How to split nine days on Crete?

Old Apr 15th, 2014, 07:06 PM
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How to split nine days on Crete?

My 24 year-old daughter and I will be going to Crete in September. We have nine days to spend there, after which we will spend two days on Santorini and two in Athens before flying home to New York.
We are very interested in seeing historical Crete, ruins, charming villages, maybe relax at the beach for a couple of days. I am stymied as to where to stay, thinking possibly splitting the trip between two locations on the island.
Can my fellow Forum members help?
writegirl18 is offline  
Old Apr 16th, 2014, 12:10 AM
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Hi Writer Girl,

As a travel editor and writer, somehow I've become a source for all things Crete since editorializing, and especially since spending three weeks there recently. That said, I hope my comments can be of help.

First of all, 9 days is not a lot for exploring such a massive island. I bet you figured that already. Our group of journalists and photographers (family too) split three weeks by locale, which sort of worked out. I say sort of because if you stay in the east or west, snatching sights at the opposite end of a 150 mile long, mountainous island, is madness.

So, Chania or Agios Nicolaos etc. would seem to be out for the best sightseeing bases. If you try and stay in the west, center, and east, travel and recovery time will murder you. The solution is Heraklion or Rethymno (other villages apply too).

We stayed at Lato Boutique Hotel overlooking Heraklion's Venetian Fortress. We also stayed in Rethymno, outside Chania, and visited villages in between Kissamos and Agios. Depending on what manner of accommodation you a thinking, hotels and villas are great choices.

By way of suggestions, here is a Visit Greece post I wrote about a wonderful rustic villa outside Chania.
http://blog.visitgreece.gr/metochi-v...n-hospitality/

Secondly, here is a Tripatini post on Lato by me.

http://www.tripatini.com/profiles/bl...t-satisfaction

And here is my best suggestion if you guys want to become Cretan in 9 days, plus be in the middle between Knossos and the beaches of the West.

http://www.tripatini.com/profiles/bl...t-satisfaction

I have many more suggestions for making the most of your Crete holiday and adventure, being centrally located and renting a car is the best bet for short visits. I hope all this helped in your planning.

You are in for a wonderful adventure.
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Old Apr 19th, 2014, 02:06 PM
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Thank you ! So much to process. I will read it all carefully and circle back with questions..... I'm sure I will have many!
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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 12:35 PM
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Okay, Phillip, here goes. Daughter has presented me with a "suggested itinerary." I am exhausted looking at it. Can you help refine and figure out where we should stay? It sounds like a rental might be best advised but I don't know:

Day 1: Arrive Athens, fly to Heraklion ??? (have not yet booked this)

Day 2: Heraklion Archaelogical Museum

Day 3: Palace of Knossos

Day 4: Palace of Phaistos, Goruna, Agia Triada, Matala

Day 5: Agios Nikolaos or Heraklion

Day 6: Agios Nikolaos

Day 7: Agios Nikolaos (Malia Palace, Kori Dive Site, St. George Dive site, Agia Varvara Dive Site)

Day 8: Chania Depart West on Coastal Highway with Stops in Rethymnon and Aptera, possible Makrigialos beach

Day 9: Chania, Samaria Gorge

Day 10: To Santorini (how to get there from here -- from Chania or Heraklion?)

We then spend two days on Santorini, then two days in Athens and fly home. I then check into a sanitarium.

Thank you!
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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 12:47 PM
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I have also been to Crete and I think this itinerary is too ambitious. Staying in Rethymon is central but Chania and Agios Nikolaos are a long way apart. I liked Chania as my favourite city with Agios Nikolaos next. I did a couple of day tours which were both detailed and informative. I would suggest you look at these instead of trying to find your own way from one attraction to the next. For Knossos you can get there by local bus and I see you have the museum the day before that which is always suggested in that order. Perhaps for some days hire a car to explore along the coast road and one or two inland villages in reasonable distance from where you choose to base yourselves. Don't forget the markets, they are amazing.
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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 02:07 PM
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I think you need to concentrate on one side of the island or the other either West Chania Rethymnon and perhaps a couple of days in the south for the Minoan sites. Or the east and everything you have identified there.

golfer is correct it is a long way between Ag Nik and Chania so you will use up the better part of a day doing that transfer.
We have been to Crete three times for a total of 21 days and have yet to finish our original plan for just the west.
Of course if you and your daughter are high energy people then it is certainly logistically doable but you are going to miss out on what makes Greece special. Just stopping and taking it all in, being in the moment sitting on the Chania waterfront and realizing you have stepped back into the past.
So for what it is worth I would do the west. here are images to show you why.
Western Crete http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632115757899/

Now for your logistics questions.
I see you are flying from the US. When you arrive in Athens immediatley catch a connecting flight to Chania and hold Athens to the end of your trip.
I would chose to fly to Chania so you can do everything you want there first. The Samaria Gorge is pretty strenuous so many people suggest you have a down day after to recover, Perhaps that day would be a good one to take the bus to Heraklion. Because you are heading to Santorini you will need to get to Heraklion to catch the ferry so that is the logical time to see Knossos.
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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 02:14 PM
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You don't need 2 days for Museum & Knossos … U can enter museum @ 8 am (longer hours thru sept)… 2 hours is plenty … see other sites in town if u want… local bus to Knossos& have lunch at taverna outside gate (this is for timing)… by 1:30 or 2, all the cruise-ship and package-tour crowds will be leaving, so u can enjoy a less-crowded site. If u want guidance, there are often licensed guides by the gate, who recruit 5-10people & charge each of them €10 or so … or else bring good guidebook or detailed internet printout, and do a d-i-y. 2 hours is enough.

To see Phaistos-Ag Triada-Matala in a day either a days car rental or a day excursion (which does take in all 3)… the KTEL bus schedules are such that, after visiting Phaistos, you might wait for HOURS for a beach-bound bus. If u are renting a car, no need to return to Heraklion… waste of time. My last reaction: not sure why she wants to go to Ag. Nikolaos?? For diving?? Not clear. If diving is near Palace of Malia, combine the 2 then head west. … aside from Knossos/Heraklion, I think the far west has much more to offer. But that's just me.
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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 02:50 PM
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After your arrival in Athens, fly to Chania and not Heraklion.
0 days are enough to see both the west and the east of Crete.

An itinerary could look like this :

Chania and surroundings ( Falasarna/Elafonisi/Balos & Gramvousa/Akrotiri Monasteries/ Aptera )

If you plan to walk through the Samaria Gorge, Chania is the starting point.

The rest of you itinerary could be as follows :

Chania >>> Rethymno ( Margarites & Arkadi Monastery) overnight in Rethymno

Rethymno >>> Spili--Phaistos- Agia Tiada-Gortys, overnight in Matala

Matala >>> Heraklion ( Museum/Knossos), overnight in Heraklion

Heraklion >>> Agios Nikolaos ( Elounda/Spinalonga/Kritsa/Lassithi Plateau), overnight in Agios Nikolaos

The boat to Santorini departs from Heraklion, which is only 60 km away from Agios Nikolaos.
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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 02:50 PM
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it should read 9 days are enough.. not 0...
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Old Apr 29th, 2014, 06:35 AM
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Thank you all. She wants to focus on the archaelogical aspects of Crete. Do you still think her itinerary is too ambitious? Any and all responses, opinions and suggestions are welcome, as I need to book places to stay. All suggestions as to lodging also welcome!
Lynn
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 05:31 PM
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Folks, I am still confused!
Should we spend a couple of days in Chania at the start? See the old town, have some "down" time to get acclimated to the time change, go to Samaria Gorge…

Then go to either Ag Nik or Rethymnon and stay for a few days and tour from there? Or stay in Heraklion.

Everybody is so helpful but all have different opinions.

Thank you!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 12:22 AM
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writegirl18

I proposed you a tour with overnights in the places that interest you.
Have you studied the map to locate all the places are, that you want to visit?
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Old Jun 9th, 2014, 12:05 PM
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Yes, and I like your suggestions but where should we stay without hopping about to a different place each night. I am willing to stay in two different locations and drive. What do you think?
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Old Jun 9th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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I would base in Chania for Samaria Gorge. I slept here - http://www.ellada.net/colombo/accommod.php - (but it was 2006). I arranged a "tour" - basically transport to/from the gorge - after I arrived in Chania. I also stayed in Rethymno but I preferred Chania.

Base in Heraklion for Knossos and the museum. You can take a bus between Chania and Heraklion, and another out to Knossos
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Old Jun 9th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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What about Ag Nik?
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Old Jun 9th, 2014, 01:54 PM
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I didn't go to Ag Nik, it sounded very touristy (or more touristy than Chania, at least). If you want to go there, you should put it before Heraklion since you want to take the ferry to Santorini.
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Old Jun 9th, 2014, 02:35 PM
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I just want to jump in and state that do not stay in Heraklion. It is not a charming city. My vote is not to go there at all, except to possibly grab a ferry to Santorini.

I have been to Crete 8 times. I am Greek-American, and both my husband and I love going back there.

Part of the charm of Crete is just driving around, stopping to eat at local tavernas, and absorbing the culture and pace.

Chania is gorgeous - and a must see. Anogia is extremely traditional (albeit far away) and has fabulous food and great places to stay.

Just drive around, enjoy yourself and go with the flow. You will always find a place to stay, except in the larger cities.
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Old Jun 9th, 2014, 07:00 PM
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Thank you… so should we stay in Chania (suggestions) for the first few days and then go to -- where? en route to Heraklion departure. Isn't Chania too far to see the sites nearer to Rethymnon etc?
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Old Jul 28th, 2014, 03:00 PM
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Hi writegirl18,
I visit the Chania alot (and also Heraklion) and I would agree with dimitra_d, stanbr among the rest. I would stay in Chania for the best part, have a brief encounter with Heraklion to see the museums and maybe focus on Elounda and Spinalonga/ Plaka area, rather than Ag Nikolaos. September is the best month to visit as the sea and nights are warm but not to the extreme. Do the Knossos early to avoid the bussloads of tourists and have afternoon sessions in the museums.
Agree with not staying more than 2 days on Santorini also. The sunset is actually just as dramatic and spectacular in Crete As for your Chania accommodation, try to stay in the old town to be part of the old town itself and the life;
http://www.casadelfino.com/ is a very good hotel inside the old town and these suites are also magnificent; http://alargo.no/villa.aspx?lang=en&id=122 is another great option. Hope you enjoy Crete as much as I do )
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Old Jul 28th, 2014, 04:28 PM
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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 with you to save a few dollars.
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