Crete vs. Santorini

Crete and Santorini are two of the most popular travel destinations in Greece, each offering unique experiences to visitors. Both islands have breathtaking scenery, gorgeous beaches, rich cultures, and delicious cuisines. So whether you are looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an adventure-filled getaway, both Crete and Santorini have something great to offer.
Crete vs. Santorini

Table of Contents

Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, known for its beautiful beaches, fascinating history, and stunning natural landscapes. On the other hand, Santorini is a smaller island with a unique volcanic caldera, breathtaking cliffside villages, and luxurious accommodations. That said, both islands will surely give you a memorable travel experience!


Crete, the largest island in Greece, is a destination that offers you a unique blend of stunning natural beauty, rich history, and delicious cuisine. When traveling to Crete, you can expect a warm welcome from the friendly locals, an abundance of beautiful beaches, and a wide range of activities and experiences to enjoy.

Aside from beaches, Crete is home to many charming traditional villages, such as Archanes and Vamos. If you are interested in history and archaeology, Crete is home to many ancient ruins and historical sites that you can explore. The island also has many museums and galleries that showcase Crete’s art, culture, and history. Overall, a trip to Crete is a unique and unforgettable experience that offers something for all kinds of people.

What Makes Crete Unique?

Traditional Villages

Crete is home to many picturesque traditional villages that offer a unique glimpse into the island’s rich history and culture. Many villages date back hundreds or even thousands of years and retain much of their traditional architecture and customs.

The villages also host several cultural events throughout the year, such as the Wine Festival and Chestnut Festival. The festivals give you a chance to experience local customs and traditions.

Additionally, you can visit ancient archaeological sites and taste local delicacies like dakos and kalitsounia. The locals in the villages are welcoming and friendly. Many locals speak English, so it will be easy for you to communicate and learn about their way of life. The traditional villages in Crete are the perfect place to be if you want a break from the busy tourist areas.


Archanes is a traditional village located in the Heraklion region of Crete. The village is famous for its narrow streets lined with traditional houses and stunning views of the surrounding vineyards and olive groves.

One of the main attractions in Archanes is the Minoan archaeological site, which includes a Minoan palace and a cemetery. You can explore the ruins in this place and learn about the ancient civilization that once thrived in the area.

The village also has several museums, such as the Archaeological Museum of Archanes, that showcase artifacts from the Minoan era. You can also visit the Cretan Historical and Folklore Museum if you want to see traditional Cretan costumes, tools, and household items. On top of that, you can also taste local delicacies at different local tavernas and restaurants.


Vamos is a charming village located in the Chania region of Crete. The village is popular for its stunning architecture, including traditional stone houses and Venetian buildings.

In Vamos, you can explore the village’s narrow streets and alleys. It’s a great way to admire the beautiful gardens and courtyards that decorate many of the houses. In addition, Vamos is home to several museums, such as the Vamos Folklore Museum and the Olive Museum.

Apart from its rich history and culture, Vamos is famous for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. Many olive groves and vineyards surround the village. It offers many hiking and biking trails that allow you to explore the stunning countryside. Vamos is also a short drive from the beaches of Almyrida and Kalyves, where you can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy water sports.


Anogia is a unique and fascinating village that gives you a glimpse into the heart and soul of Cretan culture. Anogia is a remote and rugged village with strong traditions and a unique way of life. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and you can expect to be greeted with warm hospitality and a cup of strong Cretan coffee.

One of the highlights of a visit to Anogia is experiencing the village’s traditional music and dance. The locals are proud of their cultural heritage and are always more than happy to share it with travelers. They also enjoy performing the energetic and lively Syrtos dance. You can expect to hear the soothing melodies of the Cretan lyra, a traditional stringed instrument.

Warm Hospitality

The locals in Crete are known for their warm and welcoming nature, which adds to the island’s charm and appeal. Visitors to Crete often comment on how friendly and hospitable the locals are, making it easy for tourists to feel at home in a foreign country. The locals are always happy to share their knowledge of the island. They will recommend places to visit and things to do to help you make the most of your trip.

On top of their welcoming nature, the Cretans also know how to have fun. The island is known for its lively festivals and events, which are celebrated with music, dancing, and plenty of food and drink. Visitors are often invited to join in the festivities, and it’s not uncommon to see locals and tourists dancing together in the streets.

The locals in Crete will make sure that your trip to the island is memorable with their warm hospitality and love of fun.

Gorgeous Beaches

Nestled between the southern Aegean Seas and northern Libyan Seas, Crete is a sought-after destination in the summer. With a coastline stretching over 1,000 km (621 mi), Crete is the largest island in Greece and home to hundreds of stunning beaches. Crete offers a wide range of beaches, from secluded coves to long stretches of sand lined with beach bars and restaurants.

The beaches in Crete are truly breathtaking and attract tourists from all over the world. They offer crystal-clear waters, soft golden sand, and stunning natural scenery. The island’s beaches are famous for their beauty. Many of them have been awarded Blue Flag status, a recognition of their cleanliness and environmental standards.

Plakias Beach

Plakias Beach is located in the southern part of Crete and is popular for its stunning scenery, crystal-clear waters, and a long stretch of black sand. The beach is surrounded by rugged cliffs and is situated in a picturesque bay.

It’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. Plakias Beach is also known for its excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities, as the waters are full of marine life, including colorful fish and sea turtles.

In addition to its natural beauty, Plakias Beach also offers visitors a range of amenities and facilities. There are many restaurants that you can visit to taste different local dishes. If you want to go shopping, you can also stroll along the beach promenade. It’s lined with shops and boutiques selling souvenirs and handmade crafts.

Vai Beach

What really sets Vai Beach apart is its unique history. Legend has it that the palm trees at Vai Beach were brought to Crete by Arab pirates who raided the island in the 9th century. The pirates brought the seeds of the exotic palms with them, which they then planted on the beach. Today, the palm grove at Vai Beach is a protected area where you can stroll through the shady paths and take in the beauty of these ancient trees.

Vai Beach is one of the most stunning beaches in Crete, so it’s no surprise that it’s a must-visit destination for tourists. The golden sand, crystal-clear water, and the backdrop of palm trees make Vai Beach feel like a slice of paradise.

At Vai Beach, you can swim in the refreshing water or simply relax under the shade of a palm tree. You can even try windsurfing or paddleboarding in the waves if you’re feeling adventurous.

Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi Beach is located on the southwestern coast of Crete. The beach is famous for its stunning pink sand, crystal-clear waters, and dramatic landscapes, making it a top destination for anyone visiting Crete. The beach is on a small island connected to the mainland by a shallow lagoon, allowing you to walk through the water and explore the island.

Aside from its unique and picturesque landscape, Elafonisi Beach has excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities. The shallow lagoon is home to a variety of marine life, like colorful fish and sea turtles. In addition, the crystal-clear waters offer excellent visibility for snorkelers. The beach is also surrounded by a nature reserve, making it a haven for wildlife and bird-watchers.

Unique Cretan Cuisine

Cretan cuisine is a culinary delight that attracts foodies from all over the world. The taste of Cretan cuisine is rich, flavorful, and hearty, with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The cuisine is also famous for being simple, as it uses only a few ingredients to create dishes that burst with flavor.

You can try different meat dishes, such as lamb or goat, which are often slow-cooked with herbs and spices. The result is tender, juicy meat with a rich, savory flavor. Seafood dishes are also popular, with fresh catches from the Mediterranean Sea often grilled or fried and served with lemon and herbs. If you have a sweet tooth, you can also taste a variety of delicious sweets besides savory dishes.


Dakos is a traditional dish from Crete that locals and visitors love. It’s a type of salad that is made with barley rusks moistened with water or olive oil to soften them up. The rusks are then topped with juicy tomatoes, tangy feta cheese, and plenty of fragrant herbs and spices, such as oregano, basil, and parsley. Combining the crispy rusks and the juicy tomatoes creates a delicious texture that is both satisfying and refreshing.

Dakos is often served as an appetizer, light lunch, or dinner, especially during the hot summer months. It is a great dish to enjoy with a glass of chilled white wine or a cold beer and is perfect for sharing with friends and family. Whether you are a fan of Mediterranean cuisine or just looking to try something new, Dakos is a dish that you must try when visiting Crete.


Gamopilafo is a traditional dish from Crete that is typically served at weddings and other special occasions. It is a type of pilaf or risotto that is made with rice, chicken or lamb broth, and butter. The dish is often seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices, which give it a warm and comforting flavor.

Gamopilafo is a hearty and satisfying dish typically served as a main course. A variety of side dishes, such as grilled vegetables, salad, and bread, accompany it. The dish also pairs perfectly with the rich and complex flavors of Cretan wine.

Be sure to try Gamopilafo at a local restaurant or taverna if you visit Crete. It’s a beloved dish that is an important part of the Cretan culinary culture that will surely make your taste buds crave more.


Apaki is a traditional Cretan delicacy loved by Cretans and tourists who visit the island. The dish is made by marinating pork in a special blend of local herbs and spices, such as thyme, oregano, and rosemary, before smoking it over a wood fire. This gives the pork a distinct smoky flavor that is both delicious and unique.

Apaki is also commonly used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as omelets, pasta, and pizza. Apaki is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in many different ways, making it a must-try when visiting Crete.

If you’re a foodie looking for an authentic taste of Cretan cuisine, then Apaki is a dish you will want to taste. Its rich and complex flavors are a testament to the island’s long culinary traditions. It’s definitely a dish worth tasting when visiting the beautiful island of Crete.


Kalitsounia is a traditional Cretan dish that consists of small savory pies. The pies are commonly served as a snack or appetizer. Kalitsounia is often enjoyed with a glass of local Cretan wine or raki, a strong distilled spirit made from grape skins. Kalitsounia can be found in restaurants and tavernas all over Crete.

The pies are typically made with a pastry dough made of flour, water, and olive oil, which is then filled with a mixture of herbs, cheese, and sometimes vegetables or meat. The filling can vary depending on the region and the cook’s preference, but common ingredients include local Cretan cheese, feta, mint, parsley, and onion. Many families also make their own version of the dish at home. It’s a delicious and authentic taste of the island’s rich culinary heritage.


Santorini is a wonderful jewel of the Aegean Sea. Its stunning beauty, rich history, and unique culture make Santorini a must-visit destination for any traveler. It’s a small island in the Cyclades archipelago that offers many adventures.

Santorini’s iconic white and blue architecture, perched on the edge of a breathtaking caldera, is just the beginning of the island’s many wonders. You can also explore ancient ruins, lounge on black-sand beaches, and indulge in delicious local cuisine.

To immerse yourself in the island’s rich history, you can visit the archaeological site of Akrotiri, a Minoan settlement buried by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. For a more modern twist, you can also explore the island’s thriving wine scene and sample some delicious local varieties.

So whether you’re an adventure seeker or a relaxation enthusiast, Santorini offers many experiences that will leave you enchanted.

What Makes Santorini Unique?

Wonderful Caldera and Volcanic Landscape

Santorini was formed by a volcanic eruption, resulting in a crescent-shaped caldera that is now filled with seawater. This stunning landscape provides a stunning backdrop to the island’s charming villages and picturesque churches. Due to its rugged terrain and colorful cliffs, Santorini’s volcanic landscape is the perfect place to capture aesthetic photos.

If you’re looking for adventure, Santorini’s volcanic landscape has plenty to offer. You can hike to the island’s highest point for an unforgettable panoramic view.

You can also take a dip in the island’s famous hot springs. The naturally heated waters in the springs are believed to have healing properties.

Finally, for the ultimate thrill, a helicopter tour is available for you to see the caldera and the surrounding islands from a bird’s-eye view.

Unique White and Blue Architecture

Step into a world of whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches in Santorini. The island’s unique architecture is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, with a style that is both elegant and practical. Santorini’s unique white and blue architecture is a true masterpiece of design and engineering. It is sure to leave a lasting impression.

You can wander through the narrow streets of the island’s villages, where the buildings seem to merge seamlessly with the cliffs. The stunning views from the rooftop terraces and patios are a fantastic way to watch the world go by while you relax in a café. The island also has cave houses where you can stay in. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the island’s culture and architecture.

Local Wine

Santorini’s local wines are famous around the world, and for good reason. The island’s volcanic soil and unique climate produce some of the most delicious and distinctive wines you’ll ever taste. In addition, you can take a tour of one of the island’s many wineries, where you’ll learn about the traditional winemaking methods. What’s even better on these tours is you can sample some of the local wine varieties.

Santorini’s wines are sure to please even the most discerning palate. From crisp, refreshing whites to rich, full-bodied reds, Santorini has it all. For a unique dining experience, indulge your taste buds by pairing Santorini’s local wines with the island’s fresh, flavorful cuisine.

Enjoying a leisurely meal in one of the island’s many restaurants is a great way to taste the local cuisine. You are sure to find an abundance of locally sourced ingredients and traditional dishes.

Black-Sand Beaches

Look no further than Santorini if you are searching for your next vacation destination. Santorini’s black-sand beaches are incredibly gorgeous. The black-sand beaches are formed from the island’s volcanic history. The result is a striking contrast between the dark sand and the clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

To get a break from the fast-paced city life, you can escape to the island’s black-sand beaches for a day of relaxation and adventure.

Unlike any other beach you’ve visited, Santorini’s black-sand beaches are striking and surreal. The dramatic cliffs and stunning views give you the perfect backdrop for a day of sun, sea, and adventure.

There are several black-sand beaches in Santorini, each with distinct charm and character. Perissa Beach, located on the island’s southeast coast, and Kamari Beach, located on the east coast of the island, are two popular choices.

Perivolos Beach

Perivolos Beach is a beautiful and tranquil destination located on the southern coast of Santorini. It is a perfect spot for those looking for a more peaceful and secluded beach experience. The beach is characterized by its stunning black sand, crystal-clear waters, and a backdrop of rocky cliffs that provide a breathtaking view.

The beach is a great destination for water sports enthusiasts. It has a wide range of activities, such as jet skiing, paddleboarding, and windsurfing. In addition, the beach is known for its clean and clear waters, providing the perfect environment for exploring the underwater world. The beach transforms into a lively destination in the evening, with various bars and restaurants offering live music and entertainment.

Monolithos Beach

Monolithos Beach is a charming destination located on the east coast of Santorini. This beautiful beach has soft black sand, crystal-clear waters, and a tranquil atmosphere. The beach is ideal for families with young children, as it has shallow waters. It is an excellent location if you are looking for a quiet spot to relax and unwind away from the crowds.

On top of its natural beauty, Monolithos Beach is also famous for its excellent seafood restaurants. You can enjoy a range of traditional Greek dishes, freshly caught seafood, and refreshing drinks while enjoying the stunning view of the Aegean Sea. The beach also has a playground and a beach volleyball court for those who want to engage in physical activity.

Mavros Gialos Beach

Mavros Gialos Beach is located in the southern part of Crete. The beach is named after the dark sand that lines its shores, creating a unique and picturesque landscape, unlike any other beach in Crete.

Mavros Gialos is well-known for its clear waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. You can stroll along the beach and enjoy the stunning scenery, including rugged cliffs and majestic mountains in the background.

Mavros Gialos Beach is a great spot for visitors who are looking for a relaxing and laid-back atmosphere. The beach is also surrounded by tavernas and cafes that serve delicious local cuisine and refreshing drinks. In addition, you can rent sun loungers and umbrellas if you want to spend the day soaking up the sun while enjoying the tranquil environment.

Which Is Better – Crete or Santorini?

Crete is the better option if you are traveling with your family. Crete is perfect if you are looking for a more diverse landscape, history, and outdoor activities.

On the other hand, Santorini may be the better choice if you desire to have a romantic getaway with your partner. Thanks to its romantic and relaxed atmosphere, Santorini is a very popular destination for honeymooners.

Greek people are popular for their hospitality and friendliness, so expect a warm welcome and an unforgettable experience. Both Crete and Santorini have beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, rich histories, and good food. Whichever place you choose between the two, you will surely have an amazing vacation that will leave a lasting impression on you!


Crete or Santorini in October?

Both Crete and Santorini are beautiful destinations to visit, and both have special charms. However, there are a few factors to consider when deciding between the two for an October trip.

October is considered the low season for tourism in Greece, so both islands will be quieter and less crowded than during the summer months. However, Santorini is more popular among tourists than Crete. This means that even in October, it may be more crowded in Santorini.

That said, it’s a great time to visit both Crete and Santorini in October as the crowds have thinned. The temperatures are mild, but you should note that the weather may be slightly cooler and wetter in Crete compared to Santorini. You may also experience some rainfall in Crete, and the sea temperature may be cooler than in Santorini.

Santorini or Crete for Honeymoon?

Santorini is considered the better honeymoon destination among couples compared to Crete. The island has a romantic atmosphere that is perfect for honeymooners. Plenty of secluded beaches, intimate restaurants, and luxurious hotels provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway.

Santorini has some of the most luxurious accommodations in Greece. It has lots of boutique hotels, villas, jacuzzis, resorts with private pools, and many more amenities. It is famous for its picturesque sceneries, breathtaking sunsets, and overall romantic atmosphere. In addition, plenty of restaurants on the island offer fine dining experiences.

Although Crete is still a good honeymoon destination, it is better suited for family vacations. Santorini is the more popular choice for couples. Indeed, Santorini is a great honeymoon destination. The island offers a combination of natural beauty, romance, luxury, and unique experiences that you and your partner can cherish for a lifetime.

Is Santorini in Crete?

No, Santorini is not located in Crete. They are both located in Greece but in different parts of the country. While both islands are part of Greece and are popular tourist destinations, they are not the same place.

Crete is the largest island in Greece and is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea, to the south of the Cyclades island group. It is situated between the mainland of Greece to the north and the coast of North Africa to the south.

On the other hand, Santorini is a small island located in the Cyclades island group in the Aegean Sea, to the southeast of the mainland of Greece. It is situated between the islands of Ios and Anafi.

Crete to Santorini Distance

The straight-line distance from Crete to Santorini is approximately 81 miles (130 kilometers). However, the actual distance between the two islands may vary depending on the route taken by boat or plane.

It’s worth noting that the distance between Crete and Santorini is usually measured as the distance between the two main ports of the islands: Heraklion in Crete and Athinios in Santorini. However, the distance between any specific points on the islands may differ, as they have irregular coastlines and different topography.

Santorini to Crete Flight

The distance between Santorini and Crete is approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles), but the actual flight distance between the two islands may vary depending on the route taken by the airline.

Many flights are available from Santorini to Crete. In addition, there are several airlines that offer direct flights between the two islands, including Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air.

Direct flights between Santorini and Crete typically take around 30-45 minutes, depending on the airline and the specific route. However, flight times may be slightly longer if there are stops or layovers along the way.

It’s worth noting that flight schedules and availability may vary depending on the season. There may be fewer flights available during the low season.

Additionally, flying between the islands can be more expensive than taking a ferry, especially if you’re traveling with a lot of luggage or are on a tight budget. So, it’s always a good idea to compare prices and weigh the pros and cons of different transportation options before making your travel arrangements.

Cruise From Crete to Santorini

It’s possible to take a cruise from Crete to Santorini. Several cruise lines offer itineraries that include Crete and Santorini as ports of call, along with other popular Greek islands. Some of the major cruise lines that offer cruises to Crete and Santorini include:

  • Royal Caribbean
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • MSC Cruises
  • Costa Cruises

Some cruises may offer a shorter trip that lasts only a few days and includes several ports of call, including Crete and Santorini. A typical cruise from Crete to Santorini might last anywhere from 1 to 3 days. Other cruises may be longer and may include additional stops at other popular Greek islands. Many cruises to Crete and Santorini include stops at popular Greek islands such as Mykonos, Rhodes, and Corfu.

Cruise itineraries may vary depending on the cruise line and the time of year. Therefore, it’s important to check the cruise schedule and the time spent in each port to ensure you have enough time to explore each destination.

Additionally, some cruises may include optional shore excursions. This allows you to explore the highlights of each island in more depth if you prefer, but these may come at an additional cost.

Santorini to Crete by High-Speed Ferry

You can travel from Santorini to Crete by high-speed ferry. The travel time between Santorini and Crete by high-speed ferry can range from around 2 to 5 hours, depending on the specific route and the type of ferry. Several ferry companies operate services between the two islands, offering a convenient and relatively fast way to travel between them.

Some of the major ferry companies that operate services between Santorini and Crete are:

  • Sea Jets
  • Golden Star Ferries
  • Minoan Lines
  • Anek Lines
  • Hellenic Seaways

Some ferries stop at other islands along the way, while others offer direct service between Santorini and Crete. In addition, ferry schedules and availability may vary depending on the season. Therefore, booking your tickets in advance is a good idea, especially if you’re traveling during the peak season.

Private Boat From Crete to Santorini

It’s possible to arrange a private boat transfer from Crete to Santorini. It’s a more flexible and personalized option compared to taking a ferry or a flight. For example, you can choose your own departure and arrival times. You can customize your itinerary to include stops at nearby islands or secluded beaches.

The cost of a private boat transfer can vary depending on the size of the boat, the duration of the trip, and any additional services or amenities that may be included, such as a private chef, snorkeling equipment, or a guided tour. Therefore, booking your private boat transfer in advance is important, especially during the peak season. You must also check the weather conditions and the availability of ports and marinas along the way.

Several companies offer private boat transfers between Crete and Santorini, ranging from small speedboats to larger luxury yachts. Some of the major companies that offer private boat transfers in Greece are:

  • Mykonos Yachting
  • Luxury Catamarans
  • Greek Water Yachts
  • Caldera Yachting
  • Santorini Yachting Club

Day Trip From Crete to Santorini

You can take a day trip from Crete to Santorini, which is a lot of fun. The most common way to make a day trip from Crete to Santorini is to take a high-speed ferry from Heraklion or Rethymnon in the morning and return in the evening.

Some ferry companies offer day trip packages, including transportation to and from the port. They also provide a guided tour of Santorini’s main attractions, such as the caldera, Oia village, and the ancient ruins of Akrotiri.

The travel time between Crete and Santorini by high-speed ferry can range from around 2 to 5 hours. If you’re planning a day trip from Crete to Santorini, it’s important to check the ferry schedules in advance to make sure you have enough time to explore the island’s highlights.

Packing a small day bag with essentials, such as sunscreen, a hat, comfortable shoes, and a camera, is also a good idea to make the most of your day trip to Santorini.

Is Santorini Worth a Day Trip From Crete

Santorini is a lovely place to be, and it is worth a day trip from Crete. Santorini is a beautiful and unique destination with many attractions, including the famous caldera, colorful villages, and ancient ruins. However, it’s also a relatively small island, and many visitors choose to spend at least a few days in Santorini to fully experience its charm and beauty.

At the end of the day, you will be the one deciding a day trip to Santorini is worth the effort and expense, given the limited time you will have to explore the island. It may be worth considering a longer stay to fully experience the island’s beauty and culture if you’re a first-time visitor to Santorini. However, if you’re short on time or budget and can only spare one day, a day trip from Crete to Santorini can still be a memorable experience.