Many people dream about visiting a Greek island for their vacation, but with so many great islands to choose from it can be difficult to make the final decision about which one to pick.
The decision between Rhodes and Crete is especially difficult because they are two of the most popular and iconic islands. They’re also both stunningly beautiful and full of things to do. However there are key differences you need to know.
Luckily we know Greece and these two islands well! Below we compare Rhodes vs Crete, looking at which has the better beaches, resorts, nightlife, activities and more!
Rhodes or Crete: Which has the better beaches?
Both islands have great options as far as beaches go. Rhodes’ coastline is almost entirely made up of beaches so you will have plenty of beautiful options to visit. Expect soft sand and gorgeous turquoise water on many of the beaches, while the southernmost part of Rhodes is a haven for water-sports like kitesurfing.
The good thing about Rhodes is that it’s around eight times smaller than Crete, so if you’re looking to beach hop, or want to see most of the island and do several different activities in just a few days, that tends to be easier and more manageable in Rhodes than Crete. Although that said, Crete has more beaches, and subsequently many secluded more private stretches of sand. Which is a big plus point.
If you do go to Rhodes then Prasonisi is one of the best options for kitesurfing. This beach is very windy which makes it ideal if you’re there for kitesurfing, but slightly less ideal if you’re want to sunbathe. Either way, it’s a beautiful spot. Another great beach on Rhodes is Pefkos. It can get a little busy, but it has some of the best sand you’ll find on the entire island.
Crete has some really popular and noteworthy beaches to choose from, and has some unique options that you can’t find anywhere else in Greece.
When you’re in Crete you should definitely visit Elafonisi. This beach is extremely popular (as well as busy) and you may have seen pictures of it before due to its beautiful pink-tinged sands and shallow waters.
Another must-visit beach in Crete is Vai. Vai has a very special backdrop made up of Creten date palms.There’s a small pretty lake nearby as well. All in all this place is a great day trip.
Because Crete is much bigger than Rhodes, it does mean getting from one side of the island to the other is more time consuming. It also means some of the best beaches are more spread out too.
However the upside to that is that it’s still possible to find remote secluded beaches in Crete that you can have all to yourself. In comparison, Rhodes – which is a favourite haunt of huge cruise liners – often has very busy beaches. So if you’re looking for a more private beach experience you likely find that in Crete more than Rhodes.
Rhodes vs Crete: Which has more attractions and things to do?
Crete has more to do considering it’s a larger island, but we’ve found Rhodes has plenty of activities as well. Of course the advantage to Rhodes is that it’s smaller, so it’s easy to hire a rental car and explore the island within a week. However to really get a good sense of Crete, and see the island at its best, you will need at least two weeks.
Both islands have the usual beach activities, but also some incredible historical spots. In fact Rhodes even has a medieval city – Rhodes Old Town – that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is astoundingly beautiful. Crete has its own ruins and ancient towns and cities to explore too. Crete’s Chania, with its medieval buildings and cobbled streets, is one city everyone should visit in their lifetime. So if you’re looking for beautiful historic cities, you’ll be spoiled on both islands.
Alongside beach activities, if you’re visiting Rhodes between June and September then definitely head to the Valley of Butterflies. This valley is a beautiful place to take a stroll at any time of the year, but between these months you’ll come across thousands of butterflies that cover the trees.
If you’ve not had enough of a historical fix in Rhodes’ Old Town then there’s plenty of castles to explore on the island. Monolithos Castle is a great place for a photo op due to its elevation which offers panoramic views of the bay and surrounding mountains.
You should also visit the pedestrian-only town of Lindos. It is classified as a major archaeological site and is a gorgeous part of Greece. There’s some good hiking trails around Lindos too, and Rhodes itself has plenty of hikes that will take you through gorges, up mountains, and around castles. (Recommended: Hiking and Walking in Rhodes).
As promised, Crete does have plenty of ruins to choose from as well. In fact, Crete is home to Knossos which is considered by many to be Europe’s oldest city. The Minoan Palace in Knossos is well worth a visit.
It’s also worth taking a boat trip over to the island of Spinalonga which sits just off the coast of Crete. This was a leper colony up until 1957, but is now a ghost town since being abandoned. It’s an eerie place.
We’ve also found that Crete is probably the best island in Greece for hiking – even better than Rhodes! So if you’re looking to get out into nature then Crete may be the better choice. Alongside mountains, gorges, lagoons and valleys, the famous E4 trail runs through the island. This is a European long distance path that starts in Spain and ends in Cyprus, but makes it way through some of the most beautiful parts of Crete! (Recommended: Hiking and Walking in Crete).
While Rhodes is a more manageable island due to its size, the wealth of activities, things to do, superb hiking and places to see on Crete, means it wins this mini battle.
Rhodes vs Crete: Which has the better nightlife?
Crete may be the bigger island, but Rhodes packs a bigger punch when it comes to nightlife and having fun when the sun goes down!
However with Mykonos being the most famous Greek party island, Rhodes is often forgotten about when it comes to the Greek island party scene. But we’ve found that Rhodes starts rockin’ the later in the evening it gets, and the popular bars and nightclubs don’t close until the sun begins to rise the next day.
Rhodes Town is the main nightlife draw and its epicenter is Orfanidou Street in the Old Town, which is colloquially known by locals as ‘Bar Street’.
This narrow street is packed with over 40 pubs, bars and nightclubs and is the best place to party late, meet other revelers and make decisions you’ll later regret!
The pretty Rhodes seaside resort of Faliraki also has a lively evening scene with its own ‘Bar Street’ and ‘Club Street.’ These two streets tend to attract the 18-30 crowd who are looking to let loose! There’s many bars, live music joints, nightclubs and more.
However while Faliraki used to have a reputation as being quite wild, there’s a tamer side these days and you can find some classy cocktail bars and beachside restaurants here too.
You can find many nightlife options in Crete too, particularly in the bigger cities. However it’s a far more laid-back island when it comes to evening pursuits, and is more of a place for an ouzo in a local taverna, rather than beach parties at sundown.
So if you’re looking for an island with an energetic nightlife scene, Rhodes would be the better choice.
Rhodes or Crete: Which has the better cuisine?
This may seem like a relatively small detail, but we all love good food! It’s something that is often overlooked when it comes to travel, but it’s important to know what to expect when it comes to cuisine.
The good news is that both islands have great food to choose from, which is what you’d hope for considering Greece is known for having delicious food! Although there is no “loser” here, we do think there is a winner.
In Rhodes there are five star fine dining opportunities available, as well as some more cozy and cultural options. There’s great fresh seafood to be had too, especially in the many family-run tavernas in the coastal towns.
In fact if we have any tip when it comes to food in Rhodes or Crete, it’s getting out of the bigger cities and resort areas and into the towns and villages. The bigger cities don’t always have that unique and authentic Greek taste since restaurants are aimed towards tourists. Instead, what we’ve found is that the smaller the town or village, the bigger and better the taste!
However when it comes to cuisine Crete is the winner for us. Creten food does share some similarities with the rest of Greek cuisine, but there’s often an island twist to it.
So on Crete you can find dishes that you won’t find anywhere else in Greece as they’re unique to the island. And since Crete is so large, there are so many small villages with their own unique cuisine, making Crete perfect for foodies. As a bonus there’s many vineyards on Crete that make some very good wine too.
Rhodes or Crete: Which has the better resorts?
When it comes to this category, there’s no clear winner in our mind.
You will 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 what we have found is that since Crete is a bigger island, there are more options than in Rhodes. Although both have a range of luxury resorts, low budget hotels, and family friendly hotels. Therefore choosing a place to stay will depend heavily on your personal circumstances. But we do have a few recommendations.
In Rhodes one good option is the Bellevue Suites which overlooks the water! Expect luxurious suites that have been designed to give you a mini fully-functioning home while you’re visiting the island. Another great option is the adult-only guest house at Koukos. Koukos is a restaurant but they have several suites that are well worth reserving. Great food too.
In Crete, Anemos Luxury Grand Resort is a great family friendly option. They have a certified childcare service and a kid’s club and play area. Another worth looking into is Agapi Beach Resort which is an all-inclusive resort that has almost everything you can think of – spa sessions, a private beach, tennis, and even cooking classes are all included.
Rhodes or Crete: Which is the better choice?
We’re sure you will have a great holiday whichever island you choose, however there are definitely notable differences between the two.
Crete is around eight times bigger than Rhodes and as a result has more places to see, things to do, and is arguably the more beautiful island. The beaches are gorgeous too, and the cuisine on the island is unique and some of the best in Greece. However because it’s so big it’s suited to holidays longer than a week.
Rhodes is a beautiful island as well with some fantastic beaches, but what might make it a better choice than Crete is the fact it’s a much more manageable size. That makes seeing the sights easier, as well as visiting the best beaches, bars, and activities. The nightlife scene is one of the best in Greece too, but you’ll find the beaches can get quite busy in Rhodes, unlike laid-back Crete, where it’s still possible to find empty stretches of coastline.