First off, know that Crete is literally like a country of its own and to fully enjoy it, you have to travel around to see its top attractions. To travel on a budget, you have two options. As a matter of fact, Crete has a wide bus system that is easy and cheap to use. Connections within the main towns only cost €1.80 per trip.
If bus trips are not your thing, and to be able to get around the island freely, simply rent a car. This way you can get to the smaller sites and discover the island as you want. Prices usually vary but you should expect to pay about €30 per day for a car.
One of the sightseeing you do not want to miss is the Minoan Palace in Knossos. Well-preserved until today, the palace features many frescos and vestiges of the civilization which you can discover for just €6. And if you go to Crete between November and March, the entrance fee to the site is free on Sundays.
Located in Elounda bay, Spinalonga island is a former leper colony abandoned when a cure against the disease was found. The whole island, with its Venetian fortress is open to the public who can access it via a ferry boat ride. Walking around the eerie ghost town is a unique experience you need to check off your bucket list.
Lasithi plateau is located on the eastern region of Crete. Spared from intensive tourism, it is a beautiful place to enjoy nature. The alleged place where Zeus lived his early years is just above the plateau and can be reached by foot. The entrance of the cave is 1025 meters (3363 ft) above sea level, and features a plethora of stalagmites and stalactites.
If you are going to Crete, then you must be need of some vitamin sea. So in terms of beaches, Crete is paradise. Head to Elafonisi, about 70 km (44 miles) from Chania. It is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, with its water so blue it looks like it’s been photoshopped. Balos Lagoon is another option just a dozen kilometres (7 miles) away from Chania.
With 16 km (10 miles) of natural beauty, Samaria Gorge is one of the top things to see in Crete. With only a €5 fee, you get to explore the whole natural park all the way to the sea.
For some freshly cooked fish on the cheap, Agistri, in Agathias near Palekastro, is the place to go. This family-run business is handled by Nikolas, the father, who brings in freshly caught fish, while his children grill it and serve it to your table. The mother prepares a few traditional dishes as well, so you can have a taste at local cuisine.
Agistri, Agathias vilage, Palekastro, Sitia, Lasithi, Crete, Greece. + 30 28430 61598
In the little village of Ravdouchia, you will find the Studio apartment complex Waves on the Rock. Featuring a little tavern which serves fresh seafood at a decent price, it is a small hidden paradise for those looking to get away from the crowds.
Waves on the Rock, Ravdoucha Beach, Chania, Crete. +30 28240 23133
The best cheap eats of all time would be the humble souvlaki, which you can find virtually anywhere, especially in the big cities of Agios Nikolaos, Chania, Rethymnon and Heraklion. Don’t forget to eat a portion of Greek salad to balance it out and you get a full meal on the down low.
Crete has many affordable options for accommodation, but if you’re travelling in a pack and want some privacy, the best solution is to check Airbnb for small villas to share the cost all together. For those looking for room and board here are a few options to look into:
This is the best option for backpackers and adventurers. Right in the heart of Rethymno Old Town, the hostel has rooms for 10 euros per night and per person. Discounts are available for groups or for longer stays.
Rethymno Youth Hostel, 41 Tobazi, Rethymnon, Crete, Greece. +30 2831 022848
Still located in Rethymno Old Town, Afroditi Hotel is a small and simple hotel housed in the former French Embassy. With traditional furnishing, the hotel is located provides rooms and studios for rent with a kitchenette. Located near the Rethymno sand beach, it offers free Wi-Fi and even provides free laptops for convenient use.
In the small constituency of Plakias, near the south coast of Crete, conveniently located away from the usual touristic resorts. Plakias is where the sun shines and the living is easy. The hostel, featuring six 8-bed dorms is located near a vast choice of bars and tavernas, and is close to magnificent beaches and splendid nature. Bonus point: the hostel has a great patio where you can mingle with like-minded travelers.
Youth Hostel Plakias, Ag.Vassilios, Rethymno, Crete, Greece. +30 2832 032118
Located in the Old Town of Chania, Pension Eva is housed in a renovated 17th-century Venetian townhouse with a rooftop terrace where you can relax and enjoy views over the city and the Venetian harbor. But be quick, there are only 4 rooms available at top budget price! Open all year long, the pension offers discounts during the off season.
Pension Eva, 1 Theofanous & Zambeliou Str, Chania, Crete, Greece. +302821076706 or +306977984232
Family-run Mirabello Hotel is located in the heart of Heraklion in a quiet area, very near the main square and the Natural History Museum of Crete. In this simple and neat hotel, you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome by the friendly staff, which will do everything to show you traditional Cretan hospitality.
Mirabello Hotel, 20 Theotokopoulou, Heraklion, Crete, Greece. +30 2810285052
For a home away from home, 9 Muses Apartments in Agios Nikolaos is an excellent option. Less than 200 meters (656 ft) away from the center and right by the waterfront, you can find neat, small apartments and studios for cheap. The complex also includes a bar and a restaurant should you not be in the mood for cooking. Ideally located, it is an excellent base point to explore the surroundings.