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Greece in December

Greetings! My spouse and I are planning a trip to Greece in December. Our game plan is to fly into Athens but begin our visit in Crete.
We are thinking of visiting both Chania and Heraklion for a total of 3-4 days, flying into one and out of the other. We will then fly to Athens to sightsee there. This is our first trip to Greece and I would welcome any suggestions and potential itineraries for our stay. I know the weather will not be great, but the timing works for us and we are happy to avoid crowds.
Thanks!

Posted by
1610 posts

How is it possible to find a 2 or 3 day itinerary on an island that requires at least 10 days to see half of it for someone who just flew about 15 hours to get to Athens, plus an Athens→Crete flight ?

All correct answers will be accepted :))

Posted by
6 posts

When we arrive in Athens, we are indulging ourselves by spending the night at the airport Sofitel in the hope that we will be in pretty good shape the following morning to fly to Crete. We have a total of 7 days in Greece and are trying to just get a little taste of an island and the mainland. It'd be great to have more time, but alas, it's not to be. This doesn't mean we can't return. I am trying to choose wisely, which is why I am posting to this forum. :)

Posted by
1610 posts

Sorry but you did not specify that you want to spend a first night at the Sofitel, nor that you have a total of 7 days (6 nights)

If you can take a flight to Crete on the day of your arrival this will save you a night and save quite a few Euros given the Sofitel rates.
So on day 2 you will wake up in Crete instead of having to take a flight again.

Even if it seems implicit since you are talking about an itinerary, you have not specified whether you want to rent a car in Crete.

Also note that it will take at least 2 full days (3 nights) to visit Athens.

So, you will have to make choices.

Posted by
2408 posts

I agree that you ought to fly to Crete on your day of arrival. We did that. We flew to Chania on the same ticket as from the U.S. but I also have visited the Greek islands purchasing a separate ticket. Either way you save time and money getting to Crete rather than staying in an airport hotel.

I would stay three nights in Chania and two in Herkalion at a minimum. You can take a bus between the two very easily. And there is a bus that goes between Herkalion and Knossos that we took even though we had a car. We stayed in a small town outside Herkalion and drove to Knossos but then took the bus to and from Herkalion to see the archeology museum.

Then fly back to Athens. When we were in Athens with our young adult children, several had to return earlier than us and they still managed to see a lot with two nights.

That is 7 nights.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, Beth. Were you in Chania and Heraklion in the winter? In an older forum on the subject, commenters said that much will be closed during the winter months and that the oldest part of the town will be mostly shuttered. (And the museums there and on the mainland will have shortened hours.) While Chania looks charming, it looks like there is more to do in Heraklion. Regarding the airport hotel, our thinking was that the one hour flight to Crete (Heraklion) would be easy to do the morning after arrival on Aegean Air, we'd drop our bags at our hotel in Archanes (charming location) and take a taxi to visit Knossos or the archaeology museum. Once at the hotel in Archanes we'd be backtracking, but I am sure the museum wouldn't let us store our bags while visiting, and Knossos is open air.
I will certainly take into consideration recommendations of flying to Crete same day as arrival. But, given that we may be dealing with airline delays due to bad weather in Minnesota (or who knows what), we've scheduled a long layover (5+ hrs.) in Amsterdam and feel like we'll be exhausted arriving in Athens. Many thanks to all commenters. I really appreciate your guidance.

Posted by
2408 posts

Couple comments.

Most generally are you coming all the way from Minnesota to Greece for a week? That just seems like too much work for what you are getting, especially with shorter winter daylight hours. Consider lengthening your trip. We went to Spain for a week when our daughter was studying abroad and we had to have a family member stay with our other two children. It was a direct flight to Madrid so much easier than what you are considering. Still, we decided we would never do such a short trip again.

We were in Crete in May so really don’t know about December honestly. I have read of others who have been to Greece in winter and the advice I have seen is to stay on the mainland. You might consider that instead. I would suggest Nafplio instead of Crete and then Athens. We went to Nafplio on our first trip to Greece and enjoyed it very much. We had a car which would be better for exploring the area. If the weather cooperates, you even could visit a nearby island by ferry from Athens on a day trip.

We actually stayed in Archanes . It is a very pleasant town but it is not in Heraklion. You likely would need a car. As I said, we used the bus part of the time. Heraklion has a world class archeology museum, and a fortress. We also just wandered around visiting churches and tourist shops.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, Beth. To clarify, we are actually leaving Mn Dec. 12. Returning, we leave Athens on the evening of the 22nd and fly to Amsterdam to leave AMS on the 23rd. This decreases our travel time back home by a few hours. And staying at a really nice hotel still feels like a vacation. So the entire span away is Dec. 12-23rd.

So, this means we will actually be in Greece from Dec. 13 through the afternoon of the 22nd. Not quite as short a time, but still very brief. We travel quite a bit abroad and often spend 5 days in Paris in Dec. (+ 2 travel days ), so we very much focused on picking out a few things that will highlight our stay. Appreciated your feedback :)
I have tried to keep these posts brief, but recognize that I have left out important info.
Thanks again!