The post-vacation blues exists, and we’re definitely feeling it. We’re awakening from a fairytale called Crete, ended too soon, and we’re going back to our everyday life. In this introductive article we tell you our itinerary. If you’re planning a vacation in Crete, you’ll find here some useful tips. Enjoy your reading!
What to see in Crete in a week
Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, so a week isn’t enough to entirely visit it. We did the best we could having limited time and budget, but the perfect trip should last at least 2 weeks.
If you have just a week to visit it, like we did, focus only on a zone, for example the Western or the Eastern Crete.
A 7-day itinerary in West Crete
We chose to stay and explore West Crete, a perfect tourist spot where you can find some of the best beaches of the entire island. It wasn’t a non-stop journey, but a relaxing vacation (for once!). That’s why we didn’t go looking for archeological sites or secluded coves. We focused on the main and easily accessible attractions: beaches, towns and monasteries.
Day 0: The departure
We left in the afternoon flying from the Orio al Serio (Bergamo) airport. A Ryanair flight for Chania (La Canea-Suda) takes approximately 2 hours and a half. At the airport we met a salesperson from JustRentals company who gave us the keys of our Toyota Aygo.
Finally the end of line, the blue and white room from our flat at the Tersanas Village Hotel in Chorafakia, a few miles from the airport.
Day 1: Tersanas Beach & Chania
Tersanas Beach was our first contact with the Crete crystal clear waters and wild sun. Also, our first contact with pork souvlaki (skewers) in a small bar on the seaside.
Our first Greek dinner in the residence tavern. We spent the rest of our evening in Chania, one of the most lively and peculiar cities of Crete, known for its spicy nightlife.
Day 2: Falasarna Beach
Falasarna Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches of the island, very wide and windy. In some coves the water is so crystal clear. Can you imagine the pleasure of having your lunch just under your beach umbrella? A smiling young lady takes your order and a boy goes get it to the beach resort. On a quad bike. That’s happiness.
Day 3: Rethymno and Arkadi Monastery
Rethymno is a labyrinth of flowery alleys. The predominant colors are white, blue, fuchsia, and the ochre of the fortress perched over the sea. So romantic and hot.
Arkadi Monastery isn’t too far from Rethymno and it’s a place inspiring so much fierceness and beauty. Within its cracked walls filled with kitties, hundreds and hundreds of people died trying not to surrender to the Ottoman empire soldiers.
Our last stop of the day is at Souda Bay War Cemetery, where fallens from both World War I and II are resting.
Day 4: Stavros Beach
Our forth day started with a scary storm. Luckily, within an hour, rain stopped from falling and the sky cleared up. So, we rushed to Stavros beach.
This bay is very peculiar, thanks to the view of a red mountain overlooking the beach. Stavros was the setting of some scenes from the movie Zorba the Greek… and you won’t miss the merchandising about it.
Day 5: Elafonisi & Chrisoskalitissa Monastery
Elafonisi is probably the most famous beach in Crete. Calling it a simple beach is kind of reductive: in fact, it’s a wide oasis of peace, with pink sand and the most crystal clear water. We’ve never been to the Caribbean, but we’re sure Elafonisi really comes close to it.
On our way back, we stopped at Chrisoskalitissa Monastery. This holy place is on a suggestive hill. If you like cats, you are in the right place.
Day 6: Loutro
Small white houses with sky blue windows reflect on emerald water bay. This is Loutro, a small town, only reachable by sea or hiking a few hours. We left on a ferry from Hora Sfakion to get lost in the untouched spot.
Day 7: Agia Triada Tzagarolon Monastery, Seitan Limania & Chania
That’s our last day in Crete, before we leave for Italy in the evening. We explored the Akrotiri Peninsula: at first, we visited Agia Triada Tzagarolon Monastery, a string of flowery arcades; then, we went to the Seitan Limania.
It isn’t hard to understand why Seitan Limania beach is so popular among tourists. Unfortunately, the cloudy sky didn’t help us enjoy the breathtaking colors we saw in so many pictures. And what about the road to get there? A real nightmare!
Last stop in Chania and its sunny streets. Get lost within its alleys crowed by taverns and small shops, follow some cats, walk by the shore, the Venetian harbour and reach the lighthouse. It’s been a wonderful way to say goodbye to Crete. Goodbye, for sure. Because this won’t be a farewell.
Tips to organize a trip to Crete
Organizing a trip to Crete on your own is very easy and cheap. Why?
♦ Non-stop flights from several airports in Europe with low-cost companies
♦ Very cheap accomodation
♦ The Greek cuisine is delicious and eating in a restaurant in Crete is so cheap!
♦ Ideal destination also in autumn and spring: its touristic season goes from May to the end of October, with average temperatures of 24°-26° (but the sun beats down!)
♦ If you’re searching for relax, you’ll find white sand beaches and amazing water. If you prefer adventure, you can hike and explore untouched coves
♦ Get fond of history and archeology: you’ll never be bored among Minoan sites, museums, and monasteries! Water sports? Snorkeling and surf, you’ve got those too
♦ Perfect for families, couples but also for solo travelers
Where to stay in Crete
Crete offers a wide selection: you can choose among hotels, resorts, and flats, according to your desires.
We stayed at Tersanas Village Apartments in Chorafakia, about 25 km from Chania and a few km from airport. We recommend this accomodation for its cozy seafront studios with kitchen area, all white and blue, so clean and with a great tavern in. Extraordinary sunsets guaranteed.
This accomodation has a nice swimming pool with bar and good cocktails too. The overall cost for the stay was € 315. Make sure to book your stay some months in advance.
Renting a car in Crete
If you wish to rent a car in Crete, you can choose international companies, such as Avis, Hertz, etc. In this case, make sure you read all the terms or you’ll end up without a car when you arrive. For instance, you’ll need a credit card belonging to the driver.
Another option is choosing a local company, like we did. There are several benefits: lower prices, less burocrazy. Obviously, you’ll have to be careful and to read a lot of reviews.
We rent our car via Rental Center Crete and our experience was great. Complete insurance (on paved streets), free additional driver, free deliver at the airport, cash payment, phone assistance…
Renting a Toyota Argo for a week cost us € 170. You have to add € 70 for gas, it costs about € 1,50 in Crete.
Driving in Crete
Driving in Crete is madness. To get to some of the most famous spots, you’ll have to drive on insane hairpin turns through cliffs and mountains. And, once in a while, you’ll have to dodge some goats.
The main road is the National Road, toll free. In some stretches, it has four lanes, in others it has only two, but usually it has two lanes and an emergency lane. Apparently, in Crete it’s ok to drive in the emergency lane to be overtaken by faster cars.
Eating in Crete
Dining in Crete can be really low-cost, if you know how to choose. Usually, the taverns in the middle of nowhere are the ones where you eat the best and you spend less than cool frontsea restaurants.
For instance, dining in a fancy club in Chania harbour is obviously fascinating, but probably expensive. And you could also fall in the classic “tourist trap“.
In a tavern, we never spent more than € 23 for a menu with 2 starters and 2 main dishes. The average goes from € 17 to € 21. Sometimes you have to pay a cover charge including water and bread. Other times, you have no cover charge and you have to pay for your water and bread.
You can’t escape from raki (a local liquor) at the end of the meal and some desserts or fruit, always for free.
Vacation in Crete: what kind of suitcase do you need?
We chose to bring to Crete only one hold luggage each. Also, to be more confortable moving around, we found something that combines bag and suitcase, a Cabin Max bag. You can find it on Amazon in several patterns and colors.