Last updated on February 22, 2023 by Wandering our World
If you’re planning a Greek getaway, Crete and Corfu are two popular destinations you really should consider. Yet while these islands can both boast of friendly locals, gorgeous beaches, and fascinating historical sites, they also have a long list of differences.
For starters, they’re situated more than 300 miles apart, on totally different sides of the Greek mainland, with Corfu located off Greece’s north-west coast in the Ionian Sea, and Crete situated much further south in the Mediterranean.
Thanks to their different locations, Corfu and Crete have different weather conditions throughout the year, as well as different landscapes and cultures, too.
Corfu is also the smaller of the two, with lush, green scenery, terrific food, and more diverse, beautiful beaches.
Meanwhile, Crete is significantly bigger, offering a wider range of activities, warmer weather, and its own culture that feels distinct and different compare to other parts of Greece.
For most Crete tends to be the better choice, as we’ll explain below, but Corfu is easier to get around and could be better for kids with young families.
But in truth, that’s just the beginning when it comes to how these two islands differ.
As both islands are so beautiful and alluring in their own special ways, choosing which one to visit can be a challenge. And since they’re so far apart, you simply may not have the time or means to visit both on the same trip.
Fortunately, this guide is here to help!
We know both islands well, so right here we’ll be taking a close look at Corfu vs Crete, examining how these islands compare in a range of key areas like beaches, things to do, dining, and general vibe.
By the time you’re finished, we’re sure you’ll know which one suits you best.
- A Quick Overview
- Which Is Easier To Get To?
- Which Is Easier To Get Around?
- Which Is Better For Beaches?
- Which Is Best For Activities?
- Which Is Better For Nightlife?
- Which Is Best For A Honeymoon?
- Which Has The Best Resorts?
- Which Is Better For A Family Trip?
- Which Has The Best Food?
- Which Is Cheaper?
A Quick Overview Of Corfu vs Crete
Corfu: A Quick Overview
Corfu is a Greek island situated off the country’s north-west coast.
Part of the Ionian Islands in the Ionian Sea, Corfu has a fascinating past, having played a key role in the development of Ancient Greece and even boasting mythological connections to Greek gods – the legends say that Poseidon, god of the sea, brought his lover to this island and named it after her.
The site of various battles and invasion attempts throughout history, Corfu was once one of the most fortified locations in all of Europe, with various forts and castles dotted around the island. Many of which can still be visited and admired today, like Angelokastro and Neo Frourio, making Corfu perfect for history lovers.
As well as its castles and forts, Corfu is famed for its stunning scenery and romantic vibe, with a terrific, multicultural mix of Byzantine, Greek, and Venetian architecture, as well as secluded beaches, fancy resorts, and fine dining establishments.
The main island and its satellites cover around 235 square miles (610 square km) of land, and Corfu is actually the northernmost of all the Greek islands.
This means that the weather here is a little milder than places like Crete, especially outside the peak summer months, but Corfu still gets plenty of sunshine. (Recommended: The Best Greek Islands In Winter).
Crete: A Quick Overview
Crete is the largest Greek island, and also the most populous. It covers an area of 3,260 square miles (8,450 square km) and has a coastline running some 650 miles in total.
This makes it significantly larger than Corfu, meaning that visitors tend to spend longer here, as there are more places to visit and things to see.
Located around 100 miles south of Greece’s mainland in the Mediterranean Sea, Crete has some of the warmest and sunniest weather of any Greek island. Summers here are hotter and drier than those in Corfu, and the weather is generally warmer all-year long, with less rain.
The island of Crete is dominated by mountains, with a large range stretching from the east to the west.
Visitors can hike up and around these mountains, with experienced hikers able to walk their way to the top of tall peaks like Gingilos (2,080m above sea level), while those looking for milder walks can enjoy awe-inspiring roams through Crete’s iconic gorges, like Samaria.
While Corfu is quite a distinctly Greek island, visitors to Crete often remark on how this place has its own distinctive culture and vibe.
The island has its own dishes, influences, outfits, cultural traditions, and more, and the people of Crete tend to be very proud of their heritage.
Which Is Easier To Get To?
Since Crete and Corfu are several hundred miles apart, you might wonder which one is easier to get to. This will all depend on where you’re flying from, but in general, both of these islands are regarded as relatively accessible, with several plane and ferry routes serving Corfu and Crete.
Corfu has its own international airport, which is nicely located a short drive south of the main Corfu Town hub. Various budget airlines offer direct flights here from cities all over Europe, including Manchester, London, Paris, and Munich – although some routes only run in summer.
You can also fly into Corfu direct from Athens or Thessaloniki if you plan to visit mainland Greece first, and there are several boat and ferry routes serving the island from mainland Greece and Italy.
Crete is even easier to access, as it has no less than two separate international airports – one in the city of Heraklion in the central part of the island’s northern coast, and the other in Chania, to the west.
Just like with Corfu, Crete’s airports are served by a range of European airlines, many of which offer low-cost fares to the island from cities around the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, and Spain, among others.
There are also ferry routes to Crete, with various vessels leaving from ports in Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, and more. So, you’ve got several ways to get there, although most flights from around Europe will take longer to get to Crete compared to Corfu (around an hour extra, on average).
Overall, Crete is just slightly easier to access in most cases, due to the extra airport and connections, but you shouldn’t have a hard time getting to either one of these Greek islands.
Which Is Easier To Get Around?
It’s also important to think about how you plan to travel around each island, as this could have an impact on your itinerary, as well as the total cost of your Greek island vacation.
Since Corfu is significantly smaller than Crete, it’s an easier place to get around. You can drive from one side of the island to the other in under two hours, and the island has a reliable public transport network, with buses connecting the various coastal towns and the main hub of Corfu Town.
In Crete, there’s also a decent bus system connecting the main towns and parts of the island, but because it’s much larger, journey times are significantly longer here. It can take five hours or more to get from one side to the other.
It’s usually better to rent a car on Crete if you’re planning a full exploration of the island, and you’ll need to be prepared to spend a lot of time traveling. Because of this, visitors to Crete may want to stay for a few days longer than they would on Corfu.
Which Is Better For Beaches?
The Greek islands are renowned for having some of the best beaches in Europe, with some of the softest sands and clearest waters in the continent, perfect for people who love to soak up the sun and feel totally at peace with the natural world.
No matter whether you choose Crete or Corfu, you’ll surely be impressed by the idyllic coastal environments of either island; they both have some truly breathtaking beaches, with super conditions for sunbathing, swimming, and sunset strolls.
So, how do they compare? Well, since Corfu is a smaller island, its beaches are generally easier to access. They’re also a little smaller than those on Crete, but they offer a ton of variety, with some backing onto lush forests and others offering mind-blowing mountain views.
As the biggest Greek island with around 650 miles of coastline, Crete certainly isn’t short of beaches.
What’s more, since Crete looks out onto multiple seas – the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Libyan – visitors can enjoy different water and sand conditions depending on which part of the island they visit.
It can take a little longer to reach some of Crete’s beaches, due to the sheer scale of the island, but many of them are worth the trip, with the pink sands of Elafonissi and the striking blue lagoon waters of Balos standing out as some of the best in the whole of Greece.
Corfu: The Beaches
Corfu has a nice mixture of sandy and pebble beaches, looking out over the clear waters of the Ionian Sea. And a lot of the island’s best beaches are nearby to Corfu Town, which is where most visitors choose to base themselves.
You can easily access Agios Gordios from Corfu Town, which is one of the most popular beaches on Corfu, famed for its lush green backdrop and handy amenities. Or, head to Pelekas Beach for soft sands and cliff views.
Towards the southern part of the island, you’ll find more of the resort-based beaches with the softest sands and easy access to hotels and restaurants.
Meanwhile, if you head north, you can see more rocky and pebble beaches with unusual shapes and striking rock formations.
Palaiokastritsa is one of Corfu’s must-see beaches – not only can you enjoy the sand and views here, but there are several boat tours to take you around to local sea caves.
Myrtiotissa is another lovely spot, situated below a beautiful monastery, while Rovinia is one of Corfu’s most impressive pebble beaches, and there’s a fun hiking path that leads you here from Liapades.
Crete: The Beaches
While many of Corfu’s best beaches are located short drives away from the main town, Crete’s beaches can be found all over the island, and some may require an entire day trip to reach. But, with so many miles of coastline, you’re never too far away from a pleasant sandy shore.
What’s more, two of Crete’s beaches – Balos and Elafonissi – consistently rank among the very best in all of Greece.
Balos looks out over a blue lagoon, offering amazing swimming conditions and prime photo opportunities, with a Caribbean-style vibe.
Elafonissi, meanwhile, has pink sand, a cedar tree backdrop, and some of the clearest waters in Europe.
A lot of Crete’s beaches are longer and larger than those on Corfu. Tymbaki Beach, for instance – which is located near Heraklion – is one of the biggest beaches on the island, providing plenty of room for families and groups of friends to have fun.
Rodakino Beach also has a family-friendly vibe and lots of space, while Matala is a lovely place for explorers, with hidden caves and climbable rock formations.
There are also some more secluded beaches, like Preveli, which are harder to access but tend to be quieter and calmer, providing a more romantic vibe for those who crave it.
Overall, the beaches of Crete are bigger and more numerous than those of Corfu, but can be trickier to get to. Laid-back tourists might prefer the easier access of Corfu’s beaches, while families and adventurers may enjoy Crete’s collection.
Which Is Best For Activities?
Beaches might take up a lot of your time during your trip to Crete or Corfu, but there are plenty of other things to do on both of these islands to please everyone, from foodies to history lovers.
Corfu: The Activities
Most travelers to Corfu will stay in Corfu Town. It’s the biggest town on the whole island, and it’s a lovely place to explore, with colorful, Venetian-style buildings and fascinating landmarks.
While here, you might like to take a stroll around the Old Town district, which has been granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO.
You can also tour the old ruins of Kardaki Temple, visit the Old Venetian Fortress, or snag some souvenirs from the town’s vibrant touristic market.
Outside of Corfu Town, there are various other towns and villages dotted around Corfu, like Kassiopi – once a traditional fishing town. This place has now undergone major development and is home to some of the most luxurious holiday homes on the island.
Outside of touring the towns, other things to do on Corfu include climbing Mount Pantokrator – on a clear day, you can see the coasts of Albania and Italy from the top – as well as visiting the wonderful Canal d’Amour – legend says that any couple who swims all the way through will have a happy marriage.
Boat tours, wildlife spotting, and water-based activities like snorkeling and windsurfing are also possible in Corfu. But, in general, with this island’s chilled-out vibe and romantic beaches, it’s one of the best places to go when you simply want to relax.
Recommended: Hiking In Corfu
Crete: The Activities
Crete has a more diverse range of activities and a longer list of landmarks and locations to visit, which is just one more reason why it’s recommended to plan a longer trip if you choose to visit Crete over Corfu.
Just like on Corfu, there are multiple towns to visit on Crete. The main towns are Chania and Rethymno. Chania – the capital of Crete – Chania has a wonderful Venetian port and multiple museums, while Rethymno has a truly magical harbor, a 16th century fortress, and easy access to local nature parks and villages.
Those interested in history and culture have so much to discover on Crete, like a tour of Knossos – believed to be one of Europe’s oldest cities – or a trip to Phaistos, one of the island’s most significant archaeological sites.
Or, if you prefer nature and wildlife, you can trek along the island’s south coast or explore some of its many gorges, like the aforementioned Samaria Gorge (picture below) or the picturesque Richtis Gorge, with its many waterfalls.
You might even spot some local kri-kri goats along the way, and it’s also possible to see turtles, snakes, bats, birds, and more around the island; there are even some species that are only found here, like the Cretan shrew and Cretan wildcat. Crete really is a nature and wildlife lover’s paradise, as we’ve written about before.
Crete also offers boat tours, food tours, watersports, and more.
In general Crete is arguably a better spot for hiking and exploration than Corfu, thanks to its diverse landscapes, and will have a little more appeal for those who like doing different things every day.
Which Is Better For Nightlife?
If you’re interested in clubs, beach bars, and parties, you may not find Mykonos-style scenes on either of these islands, but both do have something to offer to satisfy any nightlife cravings.
On Corfu, nightlife lovers can head to the famed ‘Kavos Strip‘, home to some of Corfu’s liveliest bars and clubs. Here, you’ll often see crowds of young holidaymakers from places like the UK and Germany, partying late into the night.
Crete also has its own nightlife hotspot in the form of Malia, which also boasts its own strip of restaurants, shops, bars, and nightclubs.
Nicely situated near Heraklion, Malia is easy to access and a prime place for the young and young-at-heart to enjoy music, drinks, and a party-like atmosphere all through the year.
Crete is probably the better option overall for nightlife. In addition to Malia, it also has several other places for clubs, bars, and tavernas, like Chania, giving visitors more options in terms of how to spend their nights.
Which Is Best For A Honeymoon?
If you’re planning a lovers’ getaway to a Greek island destination, both Crete and Corfu have many aspects that make them idyllic honeymoon hotspots, from their gorgeous beaches to their luxurious hotels and resorts.
The best choice for you will depend mostly on what kinds of activities and vibe you enjoy the most.
Corfu is arguably more luxurious and romantic, with love-themed landmarks like the Canal d’Amour and a range of small and romantic beaches, such as Kalami and Avlaki.
With that said, Crete is still a super spot for couples, with breathtaking scenery at places like Lake Voulismeni and lots of things to do for active and adventurous couples, such as tours of Bronze Age ruins and hikes along the island’s many trails.
Which Has The Best Resorts?
When it comes to this category, there’s no clear winner in our mind.
That’s because you should be able to find a resort or hotel that is perfect for you on either island, as both have plenty of options that cover a range of budgets.
However we have found is that since Crete is a bigger island, there are more options than in Corfu. Although that said, both have a fantastic range of luxury resorts, low budget hotels, and family friendly hotels.
Ultimately choosing a place to stay will depend heavily on your personal circumstances. But we do have a few recommendations to try and help out:
Crete: Our Recommendations
In Crete, Anemos Luxury Grand Resort (see photos and rates) is a great family friendly option right by the beach with a beautiful pool and world-class service.
They also have a certified childcare service and a kid’s club and play area, which means parents can easily get a well deserved break!
Another worth looking into is Agapi Beach Resort (see photos and rates) which is an all-inclusive resort set that has almost everything you can think of – spa sessions, a private beach, several pools, tennis, and even cooking classes are all included.
If you’re looking for complete relaxation and everything to be taken care off, this is a great option!
Corfu: Our Recommendations
With gorgeous sea views, fantastic amenities and a massive infinity pool perfect for photos and utter relaxation, staying at the five-star Angsana Resort & Spa is one of those things we should all do at least once in our lifetime. Luckily this is luxury at a price many can afford (see photos and rates).
But if you want to be based in the heart of the action rather than by the beach, then staying at New York Luxury Suites in Old Corfu Town could be perfect. The suites themselves are tastefully done and sit in a superb location (see photos and rates here).
Which Is Better For A Family Trip?
If you’re planning a family trip, once again, both Corfu and Crete have a lot to offer. And the best choice for you will depend on how you plan to spend your time and what kinds of activities your family prefers the most.
Families can have a super time at Corfu. Those with young children will particularly appreciate the island’s smaller size, which means you won’t have to worry about your kids getting bored or grouchy on long bus rides or car journeys.
Plus, this island has a good mixture of beaches to please families with kids, along with plenty of super resorts with all the amenities you need to have a good time, like pools, slides, and restaurants.
Crete is also a terrific destination for families, with lots of activities to enjoy. Since it’s bigger and has a lot of historic sites and long hiking trails, it may be better-suited for families with older kids or teens, as young children might be a little bored or easily worn out here.
Which Has The Best Food?
Next, let’s talk food. Enjoying delicious dinners and sampling local delicacies are often among the highlights of a European vacation, and you can enjoy some fantastic food on both of these great Greek islands. But which one is best?
Well, before we compare the two options and pick a winner, it’s important to say that food is quite a subjective matter, and your own tastes and preferences will obviously have a big influence over which island is truly right for you.
But, since both Crete and Corfu have lots of highly-rated eateries, you can’t really go wrong, no matter which place you choose.
On Corfu, you’ll be able to more easily find traditional Greek dishes, as well as lots of Italian food, thanks to the island’s Venetian past and close ties to Italy.
Dishes like pizza, pasta, and salads are commonplace here, and there are some traditional Corfu specialties, like sofrito – a dish of veal in flavorful sauce – as well as pastitsada, which is a pasta dish rich in garlic, onions, and chili peppers.
Crete, meanwhile, has its own culinary style and distinctive dishes, many of which are made with ingredients sourced from the island itself, like herbs from the mountains and cheeses produced from local sheep and goats.
Like so many other aspects of Crete, Cretan cuisine feels unique and special. You can still find Greek meals here, along with restaurants specializing in Italian and Mediterranean dishes.
But one of the main reasons people might choose Crete over Corfu is to sample the local foods, like kaltsounia – small cheese pies – and tiskoudia, a renowned Cretan spirit.
Which Is Cheaper?
Cost is another factor that you might like to consider when weighing up which island to visit between Corfu and Crete.
In general, you won’t notice a huge difference in price between these islands, but a trip to Corfu might cost a little more, overall.
Corfu may be smaller and simpler to get around, but the range of accommodation is a little smaller and Corfu has quite a lot of high-end resorts and boutique hotels, meaning you may have to spend more per night.
With more hotels and places to stay, as well as a wider range of low-cost activities and eateries, it’s possible to plan out a full travel plan for Crete at a lower total cost.
However, costs between these two islands are very similar overall, and the price you pay will depend primarily on what kind of accommodation you choose and what sorts of activities you enjoy each day.
Corfu vs Crete: Which Is Better?
To sum up, it’s certainly not easy to choose between Crete and Corfu. These islands are very different in many ways, but both have their charms and key reasons to visit, from the hiking trails and historic landmarks of Crete to the unique beaches and tranquil setting of Corfu.
Since they’re so different, the best option for you will mostly depend on what kind of vacation you’re looking for, with Crete catering to adventurers or those in search of a unique cultural experience, and Corfu providing more of a typically relaxing and romantic Greek island getaway.
For most travelers, Crete is probably the better choice, simply because it has more things to do and is a larger place, with diverse activities, towns, and architecture.
But there’s still lots to love about Corfu, with its smaller size making it easier to get around and arguably more family-friendly.