Using the town of Chania as your base, this extraordinarily diverse region of Crete spreads out before you. An 8-day road trip explores the best of the region’s beaches and mountains, including outdoor activities such as SUP-ing and hiking, and taps into the authenticity of the famously welcoming locals and their traditions. It can be enjoyed any time from April to October, with the quieter and cooler months either side of peak summer being even more special.
Feel free to lengthen or shorten your trip depending on your time and interests. And note that all distances include daily return trips to Chania town, which you can opt not to do if you find nearby accommodation along the way.
Whether you pick up a car at Chania Airport (50min flight from Athens) or arrive by boat from Piraeus (around 8hrs to the Port of Souda), the first day of your road trip will be spent largely on foot. The town of Chania has everything to get you in the mood – culture, monuments, shops and a wonderful introduction to the food you’ll enjoy throughout your stay.
A stroll around the Old Town
All the history, charm and life of Chania is packed into the Old Town, where you could spend hours exploring the picturesque little alleyways and shops and cafes. There are remnants of Chania’s rich history everywhere – the Grand Arsenal by the dockyards, the Giali Tzamisi Mosque and the Venetian Firkas Fortress (from where you’ll catch your first glimpse of the harbour and Chania’s White Mountains) amongst them.
Images of the impossibly beautiful lagoon of Balos, on the north-westernmost peninsula of Crete, have travelled the world – and with good reason. It can be visited by boat but driving there and walking down to the beach is the best way to enjoy the Natura 2000-protected region. Prepare to be wowed!
Majestic Balos beach
The exotic greens and blues and sweeping sandbanks of Balos are what first catch the eye, but it’s worth exploring once you’re here. The plant life is perfectly adapted to this corner of Crete and the snorkelling – especially where the lagoon becomes deeper – is magical.
Elofonisi is Chania’s other pin-up beach and, as beauty queen beaches go, it takes some beating. This time you drive to the southwestern tip of Chania and your reward is a paradise of fine white sand and shallow turquoise water. Sometimes Elafonisi is an island you can reach by wading through knee-deep water and sometimes it’s connected to the mainland. But it’s always heart-meltingly beautiful.
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