Please sign in to post.

Crete -- Day Trips and Hiking from Elounda and Chania

We are headed to Crete next summer (June) with our kids, 11 and 13. We will be spending 4 nights near Elounda and 3 nights just outside of Chania.

We like to swim, snorkel and hike, and of course we want to see some of the wonderful historic sights. Actually, hikes ending at a lovely beaches or ruins or caves would be ideal. Could you give any suggestions for day trips from the Elounda area? I feel as though I have a decent handle on what we'll do for day trips from Chania, but of course suggestions would be welcome there, too.

I've read copious guide books, but I may have hit information overload; also, it's hard for me to gauge what driving conditions will be like. By the way, if we had time we wouldn't mind taking a little bike ride, if anyone has ideas for good outfitters for that. Thank you in advance!!!

Posted by
7977 posts

Western Crete is a preferable area to stay in and use a base. There are so many options from Chania.
Elafonisi Beach, Falasarna Beach, Samaria Gorge. Balas, Rithymon etc

Posted by
2893 posts

Elounda is basically an upmarket purpose-built "resort" which is attractive but not an authentic town/village like Chania. From what I"ve learned from people who have gone there, and who are attracted to it, it's more about people basking by a pool and going to upscale restaurants, rather than having a particularly Greek experience. I would suggest maybe trimming a day from that, so you could have an overnight at a 3rd place.... but it sounds as if you are already locked into some luxe accommodations, without ability to "tweak" your time allocations.

Hi, Janet! I'm glad to hear from you, because I have seen your posts on the forum and it seems like you know quite a lot about Crete. The only reason we are staying in Elounda is because I am fixated on staying at the Elounda Island Villas, which look so lovely -- but it does pull us a little further east than I had originally intended. I had hoped that there might be some cool hikes nearby, but we will be right on the water, and I think we could probably fill our days there with swimming and kayaking, etc. I may take your suggestion of shaving off one day and devoting it to Western Crete instead! Thank you! But if anyone has suggestions of cool excursions near Elounda, I'd love to hear them.

Posted by
21283 posts

Try not to spend all your time on the coast. It's very interesting to get into the mountains, and it can be done by public bus.

Posted by
1015 posts

Be sure to take a day trip to Spinalonga. Its a half day trip excursion and was a fortress then leper colony. Is moving, emotional and a pretty good day hike.
Here is a bit of my trip report of out day at Spingalonga. Its short but the pictures paint a picture.

We got up early and drove to Spinalonga. This time we were early and there was virtually no one around. We missed the first boat from Plaka but caught the second one. There were about 10 other people with us. Unfortunately as we arrived a big tour boat arrived and disgorged a pile of tourists. Chaos, as they all milled around at the entrance guides marching purposefully around but not really moving and all of us having to purchase tickets. We separated ourselves from the masses by turning right from the entrance and up through the exit while the crowds entered through the tunnel. Peace at last.
I find myself at a loss for words. There is history here as it was a fortress. However it is the legacy of the Leper colony period that so moved us. Abandoned buildings with sagging walls, broken windows, faded wooden doors the bakery hospital and the iron, main gates and decontamination room. It is an eerie, sad experience.
I will let the images speak for themselves.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157661798099198

Posted by
91 posts

I am a massive fan of Western Crete - that's why I live here! But I will stand up for Elounda too. It does have several large, upscale hotels around it, & it is mostly tourist based, but it also does have an authentic Cretan style & feel to it. A lovely water-front to stroll along, with a fishing harbour & tavernas (not too overpriced, either!). A super walk is to Plaka, it's flat, along the coast, from where I highly recommend you catch the little boat to Spinalonga. If you know the island's history as a former leper colony, or have read Victoria Hislop's popular book, "The Island", leaving from Plaka on 1 of the smaller boats will give you a better sense of atmosphere. But the bigger boats from Elounda can make a fun family day out, as they stop for a swim/snorkel/barbeque too.

A nice trip out is to the village of Kritsa, a large, traditional Cretan village, with many souvenir shops! It's a pretty drive, & don't miss the church of Panagia Kera - the most jaw-dropping 13th C frescoes I have seen. You may want to also visit the ancient site of Lato, in a beautiful position up in the hills. A short drive to Plaka & onwards, up hill gives you some super views & countryside.

Nearer Chania, Imbros gorge would make a good option for a trek for you - it's about 8km, do-able by kids who are used to walking. It's easy by car - you park after Imbros village (on the road to Hora Sfakia), at Komitades at the end of the walk either ask a taverna to take you into Sfakia for lunch, then you can get a bus back to the car, or you can get a 'taxi' (pick-up truck) to your car. It's a great day out, incorporating magnificent scenery, walk, nature, lovely coastal village & great food!

Re driving times - roads are small & bendy, you will not be going fast! Other than the National Road, along the north coast, most other roads are very slow, often hilly. Over-estimate how long you think it will take

Posted by
91 posts

& I just remembered, during the tourist season, a lovely man called Davies does a free walking tour of Elounda, he shows groups of people the back-street, traditional, Cretan Elounda. I think weekly. He is reachable via the bookshop in Elounda.

Bike rides? Well it's very hilly, so fine for fit mountain bikers only. Bikes can often be rented from hire car rental places within the resorts. I'd wait 'til I was there, if I was you, to decide once you've seen the roads, terrain & weather.

Thank you so much for these awesome suggestions!! You guys are terrific. And stanbr -- beautiful, beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing them!

Posted by
1015 posts

Glad you enjoyed the photos. You are going to have a great time. We took our kids to Greece when they were in their mid teens that was 15 years ago and they still reminisce about that trip.

Posted by
7 posts

Other great day trips from Elounda would include the village of Kritsa, the ancient site of Lato just outside of Kritsa, the Lassithi Plateau (which can also be visited via a jeep safari which is great fun) and much more. I am sure you will love Elounda which has a lovely atmosphere.
For some snaps

Kritsa and Lato https://flic.kr/s/aHskeXxzXo

Lassithi Plateau https://www.flickr.com/gp/goanjock/20r68e

Spinalonga as mentioned in another post https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkMUH-8Vbe8

Posted by
7 posts

I also meant to say that also close to Kritsa and Lato is the Kritsa Gorge which is a great walk.

Posted by
262 posts

Spend a day at Elafonisi beach. We did and it was amazing. The water is on both sides of the beach. Crystal clear, turquoise blue and warm. Plenty of
beach beds and umbrellas. 8 euro for two chairs with an umbrella. Food stands with some food hamburgers etc. plenty of water soda and ice cream. Your children as well as yourself and spouse will enjoy the day.