Nightlife in Crete: 7 Must-Party Bars On Greece’s Big Isle

Nightlife in Crete
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There is oodles of nightlife in Crete. From the buzz of one of the country’s best known 18-30s resorts to the low-key vibes of a Venetian harbor, where tavernas hide under blooms of bougainvillea and Byzantine-era buildings, the biggest island in Greece has lots up its sleeve for travelers who like to keep the action going after dark.

Yep, Crete’s nocturnal side runs the gamut from hedonistic resorts with buzzy strips to romantic old towns filled with cobbled lanes and wine cellars. Serious partiers should always look to stay in the sleepless summer escape of Malia. It’s legendary among boozy Brits and northern European youngsters for its array of shot bars, dance halls, discos, and karaoke venues. But there’s also loads more on offer than just that.

This guide will range across the whole of Crete to seek out seven of the very best clubs and party venues on the island. It’s got a mezze platter’s worth of options, starting with the famous Strip of Malia and ending with some more off-the-beaten-track nightlife spots for those after something a little different.

Where to go for nightlife in Crete?

Beach in Crete
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Crete’s a big island. Travelers who come here with the main aim of guzzling ouzo and Cretan wines while dancing the night away should be sure to pinpoint the right place to go before they book. Otherwise, they risk settling into a long-lost hill village where there’s nothing but a fruit shop and a 2,000-year-old olive tree.

Thankfully, the main party towns of Crete are easy to identify. These are the spots with the biggest selection of bars and clubs, the best cocktail joints, and the liveliest post-sunset scene. They include:

  • Malia – Unquestionably the main party destination in Crete, this town is a rollicking 18-20s mecca that starts going in May and doesn’t end again until September.
  • Chania – A very lively but charming town on the western side of Crete, offering a whole harbor’s worth of beer bars and one or two clubs besides.
  • Stalida – Joined to Malia by the same beachfront, this one’s got a touch more family-friendly vibe than its compadre, but still stacks of beach bars and drinking holes.
  • Heraklion – The capital. Come here to get stuck into the most local bars of the lot.
  • Hersonissos – An old port town that’s now the hub of the main resort area east of Heraklion, Hersonissos is home to a few mega clubs and very stylish cocktail joints.

Club Sensation, Hersonissos

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Club Sensation is one huge depot of a club that graces the streets of Hersonissos resort. Big, boisterous, and forever thundering with pumping EDM, electronica, house, and deep house, the venue is known for its regular DJ nights. The line-up is especially rich in Dutch talent (mainly due to the Dutch ownership) – names like Yung Felix and DJ Lapendo are regulars.

Sensation occupies a sprawling space just a single block back from the main beach. It expands into a number of dance areas with a lofted DJ booth that’s usually plumed in smoke and illuminated with flashing strobes. The whole place is painted black, while hanging steel frames and galvanized tubes add an industrial-chic factor to the mix.

It’s always a good idea to book tickets ahead of time for Club Sensation. Their parties are some of the most sought-after on the island and the club is close enough to Malia to draw seriously big crowds of revelers in the high season.

Reflex, Malia

Beach bars in Malia
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You’ll probably hear the familiar sounds of 80s rock and pop before you see Reflex. This retro bar specializes in all things Come on Eileen, Aha, Duran Duran, and Michael Jackson. Yep, it’s the best place to go on the whole of Crete for your fix of the decade of neon-colored legwarmers and boob tubes, offering a glimpse back in time some 40 years or so.

As you’d expect, the whole place is adorned with shimmering lights. An oversized Rubik’s Cube tops the doorway, leading to halls punctuated with Elton John glasses, frizzy wigs, and all sorts of old-school regalia.

The front of the venue is open to the street, which just so happens to be the ever-lively Malia Strip. So, drop the ego at the door, because you’ll be able to be seen dancing shapes to Bon Jovi and whatnot. Reflex crowds tend to be a little more easy-going than elsewhere in the resort, with an older contingent looking for a touch of nostalgia helping get the party started.

Zig Zag Club, Malia

Beer on the beach
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Zig Zag is one of the undisputed legends of Malia, Crete’s most popular party town by a long stretch. A modern, cutting-edge club that first opened its doors to revelers at the turn of the millennium, it’s centered on a futuristic dance floor topped by forever-rotating mirror balls and gyrating lights.

The music policy here is not-so-strictly house. The deep EDM tunes are often interspersed with R&B hits, bass-heavy funk and soul, and electronic remixes of the classics. Basically, it’s in the hands of the resident DJs, who tend to do a pretty fantastic job of keeping the bodies moving until the early (very early) hours – the official close time is 6am some days, and the spot doesn’t even open until 11pm.

There’s a VIP lounge area at Zig Zag where you can go for a respite from the house changer. Out front, the venue also opens into a sort of half al fresco drinking terrace that overlooks the Malia Strip.

Corkers Nightclub, Malia

Cretan town at night
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The third and final option in the kingpin of nightlife in Crete that is the town of Malia, Corkers Nightclub is worth a mention because it’s been around since the very beginning of the 18-30s resort. Yep, an evening of shimmying and shot taking here is nothing short of a rite of passage for first-time hedonists hitting The Strip.

Corkers is marked out by a simple exterior of concrete-colored stone and green signage. It sits roughly midway down the main drag, about 10 minutes’ walking from the beach. At opening time – usually in the early evening – the whole frontage of floor-to-ceiling doors will fling open to reveal a buzzy dancefloor.

We’d say Corkers is one of the more welcoming of the bars on the Malia Strip. Unlike the out-and-out EDM clubs that pump away nearby, it’s got chatty bar staff and a more eclectic crowd of regulars. The drinks are also typically a touch cheaper than some of the other spots in the town.

Garage Bar, Chania

Chania marina in the evening
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Garage Bar is arguably the most happening place to party in the main urban hub of western Crete. That’s Chania, a city of winding lanes and cobbled alleys that’s packed with charming tavernas and anchored by a gorgeous Venetian Harbor. You can start the night in one of the many excellent restaurants (a personal fav is Tamam) and then hit the club to keep the ouzo flowing.

Look for the entrance just off the main street of Chalidon, a couple of seconds’ walk past the art gallery. You’re after the hulking wooden doorway with metal braces, illuminated by a big sign that reads ‘Garage’ between plumes of green grape vines. There are some tables outside, but it’s just as atmospheric within, where a cavernous interior is strung with old motorbikes and red filament bulbs.

The music here is a little more curated than down in Malia. Local Cretan and Greek DJs come and go throughout the summer, playing all sorts of Lo-Fi, hip hop, and drum and bass to big crowds of Chania natives, especially on the weekends. Come Sundays and Mondays, it’s a touch more chilled, and you’ll be able to sit out front with a cold beer and watch the world go by.

Swing Thing, Heraklion

Heraklion
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We don’t hesitate to recommend Swing Thing for even a second. This is one of the coolest bars in the whole of Crete – nay, the whole of Greece. It channels Tiki vibes and touch of that prohibition noir to offer somewhere that positively oozes atmosphere. It’s right in the heart of the island’s capital, too, on the cusp of leafy Theotokopoulos Park.

The main draw has to be the cocktails. The menu here is a meticulously forged list of famous mixes and in-house tipples. Many are imbued with Crete’s own ingredients – think sweet oranges fresh from the mountain orchards and lemons plucked off the trees just down the road.

Instead of beating chart tunes and endless DJ sets, you get chilled jazz and blues and electronica on the playlist. That couples with an interior of simply lit booth seats and low-hanging lights, eventually spilling out onto a wrap-around terrace that’s perfect for sipping martinis and watching city life go by.  

Whisper Music Cocktail Bar, Stalida

Crete shoreline
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Whisper Music Cocktail Bar ditches the mega-club paradigm for something more beach orientated. It spreads over the powdery sands at the far western end of Malia Beach, in an area of the resort known as Stalida. There, the feel is a bit more family centric, so expect chilled vibes and afternoon drinking sessions by the sea.

The prices are way more attractive than in the big electronica and DJ venues on the strip. You’re looking at €3 for a rum and mixer and under €10 for a full on high-ball cocktail. You should also find there are some pretty attractive happy-hour deals going at Whisper.

The best thing, though? That has to be the sunbed service. A perfect day-drinking venue, this one offers a seat right next to the lapping waves of the Aegean Sea. It might not be chic and stylo, but you can glug those Mythos pints with your feet in the water. Nice.                

Does Crete have good nightlife?            

You bet it does! Crete has one of the best nightlife scenes of all the Greek islands, mainly thanks to the buzzy resort of Malia and its neighboring towns, where there are more clubs and pubs than you can shake a gyros at. You can also find alt venues – rock bars, brew pubs – with a more local vibe in the towns of Chania and Heraklion.

Where in Crete is the nightlife?

Crete’s a big island but the nightlife is centered around just a handful of resorts and towns. Most famous among them is Malia, which sort of merges with Stalida and Hersonissos down the shoreline to create an all-in-one party destination that’s sure to entertain all sorts of travelers. On top of that, you have Chania and Heraklion, the two main cities, where local bars and quirky pubs abound.

Is there a strip in Crete?

The strip in Crete is located in Malia, the island’s main party hub. It cuts south to north from the edge of the resort to the beachfront, hosting everything from low-key kebab shops to karaoke venues to neon-lit clubs. Ask for either The Strip or Dimokratias street – local taxi drivers should all know exactly where you mean.

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Joe has been a freelance travel writer for over nine years. His writing and roaming have taken him from the colonial towns of Mexico to the chowks of Mumbai to the Southern Alps of New Zealand. When he's not putting together the next epic blog on the best Greek islands or ski fields in France, you can usually find him surfing or hiking – his two top hobbies.