Crete or Santorini

Updated: November 1, 2017

Santorini or Crete – Where To Go?

  • Santorini is the most magical incredible island in Greece. If you can only visit one island then it should be Santorini.
  • Crete is wonderful and beautiful too – it’s also much bigger and requires one to two weeks (or more) to tour the island properly.
  • Crete has more outdoor activities. Santorini has more tours. Both have wineries and great local food.
  • Crete has better beaches but they’re spread out and it takes a fair bit of effort to see the best beaches. Santorini is small and it’s easy to get around to all the popular beaches.
  • Crete has more small traditional (non-touristy) villages.
  • Santorini is more romantic and better suited to a honeymoon.
  • Santorini has better and more unique luxury hotels.
  • Both Santorini and Crete have a longer tourism season than most Greek islands. For beach weather Santorini and Crete are best between late May and early October. But if you’re more interested in sightseeing than swimming March to November usually have good weather. December to February will have cool wet weather but both islands can be considered decent year-round destinations.

Santorini and Crete – What To Do

The stunning views of the caldera are the top attraction of Santorini. Other highlights include boat tours to the volcano, wine tours, sunset views, and exploring the magical villages perched on the caldera cliff.

The Old Town of Chania, Crete.

The charming Old Town of Chania is one of the top destinations of Crete. Other highlights include Knossos, Agios Nikolaos, Rethymnon, Elafonissi Beach, and Samaria Gorge.

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10 Questions and Comments

  1. Best Beach for Day Trip from Santorini

    Hi Dave,
    My husband and I are planning on visiting Santorini for 5 days in late May, we would like to visit at least one awsome beach, with white sands and amazing waters.
    I been reading a lot but still have doubts. Which beach would you recomend for a day trip from Santorini? (and if is even possible) Crete? Milos? i know Santorini has the red beach and black beach but I’m really not a fan of that type of beach. Any suggestions? It may be our only/last trip to Greece, we live in NY. Thank you so much for your time.
    Danna Cornejo

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      If the ferry schedule cooperates (you won’t know until 2018) then go to Ios and bus to Mylopotas Beach. Wonderful sand and swimming.

  2. Crete or Santorini for Beaches, Views, Great Food

    Hi.

    We have an itinerary of 6 days. Three days in Athens and then Ferry/Fly to either of Crete or Santorini.
    We are a couple coming from India. We want to enjoy great views, good food and nice beaches.

    Please can you suggest which one to pick. Crete or Santorini?
    Sounak

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Santorini has much better views. Crete has better beaches. Both have great food.

  3. Crete and Santorini in May

    Hi, love your website! 🙂
    We are planning a honeymoon trip to Crete & Santorini in May 2017. Our very vague plan is to fly into Crete (10th May), stay for 7 nights, ferry to Santorini, stay 4 or 5 nights, ferry back to Crete, stay another 7 nights and fly home from Crete.
    Do you think this is enough time? Would you recommend we change the itinerary?
    I would prefer to fly out from Santorini but there are no flights home from there & the flights via Athens are not working out well time-wise.
    Where would you recommend we visit in Crete / Santorini? We love good food, beaches, scenery, wineries, local tours. We want the trip to be very relaxing for the first 7 days because we will be exhausted after the wedding. For the remainder of the trip we would like to see/do a bit more but not too much!
    Also, will the weather be warm in Crete & Santorini in early May?
    Thanks so much,
    Marie

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Thoughts:
      –Sounds like a great itinerary. It would be nice to leave from Santorini (as you pretty much burn a day getting back to Crete) but not a deal-breaker.
      –Weather should be nice and just get nicer. If you’re planning any beach time leave that until the end as it will be warmer (especially the sea) two weeks later in the month.
      –Agios Nikoloas and Chania are two of my favorite places and great towns to relax in. Many of the active and outdoorsy attractions are in the west near Chania, so maybe do Ag Nik first and leave the Chania area for your return visit.

  4. Santorini and What Other Greek Island?

    Hello!
    My fiancé and I are planning a trip to Greece for our honeymoon in August.
    We have two weeks, thinking about spending one week in Santorini (Imerovigli and Oia). Could you suggest where to stay the second week?

    Thank you!
    Lindsey

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      For outdoor activities and history: Crete
      For nightlife and partying: Mykonos
      For small villages and beaches: Naxos

  5. Chania and Santorini for Honeymoon

    We are planning a 12 day honeymoon for Crete and Santorini in late August of 2017. A few questions:

    –Should we book ferry tickets in advance for Heraklion to Santorini?
    –We are currently planning for 6 nights in Chania, 2 nights in Heraklion, and 3 nights in Oia. Does that sound good?
    –We’re not real beach people but would like to get to at least one while in Greece. What’s the best beach in Crete and Santorini?

    Thanks, Rickie

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      -Yes, that ferry can sell out in high season. Book ferry tickets here.
      -Chania is great but that’s a long time unless you’re planning to do several different day trips. I would cut Chania to 3 or 4 nights and then add 2 or 3 nights in Imerovigli in Santorini.
      -Elafonisi beach (about a 90 minute bus ride from Chania) is the best beach in Greece and great for swimming and relaxing. The beaches on Santorini are composed of volcanic rock and worth a visit too. (Santorini being much smaller, it’s quicker and easier to get to the beaches there.)

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