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1 week in early April

Aberdeen, United...
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1 week in early April

Hello everybody,

my partner and myself are flying to Chania in early April. Our departure is also from Chania, 7 days later. I have not booked any accommodations yet, therefore we are flexible, however our budget is quite tight.

We're both in mid-twenties and are looking to experience Crete as much as possible. We would love to see famous sandy beaches, architecture, landscapes etc.

We were planning to visit Samaria Gorge, although it is very unlikely that it will be possible in early April. Could we hike only the half way, as I read on other topics? Would Imbros Gorge be an alternative? Could you please advise us about any other hill walking experience in White Mountains worth considering?

It is certain that we will spend at least 2 days on visiting the city of Chania. Should we look for accommodation in the city centre or on outskirts, with a good bus transfers?

For the rest of our journey (3-4 days), we are planning to rent a car and travel to other parts of an island. When renting and returning car in Chania we can either chose from two options:

* Make a loop by going west and south visiting Kissamos, Falassarna, Elafonissi, Paleohora and Omalos.

* Go east and visit Lake of Kournas, Rethimno, Iraklio, Knossos, Matala and back.

Which of the above two would you recommend? Please feel free to share your thoughts!

If you're able to answer any of the the above questions, please do so. Thank you for all your help!

Tom

Plakias, Greece
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1. Re: 1 week in early April

Hi Tom

A great walk is Aradhena Gorge, much more impressing than Imbros gorge.

In Chania I would look for a hotel at the harbour, it is very romantic and you will never forget it, and in April the hotels will not yet be expensive.

Have a nice trip,

Monica

Devizes, United...
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2. Re: 1 week in early April

Hi there Tom

The Samaria is closed usually until the start of May - loads of winter rain this year will mean it's unsafe to walk until any final chance of flash floods have passed, regardless of which way you want to walk it. Bear in mind that early April in Crete can see the weather rather changeable - you might have dry, bright days with warmish sunshine or you could get gales, driving rain and high seas ( I have experienced the latter in early May).

You'd be better off with a hotel in the centre of Chania, that way you are close to the bus station and will avoid a lengthy walk or even a taxi ride to the terminus. No need to book so early in the year, you'll have no issues finding a bed for the night. Bus schedules are reduced until May so you might find that some areas are difficult to reach, particularly the more rural ones.

As regards which route to take, seeing as your preference is to visit beaches, then the first one looks like it'll suit you best. Having said that, although undeniably pretty, they are at the end of it just beaches, and it'll be way too cold for swimming in April. Personally, if this is your first trip to Crete, I would favour option #2 as it allows access to many more of the island's top sights and once around the Matala area, you have access to many other ancient sites.

Then add the wonderful sights in Iraklion itself, plus the proximity to Malia Palace, Spinalonga island, lovely inland towns/villages such as Archanes, Neapoli and Kritsa, and pretty harbour villages like Sissi and Milatos, then I think option #2 gives you a) more scope and b) offers a much more representative view of Crete, but of course, that's just my opinion. There are lots of lovely beaches in this part of the island, the beach at Istro, south of Agios Nikolaos is one of the best on Crete.

Surrey, United...
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3. Re: 1 week in early April

Hi there

Just do be aware that the weather can be very cold/wet at this time of year, you are also travelling "out of season" so any "resorts" will still be closed down for the winter, so you would be best to base yourselves in the large Greek working towns of Chania,Rethymnon, Herkalion, Agios Nikolaos or Sitia.

Harbin, China
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for Kanchanaburi
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4. Re: 1 week in early April

Hi Tom,

I would like to echo the concerns of both GB and MG regarding the weather in April. In April, it is not possible to hike half way down or half way up the Samaria gorge since it is closed. Way above the top of the Samaria gorge is the Kallergi mountain refuge which is managed by the EOS, the Greek Mountaineering Club. It has both a track for vehicles and a footpath leading to it. You may be able to stay in the refuge but I believe the winter this year has been particularly harsh and there could be snow up there. From the top of the gorge, in the opposite direction is a path which leads up to Mount Gingilos, about a 2.5 hour walk to the top.

If you decide on Kalergi or Gingilos you will need to get some input regarding the hiking/weather conditions.

Washingon DC area
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5. Re: 1 week in early April

Great advice from Monica - the harbor in Chania is unforgettable. Both places I've stayed - Hotel Loukia and Casa Venezia - were ideal and inexpensive (though I think Casa Venezia only has one room with a balcony).

If you want to get in some good hiking, you could head to Chora Sfakia and walk to Loutro along the coast. I thought it more spectacular than Samaria, but my prejudice is more towards the water than inland.

Edited: 18 March 2012, 20:12
Sale, United Kingdom
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6. Re: 1 week in early April

Hi

You may find some of the info on here of interest:

tripadvisor.co.uk/…39499064

I would recommend a visit to Omalos - you may well be able to walk up to Kallergi, and enjoy the spectacular views - and if it is open, no doubt you will be welcomed with a tray of raki ;) You can get there either by walking straight up the track from the Xroads about 1km before the top of Samaria, or directly on the path which starts at the top of Samaria. either way, make sure you do go to the top of the gorge - it will be beautiful, and even though the gorge won't be open, the cafe there may well be, and there is a viewing platform, car park etc.

Edited: 18 March 2012, 21:57
London, United...
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7. Re: 1 week in early April

The Samaria Gorge is never wholly open until the beginning of May at the earliest. In the last few years they have tried to get the bottom section open by mid-April, but it has never been even part way open before 15 April, so I'm afraid you'll have to forget that.

The Imbros Gorge is lovely: not unlike Samaria, but only about half as long, so a much easier walk, and a very pleasant one; and it's walkable unless it's raining (if it rains, you shouldn't walk in any gorge, because of the danger of loose rocks falling). If you drive to Imbros, you'll either have to walk back up the gorge to collect your car, or get a taxi (probably around 30 euros: it was 20 several years ago and is sure to be more expensive now).

I'll have to add a caution to Monika's suggestion: the Aradhena Gorge is spectacular, and quite special. But it is not a "walk": for a large part of the time you're clambering down (or up) rock falls, and it is quite demanding, so not to be attempted unless you're used to that sort of thing and are pretty fit. The waymarking can be difficult to follow in places, and after this unusually savage winter there will be fallen trees to negotiate. Nor is it for anyone with vertigo: a precipitous path along the side of the gorge has replaced the 30 meter iron ladder that used to be the only way down the biggest of the rock falls, but it's fairly hairraising: I know people who have had to turn back and walk back up. If it's your first time in Crete, and aren't au fait with the terrain, I wouldn't do it.

You'd have to stay in Loutro to access the Aradhena Gorge, and it is a very long day: climbing up to 700 meters from sea level to Anopolis, across to the abandoned village of Aradhena, down the gorge to Marmara Beach, and back along the coast to Loutro. A terrific day out, a good eight hours of walking and scrambling, so you need to be sure you're up to it.

If you did stay in Loutro, there are lots more great walks in the area; the whole of the coast, between Chora Sfakion and Agia Roumelli, is spectacular. But if you choose to explore this area, you won't have time to anywhere else, as you've only got a week.

Edited: 18 March 2012, 22:00
Aberdeen, United...
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8. Re: 1 week in early April

Thank you very much for all the replies !

We have decided to go east and south from Chania.

The following is a draft of our journey:

1. Arrive at Chania Airport and rent a car. Drive to Rethimno and stay there for 1 night, visiting Lake of Kournas on the way. Should we rent a car in advance or once we get there?

2. Next day drive to Iraklio and stay for the night somewhere with a good access to the city centre and parking.

3. After checkout, visit Knossos and drive down south to Matala (1 night) to see the cliffs and caves etc.

4. Next morning we would like to drive to Chora Sfakion. Around noon, walk along the coast to Loutro and came back to Chora Sfakion with an evening Ferry. Is the ferry operating in April?

5. On the next day, catch an early bus to Imbros and walk down the Imbros Gorge. Is the bus operating in April / on weekends?

6. Drive back to Chania, return the car and stay somewhere around the city.

7. Take a bus to Chania Airport and departure.

Please feel free to share your toughts about the above. Is it not too much for 6 and a half days? Would you add some interesting sites on the way?

We are also wondering if to book accommodation in advance for peace of mind and fixed prices. Or we could make a list of hotels, B&Bs etc. and decide where to go once we are there and know weather forecast.

Thank you so much.

Tom

Harbin, China
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9. Re: 1 week in early April

Hi,

If for some reason there are no ferries running between Loutro and Sfakia I suggest you drive to Anapolis (a few kms from Sfakia) and leave your car there. It is possible to walk down to Loutro from Anapolis and at least you would be sure of seeing something of Loutro. I wouldn't book any hotels etc provided your stay on Crete does not coincide with Easter, the 15th April.

Washingon DC area
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10. Re: 1 week in early April

I think you've put together a very nice trip. Active maybe, but not that hectic. While there's no need to book ahead at that time, it does make things a little easier if you know where you're going to stay.

Two hotels I found very nice:

Matala: Nikos Hotel http://www.matala-nikos.com/

Chora Sfakia Lefka Ori http://www.chora-sfakion.com/index.php?p=1

Ferries should be running that time of year:

sfakia-crete.com/sfakia-crete/ferries.html#1