Crete Questions

Feb 21st, 2011, 10:42 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 226
Crete Questions

Hi everyone,

It's nice to be browsing the Europe board again as my wife and I are heading back to Europe for the first time in a couple of years, and we are heading to the Greek Islands for the first time.

After browsing through the board, and talking with a few friends, I have come up with a plan!

The plan is to fly into Chania...and our overall goal is to spend about 6-7 nights in Crete. We are thinking two nights in Chania...and then renting a car. I'm thinking 1-2 nights in Reythmnon and one night in Heraklion before catching a ferry the next day to Santorini. This leaves a few nights open for Crete. We will not be exploring Eastern Crete this time.

From there, we would spend 4 nights in Santorini and 3 nights in Naxos, before catching an a.m. flight from Naxos to Athens and then home.

So...my questions right now are more based on Crete:

1. Any suggestions of another town(s) to stay in Crete..particularly southern Crete?

2. Any suggestions of a route/itinerary to travel from Chania to Southern Crete to Reythmnon and then Heraklion?

3. If I am dropping the car in Heraklion the night before our departure, I am just wondering if the airport is an easier drop off point instead of within the town? I gather it can be quite confusing! In many other cities during our travels, we have done pick up/drop off at airports since they are on the outskirts and thereby reduce driving confusion!

4. Any other comments/suggestions based on what I have written?

I'm happy to see that there are so many Greece experts on this board. I look forward to hearing back from some of you!

cheers,
CC
CaptCanuck is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 11:05 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,703
So. Crete: Either Matala or Agia Galini.

You'll get a better deal if you wait until you're on Crete to book your car. Just go online and find an agency with an office near the port (verify by email), then once you're in Chania walk in and ask for a car.

If you live in No. America be sure to go to your local AAA/CAA office to pick up an International Driving Permit, not test or membership required.
brotherleelove2004 is online now  
Feb 21st, 2011, 11:43 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,818
What month? It could make a difference in advice given. Yes, you could drop car at airport ....I believe there's a (local) bus from there to the ferry dock. Thus u could do it the AM before that 9:45 ferry.... unless you want to sightsee in Heraklion; then you would drop it in early afternoon before, bus into Heraklion, sightsee (the partial museum xhibit??), spend night near ferry area.
travelerjan is online now  
Feb 21st, 2011, 11:47 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 226
Hi again...we are travelling in July...with the crowds I know !
CaptCanuck is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 12:26 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 226
Thank you both..that's helpful!

Any more feedback will be welcomed

cheers,
CC
CaptCanuck is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 03:19 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,265
Southern Crete..Frangokastello, Loutro.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 06:20 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,439
Hello Captain we are from Nanaimo
You will love Chania it is a special place.
http://travel.webshots.com/album/571195659jPcKjK
When you rent the car you should consider stopping at Ancient Aptera just 15 Km east of Chania, it has been occupied for the past 1800 years and have extensive excavations spread out over a mountain top. The best preserved are Roman era plus a fortress. You can easily spend 2 or three hours up there walking the site and enjoying the views overlooking Souda bay.
Continuing east on the National road look for a turn off south to Hora Sfakion. My map does not have a road number but it is near the town of Kalvies. This road is mountainous and an adventure to drive and ends with about 30 switchbacks as you descend down to the Libyan sea. WE just stopped for an hour or so at Chora Sfakion and then headed east to Fnangokastelli. Great beach and a Venetian era fortress. There are about 3 hotels and a couple of tavernas. A bit remote for my liking but a real get away from it all location. Just the fortress alone is worth the stop. Keep going east to Plakias. It is really a town without charm but it is exists to service the 3 km crescent beach. Great beaching. There is lots to do in this area including Prevalli Beach with Palm trees and Prevalli Monastery as well. I have to admit we spent 3 nights here just to hunker down and enjoy the beach and the area. Best thing was a grocery store with a water cooler which served red wine and sold it in plastic bottles. Great wine. You just have to love Greece.
From here there is Spilli and Aggia Galini and a host of very good ancient sites. I have to admit after19 days in western Crete we never did get past Plakias and had to rush back to Heraklion for our next hop.
As for renting a car we did find it on the internet with Athens Car Crete. The cars were older models probably 2 or 3 yeas old and were scratched up a bit but good mechanically. You can pick the car up at Chania and drop it off in Heraklion at no charge. Last year we took the ferry from Heraklion and were instructed to drop the car off in the parking lot in the rental car area just outside the ferry terminal. We just hid the keys under the drivers side mat and walked away. No fuss no bother. The ferry port is about 3 km off the National road with just 2 turns and is easy to follow on the map and is well signed. I would not bother to drop the car off at the airport ( with Athens Car anyway.)
Here are our pictures of Western Crete
http://travel.webshots.com/album/559511069PIlVxI
Let us know when you have questions about the Naxos leg of your trip. Naxos is our favourite Island!
stanbr is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 07:31 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 226
Hi everyone...thanks for the additional responses! and stanbr...we're from Vancouver!

So...a couple of more questions have popped up with all these responses...

..How many nights would everyone recommend for Chania? 2 nights or 3? and 1 or 2 nights for Reythmnon?

..and what are some thoughts on a route to get to Reythmnon and Heraklion?

I.e. should we go to Reythmnon first from Chania and then hit some of the southern towns before going to Heraklion?

And stanbr...I would love your suggestions on accommodation on Naxos..and anyone else for that matter

cheers,
CC
CaptCanuck is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 08:58 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,439
Small world
The easiest way to go from Chania to Rethymnon is direct on the National Road. It is a good highway no problems to drive it.
You can loop south to the Libyan Sea where I suggested and then head north again from Plakias. As I recall the road north was also a good one and took about an hour to get to Rethymnon.
At the risk of annoying Rethymnon fans I would suggest that Chania has a much more extensive old town area. I personally would spend more time in Chania and just stop at Rethymnon to visit the Fortezza. Here are some pictures of Rethymnon.
http://travel.webshots.com/album/571201262gkttqw

Too late to start a discussion on Naxos. What are your interests, city or primarily beach vacation. Budget? Are you looking for luxury or tourist class hotels. I will write again tomorrow on Naxos.
stanbr is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 05:26 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,818
Hey Captain & stanbr, good morning!
Just woke up to snow in Philly, will you guys stop sending us your canadian air mass?!?!?

Here's the map you need to discuss Greece, Cap'n -- shows ALL the roads mountains etc (click to enlargehttp://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/Crete-eot.png

That mega-switchback road to the Libyan sea that was mentioned -- heads south from Vrisses. You hop off the major NOrth-coast highway (75) and use the "old road" for a few miles (actually pretty, and sometimes has flocks of sheep or goats). At the town of Imbros, the wiggly part begins because it follows the rim of Imbros Gorge. If you fancy a "gorge walk" in High season, this would be the one to do ... never has crowds. But I don't think your schedule permits. Other comments about that route.

My secret find -- When u turn left at Hora Sfakion to head for Frangokastello, stop at a wide spot in the road called Komitades. Ask some guy at a cafe on the RH side of road about St. George Chapel (Ay Yor-gos), He'll point downhill behind cafe ... stumble thru olive grove, follow a board sign or two, push goats out of the way .... and half-way down the steep hill -- a beautiful tiny roofless ruin from the 1300s, vine-covered. Inside, preserved in this dry climate, are faint paintings of the saint & his dragon .... 700 years old.

Frangokastello -- fun to see, not to stay because beach way too shallow to swim in.

Rethymnon -- concur totally with Stanbr's opinion

Doing the "Loop" -- you have 2 options, both good
(1) Heading north from Plakias to Rethymnon (1 hr at Fortezza) then E on Coast Road 75. If u do this, consider a short detour off at Panormos, about 10 miles to Melidoni, to see the MELIDONI Cave. Beautiful stalactites, etc, but also terribly poignant, scene of great tragedy.

(2) A little longer but worth it -- from Plakias, wind yr way N to Spili (rt 97) then take it S.E. to FESTOS (Phaistos), the OTHER great Minoan Palace ruin... not "restored" like Knossos, and in a gorgeous setting on a high terrace overlooking a fertile valley. Rt 97 then bends north toward Heraklion but u don't have to rush. You could stop off at zakros for the night (not over-run with tourists... in a glen, a place where they bottle the water it's so good!) ... or, going north, you can swing right off the highway (see map) to Dafnes. It's the heart of the Wine Country, & you can tour a vineyard or 2 and have a wonderful lunch in a vine-covered platio. Take a nap in the car before continuing!
travelerjan is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 06:26 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 305
Hey Stanbr, the world gets even smaller, we are also from Nanaimo. We spent a week on Crete last May and absolutely loved it. Amazing weather, sights, architecture, you really can't go wrong in Western Crete, just driving through the hills to the southern beaches of Crete and stopping at little hole in the wall restaurants was our favourite thing to do. Chania was our favourite town. Amazing! Sorry Captain for hyjacking your thread.
Colleen is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 07:36 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 226
Thanks for the great ideas so far everyone!I'm definitely feeling more oriented to Crete now and am happy to hear everyone loves it there so much.

Travelerjan, the map is so helpful!...so I will forgive your cold air mass comment! We're from BC so we're warmer than you ... And Colleen..no apologies for hijacking..loved to hear from another west coaster!

Ok..some questions based on your responses...

1. Any suggestions on where to stay then for a night or two after Chania? I know now Reythmnon would only be at max one night then..

2. I am still uncertain if I should be dedicating 2 nights or three to Chania..I am thinking two...but let me know if I am selling it short!

3. And stanbr....or anyone else...any thoughts on Naxos would be welcome. We would be staying 3 nights..would love to be central to Naxos town with proximity to the beach as well..we're not afraid to walk a bit to get there....hoping not to have to rent a car there but would be willing to do so for a day...and hotel wise, not looking for a budget option..something a bit more upscale would be great...

Thanks everyone...I hope to continue the conversation today!
cheers,
CC
CaptCanuck is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 09:34 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,818
CHANIA --- "nights"?? I think it's better to think in "days"... and I'd say 2 days... if you flew in at 9 or 10 am, that day and the next would be OK (so, 2 nights). But if you flew in at 7 pm it's sunset -- so you'd want to stay the next day and the day after. See what I mean?

NEXT STOP -- I think you need to get a grip on distances... that map makes Crete look the size of Texas). The island is only about 35 miles N - S, in some places less. Does Canada do km ? Heres a distances table: http://www.explorecrete.com/travel/c...distances.html It's 92 Km Chania to Plakias = 55 miles. Driving down that wiggly Imbros Gorge rim-road will be slo going... but stil .. not so far. Night #3 -- Plakias. Stanbr, give him the name of that neat place where you stayed.

NAXOS -- Well buddy, 6 of 1, half dz of other. Have u looked at a map of Naxos? Stanbr & his camera-carrier, and I as well favor staying in the beach area directly adjacent to Naxos Town. Of course we go off-season .... but even in July it's not a mad party scene at night.

Main advantage, it's such an easy stroll to town and back... you can have dinner there and accept the restaurateur's excessive generosity with the post-dinner raki shots -- and not have to get into a car afterwards, or be a standee on the last bus. Here's a "Skymap" that shows the layout... http://www.skymap.gr/?ElementId=44851 (click on Interactive map of Naxos TOWN). An upscale choice that is still just 50 yards or so off the beach has a nice and Well-Landscaped pool: Naxos Resort Beach Hotel.

Disadvantage is, this beach can get quite crowded in July, for sunbathing (but always lovely for a stroll in the morning or after sunset). But You have many easy-to-reach beaches for swims and sunning! Regular busses every 30 minutes take you to splendid beaches in about 20 minute ride -- I like staying on the bus to the Last stop in Plaka Beach (across from Aronis Taverna & Studios) ... you can get umbrellas & sunbeds from Aronis ... Gorgeous deep water. I also Like Ag. PRokopios beach, lots of people but also a long big beach lovely sand, nice tavernas. Ag. Anna beach is very narrow... crowded in May I shudder to think about July... Another bus takes you to Mikra Vigli or Kastraki, but a car's better for that.

And on Naxos u can rent a car for a day and swoop all over the island... make stan show you his wonderful slideshows of same...
travelerjan is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 09:37 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,818
The interactive Skymapof Naxos Island will clarify all the last paragraph: http://www.skymap.gr/?ElementId=59725&Category=0
travelerjan is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 10:07 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 226
Thanks travelerjan...I have gotten a grip on the distances thanks to you! Very helpful! And thanks for the Naxos tips!

Just trying to firm down the timing of the trip...and I am thinking I should not be spending my full day in Chania on a Sunday due to closures, correct? That would still be a fine day (on a Sunday) to start my drive down south I assume?

I'm thinking I should just scrap staying in Reythmnon altogether...but correct me if I am wrong anyone...

thanks once again...
cheers,
CC
CaptCanuck is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 10:08 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 226
And I just had a friend recommend Triopetra..any one have any thoughts on that?
cheers,
CC
CaptCanuck is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 03:32 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,439
Hi Captain
I see Jan has scooped me about Naxos so I will be brief. Teh St George Beach area is perfect it is a good beach and is directly adjacent to Naxos Town so you can easily walk into town a lovely 10 minute stroll. St George will be quiet at night a fact that you will come to appreciate because Greece can be loud.
The beach will be fairly crowded but if you walk to the left facing the sea there are far fewer people.
Naxos town is great for exploring dining strolling on the waterfront and shopping with a few museums and antiquities thrown in. If you want a really good beach for the day then take the local bus out to Plaka Beach and enjoy.
I certainly recommend that you rent a car for the day and do a tour of the island. You really cannot see it all but just head out to the mountain villages and discover what is there.
At the risk of boring you here are more pictures of Naxos.
http://travel.webshots.com/album/552001505EYxVYT
Naxos town
http://travel.webshots.com/album/577942756YgKLfl
Day trip to the mountain villages
http://travel.webshots.com/album/577950188puzxSj

By the way nothing will be shut in Chania on a Sunday.

Colleen, would you believe a couple of weeks ago on TA I met a guy heading to Crete in early March and he is from Nanaimo as well. Maybe when they get back we should all go to a Greek restaurant and compare notes.

Hey Jan, what cold from Canada. Here on the west coast it is very nice and I have 2 palm trees in my yard.
stanbr is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 04:12 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 305
Hi Stanbr
Yes that is an amazing coincidence. Last year on the same trip to Greece, we were in Athens (during the strike of course) and the bus from the airport was rerouted and stopped at a different location than normal. We were completely lost as to where we were. We asked a couple walking down the street for directions and guess where they were from? Comox.
Colleen is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 04:14 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,439
Colleen
Greece has a way of surprising us and always calls us back for another visit.
stanbr is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 05:27 PM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 226
Thanks Stanbr for some more advice! That's great to know that we can still do our day of exploration in Chania on a Sunday...that helps with some trip planning!

Where did you stay in Plakias? and in Naxos?

cheers,
CC
CaptCanuck is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:30 PM.