Published: October, 2019
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Crete, Greece

— Caroline Kesmodel
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, Family, Beach
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: Crete is Greece's largest island. Two weeks if you are able. July and August are high season, but best summer weather and sea temps .

to & from

Use Blu Cove travel (based in Greece) for all transfers, getting you thru customs, connections, ferries, navigating airports. Ask for Kostas he was invaluable. Greece doesn’t run on time and you want to have a contact when you miss a connection.
Crete is a great first stop, when jet lagged, coolest weather and least touristy. Connect from Athens into Heraklion airport. Heraklion is in near the center of Crete, so from here go West to Chania/Elafonsi Beach or East to Eloundha. Each side take at least a week to cover.

  • Heraklion is a industrial shipping port, so you will not want to stay. Get a transfer- Use Elounda Star car service anywhere on the island. Transfer to euros, ASAP.
  • Difficult to get around Crete without a car or taxi, so decide if you will need one. If you rent a car, go to AAA to get international drivers license. We were good with car service.

Where to Stay

There is so much to see and do in Crete and never enough time. So many gorgeous beaches, adorable towns. Pick one hotel on each coast as a home base. Many Greek islands/ towns have a multitude of diff spellings so it can be misleading when researching. There are a lot of adult only hotels, aways check if traveling with children, and very minimal websites. So follow the hotels on insta to learn more.

East coast: We stayed at Blue Palace in Elounda. It is the newest hotel in Crete and great location.
Great first stop for jet lag with swimmable beach, large pool, great traditional breakfast and tons of activities.
Elounda Mare also recommended for smaller hotel, but older.
For fun-The bachelor filmed in Crete and their resorts were Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort and Elounda Peninsula All-Suite Hotel

West Coast: Town of Chania (Seitan Limani Beach and Elafonsi Beach), Kissamou (Balos Beach) are all worth a visit. Domes Noruz resort is a great location but adults only.

Central: In Rethymnon, Kalypso Beach is stunning and Ammoudaki Beach, but lodging is minimal.

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Eat at Argo for breakfast at Blu Palace, otherwise get out for traditional, authentic experiences. Mediterranean cuisine in Crete doesn’t disappoint. Try honey and yogurt, Cretan greens and seafood abound.
  • Kanali was an amazing place for dinner right on the water. Our favorite atmosphere and great service. Try the Kanali salad or the Seabass fired right at your table.
  • There are tons of spots in Elounda and La Plaka, most menus online.
  • Great cafes in beautiful coastal town of Agios Nikolaus in Crete. We loved Paito, a local favorite. Cozy, small, delicious menu, full of locals.

What to Do

Relax! Rent a boat, go to a beach, swim and snorkel in the gorgeous Sea of Crete, shop the quaint villages and eat in the tavernas.

  • Take the traditional boat out to Spinalonga, for an island escape. Tour Spinalonga one of the countries most important National Monuments. Have lunch and go snorkeling in the crystal clear water.
  • Explore the village of Elounda and la Plaka cute shops and restaurants. Sea sponges, olive oil soap, caftans and Cretan gold jewelry abound.
  • Escape to Chrissi Island- White beaches, crystal clear water and a sea turtle refuge.
  • Visit the Village of Kritsa in the mountain foothills and the nearby Kritsa Gorge.
  • West coast- Elafonsi beach is all over instagram and you will know why when you see it. Absolutely gorgeous clear blue warm water and white sandbars. It is not easy to get to, but worth it. Charter a boat or take the ferry.
  • West coast- Chania/ Hania is a charming coastal village.

inside scoop

Make sure you ride the ferry at least once. When you are departing take the ferry/ultra modern SeaJet from Crete to Santorini or other port.
It was 2hr ferry and super comfortable, plus you actually could stand outside the whole time.
You will need to buy tix in advance. Buy top deck. The Seajet leaves out of Heraklion and times are early, plan your departure accordingly.

skip it

Heraklion is the seaport and very industrial- use it only for ferry departure. Do not do a hotel stay there, even if seems convenient.

What to Pack

Lived in Kaftans and coverups from Pitusa, Linelbi, and Seraphina of London. Bathing suits from Heidi Klein that can take the salt and surf.
K. Jacques and Ancient greek sandals were comfortable favorites. Several sun hats and continuous SPF from EltaMD!
Hotels had great organic olive oil exfoliating soaps and lotions. Out to dinner in linen dresses, or kaftans, totally casual, but no jeans ever needed.

more...

Traveling to Greece can be like a puzzle, pick your top destinations Ionian or Cyclades and then look at ferry and plane schedules, they will dictate your options.
There is not a lot of flexibility and a lot of transportation will take you back to Athens, before you can get to another island. Helicopters are worth looking into. There were helipads at every hotel and it is so much easier than going back to the Athens, if you are game!

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