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12 days in April Greece Itinerary

I would really appreciate this community's input on our proposed itinerary for upcoming trip April 19-May 3 -- particularly number of nights to stay where and any hotel feedback. Should we just stick to Athens, Crete & Santorini or try to also go to Naxos?

Athens - 3 or 4 nights? (2 or 3 days);
Chania, Crete - 2 or 3 nights;
Iraklio - 2 nights;
Santorini - 2 nights;
Naxos - 2 nights

1) Thurs 4/19 Arrive Athens 5:50 pm / Athens Hotel: Phideas, Philippos, Home Sweet Home, Acropol?;
2) Fri 4/20 Parthenon, Acropolis Museum, Plaka etc / Stay in Athens

3) Sat 4/21 Natl Archeological Museum / Stay in Athens

4) Sun 4/22 Flea market? Museum of Cycladic Art? /Fly to Chania, Crete late tonight or early Mon?
5) Mon 4/23 Fly to Chania? Recommendations for places to visit? Stay in old town? Hotel options: Porto del Colombo, Elia Palazzo, Archontiki? Rent car at airport or when we leave town?
6) Tues 4/24 Hike gorge – Samaria or Imbros? / Stay in Chania
7) Weds 4/25 Rent car / Drive thru Rethymno to Iraklio / Visit Archaeological Museum: Stay Kronos or Olive Green Hotel ? Or stay out of town in small village such as Vlahiana (Villa Kerasia) or Archanes in wine country?
8) Thurs 4/26 Visit Knossos, wine country / Iraklio

9) Fri 4/27 Drop off car; Ferry to Santorini, visit Thira; Stay in Firostefani ara; Smarula Villa, Hotel Milos, Villa Firostefani?
10) Sat 4/28 Visit Akroteri; stay in Santorini (Firostefani)
11) Sun 4/29 Ferry to Naxos -- OR Should we just visit Crete/Santorini and skip Naxos?
12) Mon 4/29 Naxos

13) Tues 5/1 Naxos, Fly to Athens; stay near airport, Artemida?

14) Wed 5/2 Return home; Flight 6:30 am

Thank you in advance for your thoughts!

Posted by
742 posts

I have to admit that Naxos is my favourite island. Having said that two nights there is simply not enough time. Drop it and add it somewhere else.
My thoughts.
When you arrive in Athens immediately catch a flight to Chania. Most experienced visitors suggest you get to your first island immediately and leave Athens to the end of your trip. Waking up on an island is always preferable than Athens.

Definitely stay in Chania old town you are stepping back into the past there.
Chania http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632117917828/

No need to rent a car. Just take a bus or taxi into the old town. Parking can be hard to find and there is no room for a vehicle while visiting the old town.
Check with a travel agent when you arrive to see if the Sameria Gorge is open this early. They have to wait for the snow to melt and the river to subside before the gorge is open. You do not want to have a rental car for the Samaria Gorge. Take the KTEL bus or purchase an excursion ticket from the travel agent. The bus takes you to the top and you walk down 16 kilometers to the south coast. From there you have to take a ferry to Sougia or Paleohora or east to Chora Sfakion. Buses are waiting for you at all three villages to take you back to Chania.

Other things to do. See if the excursion boat to Balos and Gramovossa is running this early. You get two beaches and a pirate fortress.
Ancient Aptera is only 18 km from Chania and is an excellent archeological site.
Western Crete http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632115757899/

Aptera images 38-62 Balos Gramovossa images 79-106

I don't know the hotels you suggest but we always stay at Theotokopoulou street. Its back from the harbour but just a two minute walk to all the action.

Theotokopoulou St area http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632118491316/

You will probably want to add one Naxos day to Chania.

Aptera is the only place where you will need a car in this portion of the trip. Contact a local car rental agency most local companies will deliver the car to the hotel or pick you up and take you to the airport to get the car. I can recommend autorentals crete, athenscarscrete and ANE is also a good one. They will likely be willing to let you drop the car off at the ferry port.
Drive to Rethymnon. You probably should expect to spend a good 4 hours there to wander the old town and visit the Fortezza.
Rethymnon https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157654700502270

Then drive to Heraklion. We have stayed at Koronos. Its right on the waterfront, family run and was a good value.
Best bet for Knossos is first thing in the morning before it gets too hot. The museum is very good but central Heraklion and the Venetian harbour are all interesting.
Heraklion https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157655935354556

If you are in to historical sites you might want to add the second Naxos day here and drive south to visit Phastos and even better Gortyz. Gortyz is a Roman city just strewn around an olive grove. You can spend three hours here in a ruined city virtually all by yourself. Its almost as if you just discovered it.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157645085297380

For Santorini I always suggest getting a hotel with caldera view preferably in Firostefani. Its just far enough from the center that the cruise ship crowds don't go there so its not as crowded as Fira.

Santorini http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632154800782/

Lastly Athens. You have a good plan here two preferably three days will allow you to see all the major sites.
Athens http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632121475515/

Posted by
2416 posts

Wow. You really have put thought into your visit, and have managed to hit many highlights. May I suggest some tweaks, based on many trips including all your destinations, and 9 trips with newcomers, so I know what they enjoyed most/found worthwhile. NOTE -- I see that while I was writing this, my esteeemed friend Stanbr jumped in -- now you have TWO good choices!!
• TIMING TWEAKS - Drop Sunday from ATH, add it to Naxos, & why (1) Flea market now full of ticky-tacky; Mus of Cyc Art good, but Naxos Cycladic Art is worlds best really!! (2) If you bump everything back 1 day, you can go to Naxos Ap 28
If u haven't booked that May 1 Aegean flight *BOOK NOW!!*! Only flight left is 11:40 -- and May 1 is Labor Day, almost everything closed down, including bus/metro from airport. For advice re this see below Here other tweaks based on your numbering:

(1 - 3) ATHENS - Of your list, I like Hotel Phillipos best
4) Fly Chania Early - Hotel? I love Elia Palazzo ask for front balcony; don't rent car today, spend whole day exploring Old Town
5) Hike IMBROS - Glorious!! in April (flowers/thyme), NO crowds, Drive to entry, take a picnic for a stop halfway down, when done (4 hrs?) get taxi back up rim road to car. NOTE: Samari is all-day plus can kill your legs next day, just my opinion.
6) Drive east - skip Rethymnon - possible short detour at Panormos to MELIDONI CAVE (gorgeous & poignant, scene of tragedy); I don't like plan of navigating trafficky Iraklion streets TWICE, so why not do wine country, Dafnes, stay there @ Vila Kerasia.
7) Drive into Irak; museum 10 am; lunch, Knossos @ 3pm (cruise crowds gone), back to Kronos for night.
8) Thurs Drop car @ pier 9:45 ferry - stay Firostefani (I like Hotel Milos); don't do OIA at sunset (mob scene)
9) Fr 4/27 OIA @ 8 am bus (beat crowds), Akrotiri in PM (for great sunset, roof terrace of Taverna Stani in Fira)
10) Sat 4/28 Ferry 10:45 to Naxos arrive 12:10; stay @Ag Giorgios beach adjacent to port town - explore town (Museum at "top of town" is open 8:30am-3pm ex mons, so could go there 1st) ... visit famous Arch @ sunset.
11 & 12) Naxos -- on one day u might want to rent a car to swoop around isles, dramatic landscapes, vineyards etc.
13) Fly to ATH - Taxi to yr lodging (of nearby choices, my recmmend is St Thomas B & B, also Villa Vavrona). have cab wait while u check in/drop bags, continue in taxi to ATHens if you want to do stuff. , but here's imaginative advice for Labor Day doables! https://www.helenonherholidays.com/2017/06/03/athens-may-1/ - to get back to hotel afterwards, best to PRE-BOOK a car service for pick-up at pre-determined place; u can do that 4/21 thru your hotel.

Posted by
26 posts

Wow, thank you so much to both of you for your detailed responses! Amazing! I am digesting both of your viewpoints and recommendations. You have me so intrigued about Naxos, now I'd really like to go. I think we can work it out to have almost 3 full days there (flying back to Athens in the evening). What are your favorite things/places there?
Stanbr - Your pictures are wonderful! Did you mean Hotel Kronos in Heraklion? (I can't find Koronos). We will have a long travel day to get to Athens, so I think we will stay for 2 days before heading out to Crete with an early morning flight.
Janet - To clarify, we will not try to travel on May 1, as I know almost everything will be shut down; will leave on May 2.

How does this look?
1) Thurs 4/19 Arrive Athens 5:50 pm Athens Hotel Phillipos
2) Fri 4/20 Athens – Parthenon, Acropolis Museum Athens

3) Sat, 4/21 Natl Archeological Museum, Plaka Athens
4) Sun, 4/22 Fly to Crete 7:50 am; visit town Chania Elia Palazzo
5) Mon, 4/23 Hike Imbros Gorge if open Chania
6) Tues, 4/24 Rent car/ Aptera? Chania
7) Weds, 4/25 Drive thru Rethmnos? Melidoni Cave? Heraklio, Hotel Kronos? or Dafnes, Villa Kerasia

8) Thurs, 4/26 Archaeo Museum, Knossos Heraklio, Hotel Kronos? or Dafnes, Villa Kerasia
9) Fri, 4/27 Drop off car; Ferry to Santorini 8:40am, visit Thira Santorini (Firostefani) Hotel Milos
10) Sat, 4/28 Visit Akroteri Santorini (Firostefani)

11) Sun, 4/29 Ferry to Naxos; arrive 2pm or 5:30pm Naxos [AG beach hotel]?; Pension Sofi?
12) Mon, 4/30 Naxos, rent car? Naxos
13) Tues, 5/1 Naxos Naxos
14) Weds, 5/2 Naxos; Fly to Athens 6:35 pm Near airport, Artemida?

15) Thurs, 5/3 Return home; Flight 6:30 am

Thanks a million!
Denise

Posted by
91 posts

Samaria gorge does not open usually until 1 May. This year it has been very mild & dry in Crete so it is just possible it could open early - however that would be unusual & the water will probably be over the path in places, the path could still need maintenance. I wouldn't choose to do it! As Janet says, Imbros gorge is shorter, easier & lovely. It takes around 2 1/2 hours or so to walk down & at the bottom, in the village of Komitades you can get a lift either down to Hora Sfakia, a sweet little coastal village with lovely fish tavernas along the harbour front, or straight back up to Imbros to your car.

With a car, you may also like to visit the Botanical Park, on the way up to the Omalos plateau. Or a day's driving around the Apokoronas villages, into the foothills of the White Mountains. The lovely historical site of Aptera has already been recommended, a super half day, especially now with the further recently renovated amplitheatre.

If you can add a day or 2 to your Chania part of your journey I think you would be pleased, Crete is a place best not rushed.

Posted by
742 posts

Oops. Yes its Kronos.

In April Naxos will be quiet but it has a permanent population so the waterfront promenade will have lots of tavernas open and it will probably be fine weather for hiking.
Do stay at St George beach it is part of Naxos town and everything is within walking distance.

Here are images of Naxos. You will love it.
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you so much to all who responded to my questions. I really appreciate your generosity and insight!
warm regards,
Denise

Posted by
26 posts

In case anyone is still paying attention to this, do you think it would be better for us to start with Naxos (after Athens), then Santorini, finally Crete? Would one week later give us more of a chance that Imbros Gorge would be open? Or just about the same?
Thank you!!
Denise

Posted by
742 posts

only because Janet has probably retired for the evening. Samaria Gorge is essentially a river cut through the rock. i believe Imbros no longer has a river so early season its a good choice.

Posted by
26 posts

Hi Stanbr - You amazing! So probably one week later at Imbros may not make a difference? Any thoughts on starting out with Naxos, then Santorini, then Crete vs. other way around? Also, any recommendation on place to stay in Naxos, as well as nearby Athens airport?
Many thanks!

Posted by
2416 posts

Not retired just watching Netflix. I like the sequence y ou already have ... Going the farthest out & working your way back ... also I think there are more flight options to Chania than to Naxos. I did Imbros about May 4, it was fine, no stream running thru, greenery will already be blooming -- one thing I loved about that Gorge, as I was walking down I started thinking about roast lamb, and wondered why??? My companion pointed out that both sides, we were surrounded by huge flowering bushes of THYME -- so it was as if we were in the oven with herbs ... BTW, lots of bees on the thyme, buy some Thyme honey while you're in crete its divine.
-- Good nite --

Posted by
742 posts

As for sequence of Islands. Going to the furthest island and working your way back is the most efficient plan. Why, because the ferries depart Heraklion in the morning get to Santorini around noon Naxos early or late afternoon depending on which one you choose then they turn around and do the route the other direction. They get back to Heraklion around 7:30 in the evening so you have essentially wasted the day going in that direction versus Crete to Naxos direction.

Posted by
26 posts

Hello Greece Gurus,
Our flights and ferries are booked and I'm down to the final details of our trip, coming back to you with a few more questions.
-- Timing of car rental: Arriving Chania Sunday morning for 3 nights (staying in old town). Should we start car rental at airport? I noticed that taxi cost to town is 25 euros, but I know we won't really need the car that day as we will be in town (also hard to park). Or start rental on day we go to Imbros Gorge --or better to take bus there? Or get car on the day we want to drive out to Aptera?
--Timing of returning car: A few days later (Friday am) we will take 9 am ferry from Heraklion to Santorini. Should we drop off car the night before or drive it to port in the morning with our bags & drop off car there? I would love to stay in Dafnes area rather than Heraklion, but I think that may be complicated as we are taking the early ferry and will need to return the car. Your thoughts?
Sorry if this is too much minutiae!

Janet -- I'm curious, why did you suggest that we skip Rethymnon?

Your input is so invaluable! I truly appreciate your time and expertise.
Denise

Posted by
742 posts

With respect to the rental car there are several local car rental agencies who say they will deliver a rental car to your hotel (or close by as most of the old town can't take cars) Autorental Crete is picking us up at Chania bus station taking us to the airport to pick up our car and we are dropping it off at Herklion airport. We have dropped of the car at the ferry port as well on past trips. Tell them what you want to accomplish and they will do their best to make it work for you.
We have also used Athenscarscrete another local company. Best cars, Anna cars and ANE are also local and recommended but I no experience with them.

I suspect Janet is suggesting you not stay in Rethymnon because it is much like Chania but not as large nor as charming. Thats not a reason not to visit on the way but on such a short stay an overnight will just take away time from Chania.

I have no experience with Imbros Gorge other then driving by the entrance and walking a few hundred meters up from the bottom. But I can say this is a good day to have the rental car. You can certainly get there by bus but that will take a long time. The car gives you flexibility to stop whenever the spirit moves you. Also logistically you can park the car at the top of the gorge walk down rest at a taverna and look for a taxi or a local who will drive you back up to the top or do it the other way round. Park at the bottom and have a local drive you to the top. There are a couple of tavernas at the bottom who arrange this service.

Posted by
2416 posts

I get "first bite" because Stanbr in Vancouver I. is just having breakfast so here goes. BTW, I mean to NAG the R Steves webmaster for the main drawback of this forum -- once you hit "reply" all contribs to the thread disappear, so one must open a 2nd window just to be able to refer to those posts. Very silly programming which should be corrected .. Onward:

• CHANIA CAR RENTAL - If u can get a car for 30€, then rent at airport, no NOT hard to park free... at "Foot" of THeotokopoulu st,lots of parking, just be sure to use the one lot that's marked Free. If car rental will be €45-50, then maybe wait until AM of "Imbros Day." Early AM public transit TO Imbros possible but return could be iffy. A flawed website redesign is VERY frustrating! Try it & see -- https://www.cretetravel.com/travel_tips/crete-bus-schedules-chania-rethymno/?page=Bus_schedules/Chania_Rethymno.htm -- cannot even see timetable for ANY day. Sigh. Greece officialdom not really digital-ready yet.
- CAR RENTAL RETURN - Have had varying experience w. car return. Once when staying at Hotel Kronos, we just parked on street, left keys at hotel desk w. info on where it was located. Another time, put car in designated area by pier, keys under mat. The BIG challenge, if staying at Dafnes, is allowing time to get thru city traffic in rush hour... I'm not driver, only Navigator, but can testify Heraklion is MOST confusing... all kinds of one-ways. You could do this if (1) You spend time when picking up car, with agency guy, FORCE him to mark EXACT route in RED on detailed Map, including entry highway, & thru Heraklion Streets to ferry Pier. (2) Re-check w your Dafnes Hotelier with time-estimate, then add 20 minutes. For a 9:45 ferry, should arrive no later than 9 am.

-- RETHYMNON - I said skip, just in regard to time-saving. Have done the Rethymnon thing several times (since I've visited Crete a number of times, with newbies, who may want to stop there). It has an "Old Town" of course, but much more limited than the one in Chania, and IMHO, less charming... of course the "main drag" has picturesque buildings & doorways, Stanbr has great pix of same, but in my visits seemed very clogged w tourist crowds... and because small, not so many quiet back lanes ... It DOES have an impressive huge Fortessa. What one CAN do, in 1 hour, is exit highway, get close to Fortessa, park, go in & up top for view, then leave. There's a museum on premises, but again IMHO not much of interest. By contrast, the small Chania museum (housed in a former church) is very well organized, understandable, sequential... a great quickie visit during a May shower.

Posted by
26 posts

Stanbr & Janet -- Thanks to both of you!!
Now just to make us all a bit crazy (and try your patience), I have another idea in mind -- going to Phaestos after leaving Chania instead of Aptera. This plan also reflects what Janet first suggested regarding not having to negotiate Herakion traffic more than once (sorry I did not grasp what you were saying at first). What do you think?

1) Thurs 4/19 – Arrive Athens 5:50 pm
2) Fri 4/20 – Parthenon, Acropolis Museum
3) Sat 4/21 – Natl Archeological Museum

4) Sun 4/22 – Fly to Chania, arrive 8:40 am, Rent car at airport; Explore Old Town (Elia Palazzo Hotel)
5) Mon 4/23 – Hike Imbros Gorge (per weather)
6) Tues 4/24 – Visit Aptera, Armenoi village? OR ALTERNATE BELOW
7) Weds 4/25 – Drive thru Rethymno to Iraklio (Hotel Kronos)/ Visit Archaeological Museum
8) Thurs 4/26 – Visit Knossos / wine country
OR ALTERNATE: Tues –Drive to Phaestos; Gortya?; overnight nearby (Kamilari, Malles, Matala?)
Weds – Knossos; drive thru wine country to Heraklion; drop off car
Thurs – Visit Archaeological Museum

9) Fri 4/27 – 9 am Ferry to Santorini, visit Thira; (Hotel Milos)
10) Sat 4/28 – Visit Akroteri
11) Sun 4/29 – Ferry to Naxos 12:00, arrive 2:10pm (still debating hotel)
12) Mon 4/30 – Naxos; rent car for day trip
13) Tues 5/1 – Naxos
14) Wed 5/2 – Naxos, late flight to Athens (6:35 pm); stay near airport (Artemida)
15) Return home; Flight 6:30 am

We actually have about 3 full days on Naxos.

Thank you once again for so generously sharing your expertise! (Janet, I totally agree with you regarding the awkwardness of using this forum when replying!)
Best regards,
Denise

Posted by
742 posts

I see you got hotel Milos on Santorini. We had that booked a few years ago but had to cancel that trip. Always regretted not getting that hotel.

Janet I just solved your problem with this forum collapsing all but thew original post. I just opened the same thread in a different browser so I now have both formats in front of me.

Denise you may be doing too much commuting on day trips. Specifically you are really only planning on day for Chania and all the rest of your plans require you to drive back to Chania after a full day exploring. Specifically you practically have to drive to Rethymnon to go south to Imbros Gorge. If you are doing option 3 just keep going after Imbros gorge and go to Matala. Its lovely in a bohemian sort of way. That puts you close to Gortyz and Phastos and Agia Traida, which was the summer palace for Phastos. Now head north toward Heraklion and do your village wine country day.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157687857502721

For Naxos do stay at St George beach. Not sure what your budget is but for a luxury stay in one of the best boutique hotels in Greece look at Boutique hotel Glaros. It is well priced unless you are a budget traveler.
Right next door Hotel Kymata probably half the price and nicely appointed. Both are in my St George beach hotels album.
A week in Naxos https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645113682278/
St George Beach Hotels Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632162394787/

Posted by
26 posts

Okay, Stanbr. Looking at a map would have been helpful, right? Does the following scenario make sense to you or Janet? Unfortunately, I can’t book Viila Kerasia 4/24; to avoid 2 1-night stands in a row (Matala/Dafnes), will spend last 2 nights in Heraklion.

Sun 4/22 – Arrive Chania 8:40 am; rent car: all day to visit Old Town;
Mon 4/23 – Chania / possibly visit Aptera, Armenoi village?;

Tues 4/24 – Imbros Gorge (1 hr drive; 3 hrs hike]; Drive to Matala area for night (2 hrs drive);
Weds 4/25 – Visit Phaestos (not sure if will have time for Gortya, etc); stop for lunch in wine country; 1 hr drive to Knossos; Heraklion for night; drop off car;
4/26 Thurs – Visit Archaeological Museum; stay in Heraklion;
9) Fri 4/27 – 9 am ferry to Santorini

Looking at Naxos hotels now. Thank you!!

Posted by
742 posts

You don't need a car to explore Chania old town. It is mostly pedestrian only so you will use the car to get to Chania and will have to park it for the rest of the day. Fortunately it will be ready fro you to tour the next day.
This is just my personal opinion but if I had to choose between Phastos and Gortyz I would choose Gortyz every time. Phastos is i full excavated site Gortyz is in raw form. It feels like a ruin with the bare bones revealed. I believe you are going to Knossos so you will get a Minoan site there.

Posted by
26 posts

Hello again Janet & Stanbr! Coming back to you for final thoughts (hopefully not your annoyance) on the following 2 options for Tues, 4/24, Wed 4/25, Thurs 4/26:

Two full days in Chania:
Sun 4/22 – Arrive Chania 8:40 am; rent car at airport: visit Old Town.
Mon 4/23 – More Chania / possibly local drive (Aptera? Armenoi village? or?)

Tues 4/24 – Leave Chania:

Option 1: Imbros Gorge (1/2 day); then drive (2 hrs) from Chora Sfakia to stay in either Kamalari village, Korfes Apartments; or Kalimaki, Alexander Beach Hotel for night.
Weds 4/25 – Visit Phaestos, Agia Triada; Gortnya; drive thru wine country; if time, visit Knossos; drop off car,stay in Heraklion.
Thurs 4/26 – Archaeological Museum; Bus to Knossos if not yet visited.

Option 2: Skip Imbros – From Chania, drive 2 hr to Zaros (drop off luggage at lodging, Keramos) before continuing (20 min) to visit Phaestos, Agia Triada; Gortnya. Stay in Zaros.
Weds 4/25 – Visit Rouvas Gorge; drive thru wine country; Knossos; drop off car, stay in Heraklion.
Thurs 4/26 – Archaeological Museum; explore Heraklion.
Fri 4/27 – 9 am ferry to Santorini

Another question: We are always worried when travelling in Europe about leaving luggage etc in rental car while visiting sites (ie theft). Is this a valid concern in Crete?

Thank you once again for your expert opinions. I truly appreciate your time and generosity. I'll try to not bother you again!
Warm regards,
Denise

Posted by
2416 posts

I think I'll turn over the responsibility to stanbr, I'm pretty much done. First of all, when you mention little known places like Kalimaki and Kalimari as pit-stops, it's good to say where they are Near that's better known (i.e. Matala, Plakias whatever). They sound like something on a taverna menu. Anyway I figured out that they were over by Matala.... and all I gotta say is,you'd better love driving, if you plan to go from Hora Sfakion east along the coast to PLakias, and then struggle up that mountain road to get to the "big road" at Spili ... I did it once as navigator and would not do again. First of all, staying on S. Coast It involves getting a taxi back UP the Imbros Rim Road, and then driving your Vehicle back DOWN (about 25+ switchbacks!)... luckily my driver fancied herself kind of a Le Mans champion (now lives in colorado), and liked the Imbros test, but it took all her skills to get up that corkscrew road to Spili .... and THEN we still had to Get down to Matala... we Left Frangocastello about 10, and we pulled into our Matala place (BTW V. nice Dimitri's Villa) about 4? ... took much of a day. BUt if you have a wheel-jockey partner go at it.

And if you're doing that, just east of Hora Sfakion, there's a little tiny village, Komitades. There's a cafe on the downhill side just as you enter the village. If there's anybody sitting there, ask " Pou (where) Ay. Giorgios??" They'll point to a path downhill ... follow it thru olive groves, goats, a gulley or 2, there may be a handwritten sign. Halfway down the steep hill SUDDENLY a roofless Stone church about the size of a carport, totally covered with flowers, under a brilliant blue sky. Inside, some faded but still (a few years back) visible wee wall murals of St. George & his dragon. Dates from about 1200. A magic moment.

Posted by
26 posts

LOL, Janet! Yes, those places I mentioned are near Matala. Are you familiar at all with Zaros?
From your comments, I think we’ll probably skip Imbros. It surely deserves an entire day. I must say, I’ve never been so obsessed with micromanaging a trip before. The input you’ve given is very much appreciated. I should have listened to you from the start, but I just see that in retrospect, as I’ve found out more with research. I hope to return to Greece and Crete in the future and have the luxury to spend more time. Thanks again for all your input!
Warmly, Denise

Posted by
2416 posts

Ah yes, Denise, research brings enlightenment, and doing it Before posting general inquiries would save a lot of effort by responders --- but that almost never happens. An insight to remember in future!

As for Zaros, I've not stayed there myself because in Crete I've always had Newbies along, with such long wish-lists, there never was time. But I've heard good things -- and of course have imbibed Zaros with pleasure... it's the source of one of the TOP bottled-water brands. Last month in fact, Zaros water was named the Best Bottled water in the WORLD (!!) at the 27th International Water-Tasting competition. http://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/02/28/zaros-named-best-bottled-water-in-the-world/

Here's a great website - http://www.completely-crete.com/zaros.html - on Zaros itself, its artesian springs, its winery, and its landscape covered with spring flowers. I envy your stay there.

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you, Janet! Okay, I’m sold on Zaros. I’m sure we’ll regret just staying one night. (I feel like I’m already planning our return trip to Greece and we haven’t even gone yet!)

Another question: We are always worried when travelling in Europe about leaving luggage etc in rental car while visiting sites (ie theft). Is this a valid concern in Crete?

Stanbr – yes, of course would love to hear your input about Naxos. Thank you for offering! I’ll open a new thread on the forum so that others can also benefit.