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Crete / Peloponnese 9 days

Hi

Background: We are 2 active budget backpackers, first time to Greece, can’t speak Greek. Men around 30 years old, looking to hike, visit scenic spots eg. National parks, Beaches, visit ruins (and few museums) and experience local culture. (no partying / shopping / places too commercialized) We have 7 Oct to 21 Oct in Greece (14 full days, arrive on 7 Oct morning, leaving on 21st Oct morning). Arrive and leave via Athens airport.

Proposed itinerary:
1st stop Santorini – 2 /3 days

Option A – West / Central Crete for 8- 10 days
destinations: Chania old city itself 2 days, Aptera 1 day, Samaria gorge 1 day, Elafonisi / falassarna beach 1 day, Knossos 1 day (remaining days as buffer, feel free to suggest other worthwhile places)

Option B – Peloponnese for 8 - 10 days.
destinations: Nafplio, Mycenae, Tiryns & epidaurus 4 days, monemvasia 2 days, Mystras 1 day, Delphi 1 day (remaining days as buffer, optional Olympia / Meteora, feel free to suggest other worthwhile places)

Last stop Athens – 2 / 3 days

1) We wish to keep our days flexible. As we are going in Oct, is it feasible to book accommodation / ferry / plane seats up to 1 day before? Will the price sky rocket?

2) Is it easier to self drive in Crete or in Peloponnese (given the road / traffic conditions)?

3) Given our background above, do you recommend Crete or Peloponnese?

4) Does anyone recommend to cut out Santorini, and instead go Crete 6 days + Peloponnese 6 days? (leaving 2 days for Athens…)

Posted by
2 posts

Hello!

I have not been to Crete (which I hear is beautiful) but my husband and I spend ten days in the Peloponnese last November and we loved it. We rented a car and found it very easy to navigate and it was fun to drive. The people were very friendly, and most everyone spoke English. One thing to note for driving in Greece is that the town names can be spelled in English many different ways depending on the sign!

In terms of booking early, I would advise booking ferries or flights if you plan on going to the islands. Also lots of hotels on Santori start to shut down once the cruise ships stop do you may want to check on that depending on what time in October you are visiting.

In terms of the Peloponnese, we stayed in Nafplio for four nights and it was a great base for exploring the ruins of Mycenae, Epidavros and Argos, touring the wine region of Nemea, and hitting the beach. The Mani peninsula had some great walks and hikes. We stayed in Kardamyli, which has great access to the hikes of Vyros Gorge. We also visited Mystas, Sparta, Gythlio and Momenvasia. The hills of both Mystras and Momenvasia are great hikes too!

Honestly, I would go back to the Peloponnese in a heartbeat. Great food, great people, amazing views, stunning ruins and so much variety from region to region you will not get bored. But either way you choose, you will have a grand time. Good luck choosing!

Posted by
1397 posts

The Peloponnese is wonderful particularly the area around Nafplio.
Peloponnese Battle Castles https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645468134284/
Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/

Having said that the key words I see in your post is active backpackers and hike.
Crete will give you all you are looking for.
Logistically though I would fly directly to Chania from Athens. The reason right now I can't find any daily sailings between Santorini and Crete that late in October. So if you do Santorini first you will have to fly back to Athens to get a flight to Crete.
Chania is lovely and you will enjoy your couple of days there
Chania http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632117917828/
To visit Aptera you can take the local KTEL bus east, get off at a village and hike up to Atera. Or have a taxi take you. Its a minimum of 4 hours at Aptera. Bring water there are virtually no services up there.

Now here is where I would make the biggest change to your plan.
If teh Samarea Gorge is the highlight of your trip stashe your backpacks at the KTEL bus station storage lockers and do the hike. Bring a day bag with enough stuff for a few days. Instead of taking the ferry and returning that night you could take the ferry to Sougia and enjoy a few nights in this lovely village. It is one of the premier hiking areas of Crete.

Then take the ferry to Paleochora which is a nice town. Hiking in this area as well. There is a water taxi to Elafonissi beach.

Then take the bus back to Chania and fly back to Athens.

Alternative. If the Gorge isn't your primary purpose then consider taking your backpacks on the bus to Paleochora spending time there then take the ferry to Sougia, then on to Agia Roumelli and do the Samaria Gorge hike the easy way from the bottom. You can probably reach The Iron gates probably Christos or even better all the way to the abandoned village of Samaria. This is the most dramatic part of the hike.

Then take the ferry to Loutro one of the prettiest villages anywhere. Lots of hiking there as well. Last leg would be the ferry to Chora Sfakion and the bus to Chania or Rethymnon or Heraklion for some more city stuff.

Everything I have suggested will be wonderful however you have to realize you are at the end of the season and ferries can be cancelled if there is bad weather. You need to have some time built in for being stranded in a village for a day or two.
Samaria Gorge hike the easy way. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157670610409530
Ferry trip Libyan Sea https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157653434073393
Crete Libyan Sea villages https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645487373222/

Posted by
2 posts

Hi all

Thank you very much for your reply. Very informative. Seems Greece is very big and nice place.
Looks like it's not possible to do Crete + Peloponnese within 12 days. My friend and I having hard time to add in too much destinations.

Thank you!

Posted by
3623 posts

I (now 78 yrs old) drove in the Peloponnesus 7 years ago and am currently finishing up a week of driving on Crete. Neither was difficult. Most signs are in English after the Greek. See my comments a few days ago about how unaggressive Greek drivers are. Roads have been fine. We've encountered hardly anybody who didn't speak some English.