Gay beach vacations in Crete: The essentials

Gay Holidays in Greece are certainly linked with the most popular destinations of Mykonos, Athens and Thessaloniki. But have you ever considered visiting Crete?

Crete, the second largest island in Greece, is known for its crystal-clear beaches (many of which are awarded with a blue flag), beautiful cities with intense nightlife and handsome locals. So, this island will gift you lots of new experiences to remember!

Cretans are distinguished for their great hospitality, which has also become part of their culture. Their behavior is so honest and sincere, that you will feel like you are with your best friend.

That said, you will notice that some Cretans might become very ‘touchy,’ almost flirting. That’s due to their extreme friendliness and poor understanding of personal space, so don’t misunderstand and think that they are trying to hit on you because you will surely put yourself into a very awkward situation!

Crete is a great destination to visit, either you choose to spend your entire holidays on the island, or simply include it as a stop of your trip in the Mediterranean Islands.

Atlantis Gay Cruises organizes a gay tour in the Mediterranean every year from 21-31 August, and Crete is a major stop during the trip.

The ship stops in Heraklion for eight hours, so you will be able to see various sightseeing attractions or meet a local or two. In case you are organizing your own gay tour in the Greek islands, then you have to stay in Crete at least three days to fully explore it and understand its beauty.

Since Crete is a big island, a car is necessary in case you want to explore its beaches and picturesque villages!

Let’s discover the gay scene of Crete, the top Beaches around the island, as well as amazing gay-friendly resorts!

Gay Life in Crete: Vivid but discreet!

Image: Shutterstock

Even though there are actually many gay men and lesbian women on the island, they choose to follow a discreet lifestyle. The locals are still bound by traditional family values, so they, especially men, are pressured to maintain them. Nonetheless, an overall improvement on that subject has been noticed, and the locals become more and more open throughout the years.

Gay acceptance in Crete was greatly influenced by the island’s first Gay Pride, which took place in 2015. Since then, many locals seem to be open with their sexuality while more and more Cretans seem to accept homosexuality up to one point.

The best way to meet other gay locals is through gay chatting applications like Grindr and Planetromeo and in gay venues, which can be found mainly in and nearby major cities like Hersonissos and Heraklion.

The very few gay bars, clubs and saunas on the island attract crowds mainly during the summer months of June, July and August, while some of them close during the winter due to the lack of visitors.

The best season to visit Crete for socializing and meeting other gay men is from mid-July to late-August, since this is the high season for the Greek Islands, thus attracting more tourists. The best city for gay nightlife in Crete is Heraklion.

Crete’s best cities, towns and villages!


Image: Shutterstock

As a big island, Crete is packed with small traditional villages to explore, luxurious seaside towns for paradise-like beach vacations, as well as three major cities: Heraklion, Chania and Rethymnon, which stand out for their great shopping opportunities and urban character.

Heraklion is the island’s capital and the biggest city in Crete. The locals are overall more open-minded than in the countryside towns and villages, thus it attracts the majority of the gay travelers.

The city offers easy access to major Cretan destinations like Agios Nikolaos, Rethymnon and Hersonissos as well as beautiful beaches like Agia Pelagia. The majority of the local businesses are gay-friendly; however, the local gay community shows a particular preference for cafe-bistros and cocktail bars.

The cities of Chania and Rethymnon are two excellent alternatives if you want to avoid the large crowds of the capital, while also given the opportunity to get a taste of the Cretan urban lifestyle.

Both cities feature cozy café/bistros, cocktail bars, traditional taverns and gourmet restaurants, so you will have plenty of entertainment options.

There are not any gay bars in Chania or Rethymnon, however, there are some local venues, highly preferred by the local gay community. If you meet or chat with local guys during your visit, we are sure that they will tell you all about the trendiest places to be!

Hersonissos, Agios Nikolaos and Malia are three very popular seaside towns, which are distinguished for their gay-friendly attitude and rich entertainment options. In Hersonissos, you will find the most popular gay beach on the island, Sarantari Beach, as well as other beautiful beaches like Agia Pelagia. There is also a gay bar called Y.O.L.O Bar, located in the port of Hersonissos.

Malia is located relatively close to Hersonissos, about 15 minutes driving from the town. The town of Malia is known for its intense nightlife, while there is also a gay bar in the town called Nova Bar.

Malia’s main beach is quite huge, but it’s packed with beach bars, which get pretty crowded every summer.

Agios Nikolaos, about 20 minutes driving from Malia, is widely popular for its breathtaking beaches, with white sand and crystal-clear waters. There are various beach and cocktail bars in the town, however, there are not any gay venues.

Similar to Chania and Rethymnon, we recommend you ask gay locals to find out the top ‘unofficial gay hotspots.’

As you might have already noticed, Crete is all about its beaches. All the major destinations offer direct access to the beach, even big cities like Heraklion and Rethymnon. So, let’s discover:

The best Gay Beaches in Crete!

Crete beachAs a Greek island, Crete takes pride in its breathtaking beaches and sunny landscapes. The island has a coastline that spreads through 650 miles, so it could not but feature a wide diversity of beaches, from secluded — where you will most probably be alone — to organized ones with sunbeds and umbrellas.

You might have heard about the greatness of Crete’s beaches in the past, but the gay beaches are the ones which are going to intrigue you the most. Many of them are nudist, while some of them may attract straight couples as well. Nevertheless, these are the top four gay beaches in Crete:

1. Sarantari Beach in Hersonissos: Sarantari Beach is an easily accessible beach located near Hersonissos. It’s located in front of a tavern called Sarantaris, while the nearby Creta Maris and Hersonissos Maris Hotels can help you find it even easier.

We recommend you access the beach via the nearby Sarantaris Main Beach, since the gay part of the beach is located right in the following bay.

2. Komos Beach near Matala: Komos Beach is located nearby Matala Town, a small and peaceful Cretan village, located on the eastern side of the island.

Komos is an organized beach that attracts large crowds during summer, however, there is a gay part located on the right side, facing the sea. The gay part of the beach is about five minutes’ walk from the main beach area.

Crete beach

Photo: Shutterstock

3. Kavros/Peristeras beach near Georgioupolis: At the second km of the road that connects Georgioupolis with Paralia Kourna, there is a beautiful gay beach called Kavros, or else Peristeras.

There are two beach clubs at the main beach, however, the gay part is located on the right side of the shore. You just have to walk 2-3 minutes from the main beach, to get to the gay section.

4. Maherida Beach near Chania: Maherida near Chania is gradually becoming one of the most popular gay beaches in the region. It is visited by both gay locals and travelers, while there is a lot of cruising going on in the afternoon.

In addition to Maherida, the nearby beaches of Agia Roumeli and Agioi Apostoloi also attract LGBT travelers.

Crete beach

Photo: Shutterstock

Since none of the above beaches are branded as gay, you should keep in mind that you might not find any gay people at all when you have a chance to visit Crete. That depends on the period that you visit and, of course, the latest trends.

That’s why there are most probably more gay beaches in Crete, which you cannot find through the internet.

Since trends come and go, the best source to find the trending gay beaches is through the gay locals. Applications like Grindr and PlanetRomeo will make it much easier for you, but, be careful and make sure that your source is trust-worthy. Don’t hesitate and ask gay locals to guide you.

You can find details about the above beaches and 3 other gay beaches here!

The Top Gay-Friendly Hotels in Crete!

There are not any gay-only hotels or guesthouses on the island, however, the majority of the hotels and resorts in Crete are gay-friendly. Whether you are a gay family in need of a big resort with family facilities, or a gay couple searching for an adults-only hotel to stay, or simply a group of friends searching for a hotel that allows you to explore the local gay scene with ease, let’s discover together some of the top gay-friendly hotels in Crete:

Lato Boutique Hotel: Overlooking the Port!

Lato Boutique Hotel

Photo: Lato Boutique Hotel

Lato Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of Heraklion, making it a great option for gay travelers who want to discover the local nightlife. It’s located in a walking distance from Heraklion’s city center (and its only gay bar).

The hotel offers advanced facilities, including a modern restaurant and luxurious rooms overlooking the city’s marina. The hotel is also an excellent choice if you want to visit Crete during the low season, since it operates all-year-around.

Useful Tip: The hotel is located at a walking distance from many remarkable sightseeing attractions, including the historic center of the city as well as the Old Port!

Olive Green Hotel: A luxurious, eco-friendly Hotel!

Olive Green Hotel

Photo: Olive Green Hotel

Olive Green Hotel is an eco-friendly hotel located in the heart of Heraklion, very close to Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum. It is distinguished by its minimal and modern design and its ecological character.

Naturally, it’s a great hotel if you want to explore the local gay nightlife as well, while it offers various excursions in and around the city which can keep you busy through your holidays.

Useful Tip: Don’t miss to visit the hotel’s café/bar/restaurant called “626”. It’s among the most popular hotspots for evening cocktails and casual dinners, visited by both locals and travelers.

Domes Noruz Chania, Autograph Collection – For Wild City & Countryside Excursions

Domes Noruz Chania

Photo: Domes Noruz Chania

Domes Noruz is a luxurious boutique hotel in the beautiful city of Chania that has picked the interest of the LGBT travelers.

It stands out for its breathtaking architecture and design, while it can become the reference point for your city and countryside excursions.

Domes Noruz is ideal for any kind of explorer – whether you want to discover the multicultural city of Chania or go trekking at the worldwide famous Samaria Gorge.

Useful Tip: The hotel is located ten minutes drive from the city’s center, so you can discover the city of Chania with ease!

Minos Beach Art Hotel – The Perfect Beach Hotel!

Minos Beach Art Hotel

Photo: Minos Beach Art Hotel

Minos Beach Art Hotel is a beautiful resort in the breathtaking Agios Nikolaos. Its luxury character can be easily observed from its aromatic gardens to its outdoor gallery exhibits.

The hotel is a splendid option for both romantic and family vacations, while its gay-friendly attitude has won the heart of the LGBT community as well. The staff is distinguished for its friendliness and its respect of privacy!

Useful Tip: The hotel is very close to Elounda Bay, the most popular beach resort in Crete, while it offers easy access to various beautiful beaches!

Thalassa Beach Resort – exclusively for couples

Thalassa Beach Resort

Photo: Thalassa Beach Resort

Thalassa Beach Resort is an adults-only hotel that was specially created for little love-birds. The hotel’s perfect beachfront location and gay-friendly attitude has made it a favorite with gay couples and honeymooners.

Of course, your romantic experience can be further upgraded by taking one of the six special experiences for couples.

Useful Tip: Don’t miss to try the Sweethearts Package, specially crafted for couples. During the therapy, you will relax in your private Thermal Suite, you will both enjoy a delirious Aromatherapy Body Massage and Facial Massage. And you will unwind in the indoor pool with a fresh fruit salad and cocktail!

Of course, these are only some of the gay-friendly hotels in Crete. There are much more hotels and resorts around the island, with each one of them giving you a different reason to stay. If you are searching for gay-friendly sea-front hotels in Crete, check out this list that we have created here.

Now, that you have discovered the gay life of Crete, you should not forget that Crete has much more to offer than that. Crete has an extensive culinary tradition that is based on the Mediterranean diet.

Almost all of the local dishes are made with pure local ingredients like extra virgin olive oil, Greek feta, and homemade rusks.

It is an island of great historical value, packed with astonishing sightseeing attractions and museums to explore. Some of the most important sights in Crete are Knossos Palace, Samaria Gorge, and Heraklion Archaeological Museum. We highly recommend you to devote at least a day to explore some popular sites nearby your hotel.

In case you want to find the most popular places to visit in Crete, take a look at this interesting map and start planning your trip now!

Travel by Interest is a client of Gay Star News.

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