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Hotel /area suggestions

Hi,
We plan on a brief visit to Crete and Santorini sandwiched in between travels to and from elsewhere.
We are totally unfamiliar with these two islands (and Greece in general). In looking about (trip advisor & elsewhere) we really have no idea of where to base our accommodation location.
Our current game plan: arrive in Crete sept 18, 2016,- sept 23, leaving sept 24 for Santorini and staying there until sept 27.
We do not want to rent a car, so someplace near to beach but not so remote that we are cut off from all else.
Any suggestions??? We aren't high maintenance, clean and comfortable is key words.
Thanks so much

Posted by
3333 posts

Felicia, it would help a whole bunch if you would be more specific and instead give your preferred room rate range in Euros (here's a converter: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/ currently $1 = €1.09; €1.12 would be safe) -- for some, "clean and comfortable" means €80 per night, for others, €40.

Also -- how are you planning to get to Crete? Flight from ATH airport? Ferry from Piraeus? :Off season, whcih you are, those are about the only options. Also there are 2 airports (CHANIA and HERAKLION) becauseCrete is also 180+ miles long, really more a country than an island. So it would help if you'd do just a teensy homework and decide if you want to see WEST or CENTRAL/EAST, you can't really do justice to both. The only direct link to Santorini is the daily fast-ferry 9:45 AM.

If you want to see a stunning "Old Town," Chania is considered the 2nd most beautiful Old Town in all of Greece, so you might want to fly in there, spend time in that area, then take a bus eastward to Heraklion in time to catch that Santorini-bound ferry. As carless visitors, you can "have your cake and eat it too," by staying at a lovely small hotel right on the sands, just west of Chania and directly on a local bus route. It has 5-star raves from Trip Advisor, but NOT 5* prices http://www.ammoshotel.com Doubles begin at €120.

If you want to stay IN Old Town, the best area is right by the West Wall on or just off Theotokapolou Street. A hotel I enjoy a LOT, is Palazzo Hotel http://www.palazzohotel.gr/main_eng.html (but not really a palace, just a tastefully modernized Venetian town house); front upper rooms have balcony views right to the water, which is just a block away. I think Sept rates are around €50 including lovely breakfast. It's right on the no-cars lane (Theo). You can walk along the sea front to a nice town beach about 1 KM West, shown on this map http://www.palazzohotel.gr/map_eng.html in front of the street Akti Papanikoli ... also served by city bus.

Staying in Chania, you could check local agencies for day-trips on coach that would take you South to ruins like Phaistos (Minoan Palace ruin) and Matala beach (famous for its cliff houses); OR you could spend 3 days in West Crete, take KTEL bus to Heraklion, and spend a day doing a D-I-Y tour to Knossos & the splendid Iraklion museum. Much depends on your interests.

Since you say you are "totally unfamiliar" with anything about Greece, may I timidly suggest you check your local library and do a bit of reading -- Guidebooks will filter the info for you, so you'll have an idea of what's worthwhile and what is minor. We cannot give you a crash course in Crete history/landscape/major sites ... but if you bring us options that appeal, we can help you choose.

Posted by
33 posts

Thank you for your helpful reply, Janet. I didn't flesh out all our plans as I wanted to keep my question simple. We will be in the midst of a four month trip. This leg will find us traveling from Istanbul to Athens, to Crete (flying). So far, we were thinking Chania region, or mid-island south (Plakias). I realize Plakias would take a bit more planning, especially since we are trying to avoid car rental, but that remains to be seen. At first we thought of ferrying over to Santorini, doing an overnight and returning, but in re-thinking, it seems more logical to spend four nights in Crete, then going to Santorini for a night or three before flying back to Athens and taking a flight to Zurich.
In terms of price for rooms, I think we can manage the 80-150 euro range, if available, but we are not opposed to conserving costs and going lower. Your suggestions re: Chania accomodations do bear looking into!
Would you have any Santorini suggestions for accomodations as well? Since our time there is so short, being centrally located is a plus.
Again, I do appreciate your helpful and insightful reply. I wish we had time to do in depth research of all the places we are visiting, but I think it would cause extreme burnout, but of course, we will try our best! :)

Posted by
3333 posts

Hi Felicia --
Glad to get the extra facts. In these forums, don't try to be brief!! We regulars need & appreciate details, otherwise we just guess, and sometimes waste effort on scenarios that then prove to be mistaken.

CRETE -- In September, it's best to base yourself either in Chania or Rethymnon ... Plakias is strictly a summer resort, and by Sept, will have somewhat of a "closing-down" feeling. If you want to get to the South Coast, there are some day-trips by bus that would take you to the beach at Matala, I believe .... or even an ordinary KTEL (intercity) bus, if you can time it right (The schedules are usually more for locals than for tourists).

SANTORINI - My favorite place to stay in Santorini is FIROSTEPHANI ... which isn't on some island Maps, but in actuality is at the northern fringe of Fira Town. The big advantage is, it's walkable to the sights, cafes, shops & nightlife of Fira Town, but it's much more serene, because it isn't constantly thronged with crowds from Tour busses or cruise ships.... these crowds are considerable even in Sept. Here's the best online map of Santorini -- http://www.santorini-web.com/map.pdf FIROSTEPHANI is actually at the place marked with the Number "10" ... with rays indicating an excellent view. The hotels here are only a 10-15 minute walk to the "Town Square" of Fira, on a flagstoned path that parallels the main road shown. There's also a BUS STOP right on the main road, which means you don't have to walk all the way through the Fira crowds to reach the "Bus Yard" there.

Sept will still be wonderful for swims although Santorini is not the place for a beach stay (the beaches are black grit); you'd need to have a pool hotel to swim. However, the clement air temps mean you don't NEEd a pool to cool off, so Firostephani has many reasonable non-pool hotels with nice caldera views from one's balcony or roof terrace. Check prices and availability via online agencies like booking.com, then contact hotels directly -- and take whichever gives u the best rate. Many will provide free transfer from ferry port if you ask (saves u €15+ taxi fare). Nonpool = Hotel Mylos, Sunset Hotel, Gaby Apts, Sofia Hotel. Pool hotels with views that may be in your range include Agnadema Apartments and Villa Ilias (the latter is on the Fira/Firostephani line). All have websites & good Trip Advisor reviews. My particular budget Gem is just 20 yards OFF the caldera-view path, Villa Fotini, rooftop views, 12 modest sparkly-clean rooms w. balcony, family-owned & run, + use of nearby pool ... and about €45 double!

Posted by
3333 posts

PS: Forgot to say -- I mentioned Bus Stop, because that's the easiest way to see Oia. That "mecca for photographers" is lovely, but Beware! When cruise ships are in port ( usually T-W-Th at least 3 ships), the Cruisers arrive in force about 10 AM and clog all the narrow lanes. I advise people to hop an early bus to arrive in Oia about 8:45 or 9 ... then you have at least an hour with few folks around, to enjoy (and photograph) all the views before the package-tour throng invades. Oia is also peaceful for a couple of hours after 3:30 or so ... then fills up with people who've been told that an Oia sunset is superior to all others.