My daughter and I are planning a trip to Crete and Greece this summer and I have been reading many posts here in preparation. What I'd like to do is fly into Heraklion, stay a night and a day to see Knossos, and then travel to Loutro for a few days, then boat to Chania for a few before heading back to the mainland - on either the overnight ferry or flying - for the Peloponnese and Athens. What I am wondering, and can't seem to find, is whether there is public transportation for that first leg of the trip or is there a way to rearrange it that will not involve leaving a car parked for several days while we are in Loutro or backtracking a lot? (Other suggestions welcome too.) Thanks in advance!
You drive or take bus over the mountains to Chora Skafion, park car, then take a ferry to Loutro. When leaving Loutro, ferry to Chora Skafion, etc. We loved staying in Loutro! This is how our Greek friends told us to go to Loutro from Chania.
For December travel, KTEL shows you Heraklion-Chania-Chora Sfakion, with a bus transfer in Chania and only one or two buses per day on the second leg, running Mon-Sat. So you can pretty much always get there, and there will surely be more service options in summer. Check schedules much closer to your travel date and then re-confirm in person. A guidebook like Lonely Planet may also include an estimate of summer bus schedule frequency.
When you say "and then boat to Chania" is that a misprint? You can take a boat west to Palaiochora and catch a bus there to get to Chania, if you really dont want to backtrack. Otherwise you will do some backtracking. We parked our car in Chora Sfakion for the three nights we were in Loutro. It was very straightforward.
Thanks all, I see what I was missing now. I'm now leaning toward getting a car after all, but we'll see,
Be sure to go to your local AAA office to pick up an International Driving Permit, no test or membership required. Bring 2 passport photos to save a few dollars.
We had a car on Crete. Stayed in Chania two weeks and explored much of western Crete. It is wonderful that you are visiting Loutro too. Most of the other visitors we met there were Northern European. We were the only ones from US at out hotel.
I went to Crete in October 2018. I was there just long enough to see Heraklion and Knossos, and Chania. I had a bed in a cabin on an overnight ferry trip for both the trips to and from Crete. I took the bus from Heraklion to Crete. I took Minoan lines both ways to Crete. I bought my tickets online in advance, printed my confirmation page, showed it and my passport to the agent at the Minoan lines ticket booth in Piraeus, and he gave me my tickets. Taking the ferry was easier than I feared. Bus schedules are hard to find online in advance. If you want to avoid renting a car, you can probably take a bus to Loutro - it is almost directly south of Chania, on the opposite coast of Crete. I did not rent a car for any part of my time in Crete or mainland Greece.
I was on Crete a few months ago (mid October). I flew into Heraklion, a short walk (no signs, so ask) to the bus stop, bus to the Heraklion bus station and bus to Chania (5N). Then I took the bus back to Heraklion for 2N to see the archaeology museum and Knossos.
About the buses - pretty basic. On the bus from Heraklion to Chania there was a woman "inspector" who checked all the tickets and kept order on the bus - enforced strict rules (no food, no drinks), and ushered people to seats. The bus is a local, makes a lot of stops. It wasn't very hot and the AC on the bus barely cooled it. Oh yeah, the bus station in Heraklion was a little confusing. There are electronic signs at each bay, showing the times of the buses. So I kept watching the signs. In the meantime, the bus I needed stopped in another area, not a bay, and was boarding passengers. If I hadn't got antsy, I would have missed it. The bus took a little more than the scheduled 2 hours to arrive. I had no trouble finding the bus in Chania to return to Heraklion, but the scheduled ride of w hours took nearly 4 hours. Conclusion: car is the way to go.
Heraklion - the archaeology museum is well worth a visit. I went before going to Knossos and I felt it helped me understand the site better. I lucked out at the site and was able to join a small family group led by an amateur archaeologist. While you can get around the site on your own and use a guide book, this is one archaeological site that I would encourage you to see with a guide.
Just to clarify there is no road to Loutro you cannot take a bus. As mentioned you have to take the bus or car to Chora Sfakion then the coastal ferry to Loutro. Lots of people leave their rental cars in Chora Sfakion. You probably need to ask around when you arrive about where to park.
If you want an adventure you could take the Chania bus to Paleochora or Sougia in the southwest. Stay a night in one of the villages then ferry hop to the next village and stay a night. Ferry hop to Agi Roumelli where the Samaria Gorge terminates. Stay a night there and hike the bottom of the gorge which is relatively level. The scenery is great. From Roumeli you take a different ferry to Loutro where you can spend your nights and then ferry to Chora Sfakion to catch the bus back.
Of course you can just take the bus from Herklion to Chora Sfakion and ferry to Loutro then ferry to Agia Roumeli, Sougia and catch the bus to Chania . If you have time this will be an unforgettable trip.
Perhaps this will inspire you.
Ferry trip Libyan Sea https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157653434073393
Crete Libyan Sea villages https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645487373222/
Samaria Gorge hike the easy way. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157670610409530