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Need Help with itinerary in Crete with kids

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Need Help with itinerary in Crete with kids

Old Jul 9th, 2013, 01:21 PM
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Need Help with itinerary in Crete with kids

So excited to have found this forum. I am traveling to Crete with my two sons (ages 6 & 9) and my husband in early September. We have rented a beachside villa in Elounda for 7 nights and were also thinking of adding on a night or two in Chania. We have a rental car and don't mind driving to see as much as we can. What would you suggest? We are from California so making it back to Crete any time soon is unlikely!
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Old Jul 9th, 2013, 08:05 PM
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I also wanted to ask if the Samaria Gorge hike is too much for young children. We are also thinking of going to the island where the leper colony used to be as well as Knossos. My husband and oldest son love history and sight seeing. My younger son woud be happy staying at the beach all day! Thank you for any advice.
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Old Jul 9th, 2013, 09:00 PM
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Shoreen, you have chosen a lovely resort-area rental, where you'll have a resort-area experience .. but it's not so convenient to same of the major historic or landscape highlights. I'm glad you do want to see things, but it's also wise to weigh the sights against the back-seat moans of "are we there yet?"

To help w. realistic planning Here's a fab Crete map (Click & it gets huuge): http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-ma.../Crete-eot.png
And here's a chart of driving distances (in Km; for miles, divide number in 2, add 10%)
http://www.west-crete.com/road-distances-crete.htm

Samaria GOrge is a looong way, if you are staying in Elounda. From Chania, there are package tours going to Smaria, with your own car, it's a hassle ... you have to leave it up top, and then get back to it. And it's an all-day affair, with a day to get over it, too. Have you considered driving east and walking down the gorge (just 8 km long from Zakros to Kato Zakros (the last major Minoan Palace ruin discovered).

Another Gorge option closer than Samaria is IMBROS Gorge, The road to it is west of Rethymnon, you leave car at Imbros, the gorge is easy, walk only takes 3-3.5 hours, at the end you hire a taxi to drive back up along the gorge-rim road to reach your car. It's lovely, NO crowds, has narrow part down near end where a (long-armed) man can touch either side. Take lunch to eat en route ... you'll see goats & birds & flowers & NO tour groups.
... distance Elounda-Imbros about 200 km (120 mi), but along BEST hi-way. E-75.

Quick memorable detour off E-75 around Panormos ... the Melidoni Cave .. spectacular stalactites etc, but also touching poignant memorial to an infamous Turkish event there .. google it.

About Spinalonga Island, many people go mainly because there was a novel written about it, but I have heard from some that there's not that much to "see."

Chania, I looove it, but it's a long drive, just to stay 1 night. U might want to go there, see the town stay 1 night, and 2nd day do the Imbros gorge then head back East (I'm guessing you fly out of Heraklion).
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Old Jul 9th, 2013, 09:37 PM
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Thank you for your reply! I think we will probably skip the gorge. I can see my kids getting tired of it after about an hour! We'd definitely like to do Knossos. I think the island would be fun mostly because they'd enjoy the boat ride and get a kick out of imaging what it would be like to have lived on a leper colony! I thought we could get the boat from Platka so we could see that city. We'd also definitely like to see Knossos. Lato and Gournia also looked interesting. We're going to Athens and we were planning on flying out of Chania. We originally had planned to go to Santorini for two nights but just decided to go up to Chania instead. We could even skip out of the villa one night early and head up to Chania for two nights. What do you think?
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Old Jul 9th, 2013, 09:50 PM
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The Samaria Gorge will not be doable with the kids, also the other gorges that were mentioned won't be doable either.

The kids are simply too young for that !!

Day trips that you can do are :

Nearby Agios Nikolaos, the village Kritsa, and the Lasithi Plateau.

The city of Sitia, the Toplou Monastery, beach of Vai with the unique palm trees and eventually Kato Zakros

Heraklion with Knossos and the Archaeological Museum ( even though you will only see a couple of rooms with highlights, since the museum is undergoing a renovation)

On your way to Chania you can see The Arkadi Monastery, Rethymno( with it's beautiful old city) and the Kournas Lake, the only natural lake of Crete.

Would recommend 2 nights in Chania, it is one of the most beautiful cities of Crete.
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Old Jul 9th, 2013, 10:11 PM
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That sounds like a great itinerary. Perhaps we will leave our villa a day early and head up to Chania so we get two nights there. I imagine the first day would be spent on the drive up anyways! The kids don't mind driving as long as we can get in some stops and adventures along the way! The drive also gives them a chance to get some naps in. They are relatively easy going except when they are tired! Is there still a lot of daylight at that time of year (second week of september)?
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Old Jul 9th, 2013, 10:29 PM
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The trip from Elounda to Chania should last 3,5 hours.
With a few stops ( Rethymno for lunch would be a great idea )you should calculate about 8 hours though.

The second week of September sunset should be around 7:30 PM
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 07:07 AM
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The Melidoni Cave is a great little stop along the way, only about 5-8 miles off the main E-75 highway as I said. Kids LOVE caves. And u could stop at a Panormos beach hotel for lunch ... I myself find Rethymnon a bit of a trial for a trip-stop ... you have to wind around & around to find a place to park the car, the "Old Town" is smaller/more crowdy than the attractive Chania Old Town. Main reason I stop/suggest a stop to others would be the mighty Fortezza -- but that would get "old" in about 5 mins for the kiddies.

If u want a Fort, with kids, I usually advise skip rethymnon Fortezza and instead, look at the Old-Town Naval Fortress in Chania ... and if u are in Heraklion, walk out to that mighty Fort on its own causeway... exciting to look at from exterior, then go to dinner at harborside.
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 07:33 AM
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Rethymno has a big old town, most houses are renovated and in use. I personally like the old town of Retymno more than Chania.

Parking is no problem at all, as you can park your car at the very long street on the beach that goes straight to the small medieval harbour, and in front of the old town.

Rethymno and Chania are Crete's most beautiful cities
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 08:05 AM
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Thanks so much for all the suggestions. Any recommendations on a hotel in Chania for a night or two?
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 08:15 AM
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Depending on your budget, as it is on the more expensive side, my favourite hotel is Casa Delfino in the old town of Chania near to the Naval Museum.

http://www.casadelfino.com/default.aspx?lang=en
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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It looks gorgeous but probably beyond what we want to spend at this point. We are already doing the villa, as well as staying in London on the way to Greece and stopping in Athens on the way out! It adds up!
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 12:12 PM
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Here are some hotels that might be of interest to you :

Old City
Belmondo Hotel, Ionas Hotel,Porto de Colombo

New City :
Kydon ( opposite the famous Municipal Market), Porto Veneziano( on the sea, a few meters away from the venetian harbour)
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 05:20 PM
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There are many attractive, modestly priced lodgings on Theotokopolou Street (the beautiful flagstoned lane near the West Wall in Old Town, just back from the Harbor . . . wonderful location, handy to everything, free parking at the seafront just steps away. One is Hotel Palazzo, right by the head of the street by the sea, in september 50-55E double including breakfast. NOTE: you should ask for upstairs FRONT rooms with balconies. Right next door, with the best view of the sea is HERA STUDIOS ... and since u have children, it does have a 3-bed studio as well as single & double rooms. similar price. Right around the corner Jason Studios could give you 2 adjoining studio rooms w kitchen ell & balconies, about 65E each.
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 01:35 PM
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Thanks all! We ended up shortening our stay a little at the villa in Elounda so we could stay two nights in Chania. We booked a suite at the Boutique Hotel Fortina in the old town. Our plan is to take our time driving up there, stopping at Rethymo and maybe that cave that was also mentioned. And then spend an evening and another full day in Chania before flying to Athens. We are staying three nights in Athens. My son really wants to see the Acropolis and all that good stuff and then we're off to home!
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Old Jul 20th, 2013, 08:04 AM
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You should not travel to Samaria Gorge with kids.

One of the best beaches in Chania for families is Loutraki and Marathi. They have crystal clear water and the wind never touches them. It is about 20 minute drive from the old harbor that you will be staying.

I suggest you eat at Pallas restaurant in the old harbor. They have special offers for lunch with amazing prices. (http://www.pallaschania.gr/home?lang=ENG)

Also you should try to eat souvlaki at OASIS. The best souvlaki ever. Ask a local where it is to tell you directions.
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Old Jul 20th, 2013, 12:23 PM
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You may want to reconsider the location for you rental. We were advised by Greek friends to stay on the western end of Crete.
Samaria Gorge, the shortened version:You can drive over the mountains to Chora Skafion and park your car. Take a ferry to the bottom of the Samarian Gorge. You can hike into it, can see a lot without it beong too much for the kids. If you'd like to spend the night on the south shore take the ferry to Loutro.
There are also cottage rentals on the beach east of Chora Skafion at Frankocastelo.
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Old Jul 20th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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Eastern Crete is beautiful too and has many interesting places.
Elounda is one of them with Spinalonga and Agios Nikolaos just around the corner.

Now if someone rented a villa in Elounda , i doubt he/she would give it up for a basic accommodation in Frangokastello..

The Samaria Gorge is very nice if you do the whole Gorge, by entering from the North.
I don't think that the so called lazy way can be interesting for children of that age.

Spending two nights in Chania after Elounda will be a nice way to see the highlights of Western Crete,
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 06:49 PM
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Thanks all! Our plan is to keep the villa in Elounda since we already paid a non-refundable deposit. My husband will not be happy if I change it now! The villa is right on the beach so the kids are thrilled about that. I think we're resolved to the fact that we won't be able to see everything in a week! Leaves us something to look forward to next time!
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Old Jul 31st, 2013, 12:14 AM
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Sorry to jump in so late, but just saw this thread. We were in Chania for a week this June, and I second the opinions on how beautiful it is. Simply stunning and a Venetian fort to explore. Also a good Archeological museum. We enjoyed stopping in Rhythymnon for a walk-around and dinner.Really interesting old town with a Venetian fort which little kids would enjoy, too. Driving in isn't difficult, it's not a very big place. We found parking on the street readily. Iraklion, on the other hand, is a nightmare to drive in. Knossos is just outside the south side of town and well sign-posted, so you shouldn't have too much problem with that. Go early, since it's on everyone's list to see.You might want to read up on the history of the site and its somewhat controversial reconstruction, too. On the other hand, getting to the Archeological Museum isn't easy as it's right in the middle of Iraklion within the walls. Try to park at the bottom of the Vitouri Bastion (there's a parking lot there);no need to drive up into the central city if you are just going to the museum. As @clausar says, the museum is under reconstruction so what you see are the famous frescos upstairs, then two smaller rooms of treasures (but what treasures!) in the basement (around back-not at all obvious, you may have to ask someone). Might not be worth it to you, given the ages of your kids, but that's for you to decide. One nice excursion from Hania I'd recommend is the Botanical Park of Crete, 18 kms south of town (well sign-posted). We saw lots of families with kids there;a nice couple of hours if you stroll. Wear good shoes (no sandals, at least) since it's hilly. Beautiful vistas and labelled plants galore, though it might be somewhat dry in September. There's a pretty good restaurant at the end of the trail, so you can reward yourselves for the walk. And if you are not afraid of mountain driving I'd recommend Hania to Kambos and back in a circle. Blue ocean and wild mountains-the real Crete is found inland, I think. Enjoy! Crete is incredible.
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