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Adding Crete to Rick’s Greece itinerary

Hello,

Am planning a trip to Greece for a May/June 2024 timeframe and plan to largely follow Rick’s recommended itinerary as far as the mainland. Regarding islands we want to include Santorini but also Crete as we are hikers and would like to attempt the Samaritan Gorge. In case you don’t know, Rick’s mainland loop starts in Athens then we drive to Delphi, Olympia, down to Kardamyli, the Mani Peninsula, Monemvasia, up to Nafplio and back to Athens. I know from Rick we could ferry (or possibly fly) to Santorini once we arrive back to Athens. My question regards when and how to best fit in Crete. Would you recommend trying to ferry there from a drive from Neapolis and back again then continuing on the recommended loop then visit Santorini or do you think we should do the complete loop, fly to Crete from Athens then ferry over to Santorini from Crete and then return to Athens from Santorini? Or is there another way I’m unaware of that you would suggest? Any help you can give would be appreciated. Thank you.

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You probably should just fly to Crete after your RS tour. There are 2 airports Heraklion central island and Chania in the west.

We prefer the west Chania itself with its Venetian era old town and Harbour is full of charm. There is lots to see and do in the west.
Chania is also the closest city to the Samaria Gorge . There daily buses from Chania that take you to the top of the Gorge. You hike down and spend a few hours at Agia Roumeli then take the coastal ferry to either Sougia or to Chora Sfakion. A bus will meet you there and bring you back to Chania.
Or you could take the KTEL bus and your luggage to the lovely small village of Sougia and overnight there then take the ferry to Agia Roumeli and then overnight again in Sougia.

You will have to visit Heraklion for the daily ferry to Santorini as its an early morning departure. The ferry should have you on Santorini before noon. I suggest you do it this way because if you fly to Santorini first and then take the ferry to Heraklion that is an afternoon ferry so you don't get into Heraklion until late afternoon early evening. The logistics I suggest save you essentially half a day.
Here are some images to get you going.
Chania Sougia and Plakias 2019
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157711266062752
Ferry trip Libyan Sea https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157653434073393
Samaria Gorge from the bottom https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157670610409530
Crete Libyan Sea villages https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157645487373222