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Where to stay between Chania & Iraklio

We will be staying in Chania for 4 days this September and after a day in the town we will make day trips with a rental car. Day trip destinations include Elafonisi Beach, Aptera, and a hike of Imbros Gorge or Agia Irini Gorge (opinions or which is lovelier?). We are 69 & 71 and don't want to tackle Samaria Gorge. We have 2 free nights, at the end of which we will drive to Phaestos and Gortyna and then stay in Iraklio for 2 nights, before moving on to Santorini for 2 nights and then to Athens.
Our question is, what are your favorite places to visit/stay for 2 nights between these points? We were considering Hora Sfakion, Preveli, Argyroupoli, Spili, and are open to other places. Wherever we stay will be a jumping off point for visiting nearby areas.

Thanks for any advice or opinions.

Posted by
3108 posts

I'm not sure if any of these fit your itinerary but we liked Palaiochora quite a lot. Further in the north we spent 5 nights in Rethymno - it's a larger town with many nice restaurants. We planned to stay 3 nights in Hora Sfakion but checked out after two nights as there wasn't much there.

Posted by
2876 posts

I hiked Imbros Gorge at 67 and found it GREAT It only took us about 4 hours and we stopped midway and had a picnic. We did it in late May, and the walls of the gorge were covered with thyme bushes... the scent was so strong, I felt like a leg of lamb in the oven!. During the entire walk we only encountered a dozen other hikers... it's because it isn't commercialized with bus tours like Samaria. And its not because it doesn't have amazing views. Near the bottom there is a super-narrow stretch... at one bend you go thru, if I'd had the arm-reach of an NBA star I could have touched both sides At the very end at the mouth of the gorge there was a lemonade stand. Then you walk on the road for about 1/3 mile... there's a sheer cliff to your left side, and you can see wild goats walking straight up it!! How??? Then you reach a taverna where there's a line of of "taxis" -- mainly pick-up trucks when we were there. They take u back up to the gorge entry for a negotiated fee (we paid €20 but that was 18 years ago)

Do take trekking sticks! They help so much with balance -- because the gorge path is all rocks ... ranging from soccer-ball size down to softball-size -- when you get to a stretch of just baseball-size that's real treat!. My friend had one but I had to grab a frail branch from a bush.. not good enough. if you don't have them, on Amazon there's a great brand "Earth-Trek" for $27 ... 4 segments held together with TOUGH central bungee cord... fold's up like a "W" into 12" into a plastic pocket, size of a hardcover book. Even has a "women's size" which is shorter. I took 2 in luggage in my 2019 trip and strode about with ease.

If you have 2 nights between 4 nights in Chania, and 2 nights in Iraklio area, you have many options. I use this map to help people plan - https://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/Crete-eot.png - click & it gets huuuge, navigate with side-slides. It show terrain & makes clear why u are limited in routes, due to mountains. From CHANIA to PHAISTOS -- I'd sugges taking "old Road" inland from Biggie N highway.. go thru tiny villages, still some goat herds on the road... Then from Rethymnon south on #97 (but dont look for roadside numbers there are none!) going thru SPILI -- stop for snack or lunch & fill water bottles at Lion Springs) If u want, u can take a Left @ Spili & drive down S. Side of the Amari Valley ... beautiful views... emerge near Ag Galini. U can spend night there... or forge on a bit farther, to Matala. Late in day, no tourists around. Don't stay at tacky hotels right onbeach shore.. Find lovely Dimitri Villa 750-1000 yds back.. landscaping, pool, mtn view, lovely family.

Next AM, have Matala swim, then go on to Phaistos & Gortyn. You'll be driving in Wine Harvest Time! Jump off #97 for Dafne, heart of vineyard country.. for a winey lunch... or dinner & find a local place to stay overnight. I"ve never fancied TWO nights in Iraklio, the Concrete City. Maybe 1 night near Knossos (arhanes?), see ruins early in AM, drive in to Iraklio, get Hotel on harbor, check in, drop car, go to Museum in late afternoon. I like Hotel Kronos, if you can get balcony overlooking the sea. Walk the causeway to the CASTLE, have dinner at ?Ippocampus?? early night to catch that 9:00/9:30 ferry to Santorini.

Posted by
7733 posts

We went to Chora Skafion to get a ferry to Loutro. After spending a few nights there we returned to Chora Skafion and visited the adjacent beach areas recommended by my Greek friends. They are just to the east.

Posted by
3108 posts

We hiked from Chora Sfakion to Loutro and then took the ferry back from Loutro to Chora Sfakion. It's a beautiful hike but the trail is a bit rugged in places - just another option!

Posted by
205 posts

There is a wonderful article in the latest (Sept/Oct) Condé Nast Traveler magazine about Chania…just FYI…

Posted by
2876 posts

Sharon, I've done that hike in reverse, Loutro to Chora Sfakion ... and if they dont' want to tackle Samaria Gorge, they will not want to do that hike ... OP was good enough to give age, 69 & 71. I believe that contributors who recommend rewarding but strenuous outings should say how old they were when they enjoyed doing it.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks to everyone who replied - lots of great suggestions. we will probably opt for Ag Galini or Matala recommended hotel for the extra night (just one, as it turns out).