Crete was one of our first vacations as a gay couple and although there isn’t a huge gay scene in Crete we felt very welcome on this beautiful island and have returned many times since!
Crete is the largest island in Greece offering everything from beautiful soft sand beaches, to rich historical sights, a thriving nightlife scene and mountains inland to explore by car.
During our trips we had no issues being gay in Crete and felt particularly comfortable around the touristy areas. The most popular destinations in Crete for gay travellers are typically Heraklion, Chania, Rethymnon, and Agios Nikolaos, as well as Malia (where there is a young party crowd).
Crete has thousands of visitors from all over the world every year and gay travel around Greece in general is very popular with the likes of Mykonos and Athens for example (although do check out the smaller islands like the beautiful Ios!).
In our Gay Crete Travel Guide we have put together the shortlist of the places we have stayed and visited, investigated what the gay scene is like and put together some unmissable trips for your visit!
Is Crete Gay Friendly?
Whilst it might be perfectly obvious that other places in Greece such as Mykonos are gay friendly, it’s a fair question to ask whether Crete is gay friendly.
Crete is a large island so like most places around the world there is a mix of reactions depending exactly where you travel to.
However when visiting all the touristy places such as Heraklion, Chania, Rethymnon, Malia and Agios Nikolaos it’s safe to say that these areas of Crete are gay friendly and you will have a great time like we did.
It’s unlikely you would have issues anywhere in Crete, the only note to make would be that in some of the more remote places the people may hold religious (potentially homophobic views) so may not be so accepting.
Gay Areas of Crete
We have been to Crete twice and being the largest island in Greece there are a lot of places to stay.
The first time we stayed in Hersonissos and the second time we split our time between Stalis and Malia. In both cases we made sure to explore as much of the island as possible.
Take a look at the following places areas we suggest staying at.
Hersonissos is a very popular destination in Crete with its sandy beaches, ancient ruins, quaint sea front town and it’s short distance to Heraklion airport.
The town itself is very relaxing during the day with plenty of places to explore, but come the evening has a lively nightlife scene with many clubs and bars.
We enjoyed walks along the coast here in particular.
Malia is a town of two halves.
The old town is small, picturesque and quiet.
However, the ‘new town’ or ‘strip’ is the nightlife hub for the entire island and attracts a very young crowd. On both occasions we have met other gay travellers visiting Crete on a night out in Malia.
This is the cheap fun in the sun hotspot.
Nightlife aside, we did enjoy going for morning jogs along the coast which was lovely.
We love Agios Nikolaos and even if you don’t stay there it is definitely worth a day trip.
Agios Nikolaos is a small coastal town centred around a deep lagoon which has lots of nice little cafes and restaurants dotted around the edge.
Gay Hotels in Crete
Whilst you won’t find any exclusively gay hotels in Crete, there are plenty of gay friendly hotels in Crete we can reccomend, including those we have personally stayed at.
Take a look at these gay friendly hotels in Crete for your stay.
The Grand Hotel – Hersonisos
We stayed here on our first visit. This is a 4* all inclusive hotel with a beautiful pool area, spacious rooms, great service and it continues to get great reviews.
The hotel is 25k from the airport and just 2.5km from Hersonissos centre (which you can walk to).
Grand Hotel Holiday Resort rests 25 kilometres east of Heraklion International airport and 2.5 kilometres from Hersonissos on the north coast of the Mediterranean island of Crete.
This hotel offers bungalows with sea views and 4 different pools and poolside bars to use so you can sit back and enjoy a cocktail whilst you top up your tan.
Mitsis Laguna Resort & Spa – Hersonisos
Mitiss Laguna is a beachfront property with its own private beach (Anissaras) in the area of Hersonissos in Crete.
It is a majestic and luxurious five-star hotel with a state of the art Wellness Spa that provides premium service and has 5 pools, including a seawater pool, a freshwater pool with a slide and a complex of 3 pools.
The elegant rooms and bungalows are air-conditioned with LCD satellite TVs. A minibar is available and restocked daily, as well as a Nespresso coffee machine. All rooms feature a balcony or terrace. Bathrooms come with toiletries, bathrobes, slippers, scales and hairdryer. Beach and pool towels are also provided.
We love that there are 7 restaurants on site including one main buffet restaurant and à la carte restaurants including Cretan Tavern, Tex-Mex, Pan-Asian, Italian and Fish.
Nana Princess – Hersonisos
The one we wish we could have stayed at.
Nana Princess is one of the top rated hotels in the area and looks stunning with its own private beach state-of-the-art Health Club & Spa centre, 3 restaurants and 2 outdoor swimming pools!
There are 112 suites and villas on site, each one with unique design and modern appliances. Almost all accommodations boast a private swimming pool and spacious outdoor areas where guests can enjoy mesmerising Cretan Sea views.
We loce that some suites and villas come with a sauna, detoxifying steam areas or private gym area. The luxurious bathroom in every suite and villa is stocked with a rain shower and separate bath.
Ikaros Beach Luxury Resort and Spa – Malia
This 5* hotel is positioned on a rocky peninsula with sandy beaches, coastal flora and sweeping views overlooking the Cretan Sea.
The hotel looks incredibly stylish and reviews highly commend the service of the staff. Check rates and availability.
Notos Heights Hotel & Suites – Malia
Just 5 minutes from Malia Old Town and a comfortable distance away from the nightlife this hotel is set back from the coast with beautiful views. Check rates and availability.
Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas – Agios Nikolaos
This hotel offers a private sandy beach and a spacious Balcony or Terrace in each Room or Suite. It is one of the highest ranked hotels on TripAdvisor. Check rates and availability.
Minos Beach art hotel – Agios Nikolaos
This hotel offers whitewashed bungalows and villas with terraces and minimal interiors right next to the sea. Some bungalows even offer private pools! Check rates and availability.
Gay Bars in Crete
In terms of gay bars in Crete, there are a couple of places that are popular with gay travellers and locals looking for a night out in Crete
The ones that keep being mentioned are La Brasserie, YOLO, KLIK and Ababa Bar.
”Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once) Bar is not only the name of the bar, but also a Life Philosophy! We want EVERYONE to feel Welcome & Accepted!”
Y.O.L.O is the only gay bar in Crete and welcomes everyone no matter their background. They offer reasonably priced cocktails, are known for their good looking bar staff (like so many gay bars!) and some lively music to get your night going.
For the latest updates see their Facebook page.
Address: Limani, Λιμήν Χερσονήσου Πεδιάδος, Kastroy 1, Hersonissos 700 14, Greece
If you are looking to party in Chania, then take a look at Klik Bar.
Clearly gay friendly, the bar states that:
‘Harassment of any kind (non-consensual actions, verbal or physical abu5e, racism, homophobia, transphobia, body-shaming, misogyny, k1nk-shaming, etc.) will not be tolerated and will lead to immediate discharge from the club.’
See what is coming up on their Instagram.
Moving on to ‘gay popular’ bars in Crete. Ababa Bar-Gallery often comes up as a gay friendly bar in Crete known for its slightly more relaxed atmosphere and welcoming crowd. It might not affer a big gay party but might be worth checking out.
See whats happending at Ababa Bar on Facebook.
Address: Εισοδίων 12 73100 Chaniá, Greece
Again, not an official gay bar but La Brasserie is known to be a chilled cafe that is popular with the local LGBTQ people.
During the day the cafe serves a selection of beverages, coffee, fresh juices, cocktails, homemade food, salads and snacks.
On the evening, La Brasserie often hosts live music events with DJs, performers and themed nights.
Address: Korai 5, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Cafe Puerto Bar
This is a listed by a patron as being a gay friendly bar and nightclub in Agios Nikolaos.
However, as we mentioned above, we have met other gay travellers on a night out in Malia on the main strip on both occasions so if you are just looking for a big night out, consider looking into the strip.
We would also suggest speaking with your reps when you arrive for the latest updates on where the gay hotspots are.
Gay Beaches in Crete?
There aren’t any official gay beaches in Crete like you might find in Mykonos, however there are typically some that are more popular in high season with the gay crowd.
There are a few unofficial gay beaches in Crete, broadly based on the fact that they are nudist beaches and like many places we have visited (and many other gay beaches in Europe), if any beach is going to be a gay beach in Crete, it’s going to be the nudist ones.
One of the most popular gay beaches in Crete is Sarantari Beach near Hersonissos. Climb down the rocks in front of Sarantari Tavern and you will find a nudist beach.
Unsurprising, like many places we have been it’s always the nudist beaches that end up being the unofficial gay beach and its no different here in Crete!
For a more secluded gay beach experience in Crete, head to Kommos Beach, another beach in Crete that has a nudist section that can be popular with gay travelles at certain times in the year.
Given this is secluded, you might want to bring your own refreshments!
For other options, for other gay/nudist beaches in Crete, Akti Olountos, Peristeras and the nudist areas of Elafonissos beach and Vrahakia (in Agioi Apostoloi) are also sometimes popular with gay travelers.
Gay Pride in Crete
There is a gay pride in Crete however it is relatively small and centres around Heraklion, sometimes dubbed ‘HerPride’.
Crete Pride is a self organised pride based in Heraklion and the iniative that organises it has been going since 2015.
From the information available online (which is hard to find), it’s a struggle for this to run as its difficult to fund and so they run financial support party extravaganzas to help make Crete Pride a reality.
They aim to celebrate, dance and express themselves to strengthen the effort to become Pride in Crete.
The best suggestion we can make it to keep an eye on their Facebook page where they provide updates on events.
Things to do in Crete for Gay Travellers
Being the largest island in Greece there are a lot of thing to do in Crete, makes sure you tick off the following during your stay:
Hire a car for the day
After spending plenty of time on the beach, we hired a car for the day and took a trip into the mountains.
At the time we just picked a spot on the map and drove, finding places along the way to stop and eat.
The following are considered some of the most popular roads/routes:
- Kallikratis – Kapsodasos Road.
- Balos beach road.
- Hora Sfakion – Anopolis Road.
- Kolokytha road.
- Agia Sophia Cave – Gorge of Topolia road
Visit Spinalonga Island
Spinalonga is a tiny island which can be easily reached by boat.
There are lots of small travel agencies around Crete offering day trips to the island or you can just organise it yourself by jumping on one of the boats leaving Elounda every 30 minutes (or so).
Visit Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos is a small hilly village centred around a stunning lagoon lined with small cafes and restaurants.
We really enjoyed meandering the streets before stopping for food and plenty of wine!
Visit the Fishing Village Sissi
We took a long walk from Malia to Sissi and upon arrival were taken aback.
Sissi is a beautiful small fishing village and the water looks so inviting! It’s a popular stop on many of the boats trips that go along the coast daily.
We don’t need to tell you twice to get yourself down to the beach, however one that many beaches people make a special trip for is Elafonisi beach.
Elafonisi is a small islet full of white and pink sandy beaches. You can walk to the island through the shallow water, or on some days through no water at all.
If hiking is more your things, take a trip to Samaria Gorge National Park. This is something unique to Crete that you simply won’t find on the typically smaller Greek islands.
Crete has a lot to offer for both gay and straight travellers alike. We will be sure to return again one day.
In the meantime, if you visit do let us know if you come across any new gay hotspots or gay bars in Crete!
Gay Cruising in Crete
Naturally, you might find that some of the nudist beaches end up being gay cruising spots in Crete. There are a few other places mentioned online:
Kolymvari nature reserve – Another gay cruising spot in Crete mentioned online is the nature reserve Kolymvari Crete. Head to the right of the archaeological site (Kommos Minoan ruins) to find the gay nudist and (sometimes) cruising area. The beach is very long and the gay and nudist area is in the middle (a whole kilometer long).
Agoras Square in Chania – apparently throughout the day and night some people fo gay cruising around Chanias Agoras Square.
Chania Beaches – Tavronitus beach and Rapaniana beach are also mentioned as potential gay cruising areas in Crete.
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