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First time in Greece: Crete Santorini Athenes


My husband and I will be visiting Greece for the first time. Flying from Basel to Heraklion on 28th of September (arriving at 10:55am) and back from Athenes to Basel on 12th of October (also a moring flight, arriving at 09:35am).

I really wanted to go on an island with nature, nice beaches, hikes and a lot of history, so Crete seemed perfect. Our current plan is:

  • Arrive in Crete, get car and go to Chania, tour Chania region and a little bit Rethymno. Probably from 28th of September to 04th or 05th of October. Here the list of things that we suppose to visit: Chania, Rethymnon, Arkadi Monastery, Balos Beach (not sure about this one, it seems quite normal, I don't really get why it is so popular), Samaria Gorge (or another Gorge for tracking), Elafonisi Beach, Arkotiri peninsula, Loutro, probably some south west beaches, wine tasting and olive oil tasting. Yes, there is no East side at all, but it feels like there is just too much to do on Crete, so we decided to go with less touristy and more authentic (according to the internet) part of the island, we also prefer to take over time, and not change places all the time, as then you don't really profit from the vacation and go home tired.
    • One day in Heraklion (05th of October) to see Knosos palace and archeological museum (Really want to see Minoans)
    • Early boat to Santorini on 06th of October. No car for Santorini. Leave on 08th of October afternoon boat for Athenes.
    • From 09th of October to 12th of October Athenes, probably a day trip to Delphi

I am not super sure about Santorini. What attracts me a lot is the fact that it is a volcano and that it should offer quite an experience with hot springs in the see, nice walk from Fira to Oia and some other positive things. But I am not really a huge fan of super touristy places. Also, it might be a good opportunity to tick it off and concentrate on other places.

I also checked Milos, but it looks like there are no direct ferries from Crete and we need to change on Santorini, so probably Milos is not the best option for this time.

Another idea that I had is to not to go to Santorini at all, get 1 or 2 days more on Crete, get a overnight ferry from Heraklion to Athenes and go to Meteora monastries, they look impressive. But I am kind of getting FOMO about Sanrotini in this case, visiting Santorini from Crete seems convenient.

So basically I am looking for some advice. Is the plan for Crete looks good? Something to add or to remove? Is Balos Beach really worth it? Santorini or Meteora? Or something else? For the moment we just have our plane ticket to Heraklion and back from Athenes, so we are quite flexible.

Posted by
11136 posts

You have a big typo, what dates are you on Santorini?
Our Greek friends who live on Crete planned our first trip to Greece which was for a month. We rented a place in Chania. You have most of the places we visited on your list! They insisted that we go to Loutro for a few nights too.

Posted by
4 posts

Sorry, I've missed the fact, that people here are mostly from the USA, it was not a typo, but a European date format, fixed it so no one gets confused :)

Posted by
1796 posts

Katya, you got an answer from Caroline on the Routard forum where you posted the same message.
You can trust her, she's an expat living in Greece.

Posted by
3120 posts

Santorini is definitely worth a visit, if for nothing else than it's unique beauty. But be advised that the so-called "hotsprings" in the sea is a barely lukewarm, sulphuric-smelling, clothing staining disappointment.

Posted by
4 posts

@Lee, thank you for your feedback about hot springs, I imagined them in not like that, I don't think now that it will be a good idea to do this particular trip from Santorini