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Stay Recommendation for One Week in Crete

Dear Fellow Travelers,

My wife and I are traveling to Crete (on a budget) from Oct 2 - Oct 9. I have been driving quite a bit for past few months on our short trips/vacations and for a change would like to see a place where I don't have to drive. From my research, I understand that buses take time - Chania to Elafonisi lagoon is over two hours but driving would easily take 1:30. I am willing to trade some time for convenience of not requiring to drive (especially after a few drinks!). I hope exploring Crete by bus makes sense (based on what we want to do - see below).

We are looking for recommendations on where to stay. We are very interested in spending 3 - 4 days on beaches (only stunning beaches need apply! also I am a sucker for calm, crystal clear waters). From what I understand beaches west of Chania are much better than say Rethimno (is this true?). The remaining days we plan to spend exploring the towns/villages and absorbing local delights (food, drinks and so on) and possibly do a hike in a gorge. We love walks in the old parts of the town and narrow alleys. Considering this, I get a feeling that Chania is our best bet. One option would be to stay four days in one place (close to nice beaches) and three days in another.

Please advise :)

Vee

Posted by
2568 posts

I think you're right, Chania's the best place if y ou don't want to drive. You don't say what your room budget is, but if it's "moderate" rather than low-budget, have you looked at Hotel Ammos? http://www.ammoshotel.com best of both worlds. about 5 mi west of Chania, right ON a lovely beach, nd WITH a pool.... http://www.ammoshotel.com On its inland side, a local bus-stop tha takes u into Chania Old Town in 10-15 minutes. Ammos also has top chef for cretan cuisine. People call it a 5 star experience at moderate rates. Only 30 rooms, that's the catch; hard to book. but u can try.

If staying in Chania Old town, check my rec's on Fodor's Forum, also "Stanbr" we are both great fans of Chania... stay on West side of town on Theotokopolou Street, leading right to park on sea-front. Dozens of small family-run lodgings ... Hotel Palazzo, Hotel Hera, Pension Nora etc etc.

If you want to walk Samaria GOrge it will take a full day (and easiest wasy is booking a tour), and a day to recover. There's also a Gorge you can walk, Milia, just east of Rethymnon. Quite short, lots of water (Mills), ends at beach & you take a taxi back to town.
My fave gorge is Imbros ... you could take a bus to Imbros, walk down gorge (3 -4 hours), at the end a taxi to Hora Sfakion & bus back to Chania. You'd have to check schedule to work it out.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks Janet!

Yes, I was a bit shy of indicating our budget. It is definitely under EUR 50/night, close to 40's I would say. Thanks for your tips! I had a quick look at Fodors (you go by travelerjan I suppose), awesome tips there as well (also from stanbr). I'll dig through it.

Posted by
840 posts

We stayed at Iason Studios in Old Town on a side street just off Theotokopolou St. It's a budget accommodation with kitchen, table & chairs, double bed, good size bathroom and small balcony overlooking lovely Venetian buildings, albeit in an alley, it was still nice. Just a short walk to the waterfront. You have to walk to the New Town bus station which wasn't too far from where we stayed for buses to other parts of the island. The bus service was good but doesn't go everywhere. There are numerous places to see but you would need a rental. We did a all-day Jeep Safari into the White Mountains and it was spectacular . . . going to out-of-the-way rural & agricultural areas, small mountain villages, through a gorge and visited a small mountaintop church. We ate at a small village taverna and had a great lamb-ka-bab meal and all the Raki you could drink! A little pricey but worth it since you'll go where most tourists can't even if they could find it! You would have to stay a few miles out of the Old Town for a beach experience but we wanted to be right in the Old Town and it was great! All depends what you want and where to stay. There are numerous walks through the Old Town especially the further away from the waterfront where there are less tourists (actually very few) such as in the Splantzia District where you'll find the same archecticture as near the waterfront but no people and just as good tavernas but at lower prices, plus there's some archeological sites you can walk right up to in addition to bombed-out WWII buildings still not repaired! There are two farmers' markets every week, one just outside Theotokopolou St. entrance and one at the other end of town, both filled with fresh, local produce, cheeses, olives, wine, etc., and at very good prices. Chania is a lovely town, maybe a little more people than we wanted but still well worth a stay and maybe a return one day!

Posted by
13 posts

@Tommy, we were able to book the place you recommended, thanks! Also appreciate your tips on city walks, archaeological sites & farmers market. I am looking forward to trying out some local produce!

If I may ask, how much did the jeep excursion cost? Was the vehicle a stick shift or automatic? I can drive stick but have injured my wrist so I try to avoid it. Any links would be greatly appreciated.

Vee

Posted by
840 posts

I think you'll be happy with Iason. As I said it's a budget accommodation but I was very happy with it. Great location, nice owner, helpful with info on Chania, maybe can direct you to a Jeep Safari. There is a small market not far from Iason on Theotokopolou St. where I stocked up on cheese, olives, local wine, bread and the owner's own Raki in a plastic soda bottle! It's highly flammable (only kidding) but cheap and has a nice taste and will certainly set you up for the evening. The Jeep Safari cost 60 euros each, but I have seen others go for 70 euros each. All depends on the company. I was very happy with the company that I went with. They picked me up just outside the pedestrian area on Theotokopolou St. then drove back to the main gathering area and then headed out. It was great, very exciting to go to placed rental cars can't go, especially on narrow mountain roads. Highly recommend one, but do your research. One of the very best is Diana's(?) Travel. I got great info from them but in the end I couldn't make the trip so went with the other. I can't remember the name! The vehicles were standard or manual (stick shift) The majority of the driving were done by guides but I believe one of the tourists also drove a vehicle. I would highly recommend finding a copy of "Fenny's Hania" for a self-guided tour and very detailed walk of the Old Town. It may be out of print but Amazon may have it or just do a search for Fenny's Hania. It leads you to out-of-the-way parts of the Old Town, especially historic and non-touristy parts. Regardless Chania Old Town is charming, the waterfront is lovely, albeit a little crowded at times, but if you go to areas like Splantzia you'll find just as nice architecture but way less people. The Farmers' Markets are a joy. The produce and other goodies are fresh, local and very cheap. So inexpensive you don't need to have a garden, just go shopping for fresh tomatoes, cukes, zukes, squash, peppers, beans, greens, fruit and don't forget the huge selection of cheese, bread, wine and a whole lot more. Just thinking about it makes me want to return to Chania. However I'm heading to two small, non-touristy islands the first week of October in the Aegean.