Having not been to Greece for some 30 years I am completely out of touch so would appreciate some guidance. Am planning on taking ferry from Santorini to Heraklion 31/8/19 staying for a week before heading to Athens. I want to re-experience authentic small hostelries and local food and drink. Wondering if anyone could recommend an itinerary they have done or places to stay which are off the beaten tourist track. TIA
So were you ever in Crete in your travels 30 years ago, or other parts of Greece? Are you planning to venture beyond Heraklion during your week? Sailing out of there, so have to return there, if so? For what it’s worth, and I hope this is of some use:
We haven’t been to Crete before, but will be arriving a month after you. We’re still doing planning, and will have just over 2 weeks, and plan to rent a car for much of that time. Our main interest is visiting ancient Minoan civilization sights, and there’s the main Knossos, just outside Iraklio (the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide translation spellings of Heraklion, shorter and easier to pronounce, but we’ll want to be able yon recognize the actual Greek spelling for the city when it counts). Other major Minoan ruins lie along the north coast, and a cluster trio of sites in the south, close to Matala.
We’ve booked our first 2 nights at the Kastro in Iraklio, and it may or may not meet your “authentic” stipulation, but it’s small, well-priced, promises a real Greek breakfast (start the day with yogurt and honey and more, and you’re off to a good start), and is recomnended by several guidebooks.
For the end, and we’re flying out of Hania (translated as Chania by some folks), we got the last room available for our last 4 nights at the Elia Palatino. Another small place, with an essential rooftop view breakfast setting, it’s part of a Greek hotel company with places around the country, but it’s not a Holiday Inn or a Best Western standardized chain place. It was remodeled in 2017, and, again, whether it counts as “authentic,” we think it will be perfect.
We’re leaving the itinerary between our Iraklio arrival and Hania departure open, without booking any other lodging right now. Our tentative plans include a night on the Lasithi Plateau (probably in Tzermiado - town name spelled differently by some guidebooks), a couple nights in Kritsa (away from the apparent Vegas Strip atmosphere of nearby Agios Nikolaos), and some nights on the southern coast - we’ll see.
So we have yet to see if this works, but we’re going clockwise and plan to cover a lot of the island, without continual one night stands. Looks like bus service exists that would accommodate a visitor who’s not driving a rental car. Enjoy your trip!
We just returned from Crete. I would say do not miss Spinalonga (and read beforehand, if you can, The Island by Victoria Hislop). The close-by town of Plaka is really lovely and we enjoyed our lunch at Delphini.
We also have never been to Crete before, but are going to be in Greece in September (and specifically Crete for 8 days of the trip). For what it is worth, here is our list (but welcome any advice or recommendations). Have the Rough Guides book (seemed to be the best guide book). Day 1 Chania/Hania. Sightsee city. Day 2 Chania/Hania Sightsee city and cooking class. Day 3 Rethymnon. Sightsee city. Day 4-Imros Gorge hike. Day 5-Elouda beach area. Day 6-Elounda beach area. Day 7 Heraklion/Knossos. Day 8 Heraklion/Minoan ruins
My Greek friends who live there call it, write it as Chania, pronounced Hon-YA. Western Crete is more beautiful and offers a lot to see, natural areas as well as historical.
Off the tourist track? Loutro on southern coast of Crete, accessed by ferry. Not far , another ferry, from bottom of Samaria Gorge.