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Crete Trip Ideas for 3 Early 20's Travellers

Hi all,

We are 3 young Canadian travellers staying for the first 2 weeks of August in Crete. In our plan so far, we have already booked accommodations to spend exactly one week each in both Chania and Heraklion. We will have a rental car for the entirety of the trip, and our budget is quite generous as we have been saving since the beginning of our senior year of university for a Grad Trip that unfortunately did not happen due to the early days of the Pandemic.

I am a fan of RS, but from browsing this forum in the recent months leading up to our trip, I can tell the demographics are a bit on the older side simply by reading the posts and comments. An odd point some may think to bring up, but I thought it important to note, as we are less interested in spending our days in museums, but more so to enjoy beaches (i.e. Elafonsi), lively scenes (Beach bars near Heraklion), and good physical activities (i.e. Samaria Gorge hikes).

Why did we pick Crete as opposed to Mykonos or Santorini? We thought Crete would be better because we are still somewhat wary of Covid, so we wanted to go somewhere which had a bit of everything and a fulsome experience, as opposed to just partying and drinking with a bunch of people so close around you as you would typically do at a place like Mykonos.

In short, we really would welcome any suggestions or ideas. Especially for the Heraklion portion of the trip, where we see less research.

Posted by
585 posts

RS tours don’t go to Crete so no guide book. But there are others, I like the Rough Guide to Crete covers all aspects. Don’t discount museums, at least visit the archaeological museum in Heraklion, hint - the Minoan gold work on display is stunning for its beauty and intricacy. Do visit some of the archaeological sites, Knossos and Phaestos are worthwhile, but there are lots of others. Chania is good for hiking the gorges on the west side of the Island. Just remember it will be extremely hot at the beginning of August. I was last there a few years ago in October and temps were in the low 30’sC so be prepared!

Posted by
1229 posts

PZ98 - congrats on finally taking the trip! Crete is large and there is so much to do. I would suggest, if you are able, doing more of a road trip and stay for shorter durations in more places and thus drive less (i.e. changing your hotel bookings to stay in Chania and Heraklion for less time). I felt that there was a lot of driving on Crete, and with just two bases, you will really feel that as you head out each day to see things, and then drive back.

From a Chania base, you can day trip to Elafonisi beach, Samaria Gorge hike (https://www.alltrails.com/trail/greece/crete--3/samaria-gorge-trail?u=i), Falasarna beach and/or Balos beach and Gramvousa, Seitan Limani beach, Kissamos, and several ruins (Aptera...), in addition to the museums and things there are to do around town. But you wont want to do all of it. So once you get a guidebook you can prioritize. In Heraklion there are several museums and of course Knossos. While in the Heraklion, you wont want a car (we found parking in Chania a small challenge but doable, and worst case, you pay at a garage, but we managed to find street parking over three days of coming and going), so I suggest you start or end there. Knossos was great but go first thing in the morning, and this goes for all the outside ruins you visit in August (I think we arrived at Knossos around noon and it was 100 degrees).
On the south side of the island, we had a fun day at Matala beach. It had more waves than the others, and a designated cliff jumping spot (as did Seitan Limani, closer to Chania). Loutro could be fun for 1 night because of the novelty of being so remote, etc.
But you need to read some guide books and then come back with more specific questions. I cant remember which guide books were most helpful to us. I like to go to a bookstore and sit in an aisle and study several to see which 2-3 I like best, and then I see if my library has them, and then buy what I need. There is a ton of info online too, once you get the lay of the land from a guidebook and want to dig deeper, including this site.

Posted by
25 posts

In Heraklion, look for the restaurant Peskesi. The best food in Heraklion, and as my hosts at the B and B where I stayed in Chania said, best food in Crete. Have a fabulous time.

Posted by
11368 posts

Consider reducing your time in Heraklion and going to Loutro on the south coast for a completely unique experience for several days. Drive or take a bus to Chora Skafion and then get on a ferry to Loutro. The focus there is on beach time and good food and drink. When we stayed there the other visitors were almost all from other European countries.

Posted by
3260 posts

I'm so impressed that you've saved money for this awesome trip! Crete is a great destination. Bravo!

For the hikes that you want to do, there are so many options! I agree with the above post that you might not need a car for the entire trip and that you may want to reduce your time in Chania and Heraklion to explore some of the other coastal areas.

As part of your research, check out the southern coast from Paleochora to Sougia (hike to Lissos) to Ag. Roumeli (the southern end of the Samarian Gorge) to Loutro (you can only get to Loutro by ferry or hiking) to Chora Sfakion (near the Imbros Gorge.) You could easily spend a week here - maybe more remote than you're looking for but really a beautiful area with lots of trails to explore. If you were to do this part of the trip, you could take a bus from Chania to Paleochora and then ferry or hike from town to town and pick up a rental car at the other end (we picked up a car in Rethymonon.)

On the northern coast check out Rethymnon as it's a university town and might be more lively than others. Not far from Heraklion is a beach area - the town Elounda is beautiful but again, maybe not lively enough!

Enjoy the planning - wishing you safe and happy travels - you've picked a perfect destination!

Posted by
74 posts

I'd shorten your time in Iraklio. The Palace and museum are worth visiting but the town was a huge disappointment after the beauty and charm of Chania. Consider visiting Milia Mountain Retreat (SW of Chania) or the Lasitho Plateau (SE of Iraklio). Check out the Be a Goldsmith AirBNB experience in Chania, too. The Samaria Gorge hike is not to be missed. Have a blast!