We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Western Crete itinerary mid-september

Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
49 posts
Save Topic
Western Crete itinerary mid-september

Hello, I am looking for some itinerary refinement. We fly in/out of Chania and can stay only seven nights. We are an active couple and have been to Athens and Cyclades in the past.

We will have a car and are focusing on western Crete and have the below itinerary...

--3 nights Chania Villa Andromeda -- Day trip Samaria Gorge

--3 nights Milia Mountain retreat -- Day trip Elafonisi Beach

--1 night Chania for 6am departure

Highest on our list are Samaria, Elafonisi Beach and lots of Cretan food. We don't like to move around too much, but do want a full experience. With our current plans, I don't think we have time to visit Rethymnon or Heraklion.

My main questions...

Are we limiting ourselves with our current itinerary in terms of variety?

Are we missing any other must see areas, like Rethymnon or the southern coast?

Any advice is appreciated.

London, United...
Level Contributor
18,231 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Western Crete itinerary mid-september

You're missing an awful lot, to answer your question, but you can't see everything in a week, and I think your plan is a very good one: you're wise not to try to see too much. You've also chosen your accommodation well: Milia is said to be wonderful.

You *will* see part of the southwest coast, on the spectacular ferry journey from Agia Roumeli to Chora Sfakion after your walk down the Samaria Gorge.

If I were to make one change in your plan, I'd say omit Elafonisi, which will still be covered in sunbeds in mid-September, and do something else that day. My choice would be to stay overnight in Agia Roumeli, a very quiet, peaceful village once the walkers have mostly gone, with good food and a skyfull of stars, and spend the next day relaxing on Agia Roumeli's wonderful beach. Even better, if you still have the legs for it, walk for 1.5 hours to Agios Pavlos, an even better beach. Not a sunbed in sight, the best swimming on the island, and an excellent taverna to have a good lunch in. Then take the late afternoon ferry from Agia Roumeli to Chora Sfakion, just a day later than you would have otherwise. This would be a much better experience, I think, than Elafonisi, which is beautiful, but very popular, very busy, and very spoiled now.

If you don't want to spend a night away from your accommodation, then maybe a visit to Rethymnon, or a trip to the three monasteries on Akrotiri.

Chania Town, Greece
Level Contributor
1,414 posts
43 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Western Crete itinerary mid-september

Sounds perfect to me! You could go to Paleochora or to Sougia for the day from Milia, if you can tear yourselves away for a 2nd day out! (I wouldn't personally, I'd just enjoy Milia & the surrounding countryside, maybe just take a walk. it's beautiful.) & as you're close to Elefonisi there, I'd suggest going fairly early in the day to enjoy it before it gets full of tourists around lunchtime. You may want to drop in to Monastery Chrissoskalitses, near to Elefonisi, or to villages like Kandanos & Elos, both quite famous in the region, very traditional.

Chania, Greece
Level Contributor
946 posts
1 review
Save Reply
3. Re: Western Crete itinerary mid-september

Good plan! You are wiser than most Americans who seem to want to consume so much of Crete in so little time.

Re. Elafonisi: either go very early (leaving Milia no later than 8.00) or in the latter part of the afternoon. But even if you were to go to Elafonisi in the middle of the day you could avoid 95% of the crowds by wading to the island and walking for around 15 minutes.

You mention being into good food. Check out these guys (friends of mine) who also offer activities at Milia http://www.natour-lab.gr/

London, United...
Level Contributor
18,231 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Western Crete itinerary mid-september

Re-reading your post, I see that you'll be hiring a car. You do realise, don't you, that you can't use it for your trip to the Samaria Gorge?

The start of the walk is at Omalos, the end is at Agia Roumeli, from where you'll take the ferry to Chora Sfakion and the bus back to Chania. If you took the car to Omalos you'd have to leave it there, and return by bus the next day to collect it, as there would be no way (other than a taxi) to get to Omalos the same evening.

Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
49 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Western Crete itinerary mid-september

Thank you all for the advice. I am feeling better about our itinerary.

I have read much on the Samaria Gorge trip from Chania by bus. Will the bus be crowded in mid-september either on the outbound or return route? I got the impression that it can be an uncomfortable ride if there is standing room only.

London, United...
Level Contributor
18,231 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Western Crete itinerary mid-september

Yes, the bus can be crowded, and mid-September is still high season.

You can avoid having to stand by getting to the Chania bus station early, so that you can be among the first to board the bus. On the return journey, aim to be one of the first off the ferry from Agia Roumeli. Descend to the lower deck before you dock in Chora Sfakion, and you'll get a seat on the bus.

Another option is to book one of the excursions. It will cost a little more, but it will save you all the bother of buying your tickets, and the uncertainty about standing on the bus, as there will be seats for everyone on the tour coach. Going with an excursion doesn't mean you have to walk in a group: the guide will tell you where to meet up in Agia Roumeli so that s/he can count heads, and you'll walk independently at your own pace.

Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
49 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Western Crete itinerary mid-september

Thank you Alabastron. The booked excursions seem to be a little less hassle during the September time period. Regarding your earlier suggestion of an overnight in Agia Roumeli...we would need to carry our overnight gear with us on our walk through the gorge. Based on what I have read on some sites about the strenuous gorge walk, that concerns me a bit.

London, United...
Level Contributor
18,231 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Western Crete itinerary mid-september

I suggested an overnight stay in Agia Roumeli because it adds immeasurably to the experience of the gorge if you spend a quiet evening and night in a peaceful village, and a relaxed next day on an empty beach, instead of instantly rushing back to Chania.

The walk is long, and can be tiring, but if you're reasonably fit it isn't particularly strenuous, and it's all downhill on a well-maintained path. If you're not camping, a toothbrush plus tiny quantities of other basic toiletries might be all the overnight gear you need, and won't weigh much. I wouldn't let that put you off, if you wanted to do it.

But if you're going to do it as a day trip, yes, the organised excursions save hassle.

Have you read some of the previous threads about the gorge? However you decide to go, what you really do need are good quality walking shoes or boots, with thick soles to cushion your feet against the constant impact of the river bed stones, and deep tread, to avoid slipping.

Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
49 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: Western Crete itinerary mid-september

Thank you Alabastron for the comments. This has been very helpful.

Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
49 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Western Crete itinerary mid-september

Alabastron, I have been thinking about your comments the past few weeks and I am rethinking our itinerary. I am thinking I would prefer a seaside village/taverna environment rather than the mountin retreat I had planned on. Can you comment on these two options.

After a couple nights in Chania, instead of heading to Milia....

1. Drive in rental car from Chania to Paleochora for three nights. One day, Take the bus to Omalos and hike down Samaria Gorge and ferry from Agia Roumeli back to Paelochora. Another day ferry to Elafonisi beach for the day.

2. Bus from Chania to either Paleochora or Skafia for a night. Ferry to Agia Roumeli for two nights and hike the Samaria Gorge in reverse. Then bus back to Chania for our last night.

I am debating between staying in one village for three nights or moving around and how much value a car has.

Any advice is appreciated?