine whilst taking in the exceptional, panoramic views of Hersonissos Bay from the rooftop bar/restaurant/terrace. The bar serves unique cocktails, whilst providing musical entertainment once the sun begins to set. Here is also where you can have a swim or bask in the sun on the terrace while admiring the stunning views.
Just 650 feet outside the front door is the thriving main square, where we found tavernas, cafes, bars, and shops. At night, the streets come alive with music, singing, and dancing – almost like bringing a nightclub outdoors!
Prices at Villaggio Hotel start from $74 per night:
Gay bars and clubs in Crete
Let’s cut to the chase, there isn’t much of a gay scene in Crete. The only exclusively gay bar/club we found was the aptly named Y.O.L.O. but there are lots of gay-friendly places to check out, all of which attract a very international, therefore open-minded, crowd. So, you can go anywhere and be safe with expressing your gayness. For bigger parties, the best bet is to head to Athens or Mykonos.
Y.O.L.O. Crete near Hersonissos
Y.O.L.O by name, Y.O.L.O by nature! The acronym, (which stands for ‘you only live once’), is the mantra that spurred Seby and I to travel the world in the first place. And boy, does this bar embrace it in all its glory! Cheap drinks, handsome bar staff, great music, and fantastic crowds all come together to create a fabulous night out. Y.O.L.O is the only gay bar on the Crete nightlife scene, but it attracts people of all persuasions and genders.
Open: Y.O.L.O Crete is open daily from 10pm until 3am Sunday to Thursday, until 4am on Friday and until 5am on Saturday
Location: You can find it at Kastroy 1 70014 Chersoniso
La Brasserie in Heraklion
La Brasserie is probably the most eclectic gay friendly bar in all of Crete. Where else could you find cocktails, cheesecake, beer, and white chocolate souffle on the menu of a place that also puts on Latin nights every Monday? They are famous for their themed nights, especially their Friday oldies evening, where songs from the 70s through to the early 00s are played. Our personal favorite was karaoke on Tuesdays – we definitely made fools of ourselves, but we looked great doing it!
Open: La Brasserie is open daily from 11am until 4am
Location: You can find it at Κοραή 5 71202 Heraklion
New York Beach Club in Hersonissos
There’s only one thing better than a beach – and it’s a bar on the beach! By day, you can sip on fruity cocktails on the daybed loungers, whilst gazing out onto the still blue waters of the bay. And by night, you can party your heart out as it metamorphoses into a club, worthy even of Manhattan standards! We danced until dawn to fabulous pop music from around the world, whilst treating ourselves to delicious (and affordable) drinks, all the while being catered to by lovely staff.
Open: New York Beach Club is open daily from 9am until 5am (Sunday to Thursday) and 7am (Friday and Saturday)
Location: You can find it at 30 Agias Paraskevis Street in Hersonissos
Ababa Bar in Chania
“Did we walk into a bar or the Frida Kahlo fan club?” Seby asked as we stepped through the door of Ababa Bar. The walls are covered, ceiling to floor, in painted portraits of the legendary Mexican artist. She was known for being a bit vain, so we think she’d love this place. Once we settled in, we had a laidback evening with delicious drinks,gay friendly staff, and great Latin music. In the gallery you can buy fabulous artworks, tope bags, t-shirts, mugs, and framed paintings, all inspired by (yep, you guessed it), Frida!
Open: Ababa is open daily from 10am until 3am Sunday to Thursday and until 4am on Friday and Saturday
Location: You can find it at Εισοδίων 12 73100
Gay beaches in Crete
With sparkling blue waters, prime diving spots, and warm sands, it’s safe to say that what Crete lacks in its gay scene it more than makes up for in beaches. And if you’ve met us, or had a look at our Instagram, you know how much we love a beach! These are the main gay beaches in Crete to check out:
Kavros Beach near Chania
Kavros Beach is known for its warm sands, cool waters… and gay sunbathers. Yep, who’d have thought a remote Greek village would become a prime destination for an LGBTQ beach? Upon arrival, it becomes clear why. It’s basically what every gay guy dreams about when he pictures his idea of Heaven!
The postal code for Kavros is 73007, so your best bet is to pop that into Google Maps. Drive towards the town of Georgioupolis from Kavros and you’ll come across a large car park. Once you find yourself there, look out for a row of sand dunes… this is where you’ll find the hidden LGBTQ spot.
Saradari Beach near Heraklion
Perched on the north coast of Hersonissos, Saradari Beach is a small, but intimate sunbathing spot. Tons of gay guys from nearby hotels swing by here to hang out and make new friends. Who can blame them? Their surroundings are utterly breathtaking. Smooth, white sands, glistening blue waters and a nearby restaurant to grab a bite to eat, it is the ultimate location for a romantic first date.
To get there, pass by the Creta Maris Hotel and head north for around 1 mile. Once you spot the Restaurant Saradari, you’ll know you’ve made it. From there, just follow the signs to the beach.
Kommos Beach in South Crete
A haven for nudists. A nesting site for loggerhead sea turtles. Remnants of the old port of Kommos are still visible to this day. It’s no wonder this beach left us flabbergasted! Fair warning though: things can get a bit blowy here. And no, we’re not talking about that kind of blowing. It’s on the west coast of the island where winds are stronger and therefore the waters are often quite choppy.
It’s a tricky enough spot to find, mainly because there aren’t any nearby buildings to use as a reference point. The easiest way to find it is to take the road to Matala until you see a sign for Kommos.
Gay Pride in Crete
The gay Pride of Crete is usually held in Heraklion and has therefore been coined “HerPride”. It takes place across two days at the end of June/early July and dowses the whole town in rainbow colors, glitter dust, and unapologetically camp pop music! Across the two days, you can expect rallies, LGBTQ-themed movie screenings, DJ dance parties, and drag performances in local bars. What’s not to get excited about?
Unlike other gay Pride events, Crete’s doesn’t welcome any corporate sponsors or commercialization. Instead, it focuses on bolstering the platform of LGBTQ organizations and performers working across Greece. It brings Pride back to its roots of being a protest, and not just an excuse to get drunk on the streets. We stan!
Best restaurants in Crete
You can’t go to Greece without visiting a taverna… how else can you claim to have tried authentic Greek cuisine? It’s the best place to try meze (plural: mezedes) – lots of little plates of food brought to your table. So, you can try a bit of everything. Oh, and did we mention how yummy Greek wine is, particularly the signature retsina? Hand on heart, it compliments every meal spectacularly! These are the best restaurants in Crete for some yummy meze:
The Five Restaurant in Chania
The people behind The Five Restaurant don’t think of food as just another meal but as a sacred ritual. It’s no wonder their staff are so passionate about serving up such delicious dishes. From mouth-watering seafood to tantalizing falafels, The Five perfectly captures the taste of Greece in one sit down experience. What’s more is how the layout perfectly utilizes its exquisite Chania backdrop. Their tables spill out onto the beachfront, offering marvelous views of the Mediterranean waters and surrounding promenade.
Oinoa Wine Restaurant in Chania
Heralded as Chania’s number 1 restaurant, we took time out of our busy schedules to sample this lauded eatery in the name of research (not because of their extensive wine list…) We started with a beef tartar that was quirkily combined with quail eggs, immediately giving us a sense of how imaginative Oinoa Wine Restaurant’s palate is. We had a black angus burger for our mains, followed by a shared sorbet ice cream, each of us falling more in love with their food with each course.
Taverna Harakas in Hersonissos
Head on over to the glossy town of Hersonissos for some quintessential Greek hospitality. Despite arriving on a busy night with dozens of families and couples to cater for, the staff at Taverna Harakas were prompt, efficient, and super friendly. The owners were out and about on the restaurant floor, making all their guests feel welcome. Their menu is jam-packed with an array of salads, seafoods, spicy meats, and veggie delights – enough to keep even the fussiest of eaters thoroughly satisfied.
Karavi Cafe Bar Restaurant in Hersonissos
Karavi is the beach personified. With white-washed walls, surrounding Mediterranean views, sofas converted from fishing boats, and scrumptious seafood. Dining here leaves you feeling like a transfigured mermaid… Ariel wishes she could chill in a place this cool! It’s part-café/bar, part-restaurant, so you can come here for a laid-back drink or a coffee or tuck into a fabulous, locally sourced gourmet meal. They also have a pool area where you can hang out with friends and connect with new people.
Elia Traditional Cretan Taverna in Sellia
From the moment we stepped off the cobbled Cretan pathway into the Elia taverna, the owner, Nico, embraced us with open arms. By the time we’d finished, we felt like we’d made a lifelong friend. In terms of the food, it’s 10s 10s 10s across the board! No matter what dish we tried, our plates were bursting with color and flavor. We highly recommend the lamb due to its rich blend of garlic and gravy sauces. It was utterly delectable! And the backdrop of gentle street music was enough to rival the soppiest of romcom movies…
What to do in Crete
Crete is packed with so much to see and do that it will satisfy both high energy adventure travelers like myself as well as beach bums like Seby who just want to spend the day chilling on a pretty seashore. The west side of the island is the best part in our opinion, in particular, the Samaria Gorge, Chania and Elafonisi Beach, each of which embody the delightful charm people imagine when they think of Greece.
Trekking Samaria Gorge
“There’s no better cure for a hangover than a walk in nature”, Seby annoyingly proclaimed as he dragged me from my recovery slumber to trek Samaria Gorge. This 10-mile trail will take you past flowering wildflowers, impressive cliffs, and jaw-dropping sea views. You’ll get tons of Insta-ready snapshots and a lifetime of bragging that you conquered the second largest canyon in Europe. The gorge is only open to the public spring through early autumn, so plan your trip accordingly if you want to undertake this ecological odyssey! You can also do a guided day trip from either Chania or Rethymnon.
Chania Old Town
In Chania’s Old Town, every street corner is dripping with history, culture, and Greek magic. By taking in the marvelous sights of the Venetian-style harbor, you’re absorbing the influences of ancient Minoan times, as well as the Ottoman Turkish period. By meandering through the cobbled streets, you’ll unconsciously take in the plethora of architectural inspirations from Eastern Europe to neoclassicism. Be sure to pop into the many shops, cafes, and restaurants to sample local delicacies and chat with the charming Cretan villagers who make up the Chania charm, or book a private Old Town tour with stops at mouth-watering street food places to get the best of ALL worlds!
You’ll roll your eyes as we say this, but Elafonisi is one of our favorite beaches in the world, and we really mean it this time. It is exactly what people picture when prompted to think of a perfect beach – plus the sand is pink! Not like, fluro pink, but there's a definite blush to be seen, which makes it quite a popular beach… this isn't a deserted place for a spot of nude sunbathing, that's for sure. But if you can make your way to Elafonisi Island (day trip buses leave from Chania or Renythmo) for the day, you'll get some unforgettable memories, and photos!
Our first ever dive was right here in Crete when we first started dating! Whether you’re a scuba rookie or have been diving for years, there are plenty of great diving spots along the Crete coastline. A must visit site, regardless of experience level, is the area along the Chania Old Town where marine live thrives. Beneath the surface, you’ll discover stone arches, volcanic rocky reefs, and marine life so vibrant, you’ll wonder why Ariel from ‘The Little Mermaid’ ever dreamt of leaving such a place. If you've never done it before, this is also an excellent location for learning how to scuba dive!
The Palace of Knossos
One of the most defining structures of the Cretan landscape, the Palace of Knossos will tickle the fancy of anyone fascinated by Greek mythology. It’s stood its ground since the Neolithic period and is home to the legend of the Minotaur (the half-man/half-bull son of King Minos). Embark on one of the many guided walking tours that take you through the palace, so you can learn all the legends and myths that surround the structure.
Spinalonga certainly has a fascinating backstory. From being raided by pirates in the 7th century, to falling under Ottoman rule after years of Venetian occupancy, to being designated as a colony for lepers in the 20th century (yes, really), this island has seen it all. Today, the island is uninhabited, with no options for overnight accommodations. To visit you’ll need to take a boat from either Plaka, Elounda, or Agios Nikolaos. We highly recommend reading the excellent Victoria Hislop novel, “The Island” to learn more about Spinalonga’s fascinating past.
Rethymnon Old Town
An alternative to the bustling Chania Old Town, Rethymnon (also called Rethymno) is quiet and laidback. The town is made up of tiny streets that take visitors past bistro restaurants and adorable cafes. The main street of Ruga Maistra (Venizelou Avenue) runs parallel to the sea, allowing you to take in the rush of the waves as you browse the many shopfronts. Notice how the buildings have the unique stamp of Venetian architecture, echoing how it was founded after the Venetians conquered Crete. For something totally different, you can even tour the Old Town by segway!
Plan your trip to Crete
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Crete. Read on to find out everything the gay traveler should know before they go.
Travel insurance: Even in safe destinations like Crete, things can go wrong when you're traveling, from lost luggage to illness. We never travel without the security of travel insurance and urge you to do the same. We've been using Heymondo Travel Insurance for years and always been happy with their affordable but comprehensive cover. It's also really easy to make a claim online when something does go pear-shaped!
How to get there: Since Crete is an island you'll only be able to reach it by ferry (from many of the other Greek islands) or flying from Athens and other European cities. There are two main airports in Crete, which both have connections from European cities, Heraklion Airport Nikos Kazantzakis and Chania International Airport Ioannas Daskalogiannis. There is also a small airport in Sitia, which only has domestic flights, mostly arriving from Athens.
Both of the larger airports have bus and taxi links to the city, but if you're planning to visit both cities (and other parts of the island) then we recommend hiring a car to get around. If you're only having a short break then we recommend pre-booking a private transfer with Welcome Pickups as they're more affordable than the local taxis and you're guaranteed an English-speaking driver, who will be waiting for you no matter what time you arrive.
Visa requirements: Many visitors to Crete will not need a visa to enter Greece and stay as a tourist for up to 90 days. If you come from another country in the EU, Canada, Australia, Japan, or the United States then you won't need a visa, but make sure you check your personal visa requirements before booking anything, just to be 100% sure!
Getting around: To get around the island of Crete you can use public buses, ferries, taxis, or hire your own car. The bus services are cheap and reliable, although obviously slower than driving yourself. If you are looking to save money then we suggest using the official Crete public transport site to plan your travels by bus.
Vaccinations: All travelers to Crete should ensure they are up to date with routine vaccinations for measles, mumps, chickenpox etc, and Covid-19. Depending on where else you might be visiting in Greece, and what you might be doing, you may also need vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B or rabies. Make sure you check the CDC website and speak to your doctor before planning your trip.
Currency: The currency used on Crete is the Euro, just like the rest of Greece. The symbol for the euro is € and $1 US converts to around 90 Euro cents. £1 is worth around €1.17.
Tipping culture: Since Greece as a whole (and islands like Crete, in particular) are popular tourist destinations, tipping is widely expected as a reward for good service. Some restaurants may include a service charge on the bill so you don't need to tip on top of that. Generally, a few euros or ten percent of a bill is a normal amount to tip for good service. You can read more about tipping in Greece here.
Internet access: Free WiFi is available at most hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars on Crete. If you will need a reliable connection for work or want to be able to connect multiple devices, you can also get a portable WiFi device to use during your trip.
Accommodation: For more accommodation options on Crete, head to Booking.com, our favorite place to choose hotels, resorts and more. We often like to be spontaneous when traveling, like if we decide we love somewhere and want to extend our stay. Luckily many of the listings on Booking.com offer free cancellation and their excellent online customer support is also available 24/7 if you need assistance.
Sightseeing and adventure: We always use GetYourGuide to find fun activities, tours and excursions when we're traveling, as they have so many different options to choose from. No matter your interests you're sure to find something you love! They also have excellent customer service that's available 24/7 and it's really easy to book online through the website.
When to visit: The peak season for visiting Crete is summer, between the months of May and October, when the weather is perfect for swimming. If you are more interested in history, food and wine then you can save money by visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, when the weather is still warm but most things are more affordable as they're not as busy.
Gay map of Crete
We've put all the places from this post into one handy map for you, so you can easily plan and enjoy your own gay trip to Crete! We hope it helps you have a fabulous time…
For more inspiration:
- For more sun and sand, check out our guide to the best gay beaches in Europe
- These are our favorite gay holiday destinations in Europe
- As well as the gayest cities in all of Europe!
- If you like to explore lots of places without changing to a new hotel, check out the best gay cruises
- And the best gay nude cruises for that all-over tan!
- We even have a guide to the best gay nude beaches in the world