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Itinerary for 17 days in Crete with car.....

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We will arrive Heraklion in early May and get a rental car for maybe 14 days and go first to Ag.Nik for Easter Sunday and a couple more days to visit that area, Kritsa , Milatos etc. and go across to Sitia ,as we hear that is a nice drive.
Undecided about the rest of the time.....head for the West and stay at Chania for day trips out - or to the South coast Matala to Chora Sfakion and then Chania and back to Heraklion?.
Which would be a better way? We could see Knossos and the Museum on the last day perhaps before catching the ferry for Naxos via Santorini?
Any special places like the pottery village and other nice drives out are most welcome.
Perhaps we should stay a day or two at Rethymon too ?
I guess we are looking forward to seeing as much as possible in our 17 days with a few rest days in great places.....

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    You will be driving to Agios Nikolaos on Easter Sunday.
    From there you can visit Kritsa, Elounda, Spinalonga island and perhaps the Lassithi PLateau.

    Then continue to the East, Siteia is small city that i like very much, it doesn't attract many tourists. Visit the Toplou Monastery, and head further to the East and the Vai Palm beach.

    I have spent some very quiet days in Palaikastro and it's nearby beach Chiona ( with some great fish tavernas )
    Zakros with it's excavations is nearby if you want to see the minoan ruins.

    Ierapetra is a modern city, easy to reach from Agios Nikolaos, if you have the time, visit Gaidouronisi aka Chrissi, a very nice island with a great beach for swimming.

    http://www.ierapetra.net/chrissi.html

    From the East you will drive back to Heraklio, Malia and Hersonissos on your way are extremely touristy and not worth seeing.

    Perhaps you could overnight in Ammoudara, a beach 4 km away from the city, which is a suburb of Heraklio.
    Heraklio still has some nice sports, such as Platia Eleftherias, ( the central square) and the pedestrianized streets taking you to Liontaria, the busy central squate with the venetian fountain and the venetian Loggia, that is now the Town Hall. Not far away there is a the food market, that offers great cretan products of high quality. ( Cretan olive oil is considered to be the best of the world).

    Visit the archaeological Museum, which is the biggest of it's kind in the world, even though it is still closed for renovations. You will be able to visit 2-3 rooms with the highlights.

    You can drive to Knossos or visit it with a local bus from Eleftherias Square.

    From HER i would drive straight to the South, visiting the Zaros Lake on the way and ending either in Lentas, a remote quiet village on the sea or in Matala.

    The plain of Messara is the garden of Greece, full of orchards and green houses with cretan bananas... ( smaller and sweeter than the ones that you know).

    Visit Festos and Gortys in the area and also Agia Galini.
    From the South head to Spili and visit the Plakias area and Frangokastelo... ( some keywords are : Kourtaliotiko Gorge, Preveli Monastery and the Prevelis Beach)

    Rethymno is not far away, even though as i remember you wanted to see Loutro and visit Paliochora.

    Either way you should include Rethymno in your plans and overnight there, i absolutely love this city, even more than Chania. The old town is much better preserved and the longest beach of Crete begins right in the old city.

    Places to visit from Rethymno are Adele ( the old venetian village),and a small tour to Atsipopoulo and Roustika, both nice villages with old venetian houses, the Arkadi Monastery, the Melidoni Cave and Margarites, the pottery village.

    Then head to Chania, stop at Kournas Lake the only natural lake of Crete, a spot i loved to visit is the small waterfall between Argyroupoli and Asi Gonia. ( there was a nice small taverna there ideal for a short break )

    Chania i am sure you already know from this forum, it's a lovely city with a beautiful old town and a big venetian harbour.

    For hiking i would recommend the Akrotiri Peninsula, visit the Agia Triada and the Gouverneto Monasteries.
    http://tinyurl.com/cpoxzxo

    In Chania get info on a day trip to Balos, one of the nicest and unspoiled beaches of Greece

    http://www.gramvousa.com/

    Beaches that can be reached from Chania are Falasarna, should you drive to Paliochora, Elafonisi is nearby.
    Aptera is a very interesting archaeological site near Chania

    Back to HER from Chania stop at Fodele, a small village on the way, which is believed to be the birth place of Dominikos Theotokopoulos ( aka El Greco).
    Agia Pelagia is a small village worth stopping for a coffee break :)

    As i have mentioned in other threads, Sfakia is not particularly nice.. staying there makes no sense IMO.
    You can change your itinerary accordingly should you decide to go to Paliochora from Sfakia, and see Rethymno on your way back from Chania to Heraklion.

    Please visit the official website of the Ministry of Culture of Greece for a full list of what to see in Crete.

    http://odysseus.culture.gr/index_en.html

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    thanks so much clausar...that was definitely worth your re- typing! I think our route is clear now though we prefer to have some flexibility with time and in May I hope that will be ok...might book ahead for Chania (Vrana's rooms?)and Rethymon (Olga's?)though.
    Dimitris of autorentals-crete.gr has given us a good deal on a car and even kindly invited us to stay with him on first night at Heraklion as I was a bit worried about a late night drive to Ag.Nik on arrival at Easter (flying from Venice..)
    I think 17 days will be ok to see it all as we are not lie on beach people much(the best are here in Qld.Australia - also best bananas :) )
    If you have any more thoughts on good places to see,stay or eat, contact us direct maybe; tkvichta@aapt.net.au
    From Heraklion we go on to Naxos which we missed last visit and hope to try the route through Rafina to Athens airport.

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