We are planning a trip to Crete, and would like to avoid driving. Unlike other countries we've visited, it seems more challenging to explore without a car in Crete. We would like to spend time in Chania (exploring the town and hopefully some of the beaches nearby) & Heraklion (seeing the Palace of Knossos and the archaeological museum), & possibly Rethymnon. I know we can use the KTEL bus, and have seen a couple of taxi services on Matt Barrett's Greece Travel Guide, but what are some other options for transportation? And, does anyone have recommendations for places to stay (especially ones that might offer excursions)? We are a family of 4, children ages 11 & 13.
Those are the main towns so they are well linked by bus. I don’t see the conundrum? How many days do you have? If it’s much longer than a week, then I’d reconsider getting a car. For a shorter stay, you should be able to accomplish what you want with an occasional private driver.
I’ve planned a potential Crete trip but haven’t been yet, but I think it would help if you list the day trips you want to do because the awesome experts here can give more specific advice.
It will help if you can arrive at Heraklion and depart from Chanda, or vice versa.
How long will be in Chania? If at least a week, a car rental would be very helpful as some historic sites are off the beaten path.
If not renting a car, look at day tours offered by Chania travel agency diktynna-travel.gr.
In October 2018, I spent (only) 3 almost whole days and 2 nights in Crete, which really wasn't quite enough. I did not rent a car. Yeah I have a valid Michigan driver's license but I didn't want to spend the money on a rental car or worry about what to do in case i was given a car with a manual transmission. I took a taxi from my ferry to my hotel in Heraklion, local bus to and from Knossos, KTEL bus from Heraklion to Chania, local bus in Chania to my ferry. Everywhere you want to go can be accessed by KTEL bus, local bus, or taxi.
In Chania you will want to find a hotel or VRBO in the old town within the city walls. There are lots of great things to see just in teh old town and harbour. For excursions I would suggest you look at the ferry trip to Balos and Gramvossa. You get a partially ruined 14th century pirate fortress plus a pretty mangled shipwreck and two great beaches. Any travel agent in Chania can sell you excursion tickets. Look at Smart tours web site before covid they had small group tours at very good prices. Not sure if they are still running but their tour bus was at the KTEL station last May but the office was closed.
Chania beach is about a 15 minute stroll along a tree lined road to the west of the old town. Its a decent beach. The Botanical gardens are also worth a visit. There is a bus out to the mountains where the gardens are located. The bus ride alone is an adventure. Be glad you don't have a car.
Here are some images
Botanical Gardens https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72177720299739852
Chania 2022. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72177720299646015
Gramvousa,Balos and Elafonissi https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157698932695812
We were in Crete for 11 nights and had a car for half of the time. We did not have one in Chania. There are organized excursions to the beaches from there (we did use a rental car). Rethymnon is an easy bus ride. We stayed outside of Heraklion and had a car at that point to visit Knossos. We were tired of driving at that point and just took the bus from Knossos into Heraklion and back. So it would be very easy to stay in Heraklion and visit Knossos by public transportation.
We also went to the south coast by bus and traveled around there by ferry. There is actually no road along the coast. We took a bus from Chania to one town and then a bus back from a different town. The bus allowed us to enjoy the scenery.