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Crete Summer 2015

Hello again,
We are first time travelers to the island of Crete. We will be traveling during peek season, please keep that in mind. We need all the advice we can get, please. How many days do you suggest we spend on the island? We are two adults with no children. We have been researching and the main spots seem to be Heraklion and Chania. What are the highlights on this island? What is the easiest mode of transportation from Chania to Haraklion? All advice is welcomed. Thank you.

Posted by
2934 posts

My "stock" answer is that it takes a minimum of a week with a rental car just to barely scratch the surface of Crete. It's huge. Matala and Agia Galini on the south coast are worth a visit.

If you live outside the EU and think you might want to rent a car somewhere along the way be sure to bring an International Driving Permit. If you live in the USA you'll get it at your local AAA office, no test or membership required. Canada: CAA

Posted by
10 posts

LEE, Here's the thing,
We are not traveling via car nor have any intentions of driving. What is you best suggestion for us getting around? Unfortunately we will only have 5 days to dedicate to this island. I would love more, but time is not on our side.

Posted by
2934 posts

Focus on Chania, then. You can get there from Athens by ferry or flight. Heraklion lacks charm. If you feel like an all-day hike, walk the Samaria Gorge. There's a bus that will bring you back, just ask at your hotel. They'll give you all the particulars or send you to someone who can. Take bus excursions to nearby beaches, or if you feel confident you can rent a simple motor scooter. They're easy to drive because they have one gear, so no shifting. Unless you go to Heraklion the day before you'll be taking the early-morning 2.5 hour bus from Chania to Heraklion to catch the 9:30 ferry to Santorini.

Posted by
3685 posts

Here are two websites that might help with your decision-making: http://www.greek-islands.us/, and http://www.greecetravel.com/crete/.

I can't imagine going to Crete without going to the Palace of Knossos and the Archaeological Museum. You can buy a ticket that covers both.

In October we spent a total of 5 nights on Crete. Two of them were in Heraklion with the day between spent visiting Knossos and the museum. The other three were in Chania, mostly hanging out, doing laundry and including a trip to the Go-Kart track for my husband. It rained a lot while we were there and he just managed to catch a break in the weather to do it.

Our transportation included the typical options for Greece:
We got a good deal on Aegean and flew from Athens to Santorini.

We took a Flying Cat fast ferry from Santorini to Heraklion.

We took a city bus from downtown to Knossos and back.

We took the long-distance bus from Heraklion to Chania.

We took the city bus from Chania to the port for the overnight ferry to Piraeus.

We would have flown back to Athens from Chania, but it was cheaper to take the ferry, even with a private cabin, than to fly and it was another experience to add to our trip. We did not find the bus rides, long or short, to be onerous. We found them interesting.

In both towns we stayed right downtown and walked everywhere we could.

I can recommend the Hotel Lato (http://www.lato.gr/the-hotel) in Heraklion. It is in walking distance of the port, the long distance bus station and the city bus to go to Knossos. It was modern with great views, a great breakfast and an elevator. Our room was on the 4th floor, the same as the outdoor restaurant. We had a great view and a very nice balcony, which was fenced off from the restaurant. We were supposed to go down to the ground floor and take a separate elevator to the restaurant and vice versa to get to and from our room. We were almost the last people there the night of our arrival, and when our waitress found out our room number, she guided us through the kitchen to the hallway where our room was. That was fun. And the coffee I had there after dinner was the best of our whole trip.

I was not as happy with the Hotel Vilelmine (http://www.vilelmine.gr/) in Chania. It was quaint, much cheaper, no elevator (old house) and we had a nice room with a balcony and a good view, but the breakfast was not included. It was in the connected restaurant and was overpriced for what we got. We only ate it one morning and didn't eat anything else there. There were plenty of other good restaurants within easy walking distance.

Posted by
2876 posts

I always suggest, for the quickest backgrounding, a well-regarded guidebook. They're free at the Library... Rough Guide to Greece is excellent on the highlights, the low-lilghts, the maps, the transit, AND the understanding to really enhance your experience. We on these forums can give you tips and help you avoid pitfalls, but we do not have the time to give you complete backgrounding, so that you need not do any researching on your own. Yes, internet sites can give you basics, and lovely photographs (and often, a lot of promotion for particular destinations, restaurants etc), but many website are not always candid about the downsides as well as the plusses. Reliable guidebooks help you focus, weigh your choices, and allot your time better.

Posted by
714 posts

What are you interested in seeing in Crete? For the Minoan sites the big two are Knossos and Phaestos. Knossos is just outside Heraklion and can be reached by local bus. Phaestos is close to the southern coast and was a good 2-3 hour drive from Chania.

Chania is a delightful town but will be very busy and likely very hot at peak season. Would suggest you look at smaller towns outside the main city - Kalives or Almyrida both have good beaches, bus service to Chania and excellent tavernas.

Learn something about the Battle of Crete in WWII by visiting the Maritime museum in Chania and the Commonwealth war cemetery on Souda Bay and the German cemetery near Maleme.

I was in Crete last September and temps were in the high 90's!

Recommend the Rough Guide to Crete,

Posted by
10 posts

THANK YOU to everyone who gave us advice we are booking this week and taking everyones advice into careful consideration

Posted by
16883 posts

In peak season, you also get peak bus service, so getting around should not be difficult. Lonely Planet is another guidebook option that usually will summarize the bus service pretty well. Re-confirm all bus schedules locally.