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Crete Itinerary

Hello Fellow Travelers

My wife and I are traveling to Crete from Sofia, Bulgaria in early June and are reaching out to those who have been to Crete before. We will be in Crete for 7 full days. Our tentative plan is as follows:

Partial Day: Evening: Arrive by plane at Chania airport at 6:30 pm. Rent a car and spend the night in Chania.
Day 1: Hike in Samaria Gorge All Day. Travel back to Chania for night.
Day 2: Spend morning in Chania - Walk around Old Venetian Harbor. Afternoon - Drive to Rethymno. Dinner and stay the night in Rethymno.
Day 3: Morning - Visit Venetian Fortezza Castle and Tour Archaeological Museum of Rethymno. Afternoon - Drive to Plakais. Spend Night in Plakais Region.
Day 4: Drive to Matala. Visit Phaestos and Agia Triada. Spend night in Matala region.
Day 5: Drive to Iraklio Wine Country. Visit several Wineries. Spend night in Earino or Arhanes.
Day 6: Early morning - Drive to Palace of Knossos. Tour palace. Afternoon - Drive to Iraklio. Spend night in Iraklio
Day 7: Morning - Drive to Malia. Visit Palace of Malia. Afternoon - Tour around Malia. Evening - Back to Iraklio near Airport.
Partial Day: Early morning flight to Athens

Any thoughts about the itinerary or any sites we should especially visit is appreciated.

Posted by
1729 posts

I haven’t been to Crete yet but am going next month.
I had a few observations based on my research.
1. I am not sure why you are renting a car upon arrival when you don’t need it for two more days. You have to use public transportation to do the Samaria gorge trail unless you plan to walk down and up in one day. We are taking delivery of our car near the bus station so no need to rent from airport.
2. You are visiting a lot of ruins-more than we are and we are going to there for 11 nights. That may be your primary interest but if not consider switching out one of your days for a visit to one of Crete’s beautiful beaches. You are spoiled for choices.
3. We are staying in Archanes for two nights and visiting Iraklio from there. The two towns are very close together. I wouldn’t switch hotels for that. We are driving from Archanes to the airport which I calculated to be faster than from Iraklio.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks for the reply Beth. I will look into waiting to rent a car in Chania. I also plan to take advantage of the beautiful beaches in Crete and will consider our time to do that. Since we have an early morning flight from Iraklio, I have to drop off the car the night before and then take a cab to the airport in the morning. Think it will be better on our last night to stay near the airport.

Posted by
991 posts

Heraklion airport is about 7 km from city centre no more than a 15 minute taxi ride. I would find a hotel near the centre and enjoy late evening promenade in the central part of Herailion.

Posted by
2866 posts

If you spend last night in Heraklion, I recommend moderate-price Hotel Kronos, which is right on the seafront, if you can get a front balcony room, sea view, a lot more scenic than looking at the concrete-block buildings that make up 90% of the city. As stanbr said, also nice to walk along the promenade befdore dinner, walk out the causeway to the stunning HUUGE Fortezza (it held off the Turks for 23 YEARS!)... and then have a final feast of Mezedes at the foot of the causeway... Ippocampus I think, or else a place on that traffic circle, Pesca?

Others recommend Hotel Leto nearby, fawncier but pricier.

Posted by
991 posts

Since you are now planning to rent the car 2.5 days after arriving in Chania I suggest you contact on e of the locally owned rental companies. They are more flexible than the international names. ChanceS are good they will deliver a car to you at a designated spot at an arranged time. They will also likely allow you free pick up in Chania and drop off in Heraklion.
We have had exceptional service from AutoRentalsCrete but there are a few other local companies as well.

Just as an aside you have done your research well and will be hitting some great highlights. The plan would be good for a 2 to three week visit. While you can get to all the places you want to visit in a week you will find you have insufficient time to actually really explore each area.

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you Stanbr and Janet for your comments and recommendations. We will look into your recommendations.

Posted by
2534 posts

how are you doing the Samaria gorge, it is a one way system then a ferry to get you back to a main road and a bus back to Chania

Posted by
20 posts

We have decided to not do the Samaria Gorge hike as my wife fractured her ankle in January and don't think it would be a good idea for her to hike the Samaria Gorge. Instead, we may opt to hike the Imbros Gorge, as it appears to be less strenuous than the Samaria Gorge and can be done in less time than doing the Samaria. We will have to access the situation when we are in Chania.

Posted by
2866 posts

I did the Imbros Gorge and it is indeed more do-able, but VERY scenic, and narrow near the bottom. ANd the best thing is, NO crowds... you are not in a long line of scores/hundreds of people a few feet apart. We walked it in May and throughout saw about a dozen people altogether, maybe more now, but not a crowd.

I think that there's a "tour" from Chania but really what this means is transportation ---hey take you to the head of the gorge, and pick you up at the foot, and drive you back to Chania. IF you drive, you leave your car at the top, and at the foot, you come upon a short road (1/3 mile?) leading down to the shore and a taverna, where taxis (and pick-up trucks) are awaiting fares... When we did it, a truck for €25 took us back up on the rimside road (MANY Switchbacks) up to our car.... when you are in a vehicle, looking down into the gorge, it is very imprssive what you did --- you can picture the British soldiers in WW II being led down the gorge by Cretans, with Nazis in pursuit. (read about it!)

The walk just took us aout 3 + hours and we stopped midway to eat our picnic. One thing to be aware, wear STURDY sneakers if you do n0t have boots. And Please, use trekking sticks (there are wonderful foldable ones, "EArthtrek"** for $27 on Amazon - and if u are short like me, there's a short version for people 5-4 or less). When i walked the trail, I had only a crooked stick i picke up and my travel pal had trekking stick an WHAT a difference... Because the path is not gravel, it is Stones. The smallest are like golf balls and baseballs, but some are like Soccer Balls... and what tires a person is keeping balance -- and sticks solve that. In June there will be lush greenery, and an evocative scent .... I wondered why I kept thinking of roast lamb, then realized that the gorge walls were covered with bushes of flowering THYME... Crete's famous honey is thyme-honey. You also may see goats, who seem able o climb up sheer cliff walls with ease.

** The Earthtrek sticks are lightweight, STRONG fold up like a "W" very small.. 2 can easily be packed in your rollaboard bag. I've used them in Greece and elsewhere, on the flat, keeps me from fatigue... and I have a titanium knee replacement now.

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you for the information and recommendations for walking sticks. We have walking sticks that we will bring to Crete.