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Crete! Naxos! Good combo? Advice, please

Hello! My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary in Greece in Sept, the first time in Greece. We have two weeks, which includes travel to and from the US. We are looking for great food, authentic experiences, lovely accommodations, touring sites, a little hiking, and beautiful beaches for much-needed R & R. We are active and in our early 60s. After a lot of research, I am leaning toward a combo of Crete (based in Chania) and Naxos. BTW: we just returned from a trip to Israel, which was lovely, but definitely don't need to spend more time with historical ruins. Does a Crete and Naxos combo make sense? If so, are there special places that you suggest? Thank you. I appreciate your expertise.

Posted by
10074 posts

Crete- stay in Chania and focus on western Crete. You can also spend some time on the south shore such as at Loutro or Sougia. We spent two weeks on Crete.
We have stayed on Paros but not Naxos.

Posted by
3464 posts

We went to Naxos and Crete in 2017. During that trip we also went to Mykonos and Santorini both of which were not my favorites though Santorini could easily be the most beautiful place in the world. I think your combination makes sense.

Posted by
323 posts

We stayed on Naxos at the Hotel Grotto in 2019 after a Best of Greece tour. Absolutely lovely hotel but not on a sandy beach if you prefer beach time. Very low key island and pleasant place to stroll and eat wonderful seafood.

Posted by
1260 posts

Just a thought on logistics. Fly to Crete from Athens. Chania has an airport. You are going to love Chania do find a hotel in the old city and Venetian era harbour. No historical ruins here, you will find staying within the city walls gives you a glimpse of the 14 hundreds.
You might consider buying an excursion to Balos and Gramvossa. Any travel agent can sell you a trip. You get a 14th century fortress ( interior is pretty much gone ) but the walls still stand and the view is magnificent. Also get a nice beach and a shipwreck there.
The ferry continues to Balos lagoon one of the most spectacular beach locations anywhere.
Another day trip could be to Elafonissi either by charter or KTEL public bus.
Both of these are popular destinations. I would suggest Elafonissi is going to be more crowded than the first destination.

Another thing you might want to consider is a bus trip to Sougia a small village on the Libyan Sea. You can do it as a day trip or find a hotel for a night or 2.

The reason I suggested Crete first is because of the ferry system. Most days the morning ferries leave Heraklion and go to Santorini then on to Naxos. Twice a week there is a ferry departing Rethymnon to Santorini where you will have to connect on a different ferry to Naxos.

Unless you are focused on great beaches I would suggest you choose to stay near Naxos town at St George Beach. Its a good beach and is actually a part of Naxos town. You get the best of both worlds a beach just a short stroll into Naxos waterfront promenade.
You can take the KTEL bus up into the mountains for moderate hiking and visit small villages. Naxos is an ideal choice for a memorable Greek island.

Some images of your trip
Chania 2022.
Gramvousa,Balos and Elafonissi


Around Naxos town 2022
Back to Naxos 2022

Posted by
2038 posts

A Crete and Naxos combo makes sense. We did that last September.

You’d want to fly into Chania on the same day you arrive in Athens. Some airlines enable this all on one ticket. If not, allow two hours in Athens airport between flights.

Your trip could look like: 4 nights in Chania, 3 nights on the southern coast (Sougia or Loutro), 1 night in Heraklion (in order to catch the ferry for Naxos), 4 nights in Naxos, 1 night in Athens (you need to be back on mainland at least 1 night before your flight — add another night here if you’re interested in seeing more of Athens).

Depending on how much R & R you need, you could even skip Naxos & spend your whole time on Crete!

I would encourage to decide soon & start making reservations. Greece seems to be booking up quickly this year.

Posted by
27 posts

Thank you all for your recommendations. Feeling good about island selection. Now to continue with planning.

Posted by
637 posts

One of our favorite days in Naxos was touring with Nicolas. We visited off the beaten path places; he is extremely knowledgeable, personable and very responsive to emails as far as pricing and itineraries. Highly recommend!

Posted by
3961 posts

We spent a week on Naxos and did not have a car. That said, we used their wonderful bus system (KTEL). Fond memories to beaches and to the beautiful mountain town of Apiranthos. The bus dropped us off, we walked the marble streets, & had a delicious lunch with a view. The bus returned about 2.5 hrs later. Crete is definitely on our radar for a future trip!