Looking for quick tips to plan your next trip to Crete and Santorini? Check out our Itinerary and some practical info that can be useful to inspire you in organize your travel in two of the most beautiful Greek Islands!
DAY 0 – direct flight Pisa-Chania (Ryan air)
Nigth in Chania (Evans House Apartment)
DAY 1: 80km (approx 2h) - Elafonisi Beach - 80km (approx 2h) - Chania (city old center and sunset)
Nigth in Chania (Evans House Apartment)
DAY 2: 40km - cruise to Balos Lagoon and beach and Gramvousa island
(by boat from Kissamos with Cretan Daily Cruise ) – 40km back in Chania
Nigth in Chania (Evans House Apartment)
DAY 3: 90km - Moni Preveli (monastery and beach)– 10km - Myrthios (lunch at Taverna Panorama overlooking the Libyan sea) –5km Kourtaliotis Church and Gorge (quick stop for photos) -30km -Rethymno - 80km Heraklion
Night in Heraklion ( Candia Suites & Rooms)
DAY 4: fast boat Crete (Heraklion Port) to Santorini (Athinios Port) (Seajet - 8-9,50 am)– Santorini: Red Beach -Akrotiri lighthouse- Pyrgos - Oia (visit of the village, sunset, dinner with view to Apsithia Restaurant)
Night in Santorini (Asterolithos Hotel in Fira)
DAY 5: Santorini: boat tour from Old Port Fira to Nea Kamena (trekking to volcano), swimming in Hot springs, Thirasia Island) - Imerovigli (visit of the village, sunset, dinner with view to Blue Note Restaurant)
Night in Santorini (Asterolithos Hotel in Fira)
DAY 6: Santorini: Emporio (village and windmills) -swim in the black beach of Vlychada/Perissa - Firostefani - Fira
Fast boat from Santorini to Crete/Heraklion (Seajet 4.40-6.35pm)
Night in Heraklion ( Candia Suites & Rooms)
DAY 7 - Knossos Palace (Heraklion) - Geropotamos beach - Seitan Limania – Stavros beach – direct flight back Chania - Pisa (Ryan Air)
We have been in Crete and Santorini at the beginning of June and it was a very good moment because it wasn’t too hot neither to crowded. Another good period is September/October.
PLACE BY PLACE
... crystal clear sea, fine white and pink sand: this one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete! In front of the main beach, don't miss the small island of Elafonisi, reachable on foot!
... our travel in Crete starts from here and I would say that this indeed a good start!
- Elafonisi is in part free and in part equipped (cost for one umbrella and 2 beach beds:15euro) and there is a free parking
-to arrive to Elafonisi from Chania consider approx 2h by car because only the first part of the street is a highway and the rest is a tiny street
In the historical center of Chania, don't miss:
- the Venetian old harbour with the colourful houses and many restaurants and pubs
- the walk to the lighthouse (ideally at sunset)
- Firkas fortress
Beaches nearby Chania: Seitan Limania e Stavros
Nearby Chania, do not miss the awesome Seitan Limania, a wild bay of white sand bathed by turquoise sea and enclosed between two cliffs, which create a truly suggestive landscape. The beach can be reached by a steep path of about 20 minutes downhill (and then uphill on the way back) from the parking. Bring water and food with you, as there is absolutely nothing nearby.
Another wonderful beach near Chania (less wild and partly equipped) is Stavros Beach ... gold sand and crystal clear sea ... perfect for spending a relaxing day at the sea or as we did, for a last swim before heading to Chania airport which is only 9km away.
…a tiny wild island in front of Balos Lagoon… white sand, turquoise sea, on old Venetian fortress above the natural harbour overlooking the sea and the wreck of a ship ..what else?
Gramvousa is also called the island of pirates ... it is said that their treasure is still hidden there somewhere!
Once you arrive on the island, don't just bathe in its turquoise sea (even if the temptation is very high ), but take also the path until the Venetian fortress .. it's about twenty minutes uphill under the sun, but the view from there is incredible and it worths the effort!!
- Cretan daily cruise to Gramvousa island and Balos: cost per person 27euro; you can buy the ticket at the Kissamos harbour or online (https://www.cretandailycruises.com/explorecruises/gramvousabalos.en.html) ; several boats every day in the morning from 10.40am (to avoid to wait or to find the boats full, we suggest you to book the cruise online or at the ticket office at Kissamos harbour at least 1day in advance). In Kissamos harbour there is a free parking for your car.
- if you have the possibility and more time, we suggest you to visit Lobos and Gromvousa in 2 different days to enjoy the visit of these natural paradises with more calm
- to arrive to the Venetian fortress in Gramvousa island take the path from the harbour: it is 20 min uphill under the sun but the view from there is incredible and it worths the effort !
Balos Lagoon and Beach
… during a trip to Crete you cannot miss this place! You will be speechless in front of this white beach bathed by a crystal clear sea that form a sort of natural pool and surrounded by a breathtaking landscape!
- Balos Lagoon is located about forty km from Chania and can be reached by boat from Kissamos, as we did (about 1h30 hour and for all the info on daily cruises check the section regarding Gramvousa Island) or by car + path of 20/30 min from the parking (from the path there is a spectacular view from above on Balos, but consider that the final part of the road is unpaved and quite bumpy so at high risk for the tires of your car!)
- if you arrive in Balos with the boat, to enjoy the amazing view on Balos from the above, just take the path until the parking (approx 20min uphill)
Preveli is famous for:
1) Moni Preveli, a monastery overlooking the Lybian sea and a memorial of the monks who helped Allied soldiers escape during the Second World War
2) Preveli beach (known also as "Palm Beach") located at the end of a gorge crossed by a river surrounded by a palm trees forest
A Greek tiny village from which to admire breathtaking views over Lybia and taste the homemade Cretan cuisine: we suggest you to try Panorama Taverna for a delicious typical lunch with a breathtaking view!!
Our Top 3 in Rethymno:
- getting lost in the narrow streets of the old town
- Admire the view from the ramparts of the Venetian fortress
- arrive to the lighthouse for a suggestive view of the Venetian harbour
Heraklion is the perfect base to take the fast boat to Santorini and visit Knossos Palace, but frankly speaking the town is quite modern and there is not much to see. This is a technical night to be here the day after and be able to take an early ferry to Santorini and once come back to Santorini to be near the Knossos Palace and visit it the day after.
If you have the car and plan to visit Santorini as we have done, we suggest you the long term parking at the port : 3euro per day.
Palace of Knossos
The Palace of Knossos is located about 6 km from Heraklion. Today it is possible to visit the ruins and some well-preserved frescoes of the ancient sumptuous palace which was an important political, religious and economic center of the Minoan civilization.
It is assumed that around 1700 BC, a terrible tsunami caused by the eruption of the volcano of Santorini, destroyed all the palaces in the island of Crete, including that of Knossos which was later rebuilt.
The palace of Knossos is linked to the ancient classic Greek myths. The Legend said that Minosse, king of Crete, built a labyrinth to enclose the Minotauro born from the union of his wife with a bull. Every year 7 boys and 7 girls had to be given in sacrifice to the Minotauro (who had the head of a bull and the body of a human). Among these youngs was Teseo, son of the Athenian king. Arianna, daughter of Minosse and Pasiphae, fell in love with him and so at the entrance to the labyrinth she gave to Teseo the famous thread that would allow him not to lose in the labyrinth and with a sword Teseo killed the Minotauro.
-we suggest to arrive to Knosso early to avoid the queues and the groups arriving from the cruises as well as the hotter hours
- Opening hours: 8am -8pm in summer
- Tickets: 15 euro per person (tickets can be purchased online at https://etickets.tap.gr/ or at the ticket office at the entrance of the site)
- Free parking
Fira is not only a charming seaside village overlooking the Caldera, but also in good position to explore Santorini, as it is located approx. in the center of the island as well as near to both ports (Athinios, where the ferries arrives and the old port of Fira where there is the departure of many boat tours to the islands in the caldera). In Fira the costs of the hotel are reasonable and you can find there many agencies renting scooters, organizing excursions… so at the end of the day, it is surely a good base to visit Santorini.
Have a look to the below section “Practical info” for more details that can be useful to organize your travel in Santorini
Blue sea, black pebble beach surrounded by a red cliff that create a unique landscape ... for us, the most beautiful beach on the island!
From Red beach is possible to reach by taxi boat (every 30 min) also the nearby White Beach that it is nice!
Others bigger and equipped beaches (all of black sand) are: Perissa and Vlychada. For us a little bit too turistic and we prefer without any doubts the wild Red Beach
If there is a lighthouse, we certainly do not miss it .. with the scooter you can reach the southern point of Santorini to see it … and from there enjoy the view on the caldera!
We have been there in the afternoon, but from the lighthouse it is possible to see also the sunset.
One of the smaller villages of Santorini, less crowded, and plenty of very nice corners … stop at least for a quick stop!
One of the most photographed villages, not only in Santorini, but perhaps in all the Greek Island .. Oia is really full of breathtaking views, as well as one of the best spots to see the famous sunset over the Caldera, but there is a BUT for us ... too crowded who loses its authenticity and not so easy to find a nice restaurant free and at a reasonable price!
-To see the famous Santorini’s sunset in a more relaxed and authentic atmosphere, we suggest you Imerovigli or Firostefani instead of Oia
- Oia is very beautiful, but very expensive for hotels and restaurants, crowded and to visit the other beauties of the island not in the best position. For us, better to opt for Fira or Imerovigli, as base in Santorini
- a good restaurant with view and reasonable prices in Oia is Apsithia Restaurant. We are not sponsored by but we have just tried it and we suggest it
Nea Kameni (Volcano)
The best way to visit the islands in the caldera is to take part to a boat tour
Nea Kameni - Palea Kameni – Thirasia together with the main island (Thira) is what it is remained of Santorini after the terrible explosion of its volcano in 1628 b.c.
First stop of our boat tour: Nea Kameni for the trekking on the volcano ! An incredible experience and the view from there, really breathtaking
- boat tour to Nea Kameni (trekking to volcano), swimming in Hot Springs (Palea Kameni ) ,Thirasia Island): cost per person 30euro.
You can book the tour (at least 1 day in advance) in one of the many agencies in the Center of Fira.
The tour stars at 10.30 and ends at 16.30 in the Old Port of Fira
-you can reach the Old Port of Fira by walk (approx 600 stairs/30min) or by the cable car (6euro per person). Downhill is feasible and also pleasant but uphill especially under the hot sun, surely better the cable car. There are also the donkeys that bring you up and down from/to Fira/Fira Old Port, but please avoid it as it is a torture for the donkeys
- trekking to the volcano: approx 30/40 min uphill and 20min downhill. Trekking shoes/sandals (avoid flip flop ) and hat, suntan cream are recommended. Bring with you some water, since on the island there is nothing
After the trekking on the volcano in Nea Kameni island, a quick stop for a swim in the ferrous waters at 27 degrees of Hot Springs in Palea Kameni island, then we head to the third stop of our boat tour: the island of Thirasia!
At Thirasia, we have three options:
1- get to the village of Manolas on the top of the cliff (30min uphill under the sun)
2- a delicious fish lunch in one of the seaside restaurants at the port: the specialty is grilled fish (octopus, squid, shrimps, sword fish…)
3-have a swim in the natural harbour (the water is crystal clear, but the bottom is rocky and you need to pay attention to the sea urchins)
We opted for the sea view fish lunch!
We finish the day in the lovely Imerovigli, getting lost in the picturesque alleys, enjoying the postcard views at every corners and the breathtaking views on the caldera, waiting for the sunset.
Here it is much less crowded and more authentic than the more famous Oia ... we definitely recommend it to watch the sunset in a more relaxed atmosphere!
Unfortunately the clouds rose over the horizon and we didn't see the sunset, but we happy ending the evening with a delicious dinner and a superlative view on the caldera at the Blue Note Restaurant! (And even at a super honest price that doesn't hurt )
A very small village where time seems to have stopped and life goes by slowly .. get lost in its well-kept tiny alleys… and for a particular view? Arrive on the opposite hill where you can still see a series of windmills overlooking the sea of the southern coast Thira as well as Emporio
Latest hours in Santorini before taking the boat and come back to Crete ... the view on the caldera from Firostefani is truly breathtaking!
Choose Crete for the sea: it is truly spectacular… turquoise and crystalline water almost everywhere! While in Santorini, the sea is beautiful, but nothing special; the island, however, from the point of view of natural views and villages is unique and breathtaking
A week between Crete and Santorini, so it's the perfect mix between visits and the sea!
-Chania is not only a charming seaside village, but also a good base for exploring the west part of the island, where most of the beauties of Crete are located. In Chania is located also near one of the 2 airports in Crete (the other one is Heraklion)
-our base in Chania: Evans House Apartment, nice and walking distance from the Venetian old harbour (10min) ! You can park freely your car in the public street near the apartment
-To move around Crete, we undoubtedly recommend renting a car, as it is quite big.
In June, we have rent the car (Nissan Micra/Opel Corsa category) for the entire week with pick up and drop off in Chania Airport for 290 euro with Sixt (with insurance with a limitation of responsibility until maximum 800euro).
In fact, even if for 3 days we have been in Santorini it would have been more expensive to rent the car only the days we needed it, due to the drop off in different locations. During our stay in Santorini, we have parked our car in the long term parking for car at Heraklion Port for 3 euro per day, very convenient!
- Crete tend to be windy.
-restaurants in Crete: do not miss a lunch at Taverna Panorama a Myrthios overlooking the Libyan sea to taste the homemade Cretan cuisine in a wonderful scenario
-Unmissable Beaches in Crete (South /west): Elafonisi Beach, Balos Lagoon &Beach, Gramvousa Island; Preveli Beach (known as Palm Beach); Seitan Limania; Stavros Beach; Falasarna Beach; Matala Beach
- from Athinios Port (where ferries and fast boats arrive) you have 3 options to reach upper Santorini: public bus (cheap, but the queues are long and they are often in late), taxi or mini private bus (quite expensive but faster).
We have opted for a mini private bus (booked by our hotel at cost of 25euro for 2 persons).
The road to upper Santorini is very steep and dangerous for scooter, so not advisable at all.
Especially during the weekend and in pic season, due to the enormous traffic to reach Athinios Port consider to depart from Fira at least a couple of hour before your boat departure
-the best way to visit Santorini is to rent a scooter. Important: to drive a scooter 50c the licence driver B (for car) is sufficient ; for 125c is requested the licence A for moto.
We rent a scooter to Motor Inn (www.motorinn.gr) at 73euro for 3days
-hotel in Santorini: a good compromise for costs and position is to book an hotel in Fira (our choice Astherolitos Hotel). Another good option is Imerovigli, still in a good position, costs are reasonable and the village is very nice, picturesque and for us even better of the more famous Oia to see the sunset. Oia is very beautiful, but too expensive, crowded and to visit the other beauties of the island not in the best position.
-restaurants in Santorini: our choices, Blue Note Restaurant in Imerovigli and Apsithia Restaurant in Oia. Both restaurants with an amazing view on the caldera and with a good balance quality-price!
-where to see the most beautiful views on the caldera and the typical churches with blue roofs that are a the symbol of Santorini: Imerovigli, Firostefani and Oia
-beaches in Santorini (all with black sand/pebbles): Red Beach, White beach, Perissa/Vlychada
For more info on these places have a look on the posts in June/July 2022 on our IG page @2intour
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