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Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

England
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Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

I have a few questions to help find which area of Crete is right for us. My boyfriend and I (both mid twenties) are planning to visit in late may for one week. We’re hoping for sunny weather and lots to see and do and Crete seems like one of the best choices for that. I am not sure which part of the island would suit us, I have seen Chania mentioned a lot – but it seems quite far away from beaches?

We are looking for somewhere with good food – a bit of variety with some good Greek restaurants. Not somewhere full of English restaurants etc but we are happy with a little bit of that. We’d like a sunny area with good beaches nearby. I know the sea is probably going to be cold in May, but we might be brave anyway.

We would like a town/area with Greek culture (no Malia or UK tourist haven, but still plenty to do) and we’re considering renting a car to get out and explore. We aren’t package tourist people – we tend to book and do everything independently. Is there an area like this which has some restaurants, shops, bars and things to do, but not ruined by tourism?

We are on somewhat of a budget as well as we’re going to Hawaii in September so need to keep spends low on this trip!

One final question – can you do a day trip to Santorini or is that ridiculous? I’m not sure how long ferries take or how often they come, haven’t done much research yet but thought I would ask so we know whether to scrap it from the list or not.

Thanks in advance!

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1. Re: Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

Hi ZuluGoose,

I visited Crete with my family last summer. We were in the Chania region and I would definitely recommend it if you´re looking for a true Greek experience. The port is beautiful and there are loads of authentic restaurants around there. There was an incredible fish restaurant (I´ll see if I can remember the name) in the port which I would also advise you to go to!

In terms of beaches, it´s only about 10 minutes drive from the town to the nearby beaches. For example, there´s one called Kalathas which we loved. It´s a huge hit with the locals (always a stamp of quality) and the young people seemed to love swimming out to the rock and jumping off it.

I hope this helps! I´m not too sure whether it would be possible to go to Santorini, I guess you´d probably have to leave a couple of days rather than just one

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2. Re: Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

Most people would suggest a resort on the north coast for first-time visitors, because it's so much easier to get around. But since beach and swimming seem to be high on your priority list, I'm going to suggest the south west coast. The air and sea temperatures are usually a bit warmer, the beaches are excellent, and the swimming in the clear blue Libyan sea a different experience. Not that there's anything wrong with swimming off the north coast - just that the Libyan Sea is incomparable. And not that cold in May!

These are places you might consider, from west to east:

Paleochora - a large-ish, very Cretan village with a wide choice of accommodation and eating places. Two beaches, one sandy, one pebbly, both good.

Sougia - a small Cretan village, with a not-so-wide but very good choice of accommodation, and about seven tavernas, all good. The best beach and the best swimming in Crete.

Loutro - a small, extremely picturesque village, noted for its food. Much given over to tourism now, but still lovely. A small beach, crowded in summer but fine in May, and great beaches an hour or so away, if you like walking (or you can go by small boat). There are no roads to Loutro, so staying there limits you to the ferry service: probably not a good choice for you. Scratch this.

Chora Sfakion - a very Cretan village, a bit schizophrenic because it sees thousands of visitors every day on their way to and from the Samaria gorge, but that only lasts half an hour or so in the morning and evening, and between those times it's just a nice Cretan village with a very nice small beach. Uncrowded, peaceful. Good accommodation, good food.

Frangokastello - a small place with a huge Venetian castle, excellent beaches. I don't know the accommodation or tavernas well enough to say, but most people who go there love it.

From Paleochora, Sougia, Chora Sfakion or Frangokastello you could do quite a bit of exploring of the nearby areas, villages, and mountains. It wouldn't be your typical tourist holiday, but it would be lovely. My personal favourite is Sougia, but Sougia might be a bit small for you.

You haven't said you like to walk, but there are great walks - coast, hills, gorges - in beautiful surroundings from all these places.

The north west coast coastal strip, west of Chania, is a succession of tourist resorts. They will all be fairly uncrowded in May, so if you're drawn to the Chania area it could be quite nice then. Chryssi Akti has the best of the beaches, and is also the closest to the city - walkable, about 2.5km Agia Apostoli, also fairly nearby, would be another good choice. If you wanted to stay in Chania itself you could easily get to them, and to beaches further west, with a rental car or by public bus, so don't discount it.

A day trip to Santorini is possible, though very expensive, from Heraklion. Not really an option with a short week-long stay on the west side of Crete. If Santorini is a priority, it would be better to stay near Heraklion - and split your week 5 days Crete, 2 days Santorini. But I would leave Santorini for another time and make the most of your week in Crete.

Edited: 20 March 2013, 10:57
3. Re: Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

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4. Re: Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

Clarification: I said that Sougia has a "not-so-wide" choice of accommodation. I meant not as wide as Paleochora, but it's quite wide enough - surprisingly so for a small village, and it's all good and all reasonably priced.

http://www.sougia.info/

In my west-to-east quick tour I omitted Agia Roumeli, between Sougia and Loutro, because it can be reached only by coastal ferry. But it might be worth considering for a completely peaceful and idyllic beach holiday. Like Chora Sfakion, it has a split personality: for a few hours in the afternoon it's full of walkers who have come down the Samaria Gorge, having lunch and going swimming. But they all go away on the late afternoon ferries to Chora Sfakion, Sougia, and Paleochora, leaving behind the quietest, most peaceful little Cretan village imageinable, in the most magnificent surroundings. Agia Roumeli is the end point of the Samaria gorge, and if you stayed there you could walk part of the way up it if you wanted to. Good accommodation, great food, and a sky full of the brightest stars you'll ever see.

Edited: 20 March 2013, 11:06
Aylesbury
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5. Re: Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

Yes Paleochora is a working town and quite authentic Crete, it's difficult having been, not to keep returning there lol and has many followers doing just that.

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6. Re: Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

Thanks for your replies - i will look into each area a little more tonight.

Regarding beaches - for me, I am happy with a beach that looks nice - i don't need to swim in it and will be happy with a hotel pool (should we have one.) My boyfriend is more of a beach swimmer but if it is too cold or too restrictive on the itinerary we can skip it.

I've seen Agios Nikolaos mentioned as well - is this really touristy/resorty or could it be another option?

I just want to find a balance between not too over commercial Malia/Benidorm style and not too sleepy that it becomes boring and we don't have much to do in the evenings.

If we went at the end of may (hopefully avoiding half term) - is it still going to be a bit chilly or is it definitely sunbathing weather by then?

I expect we will leave Santorini for another time as it may be a bit rushed - thanks for the advice!

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7. Re: Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

Not sure what your evenings would require but my wife and I have an evening meal over some glasses of wine and watch the world go by. This is mid May two years ago. We like walking and sun bathing during the day and I love taking photographs but you may perhaps want a more touristy place, only you can really decide but have a good holiday whereever you pick

holidayreviews.info/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=16

Edited: 20 March 2013, 16:57
Rethymnon, Greece
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8. Re: Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

A good balance of what you're asking is Rethymnon.

Pros:

1. The only city with in beach in town. You can find hotels just footsteps away from the beach and 15min walk from the heart of Rethymnon.

2. A fantastic traditional old town, narrow streets with and romantic restaurants.

3. It's between the two major cities Chania (40min drive) and Heraklion (1hour drive)

4. Has the shortest proximity to the south coast (45 min to Plakias). You can try the route Rethymnon Plakias Rodakino Fragocastelo Chora Sfakion. They all have outstanding beaches.

5. Your nights won't be dull. You will have any kind of night life you ask for. South coast is quiet and you are in your 20's.

Cons

It's further away than Chania to the south west coast of Chania which inarguably the most spectacular beaches of Crete like Falasarna, Balos, Elafonisi. Paleochora, Sougia Ag. Roumeli etc.

They choice is yours I hope I helped

Surrey, United...
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9. Re: Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

Hi there

In reply to your query about Agios Nikolaos - its a working greek town that is open all year round for the people that actually live here, so its just not a tourist resort.

However, during the season from May to October the town welcomes many tourist and much of the towns economy is based on tourism, there is also a good mix of nationalities too...with the minority of tourists being British. Agios has a good choice of tavernas, shops and beaches too, with town four beaches three of these being sandy.... and only a 15 min drive from the most beautiful beach on the north coast of Crete, the beautiful Voulisma beach with is amazing :-) with beautiful soft white sand.

Agios does have a lovely feel about the place, and definately feels very Greek, you are as likely to be sitting next to a greek family out for a family meal in one of the towns tavernas as you are a tourist.

Agios is very beautiful, with amazing views from most of the town, it is also only 45 mins drive from Heraklion airport, 50 mins drive Knossos and only 15 min drive from Spinalonga too..

Here is a couple of web site to give you more info on Agios, if I can help further then do just ask :-)

explorecrete.com/crete-east/Agios-Nikolaos.h…

http://www.agiosnikolaos.gr/

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10. Re: Which area of Crete is right for us? One week in May.

We stayed in Kalyves which is not too far from Chania or Rethymnon, but quieter (not too quiet, I personally prefer it really quiet) but on the plus side there were plenty of tavernas to choose from and it was an easy base to explore Crete (we hired a car - varied in price, MUCH cheaper on the outskirts of the little town than in the centre, but there were plenty of buses. There was also a lovely beach and lagoon. Crete is a great choice, plenty to do and see, you will have a great time! :)