While it is currently cold and dark in Sweden, I thought I’d put myself (and so you too!) in my Greece travel memories! Just like before each trip, I got a travel guide and based this Crete trip on what I’ve been reading. While my two sisters were planning on their 3-weeks trip around Greece, I decided to join them after finishing my summer job. Based on their itineraries and our flights, we met on the beautiful island of Crete! When talking with them now, 2 years after this trip, we all believe that Crete was a perfect destination for a girls’ trip!
We spent a little over a week in Crete, which was the perfect amount of time to go through the Western part of the Island. As we had time, we did not rush through things. We enjoyed unique moments and quality time together. We stayed in both Airbnbs and hotels and always had very nice and flexible hosts. Many of the places we saw and visited or ate at, were based on their recommendations.
Arriving in Heraklion
While my sisters took an overnight ferry from Athens, I flew from France, directly to Crete. They arrived bright and early in the morning, while I got there pretty late at night. From the airport, I took the bus, directly to the city center, which cost about 2€. I met my sisters at the bus stop, and from there we went for a short walk towards our Airbnb. We did not plan on staying in Heraklion (Ηράκλειο), but as the flight was late, we wanted to stay over and start fresh the next morning.
Heraklion is not a place we wanted to stay much longer either as we did not find it interesting. I have to say that we were also super excited about the plans we made to stay and travel on the Western part of Crete. However, flying into Heraklion was much cheaper and convenient than flying to Chania, for instance. The next morning we took a bus and rode to Chania. We did not need to book the tickets in advance as we got them on the spot at the bus station.
The buses are quite comfortable and it is a nice way to discover beautiful landscapes. The tickets cost us less than 15€ (each), and the trip was about 3 hours long. It is certainly longer than going with a car but renting a car was not an option for us as we were not planning on driving anywhere else. We also had just a backpack each so not many luggage to move around!
A few days in Chania
Chania (Χανιά) was our first real stop in Crete and my first experience in Greece. We arrived there in the early afternoon and checked in our very cute hotel room. We decided to get a room with a small cooking area to make basic breakfast or sandwiches if we did not want to go out all the time. The hotel was also located right by the port and old town of Chania. Easily accessible, we could walk everywhere and enjoyed the colorful pedestrian streets of the Old Town.
When arriving in Chania, we decided to take it easy and enjoy being back together. We went on a lot of small walks in the city, walked by the water, went to the beach, etc. As it was very hot during the day, we would take some time off and rest in the afternoon. Typically we would wake up early, go out, eat, come back and rest and go out again later in the evening. We loved going on evening walks along the beach or port when the sun was setting. The city was alive again and people were all over the streets!
From the moment we started to plan this trip, we wanted to go to the Samaria Gorges (Φαράγγι Σαμαριάς). Our whole trip was actually based around this hike, hence why we went to the Western part of Crete.
We wanted to start the hike bright and early as it was very hot during the day, and also because the hike is over 15 km long! For these reasons, we took the last bus from Chania to Omalos (Ομαλός). This last bus dropped us in Omalos early afternoon which was perfect for a late lunch! The hotel we stayed at had a restaurant and a little sandwich area where it was possible to grab a bite to eat.
If you are planning on staying like us in Omalos, note that there is absolutely nothing there. No shop, no people outside and no entertainment. The point of staying there was to have an afternoon in the region filled with fresh air, so we could get some sleep before waking up really early the next day. The good thing about this option is that the hotel owner dropped us to the gorges a few kilometres down the road the next morning and we could start the hike alone, as soon as the gorge opened.
The hike was the highlight of our trip and the three of us loved every minute of it. We were carrying a 10 kg backpack which did not make the hike easy. We also recommend you wear good hiking shoes and carry enough water and snacks for a few hours. Carrying the water was really painful at first as you need to hike up and down the canyon. However, it was the best decision as we could stop to rest whenever we wanted or needed to.
The Samaria Gorges are absolutely stunning and we really recommend you take this hike! The scenery is magnificent and the hike ends at this tiny town with an amazing beach.
The South-West Coast
After finishing the hike we arrived in the town of Agia Roumelli (Αγία Ρουμέλη). We arrived there early afternoon and checked in the hotel we booked beforehand. The hotel was located right in the center of the town, and we had a balcony with an amazing sea view! After a well-deserved lunch we headed to the beach and stayed the whole afternoon there, recovering from the hike! We slowly walked around the town and found different stores where we could get some food. Groceries there are not the cheapest but are fresh and we could find everything we needed for a small dinner in our room.
Staying overnight there was a great things as everyone finishing the hike arrives in the city. And they all take the evening ferry to the next town. The town is buzzing and the beach is crowded. After the last ferry left we felt like we’ve had the city to ourselves and could walk and relax on an empty beach!
Around midday the following day, we hopped on the ferry and made our way to the town of Paleochora (Παλαιόχωρα). The ride was a couple of hours long and the scenery was magical: perfectly blue water, mountains, and villages made of white houses on the side.
When arriving there we made our way to the hotel we booked. In this hotel, we’ve had a large room for the three of us with a bathroom, but there was also a nice garden area and a shared kitchen for us and the other guests.
In the evening, we went on a small tour of the town, discovering the surroundings and looking for information for the next day’s adventure!
Since we started planning this trip we wanted to go to the Elafonisi lagoon (Παραλία Ελαφονήσι). Made of crystal clear water and pink sand, this was one of the most beautiful places we have been to. It also happened to be perfect for relaxation and spending a day doing nothing but chilling, swimming and tanning. There was just a little bit of wind to cool down, but we highly recommend you get an umbrella if you want to stay there for the whole day.
How to get there? Take the bus. Just like everywhere in Crete, we took the bus, straight from Paleochora to Elafonisi. The bus dropped us right by the beach, early enough in the morning so it was not too crowded. Also, we did plan some snacks to survive the day. However, there were a few vendors and “shops” so we could get a proper lunch and ice cream!
We left the lagoon in the middle of the afternoon by bus, and made our way to Kissamos, where we planned on staying for the last few days in Crete.
Last days in Kissamos
Straight from Elafonisi, we arrived at Kissamos (Κίσσαμος). We found a nice Airbnb there, where we stayed two or three nights. Airbnb was big enough for all of us to get proper beds and also a large bathroom and kitchen. We enjoyed meals “at home” there and did not plan too much in advance.
As you can see in the article, we planned a lot of things and booked our accommodation prior to arriving in Crete. So, once in Kissamos, we did not have a schedule or anything set for these days.
We enjoyed some time at the beach, watched sunsets and walked around the town. From there we continued our way back to Heraklion, where we’ve had one day left.
From Kissamos, we took a bus, directly to Heraklion (Ηράκλειο). The ride was quite long and we planned one last thing before flying back to France. We booked a teeny tiny Airbnb in the center of the city from where we could walk everywhere.
We enjoyed some time there and went to Knossos (Κνωσός) for a more cultural experience. Since Knossos is about 5 kilometers out of the city, the city buses are going there. It was easily reachable and with a student card, you only have a small fee to enter the site.
There is very little shade on the archeological site, and so we recommend to take a lot of water with you and go either at the opening in the morning or in the evening.
After this excursion, we headed back to the city, checked out of our Airbnb, got out for one last Greek meal and headed towards the bus stop. There are a lot of buses going to the airport and we did not have any trouble getting one. Our flight took off at 3 AM on that night and the time to wait at the airport made us reflect on the past week.
Overall, this trip has been great. Not only because it was our first time in Greece, but because we got enough time to bond and enjoy each other’s company. It was the first time we would go somewhere, the three of us, and without our parents. And I never thought, years after, that I would remember all this so well and would cherish so many memories. Crete has been a great island for us to stay at, it is warm and sunny, there is the sea all over and so many different landscapes. There are plenty of things to do, and even without planning too much in advance, there are so many things to discover!