The enchanting island of Crete is the Greek destination of choice for many international buyers. When asked why, many tell tales of the picturesque landscapes, gorgeous beaches, interesting history and friendly locals.
But where are the best places to buy property and how much will it cost you? We’ve got all the answers in our Crete area guide…
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Located on the eastern side of the island, Heraklion is the largest region in Crete and is rich in history and charm. It is the most popular area with overseas buyers, especially those who want to rent out their property as thousands of tourists visit each year.
The capital of the region, Heraklion Town, feels like a fairy-tale with beautiful architecture influenced by the past rules of the Arabs, Venetians and Ottomans. One of the most impressive landmarks in the city are the fortification walls that surround the “old city”. They were built initially by the Arabs and reinforced by the Venetians in the fifteenth century.
Other noteworthy monuments in the city include the immense Palace of Knossos and the Palace of Phaistos which were both built during the Minoan era. As you stroll through the city’s streets you will also come across some stunning Venetian and Turkish fountains.
Along with being superb for history lovers, there are also some beautiful beaches in Heraklion including the bohemian Matala beach, Agia Pelagia and Malia.
If you fancy buying a home in the region of Heraklion, there are a huge variety of properties for all budgets. You can find 2-bedroom detached properties for under €150,000 and larger houses for over €200,000. There are also some spectacular villas with impressive sea views for around €1 million if you have a higher budget!
Much greener than Heraklion, the region of Chania is another popular part of Crete for international buyers. It is here where you’ll find the renowned White Mountains and many of the island’s lush cypress forests.
Chania has a pretty old town with streets that are lined with quaint shops selling leather goods and ceramics. There is also a lovely market where you can buy all sorts of fresh produce, from honey and herbs to cheese and olive oil.
The narrowed cobbled streets lead to an old Venetian harbour where there are restaurants and bars with a gorgeous waterfront view.
Chania has maintained a lot of its authentic Greek charm. Nonetheless, the atmosphere is vibrant, and the nightlife is some of the best in Crete.
And if you like walking, the region is home to the Samaria Gorge, a vast national park with lots of walking trails. The Samaria canyon is one of the largest in Europe; you can explore it via an idyllic 18km marked hike which takes you past ancient churches and traditional Crete houses.
You can find three-bedroom detached villas with private pools in Chania from around €150,000, but if you are willing to do some renovation, there are properties on the market for as little as €50,000.
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The region of Rethymno can be found on the western side of the island. Here you’ll find the cities of of Rethymno, Panormo, Plakyas, Agia Galini and Bali. The city of Rethymno is one of the best-preserved Venetian old towns on the island and has some truly breath-taking architecture influenced by the Moors.
Like Chania, there is a lovely Venetian harbour lined with colourful cafes and bars where you can enjoy a glass of the local Malvasia – a sweet wine produced in the neighbouring Malevisiu Valley.
The area is rich in natural beauty too. There is a stunning 16km sandy beach across the northern part of the region, as well as magical waterfalls and extraordinary rock formations.
You’ll find plenty of small, picturesque villages dotted around the region, and property prices tend to be lower than in Heraklion and Chania. There are ruins for sale for around €50,000 if you are looking for a project property, or ready-to-go village houses for around €100,000. Larger properties tend to start from around €125,000.
Lassithi is the easternmost region of Crete and is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life. The popular areas of Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, Sissi, Sitia, and Ierapetra are in Lassithi; however, overall, the region is mostly untouched by mass tourism.
The beaches are spectacular, with soft sand and gentle, crystal-clear water. In fact, the largest beach on the island – Mirabello Bay – is in the Lassithi region, as well as the famous Finikodassos beach.
Along the picture-perfect coastline are a plethora of traditional seaside towns and villages that offer a laid-back and authentically Greek way of life.
This area is popular with royals and celebrities, and some property is some of the most exclusive and luxurious on the island. Despite this, homes in the region can be incredibly cheap; there are village houses in need of renovation for as little as €20,000. Villas with swimming pools tend to start at around €300,000.