Best off-the-beaten-track hotels on Crete

Inland Crete is surprisingly different from the impression you might receive of the island if you stay on or near the coastal areas with their - admittedly - lovely sandy beaches, and rich archaeological treasures and historic sights (the Minoan Palace of Knossos, Heraklion Archaeological Museum and medieval Réthymno are just three highlights not to be missed). But our pick of the best off-the-beaten-track hotels on Crete will allow you to explore the island as it has existed for centuries, away from the tourist glare and the seaside crowds.


Inland you will find olive and lemon groves, rounded hills and hill-top villages with frescoed chapels and friendly tavernas - the latter often make their own produce such as olive oil, cheese and wine. To the west are the snow-capped White Mountains; craggy limestone peaks with karst plateaus and deep canyons running to the coast. Here is a botanist's and birdwatcher's paradise: hoopoes, eagles, vultures plus wild thyme, lavender and rare orchids.

Choose one of the best off-the-beaten-track hotels on Crete to experience the peaceful side of island life.

Best off-the-beaten-track hotels on Crete

For a traditional stay

White River Cottages

  • It would be hard to get more into a simple Cretan life than at Aspros Potamos, a collection of 10 stone cottages tucked in a small canyon near the south-east coast. Expect whitewashed stone interiors, open rafters, paraffin lamps and simple wooden furniture. Utterly peaceful.
  • There are more traditionally restored houses at Milia Village deep in mountain forests above Chania. Solar electricity, water from the stream and wood-burning stoves ensure a comfortably rustic atmosphere, with organic food at communal mealtimes.
  • If you wish to self-cater (albeit it in modest kitchens), take a look at White River Cottages, a huddle of whitewashed shepherds' cottages with stone-flagged floors and timbered ceilings surrounded by olive and citrus trees. They’re peaceful and comfortable plus there’s a pretty pool.

For a pampering stay

Kapsaliana Village Hotel

  • If you'd prefer a few luxuries with your remote location, Elia Hotel & Spa is worth checking. Restored farm cottages are set within peaceful gardens and olive and lemon trees. Views to the sea are stunning plus there's a pool, sauna and hammam.
  • Equally comfortable, Kapsaliana Village Hotel is a former farmhouse converted into 10 rooms that mix contemporary and rustic furnishings. Organic food is served in the restaurant plus there's a sun-trap pool.

For the beach

Hotel Porto Loutro

  • Hotel Porto Loutro may be on the beach, but it's also off most tourist radars. Located in a car free village on Crete's little know South West coast, it's perfect for a simple seaside getaway.
  • Villa Kynthia may not be stuck in the middle of nowhere, but it's off the beaten track in the sense that it's located in a pretty village, not usually frequented by mass tourism (the crowds head for the larger resorts along the coast road). Rooms are full of 19th century period touches and there's a lovely pool. Plus the beach is just a short stroll away.

For families

Vamos Traditional Village

  • Eleonas Traditional Houses are ideal for all the family. In a stunning rural location, there's loads of activities both on site and further afield from archery, to hiking to cookery classes. Plus there's a lovely pool and stunning views.
  • Vamos Traditional Village offers charming self catering accommodation situated in a sleepy village, yet you're just ten minutes drive from the beach. And it's great value too. Perfect for a family holiday.
  • Mourtanakis Residence is another property with villa style accommodation located in a quiet village. It's ideal for families looking to enjoy both the great outdoors and the beach (it's close to four different beaches). The accommodation is simple and modern plus there's an on site pool and terraces for lounging!

If you want to get under the skin of the island, and discover its true beauty, choose one of the best off-the-beaten-track hotels on Crete. Nothing here that fits the bill? Expand your search and check out all our Crete recommendations.

  • Aspros Potamos

    Lasithi, Crete

    A home-away-from-home deep in rural tranquility with beaches, bars and tavernas a walk away. Small collection of traditional stone cottages make perfect base for families. Self-catering and BBQ available for all. Return to simpler times at this beautiful hideaway on Crete.

    10 rooms from $45
    Eco break  -  They have restored the huts in a purely traditional fashion, using all natural materials and only renewable energy sources.
    Back to Nature  -  This stunning area of natural beauty combines beaches and mountains covered by lush greenery, pine, olive and citrus trees.
    Great walks  -  Explore the ancient settlement of Aspros Potamos on foot, terrain is ideal for hikers and mountaineers
    Local markets  -  The local village with restaurants, bars and a market is only 1km away.
  • White River Cottages

    Lasithi, Crete

    A charming hamlet of 13 former shepherds cottages surrounded by olive groves and citrus trees. The self catering studios are rustic and quaint and with stunning views of the local area and sea. This authentic and secluded spot is a 15-minute walk from the beaches and local town.

    13 rooms from $96
    Romantic Break  -  The charmingly rustic self contained studios and apartments are ideal for couples looking for a bit of privacy and romance.
    Hideaway  -  Off the tourist track, this peaceful retreat is set in stunning natural landscape and only a 15 min walk to the beach.
    Great walks  -  Explore this stunnig landscape on foot, full of olive groves, citrus trees and stunning landscapes.
    Sights nearby  -  Walk down through the olive groves to Makriyialos, the prettiest town on this stretch of coast.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
  • Milia Village

    Chania, Crete

    A remote mountain stay in traditionally restored houses with stunning views of the mountains. This tranquil escape offers rustic comfortable rooms and communal dining for all. Relax and enjoy the delicious organic food, lovely walks and break from the modern world.

    14 rooms from $89
    Hideaway  -  Surrounded by stunning landscapes and raw nature, with little connectivity and plenty of reasons to never want to leave!
    Eco break  -  Restored using natural materials, all organic produce, water from the stream, solar electricity, no plastic on site.
    Birdwatching  -  Pack a pair of binoculars, everything from vultures to pipits, wagtails, finches and herons hide in the riverine woods.
    Great walks  -  There are six trails from your doorstep, varying in lengh and difficulty so be sure to ask first!
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
  • Elia Hotel & Spa

    Ano Vouves, Crete

    This small, rustic spa retreat offers peace and quiet in the Cretan hills. With a pool and a good traditional restaurant, it's the kind of cosy cocoon that some guests won't want to leave, but for those who do the bright lights of Chania are a short drive away.

    9 rooms from $119
    Spa breaks  -  Sauna and hammam
    Sights nearby  -  Monastery of Chrissoskalitissa. Ancient Olive Tree Museum and world's oldest olive tree a short walk away
    Great walks  -  Easy-going walks on the doorstep, challenging treks nearby
    Spa  -  Spa treatments including mud massage and aromatherapy
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
  • Kapsaliana Village Hotel

    Arkadi, Crete

    A renovated 18th century olive press mill with simple Cretan architecture. Stone walls, arches and wooden beams combined with minimalistic chic interiors. Rooms feature comfy beds, sofas and private terraces with views. Contemporary greek cuisine at the restaurant and an outdoor pool. Heaven.

    17 rooms from $179
    Romantic Break  -  Located on the beautiful island of Crete, stylish rooms, fresh food and great service. Perfect for couples.
    Back to Nature  -  Surrounded by large olive groves with sweeping views of the outstandingly beautiful countryside.
    Sights nearby  -  Guests must visit the Palace of Knossos, a fascinating and historic sight.
    Great walks  -  This is certainly the most beautiful way to explore the island.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith
  • Hotel Porto Loutro

    Loutro, Crete

    A great getaway on an idyllic blue bay in a car-free village, right on the beach. Off the beaten track, this tranquil hotel is ideal for a simple seaside holiday for families. Boasting unspoilt bay views, life plays out on a different tempo here. Utterly relaxing.

    23 rooms from $79
    Value chic  -  Stylish, laidback rooms with breakfast included - all at a great price
    Total relaxation  -  Utterly charming accommodation with sea views
    Restrictions on children  -  No children under 7 years
    Seaside  -  Ideal for a seaside holiday.
  • Villa Kynthia

    Panormos, Crete

    Families with children of all ages love this stylish, family-run hotel that hides itself on a quiet street just moments away from the beach in a low-key village resort. Cool rooms with canopied beds appeal to romantic couples too.

    5 rooms from $126
    Sights nearby  -  Arkadi Monastery - dating to 5th Century
    Local markets  -  Margarites - Pottery making village
    Birdwatching  -  The White Mountains
    Full of character
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
  • Eleonas Traditional Houses


    Stone cottages with classic furniture set amidst beautiful scenery. An on site restaurant and cafe serves local products. Cooking classes, archery lessons and wine tours available. Their sun terraces offer wonderful views, perfect to enjoy a sundowner drink.

    20 rooms from $126
    Active Holiday  -  Hiking trails passing through historical sites, archery, climbing or biking
    Families  -  Special playground for children and a separate pool
    Sights nearby  -  Several archaelogical sites and old monastries in the region
    Birdwatching  -  The lakeside is home to a variety of birds
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
  • Mourtzanakis Residence


    Perched on a hill in the quiet and peaceful village of Achlada. Features balconies in rooms, sit out terraces and an outdoor pool to soak in the ocean views. Contemporary interiors, fireplaces and a small kitchenette. Popular with young couples, families and group seminars.

    8 rooms from $100
    Back to Nature  -  Set in a village surrounded by beautiful scenery and close by to 4 different beaches. An ideal place to enjoy nature.
    Families  -  Villas with 2 bedrooms, a living room, bathrooms and fireplace.
    Great walks  -  Walks into the neighbouring historical villages, to monuments and medieval convents
    Diving  -  Great for experienced divers
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
  • Vamos Traditional Village


    A shining example of how to do low-impact tourism. Vamos is a collection of locally owned self-catering accommodation in and around a sleepy village. Interiors are comfortable and rustic and many feature private pools. Stunning views of the White Mountains are thrown in too. Ideal for families.

    51 rooms from $87
    Families  -  Private villa accommodation, perfect for families
    Value chic  -  Charming villas available at an inviting price
    Cooking classes  -  Traditional cooking courses housed in an old olive mill are a popular activity
    Local markets  -  Pop into nearby Chania (just 30 minutes drive)

Written by  Helen Pickles,
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