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Crete May or September?

Mason City, Iowa
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Crete May or September?

My wife and I would like to hike the Samaria Gorge, laze in the sun, see the sights, etc. we'll have a car. We've been to Crete before hitting Heraklion, Agios Nikalos, side of the island. So question number one is which month (May or September) is a better month to visit Crete? Question number two, where would be a good place to base for a week or so...

As always, your help is greatly appreciated!

jdmckay

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Samaria Hotel
Samaria Hotel
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Crete, Greece
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Washingon DC area
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1. Re: Crete May or September?

It probably depends on your preferences. In May, the wildflowers will be out; in September the water will be cooler.

Best choice of a base would include Chania - a truly beautiful harbor town, Paleochora or Sougia, which is quite a bit smaller than Paleochora. You could do the gorge hike from any of those.

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Chania Town
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Crete, Greece
Mason City, Iowa
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2. Re: Crete May or September?

Thanks...Wouldn't the water be warmer in September following the summer's heat? I'll look into Paleochora and Sougia. Would Rethymon be another option?

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3. Re: Crete May or September?

>In May, the wildflowers will be out; in September the water will be cooler.<

Not entirely true.

You'd have to be lucky to see much in the way of wild flowers in May. At sea level I'm afraid they're often dried up and gone by then if the Spring has been hot, which it often is. You'd have to get to a higher altitude to be sure of seeing them. The Anopolis plain, at 700m, is a wonderful place to search wild flowers. Having said that, I've known Mays when the early Spring has been cool, and the flowers have lasted - but they're rarely as profuse as they are in April.

In September the sea is warmer than it is in May, having had all summer to warm up. It doesn't begin to cool off until October, and even then, it is warmer than in May. In May it's still pretty cool.

Having said all that, May and September are - I think - equally good months to be in Crete. It's warm, but not too hot, so perfect for walking. If the Samaria Gorge is a priority, September is safer: the gorge is almost always open by 1 May, but if there has been a hard, wet winter (which this past winter has been) it may open later, when all the necessary repairs are done.

Sougia and Paleochora would both be good bases for the gorge in September. Sougia, much as I love Sougia, would not be a good choice in May. Last May the bus to Omalos went only twice a week (I was there for a week and it rained in the gorge on both days, so there was no bus on either day) and that is usually the case until the tourist season really gets going in June. I'm not sure about Paleochora: someone else may know. September is still high season, so the buses should run every day from both. Chania is a good base at any time, and it is always possible to get to Omalos either with a tour or by public bus.

Edited: 22 February 2012, 21:39
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4. Re: Crete May or September?

Our posts crossed.

You'll see I've answered your question about the water: yes, warmer in September.

Rethymnon is a nice town, with a lovely centre, and yes, it would be a good base. The trip to Omalos will take longer than from Chania, but there's not much in it.

You can't do the Samaria trip by car. You'd have to leave it at Omalos and return by bus or taxi to fetch it the next day. Once you've walked down the gorge, you go by ferry to Chora Sfakion and thence by bus to Chania, and there is no bus from Chania to Omalos in the afternoon. I don't think anybody does this. If you stay in Chania (or Rethymnon) your choice is between a tour and the public bus.

Sougia and Paleochora are undoubtedly the best places to walk the gorge from, because once the ferry has brought you back there, you're there: no two-hour bus journey back to Chania. But in Sougia you do run the risk in May of not being able to get there at all (see above). I'm not sure about Paleochora, as I said.

If you decide on September, Sougia would be my choice: a small, friendly village with friendly people and good food, beautiful mountain surroundings, and good walks in the area.

Edited: 22 February 2012, 21:47
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Rethymnon
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Crete, Greece
Chania Town
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5. Re: Crete May or September?

sorry - meant to say warmer.

Mason City, Iowa
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6. Re: Crete May or September?

Thanks for all the input. I've got a lot of researching to do. If we base in Chania (We'll probably fly in from Athens to there), are there any particular favorites for hotels or apartments?

Thanks again. The support on the Greek TA's have always been awesome!

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Athens
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7. Re: Crete May or September?

Last Sept I spent a couple nights at the Hotel Loukia at the beginning of my trip and then 3 nights at Casa Venezia at the end. Both were very nice, but when I go back I'll stay at the Casa Venezia, as long as I can get the apt with the balcony.

Mason City, Iowa
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8. Re: Crete May or September?

Thanks, I'll check it out. I plan to have a car the entire time. Will that be a problem?

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9. Re: Crete May or September?

I can't see any reason why having a car would be a problem. It'll give you great flexibility, regardless of where you end up staying. From Chania, you'll be able to drive to Aptera (if ancient sites are an interest), Elafonissi - if gorgeous beaches are of interest, etc.

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Chania Town
Chania Town
Crete, Greece
Mason City, Iowa
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10. Re: Crete May or September?

Parking in Chania isn't a problem then? Of course, I'll check out whether various hotels have parking available.

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Chania Town
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Crete, Greece