Itinery help Crete

Old May 25th, 2017, 06:27 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2017
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Itinery help Crete

Traveling with my husband to two young adult children, Staying at the Grand Leoniki in Platanias. Will arrive June 16th late afternoon. We plan on getting a rental car. For the that evening I thought we would go to Rethymno. Explore the Fortezza, get dinner, then return to our resort to get a good nights sleep. On Saturday I thought we would head to Chania to see the sites. Do the street market and Theotokopoulou St. Sunday-June18th we would head to Samaria Gorge-do the easy way and head to a beach. Monday do a trip to Balos. Tuesday we are going to do a day trip from Rethymno to Santorini. Wednesday head to Heraklion-do Knossos, the Monastery, Venetician Fountain. I am hoping to convince my husband to stay the night in Heraklion since we will by flying to Athens early the next morning. We cannot get a refund on our hotel in Platanias but I am sure we can find something reasonable in Heraklion. I listed the direction I would like to head. I figured we can stop at the villages we pass along the way or even stop for a swim. We would like to visit an olive oil farm, a honey farm, and a winery or two. Would appreciate any suggestions you might have on things to see or do when we are heading a particular direction. Is there any place it would be best to take a bus? I want my husband to be able to enjoy the scenery too. Restaurant recommendations would be appreciated too. Thanks in advance for your advice.
temigh is offline  
Old May 26th, 2017, 08:47 AM
Join Date: Feb 2017
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Is this supposed to be a vacation or a race to see how many things you can tick off a list of places/things in 5 days?

Most people nowadays HAVE to live their 'normal' lives according to a busy schedule. Should a vacation be an extension of that same behaviour?

It's your time and your dime but when I am on vacation, there is no schedule or plan laid out on an hourly basis.

A day trip to Santorini. Really? What would that accomplish?

And on Crete, "I figured we can stop at the villages we pass along the way or even stop for a swim. We would like to visit an olive oil farm, a honey farm, and a winery or two."

Gonna squeeze them in are you? Allowing how much time for them? A quick 15 minute beach stop, check. An olive orchard, 15 minutes, check. A honey farm, 15 minutes, check. A winery, 20 minutes, check.

"Would appreciate any suggestions you might have on things to see or do when we are heading a particular direction."

What, you want to add MORE items to check off the list?

As for restaurant suggestions, I can't see where you will have any time to stop and eat in them. When I have lunch in Greece, it takes at least 2 hours. It's not a 15 minutes at McDonald's kind of thing. How will you fit that in?

OK, I'm being harsh perhaps but your idea of a vacation is my idea of a nightmare. My advice is to throw away your plan and just see what happens after you get there. There is no prize for 'who can check the most things off a list.' Learn to slow down and relax.
Dogeared is offline  
Old May 26th, 2017, 09:26 AM
Join Date: Dec 2016
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Unfortuantely we have someone who is rude, sarcastic and insulting when responding to legitimate questions and/or asks for recommendation and help.

Maybe if dogeared gave a intelligent and adult response and pointed out differences or offered people help and advice they would take your suggestions seriously rather than think you are a moron!

My advice to travelers is to slow down and take the time to research where you want to go and what you want to do.

I think you are trying to do to much in the time you have.

The day trip to Santorini will be exhausting, you'll spend more time on a ferry than on the island. Can Santorini.

Crete is Greece's largest island and there is plenty to see, do and experience there without doing day trips to far-off islands.

If you have a rental car then you can accomplish a lot more than taking a bus.

Check out Matt's Greek Guide and his section on Crete for recommendations and don't let morons ruin your holiday:
crazyh is offline  
Old May 27th, 2017, 07:39 AM
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crazyh thank you for your kinds words, and your constructive advice. Matt's Greek Guide was an excellent suggestion.
temigh is offline  
Old May 27th, 2017, 07:53 AM
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we went to Crete very many years ago, and though things have probably changed a bit, i doubt that the Samaria Gorge has. I think that you would find it hard to do it in a day, particularly starting from Rethymnon. According to google it's about a 2 hour drive to the head of the gorge, and it is essential to get to the village at the southern end of the walk before the last boat leaves else you will be stranded there all night.

then you would have to get back to the head of the gorge to collect your car. And the walk itself is long and hard.

We spent 3 nights [if my memory serves] in Rethymnon and the same in Chania. I think that you should find plenty to amuse you and your offspring in the immediate vicinity of both of these places rather than trying to pack your itinerary full of activities.

Where I do agree with you is about heading to Heraklion the day before you leave for Athens; it would be a great pity to go all that way and not to see Knossos.
annhig is offline  
Old May 27th, 2017, 08:44 AM
Join Date: Sep 2016
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We did Samaria gorge the way you plan : from Rethymno to gorges and yes the boat.
We left early - aimed at arriving at opening time so that there was no crowd before us and could do at our pace.
We ended like you think you will : tired and heading fir a beach.

I would also drop Santorini.

And I would discard dog's poo. The guy thinks he has a godly mission to tell people how to live their lives. He should try and live his own without bullying other people.
WoinParis is offline  
Old May 27th, 2017, 10:03 AM
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Just a couple more thoughts to add to the advice you have been given. Keep in mind experienced Greece visitors tend to want to slow down do less and experience more.

Two things on your plan leap out as being serious waste of time and logistically difficult.

Samaria Gorge the easy way requires you to drive to Chora Sfakion on the south coast and catch the morning ferry to Agia Romeulli. You will have to get up very early and keep in mind the last few kilometers of that trip include about 30 switchbacks and will take you close to an hour depending on traffic.
At Agia Romeulli you have to hike up about 2 km to get to the entrance to the gorge. Its another 3 km up to Christos just past the iron gates. You will be hiking over and through a small river uphill. The return ferry gets into Chora Sfakion around 6pm and then you have the drive back to your hotel. We have done this trip and it is great however we stayed in Agia Romeulli so we could start early. You probably could sacrifice this excursion so you can slow down and enjoy that day for the North coast.

The second thing I might consider sacrificing would be the trip to Santorini. Although this is doable it will be expensive around 125 euros each on a guided tour by Seajets ( I think) they run this excursion from Rethymnon once a week. You can also DIY from Heraklion which departs between 8:30 and 9 and returns around 7:30 in the evening. Cost for two one way last summer was 140 euros.

Western Crete
Aptera images 38-62 Balos Gramovossa images 79-106
Samaria Gorge hike the easy way.
Ferry trip Libyan Sea
stanbr is offline  
Old May 27th, 2017, 10:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I agree you shouldn't try to do Santorini in a day trip from Crete - especially given your time frame and other things you want to do.

Here is my trip report from Crete - did many of the things you are mentioning. Especially note the part on Balos in terms of whether driving is the best way to do it. There are pros and cons to both driving and doing it by bus/boat.

Also make sure you look into things like ferry schedules, etc. We ended up not doing some things that turned out to be logistically almost impossible even though guide books made them seem like they'd be fine.

But Crete is great and you'll still be able to see and experience a lot even if you pare down your itinerary.

The photos are better seen here than in the link in the trip report:
isabel is offline  
Old May 29th, 2017, 05:28 PM
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I appreciate all of the advice. Guidebooks do make everything so easy. So I will plan a less and enjoy more. I guess we will just have to visit Greece again and hit Santorini at that time. Thank you all!
temigh is offline  
Old May 29th, 2017, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
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I agree with the others about skipping santorini for lack of time. Additionally, unless you are extremely fit, you may want to skip the gorge. My Husband and I hiked down the gorge many years ago and were sorry that we did as the first mile is extremely steep and treacherous. My husband, as well as several others fell on the slippery rocks during the initial mile down. We continued on and I regretted each step as the rocks dug into my expensive walking sneakers (totally insufficient). While the scenery was beautiful and the hike a challenge, I hardly enjoyed the hike because I was so busy watching my footing over the uneven rocks. I recall wanting to kiss the ground when we reached the bottom. That being said, the island of Crete is gorgeous. We rented a car and drove between the different cities, one more picturesque than another. I'm sure you will enjoy Crete as it has so much to offer.
dgunbug is offline  
Old May 30th, 2017, 03:29 AM
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I too wonder if the Samaria Gorge is a good idea. I would be concerned about your two small children. It's not an easy hike. My experience exactly matched dgunbug's above. I fell three times during the walk, scaring my husband. The consistent downhill nature of the hike caused my toes to bleed and it was a painful day. While I was glad I was able to finish I almost regretted it.

If you do it, get sturdy hiking boots or shoes and watch the children closely!!!
Cindywho is offline  
Old May 30th, 2017, 03:30 AM
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Sorry just realized you are with two adult children! You will be fine then with sturdy hiking boots if you are fit!
Cindywho is offline  
Old May 30th, 2017, 05:36 AM
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With only a few days in Crete, I would visit the knossos palace, the towns of agios nikolaos, rethymno and chaina. IMO they were far more beautiful and enjoyable than a day hiking the gorge.
dgunbug is offline  
Old May 30th, 2017, 08:26 AM
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I did the Imbros Gorge and highly recommend it as a thrilling experience and NO crowds -- often w Samaria, there is a long line, hundreds of people, you walk for miles staring at someone's back the whole time. In Imbros in mid-May, we only saw 10-12 people the whole time... it is also just as narrrow in the lower parts ... one place a long-armed person (magic Johnson?) would be able to touch both sides. It's full of blooming bushes & plants, smells of Thyme. Samaria is promoted (hyped) because it has paid tours.
travelerjan is offline  
Old May 30th, 2017, 10:06 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
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I think it may have been a while since travelerjan walked the Samaria Gorge. It is true in the 1990's there were close to 300,000 walkers a year with some months having more than 60,000.

Now there are fewer than 150,000 annual walkers and 25,000 a month is a very busy month. The days of long lines of walkers for miles are gone. Even if you come on a tour bus it really easy to find space to walk where you see no one in front of you.

I think the walk is very much worthwhile but as noted above it is not easy. There are lots of rocks and it is very steep at the top although the top has the "wooden stairs" to make it much easier. But if you are fit, used to walking, and have good footwear and socks, it is a very enjoying 5-6 hour walk.

it would be a long day from Rethymno. It is a 2 hour drive to the top at Omalos. You need to get down to Agia Roumeli in time to catch the ferry to Sougia (5:30PM?). At Sougia there is Ktel bus that will wait for the ferry and take you to your car in Omalos. You probably wouldn't get back to Rethymno much before 9:30PM.

I wouldn't bother with the "lazy way". It is still a very long day and you would miss the best of the gorge not to mention have to go both up and down the last hour of the walk which are no fun at all
cwra is offline  
Old May 30th, 2017, 10:34 AM
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I'm with TravellerJan on the gorge option - it's a very long day to walk Samaria - memorable for sure, but a hard 18kms, boots essential in my opinion & you really need enough time to schedule a down day with nothing to do the following day. Imbros gorge can be walked as part of a lovely relaxed day out, by car, at your own pace, without waking up before 5am!
If you drive on the main Vrysses - Hora Sfakia road, park just after Imbros village, in one of the last cafes, drink coffee & eat a Sfakia pie, a local treat, then walk down the gorge - 2 1/2 hours if you don't rush, take plenty of photo stops, enjoy the scenery etc.
At the village of Komitades are several café/ tavernas who will provide a lift back to your car (often a crazy ride up the switchbacks in the back of a pick-up truck!), or down to Sfakia where you can get a great meal & catch a taxi or bus back to your car.
jwugg is offline  
Old May 30th, 2017, 11:12 AM
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I generally find the itinerary/days you have at disposal ok.
As others said it would be better to skip the one day trip to Santorini, which is exhausting, unless you have no plans of returning to Greece.

The Santorini day trip has always been and still is one of the most popular ones on Crete...

There is an organized so called lazy tour of the Samaria Gorge, you enter Samaria from the seaside and simply walk up, which saves you all the difficult spots of the opposite side.
The Samaria gorge is the longest gorge of Europe and a very beautiful one, that explains why it is so popular. It is not a result of promotion due to organized tours, but exactly the opposite.

I would probably skip the drive to Rethymno on your arrival day and spend that evening in Chania instead. You will have plenty of time to see Rethymno on another day.

A possible day tour could be Chania - Kournas Lake ( small detour off the highway to Rethymno)- Rethymno - Arkadi Monastery and then drive to the Libyan Sea through the Kourtalioti Gorge to Plakias for a swim break, i love the far end of the beach that is sandy with sand dunes. You can then have lunch there and continue to the tiny Kotsifou Gorge, the road is passing through that gorge...

From there you can visit Frangokastello, the medieval castle with a nice beach, where you can have a break for swimming too....

I would spend the last night in Heraklion, which would give you the chance of visiting the Archaeological Museum and Knossos... Although Heraklion was bombed in WW2 and is not a nice city.. it still has an interesting center with Venetian walls around the historic center, a castle at the old harbour, and it is ideal for strolling in the center and people watching

On the way to Heraklion, there's not much to see... perhaps the village of Fodele which is supposed to be the birth place of El Greco..... The distance between Chania and Heraklion is 148 km, and a driving time of approximately 90 minutes.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 06:39 PM
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Thanks everyone for your help!
temigh is offline  
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