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Greece trip is back on

My trip to Greece is back on after being cancelled in 2021 due to the pandemic. We purchased our plane tickets. We will be in Greece from 06/08/2023 till 06/28/2023. This is my first time. We will first stop off in Athens 06/09 and be there till 06/12 then to Crete to visit friends of the family, after that I have no plans. Any suggestions? I will use Crete as my main base, but move around to different accommodations. Where should I go and do?
I have plenty of time to research and plan. I cannot drive, will that be a major issue?

I was able to find information of Athens city passes, so I assuming there are no city passes for any of the other islands that have sites.

Can you purchase the Athens city pass or any tickets to any tourist sites or museums and pick them up with you get there? .

I will be hiking the Samaria Gorge in Crete and maybe some other gorges. Are canvas shoes or gym shoes sufficient or should I take ankle high hiking shoes?

Posted by
3060 posts

Where should I go and do?

On the island Crete or after you’ve visited the island Crete? With only four days on Crete that doesn’t give you much time to see it. The two must-see sights on Crete are the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and Chania. You may also want to rent a car and spend the rest of your time there.
From Heraklion you can take a direct ferry to Santorini. Make sure you arrive during the day so you can see its spectacular caldera. Sleep in Fira (Thira) and visit Oia early one morning before the cruise ship passengers arrive in hordes. I would probably island hop around the Cyclades Islands that are accessible by direct ferries.

Posted by
11368 posts

Don’t leave Crete so quickly. After visiting the friends of your family visit another part of this beautiful island. We spent two weeks there and could have stayed longer. Where do these friends of your family live on Crete? We focused on the western half .
You can go to a smaller island such as Paros for a few days and then visit beautiful Napflion on the Peloponnesean Peninsula. Lastly, a two hour drive back to Athens for your departure flight.

Posted by
995 posts

In Crete you could divide your time between Heraklion and Chania. I only spend 2 nights on Crete, which was not enough time. On Crete I missed the Samaria George, which looks appealing. I spent 3 nights in Nafplio, a night in Delphi, 4 days/5 nights in Athens, 2 nights on ferries on the way to and from Crete. Rick Steves guide to Greece is good for what the average first-time traveler is likely to be interested in. The Rough Guide or Lonely planet guides to Greece are good for places beyond where Rick went. There is also a Rough guide and and maybe a Lonely planet guide, to Crete.

Appealing places I skipped or missed might include Rhodes, a temple at Sounia near Athens, Olympia and Corfu in Western Greece, Thessaloniki in Northern Greece, and the island Santorini. We might be able to give you better responses if you post a tentative day-by-day semi-detailed itinerary.

Posted by
6670 posts

The menu at the top left of this page includes "Explore Europe." Click through to Greece for our host's recommendations. You have a good amount of time for Crete and the mainland, and maybe another island, without having to rush. But don't try to "see it all." Every day you change cities means time lost to moving yourself and your bags. Besides your first few days in Athens (one of which will be jetlagged), I'd suggest spending a few more at the end of the trip.

Here is another good resource on all things Greece travel related. Besides the RS guidebook (which is great for the places it covers, but it leaves out a lot), you might want to look at some others. Your local library may have guidebooks to check out. You'll get the best value from this forum with specific questions.

Posted by
1397 posts

You could spend a month in Crete and not see it all. It is a treasure trove of Minoan ruins, Venetian era cities, mountains, hikes and the sea.
We have been to Crete 8 times each visit a minimum of 2 weeks and a full month the last couple of trips. We have still not seen the far east end of the island.

At this point you will use 4 nights Athens plus 4 nights with friends. That leaves you the 17th until the 27th, 10 nights to have your Crete experience.

Just an aside it is always a good idea to be back in Athens a day before your return flight. Stuff can happen on holidays bad weather flight and ferry delays. Have you considered going to Crete when you arrive in Greece and spend the last 4 nights in Athens at the end of the trip. That way you do not need to get to Athens the night before your return flight because you will be there exploring the city. That gives you an extra night in Crete.

We love west Crete. We make Chania our base. Specifically the old town area and Venetian harbour. I think it is the most beautiful city in Greece. Chania has an airport so you can easily connect to a flight to Chania on the day you arrive.

You can use Chania as a base to explore the west. Ancient site at Aptera has mostly Roman era ruins. Day trips to Gramvossa and Balos lagoon are popular. 14th century fortress and a ship wreck at Gramvossa and one of the nicest beaches anywhere at Balos Lagoon.
Day trips to the pink sand beach at Elafonissi are also popular.

The famous Sameria gorge hike is also a great day trip from Chania.

Other day trips could include Falasarna a huge beach, and perhaps the second Venetian city Rethymnon about an hour from Chania.
A real treat would be to drive (or take the bus) to the small village of Sougia on the south coast of the Libyan sea. Its a get away from it all, location. You can take a ferry along the cost to Agia Roumelli where the Sameria Gorge ends. That gives you an opportunity to do the lower flatter part of the Gorge before taking the ferry back to Sougia or take the second ferry east To Chora Sfakion.

If antiquities is something that interests you head to Heraklion. It is a very busy city but still has a nice central area were the locals spend every evening on their promenade. You can visit the Archaeological museum there then visit the Minoen site at Knossos where much of the stuff in the museum came from. Continue heading south to Phastos another Minoen palace but not restored like Knossos. Keep going further south and you come to my favourite site Gortyz or Gorten. It was the roman capital of Crete.

There is a gated site there however from the site walk from the parking lot along the road through olive groves. There is a whole Roman city buried there. It has been partially excavated but you feel as if you have just discovered it yourselves.
I just realize I probably have become long winded. All that to say it is really easy to fill a couple of weeks on Crete. There is no need to find somewhere else to go after you visit family. Crete has it all.
Here are some images.
Archaeological sites Phaistos, Gortyz and Knossos.
Chania 2022.

And images of a trip to Chania, Sougia then finishing at Plakias a lovely village on the Libyan sea.

Chania Sougia and Plakias 2019

Posted by
995 posts

In case this helps, here is what I did and what I would have done or would do with more time on Crete:

Before my trip I bought 2 overnight-ferry tickets from Paramus to Heraklion and from Chania back to Piraeus. I showed up just under 4 hours early for my ferry because I was afraid I would not find where to pick my tickets up and wait. I found the ticket booth after 20 minutes and wasted time I could have gone to the small archaeology museum in Piraeus or somewhere. I had a bed in a 4-bed room on the ferry on both trips; on one trip I had the room to myself. On the other other trip one guy was in the room too. In Heraklion I saw Knossos and the the archaeology museum the day I arrived. The next day was the small Crete historical museum and Koules Venetian fortress and bus to Chania. With more time I would have spent at least a second night in Heraklion, possibly a 3rd night and a day trip somewhere. With more time I could have seen Rethemno - it might at least have another archeology museum... I spend just one night in Chania. That was my 2nd and last night on Crete. After my night in Chania, i had the day for the small maritime museum and archaeology museum - there are ancient coins mounted in a vertical display case allowing you to see both sides of them - that is how all coins in museums should be displayed. Usually when coins are in museums, only one side is visible. With more time i would dedicate most of a day to the Samaria George, maybe spending at least a 2nd night in Chania. 2 nights in Chania, 2 in Heraklion, 1 in Rethemno, possibly another night in one of those locations if i found an appealing place to see as a day trip...

Approximately 6 to 8 whole days is a good amount of time for Crete. I wouldn't try to see every town or place listed in the guidebooks.

Posted by
18 posts

My trip is coming up. I leave for Greece on 6/8 returning 6/28. I will be in Athens 6/9 - 6/12 then to Crete for the rest of my trip, beginning in Chania. Thanks to every one for their suggestions and information.

I know it gets very hot and I've been told that the tap water has a very mineral taste. Is it necessary to bring a water bottle for hiking or day trips or is bottle water readily available and inexpensive?

Posted by
15670 posts

Demetriius.......I started using a Brita sports water bottle. It has a filter that helps remove bad tastes from water. It works well although I haven't tried it out in Greece. I have the European version that has a slightly different filter than the US version.

Posted by
3362 posts

Bottled water IS available everywhere and not expensive. You can buy 2-liter bottles Put them in your fridge (most lodgings have small in-room fridges) & refill your smaller bottle (I even use smaller "club soda" bottle that fits better in my day-bag. The 12? 14? oz bottle is 50c -- govt regulated!

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you, that's a great idea. I didn't know how expensive bottled water or even sun block would be in Greece during the summer season.

Posted by
3362 posts

Water's cheap; sunblock is expensive... and if you want something thats 45-50 Spf, bring it from home.