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1st Greece trip and international European adventure

2 women traveling to Greece for 1st time from Newark (EWR) for appx. 8 days. Leaning towards arriving into Chania @ 5:50 p.m. on Friday evening, Oct. 7th after 13 hour flight. We fly out of Chania the following Sat., Oct. 15th @ 5:55 p.m.

Would like to visit Crete, Chania & Santorini. Willing to rent a car. Interested in seeing some beaches (thinking Elafonissi Beach for sure), Old Venetain Harbor, the wine & olive oil tasting tour, at least one Gorge, Rethymnon Old Town, & possibly the 7 villages of Apokoronas.

Is this realistic to think that we can enjoy seeing all of the above in an 8 day period of time? and if so, can someone recommend the best way to navigate this as our game plan or is it too far fetched to manage in this short period of time?

Our main goal is to visit small quaint towns, eat at local tavernas, see breathtaking views and maybe low key hiking, some relaxation on beaches and visit Santorini for at least a short time.

We found a cute cottage in Paleochora and wondered if this could be a good central location to stay and be able to do the things mentioned above.

Would taking a ferry or driving be better to go from place to place or would driving be the better option? I read that the drive from Chania to Theriso passes through dramatic landscape of the Gorge and then takes you to a town called Zorvas where you can hike into the mountains. Mentions taking that road to Meskla and how impressive the views driving to Zourva are and that it can be done in a loop only taking 90+ minutes with a break for lunch and a walk. This sounds amazing!!

Is the driving manageable and rental car GPS realiable? We are adventurous but want to be realistic in our planning process.

I am about to lock in airfare b/c of the fantastic price ($746 roundtrip pp) but really need advice as to whether flying into Chania is our best option and renting car from airport to adventure around is as well before we lock in anything for certain due to non-refundable options we may choose.

Any and all advice is welcome!! So glad to have found this forum and look forward to hearing feedback. Thank You!

Posted by
348 posts

Forget Santorini if you have only 8 days. Crete is full of interesting places that will keep you busy for all 8 days. You will probably need to take a couple of days to recover from your flight and I would spend those days in Chania. Lots to see there - Minoan ruins, Venetian harbour, museums etc. Rent your car in Chania, when you have recovered from your flight. Roads in Crete, especially in the mountains, can be twisty and you need to keep your wits about you. If you decide not to drive, you could investigate the bus service - look at the KTel website to see where buses go. Paleochora would be a good place to stay in the middle of where you want to be. Get a good guide book; I really like the Rough Guide to Crete. Has good maps of towns and cities and also of the ancient monuments. My favourites are Aptera just outside Chania with great views over Souda Bay, and Phaestos, one of Crete’s great palaces with views over olive groves and mountains.

Rethymnon is a nice day trip from Chania, I am glad I went, the Venetian fortress is impressive and the old town is pleasant if somewhat touristy, but not somewhere I would consider a must do.

Crete is wonderful, the people are friendly, the food is good and so is the wine! Enjoy it, you will want to go back and visit the eastern part of the Island!

Posted by
49 posts

I was driving a couple of weeks ago in Crete from Chania to Elafosini, Paleochora. Driving is manageable albeit it will be a lot of mountain roads up and down and hairspins. Some road does not have guard rails, so it's a little bit I would not say scary, but not comfortable. But big buses take some of those roads, so it is manageable just take it easy. Only in the daytime. Google maps worked perfectly for me. I purchase a local SIM card with internet and it provided me all the info necessary to navigate. Plus you can download maps before getting out of Chania.

Posted by
49 posts

My opinion on this like yes, Crete is wonderful, full of nice, interesting places, food, gorges, villages, etc. but Santorini is Wow!, simply breathtaking. You see what I mean - nice vs wow. go to Santorini. Out of our 20 days in Greece, Santorini and Meteora were just above all other places in the beauty and magic. Just my and my wife's 2 cents.

Posted by
1919 posts

I’d say grab those tickets (if you didn’t already). And as lanlubber said, spend the entire time in Crete, especially since you’re flying in and out of Chania. A ferry to and from Santorini will eat up two half days.

There is plenty to do and see in Crete to occupy 8 days. We are planning almost a month there in September.

Keep an eye on Covid regulations. Currently you must have a negative test, taken the day before you return to the US, in order to fly home. For details, search this forum for Covid information.

Posted by
7748 posts

We spent two weeks in Chania and had plenty to do each day. We had a rental car. We visited Falasarna and Elafonisi Beaches the same day. It was not hard to do this. The only problems was getting past herds of goats in the roads which are common to come across.
Paleochora is on the southern coast not a good location for a base.

Posted by
433 posts

In my opinion it is not realistic to think you can do all of that in such a short period of time. Based on the flights you mentioned, you do not have 8 full days. If exploring Crete is your main objective then focus on that and save Santorini for another trip. Crete is large and you will only scratch its surface with the days that you have allotted. I can recommend the tasting and light lunch at Dourakis winery as it was one of our most enjoyable activities in Crete.

Posted by
951 posts

Spend your entire time on Crete. It's the largest of the Greek Islands and there's enough to see, do and experience to keep you occupied for weeks.

I've been to Greece 9 times and not once did I consider Santorini. Many people think it's the "only" Greek Island to go to and that's why it's cruise-ship central and hordes of tourists.

Crete has something for everyone and is filled with archeological/historic sites. Just as spectacular views without the mass of tourists getting in your way, great food, far more reasonable prices for everything and in my opinion more "Greek" than Santorini even though I haven't been there.

Stay in Crete and enjoy one of Greece's nicest all around islands!