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A month in Crete

My husband and I are considering making our first trip to Crete in September. We are 79 and 76 so we'll be traveling slowly and won't be renting a car. We'll have about a month. I've been doing some reading and would appreciate your thoughts before I make flight reservations.

One idea is to fly into Chania and stay somewhere outside the city (like Ammos Hotel) (2-3 nights) to recover from the long flight. Then bus to Falassarna for 3? nights, taking a day trip ferry to Balos. Bus to Paleochora (? nights), then catch the ferry that hops along the Libyan Sea. Stay in Sougia (?) and/or Agia Romeuli (? nights) and walk up to the end of the Samaria Gorge. Ferry to Loutro for 4? nights. Bus to Rethymnon for ? nights. Then back to Chania, explore and take day trips for 7-8 nights, and fly home.

The other option would be to fly into Chania and stay there for 7-8 days, then repeat the above itinerary (with whatever modifications you'd suggest) and end in Rethymnon, flying home from Heraklion (which may require staying one night there). I don't know if this open-jaw trip would make more sense . . . I guess I'm hesitant about jumping right into Chania on our first jet-lagged day.

We would prefer to not have so many hotel changes, but I don't know where to put the extra nights . . . which places can be seen as day trips and which are good places to just relax and wander for a longer time. Our last Greek vacation was very slow due to some knee issues -- Naxos (7 nights), Amorgos (6), Antiparos (6), Milos (6) -- and it was lovely. So we don't get bored easily.

We have seen lots of archeological sites in Greece, Sicily and Turkey so we are not planning to visit Knossos. We will look for excursions from various towns to interesting little ruins, wineries, etc.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Posted by
11368 posts

We loved Loutro but 4 nights is a bit long unless you just want to sit on the beach with a good book which isn’t a bad thing to do. . For your second stay in Chania, stay in the city itself. We were a little outside and drove into downtown every day, wishing we stayed in town.
I would do Rethymnon as a day trip.
Spending 3 nights for Falasarna Beach seems a little long. It reminded us of the ocean in California or on Cape Cod with big waves. . Add Elafonisi Beach with it’s aqua water and pink sand, gentle water. These two beaches are not too far apart but are so totally different.
Plan on visiting the pottery town of Margarites. We have several pieces in our home that we bought there, Minoan reproductions. I will try to find the potters’ name we bought from. He was a third generation potter there and had a lovely shop.
I would not hesitate “ jumping right into Chania” either. The old town section is where you’d want to stay. There is a modern part of the city too if you are looking for a large super market or things like that. I needed outpatient medical care and went to a private hospital in Chania and was impressed with it.
Many hotel choices. There is Porto Veneziano right on the harbor. I will give you some restaurant recommendations when I find the list.
You will have a beautiful trip!

Posted by
2147 posts

Thanks Suki! The Porto Veneziano looks lovely. I’ll check that out when we have our dates firmed up. And restaurant recommendations would be great.

Posted by
3260 posts

I think that you will really enjoy a long-term stay on Crete. Here are some suggestions based on our trip:

Spend several nights in Chania (we spent 5 nights and that was perfect) - especially if it’s your first stop and you need time to rest and recover from jetlag. We also stayed at Porto Veneziano and liked it very much!

I’m not familiar with Falassarna but we liked Paleochora and spent two nights there. It’s a nice small town. We took the bus from Chania to Paleochora. People recommended Elafonsi Beach but we didn't make it there - you might research to see if it's of interest.

Note: the day we were scheduled to take the ferry from Paleochora to Sougia the sea was rough and we had to hire a taxi to make the trip. It all worked out!

Sougia is small and maybe good for just a couple of nights - I agree that 4 nights is too many for Loutro. I think that it could even be just a day trip but others who have stayed there overnight would know best.

We spent a couple of nights in Chora Sfakion but unless you’re hiking, there wasn’t much to do there - I would not suggest staying there.

We enjoyed Rethymnon and spent 5 nights at Casa Vitae Villas. At that point we had a car and drove to Marguerites (pottery village) - I agree that it’s a fun place to visit - I’m not sure about public transportation and not sure that it's worth an overnight stay.

We spent 4 nights in Elounda at Elounda Garden Suites - we enjoyed the restaurants in Elounda and visited Agios Nikolaos as a daytrip.

Heraklion 4 nights there. The Archeological Museum is a highlight!

Flying home from Heraklion makes sense.

Find a good guide book (Cadagon, Lonely Planet or others) for suggestions of day trips or other activities.

Posted by
2147 posts

Elounda looks interesting. Thanks for suggesting that. It might be a good place to end our trip — I see it’s about an hour from the Heraklion airport.

I’m now leaning toward flying into Chania and out from Heraklion. Seems to make more sense. A quick check of some recommended hotels shows many are already filling up for September, so I need to solidify my dates!

Posted by
3363 posts

Elounda seems to be a favorite of the Brits, it's more of an upscale "resort" than a genuine Greek village ... but of course it IS accessible by bus.

As for start, I'd say a BIg treat to stay 2 nights in Ammos (if u ar lucky enough to get a room - only 26)... then go in to Chania for 2-3 days (do NOT worry about "jumping" into it... I've done it right off the AA nightmare economy-seat flight, and I'm in your cohort). In Chania stay on THeotokopoulu street, flagstone no-car lane just west of harbor... try to book a front-balcony room at Palazzo Hotel (it's not a palace, just a beautifully-restored Venetian mansion).. have stayed many places, liked this best. devote 2 days to CHania Old Town ... sunsets on harbor are sublime ... then continue your trip going south by bus, sounds good.

Rethymnon is handy I guess, I've never been thrilled by iti... its Old TOwn is smaller than Chania, crowded with tourists, more tacky. Chania Old TOwn is a real living town. If u are going to Rethymnon to swim, there are modest hotels strung along the beach.

Falassarna - we did go there, by car, but there is a bus. We stayed at Hotel PEtalida on high bluff above the beach & loved it! A family hotel ... beautiful sunset vistas. Ask for room in small adjoining building next to main uilding, these have their own patios. Petalida is noted for having best seafod taverna around, because family has a fsihing boat, serves catch of the day right out f the water. Just down the road 500 yards is a Hellenic-era settle ment ruin... chickens & goats roam around in it. A lovely stay.. 2 nights woul be enough.

If u go in to Heraklion, yes, the Museum is Fabulous - the Knossos treasures now are well-displayed. IIT's a big Concrete City, but can be enjoyable, with strategies. Recommend staying at (moderate-price) Hotel KRonos, right on the Seafront, you are months in advance, ask for a sea-view balcony room. Before dinner u can walk along the seafront boulevard to the HUUUGE Fortress (I think more impressive than the Rethymnon one)... get there in time to explore... then near the Traffic Circle right at the foot the fortress Causeway, there are several good "mezedes" cafes (Crete after all is credited as the orginator of Meze) One on seafront is Hippocampus.. the other is right ON the traffic circle.. it's like tapas, you accumulate 6-7 little plates of different good stuff. A nice meal for a last night.

Enjoy! I am SO jealous ... have been to Crete about 5 x at least 5 days per time, and haven't seen even half of it.

Posted by
2147 posts

Thanks Janet! I really appreciate all of your suggestions. I was drawn to Elounda because we would like to visit Spinalonga. But I have lots more research to do on transportation, etc.

And meanwhile, I noticed that hotels are starting to book up in September. So I just booked a one-way flight to Chania! We'll be arriving at 6:50 pm on Monday, September 5. Once we decide where and when to end our trip, I'll book the return. (We're using miles so two one-way flights cost the same as a round trip.)

I'm sure I'll have lots more questions and will continue to welcome any feedback!

Posted by
3260 posts

Hi Charlene!

Congratulations on getting your ticket to Chania! That's exciting! It's always fun to have an itinerary to plan!

As far as Elounda goes, we liked it very much. The inner core of the city does not feel resort-y. There is a harbor area with tavernas along the way and some nice shops. People at our hotel suggested some really great restaurants for dining - most within walking distance. Janet, is correct, there are some very high end resorts on the outskirts of the city but we spent our time in the town.

We didn't visit Spinalonga but I think it would be really interesting!

Enjoy the planning!