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Once In A Lifetime Trip

New Bern, NC
Level Contributor
60 posts
3 reviews
Once In A Lifetime Trip

Hi everyone. I am trying to plan a trip to Greece arriving Athens May 8 and returning home May 30. 2019 for 22 nights.. There will be 3 of us traveling and we are in our mid 60's, my brother my sister-in-law and myself. We all have birthdays in May. We will be traveling from USA and this will be a ONCE IN A LIFETIME trip for us. We like to wonder down city streets, look in shops see beautiful scenery enjoy harbors and beaches try different foods and wines enjoy live music see authentic villages spend time on a boat on the water explore different areas. We love to walk and explore and are open to renting a car to explore further from our base. We will arrive by plane to Chania airport on May 8, 2019 and depart by ferry to Santorini on May 15, 2019. This is the itinerary I am thinking about. 7 nights Chania Crete, 3 nights Oia Santorini, 4 nights Naxos, 5 nights Nafplio and 3 nights Athens. 1. Is this a well rounded itinerary for our Once in a Life time trip to Greece?

2. Accommodations in Chania – we would like a 2 bedroom place in Old Town near the Old Port if possible. Budget is somewhere around 800 to 900 Euro for the week. Any suggestions? Do I need to reserve accommodations now or will there be more available the closer we get to our arrival time? I have been looking at some Air Bnb’s but do not know exactly where they are located. 3. Car hire – Can we rent a car for a day and then several days later for a day once we arrive or do we have to reserve? We do not know exactly where we want to go or when or what the weather will be on a particular day. Are there any car hire places you recommend? 3. Ferry to Santorini. We would like to travel by conventional ferry as we want to take in all the scenery. Should we take the early bus to Heraklion ferry port or stay a night or two in Heraklion? Can you please explain the conventional ferry seats/tickets? If we buy reserved seats can we go outside to view the scenery? Can we buy the tickets once we arrive in Chania or do we need to reserve them before we come? 4. Are there any “must dos” while we are in Crete that we should not miss? Thank you in advance for all your time and information regarding this trip. I hope to hear from you soon.

48 replies to this topic
United Kingdom
Level Contributor
1,972 posts
45 reviews
1. Re: Once In A Lifetime Trip

Hi cuteone

You have chosen a wonderful city, Chania has everything you are looking for and more!

Although you are arriving in early season and accomodation options will be plentiful, I would probably book somewhere in advance to secure the perfect place as Chania is popular at all times of year.

There are some beautiful boutique harbour front hotels, but if you’re looking for an apartment Theotokopoulou St in the heart of the old town (just behind harbour) is often recommended on here. I’m sure others will be able to advise you on specific places.

For car hire it is better to use one of the very reputable local firms rather than the multinational ones. We all have our favourites and you will get lots of recommendations so you can shop around and get quotes from all! For what it’s worth, my favourite is Auto Club based near Chania (in Kalyves).

http://www.autoclub-rentals.gr/

Hopefully others will be able to advise you on Santorini ferries as it’s not something I have done yet (still busy discovering Crete even after 22 years)!

If you some ideas of easy day trips from Chania (by bus or car) just shout.

Edited: 24 July 2018, 02:07
New Bern, NC
Level Contributor
60 posts
3 reviews
2. Re: Once In A Lifetime Trip

Thank you Wydcombe for your reply. Do you think we could possibly get two rooms in a boutique harbor front hotel for our budget? For the car hire can we rent for a day and return and then rent for another day and return once we get there do we need to reserve for a specific time before we arrive? Thank you again for your response.

The Stunning...
Destination Expert
for Scottish Highlands, Crete
Level Contributor
27,291 posts
400 reviews
3. Re: Once In A Lifetime Trip

I wouldn't book accommodation yet as there will be a lot that won't show availability yet but wait until maybe November time to start having a look and if you find somewhere that suits book then.

United Kingdom
Level Contributor
1,972 posts
45 reviews
4. Re: Once In A Lifetime Trip

I have just notice you asked for “must do’s” so here are my 5 “must do’s” - all an easy drive from Chania:

(There are plenty of others, of course eg. beaches, wineries, monasteries which others can tell you about.)

1. Archaeological sights:

Ancient Aptera is worth a visit. It’s 13km East of Chania, just off the National Highway. Taxi would probably be the easiest way to get there, but you can get the bus towards Kalyves and then a taxi for the last bit (if you’re interested we can give you more specific travel details). Be aware most archeological sites are closed on Mondays.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Rev…

2. WW2 history:

Allied War Cemetry in Souda Bay

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Rev…

WW2 German Bunkers near Kokkino Chorio

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReview…

3. Flora &Fauna

The Botanical Park of Crete is a must, a circular nature trail which takes 2 hours in the shade of the trees. Any easy drive from Chania, but also on the bus route. The bus leaves the central bus station in Chania at 09.30 every day and returns at 14.30. The journey takes about 45 mins. Have lunch in their taverna which serves homegrown produce and has fabulous views of the valley.

http://www.botanical-park.com/

4. Traditional villages:

If you want to explore traditional villages and sample excellent Cretan cuisine, spend a day exploring the villages of the Apokoronas region (Vamos, Gavalochori and many more) which are approx 30 minute drive from Chania. Here it would be better to have a car for the day so you can literally get ‘lost’ in the quaint villages, but it can be done by bus to Kalyves and then taxi. There is a folk museum in Gavalochori and a rustic olive oil factory near Vamos.

https:/…

5. A trip to the South Coast:

Another lovely day trip is a drive to Hora Sfakia on the South Coast through the mountains. From there get the boat Loutro for lunch, a tiny village accessible only by boat. Lots of walks and beaches to visit from here if you have time.

https://www.we-love-crete.com/loutro.html

United Kingdom
Level Contributor
1,972 posts
45 reviews
5. Re: Once In A Lifetime Trip

Hi again, yes I am sure you can rent two rooms in a harbour front hotel, hopefully one of the locals or regulars that have stayed in one will recommend a few specific hotels. It never hurts to contact them and reserve you rooms, even this far in advance, if you find the perfect one!

(I was recommended a hotel in Athens which wasn’t showing on the booking sites, but I emailed them directly to reserve a room well in advance, and even managed to secure a specific room with a view and f the Acropolis, so it’s worth a try if you see one you like!)

As for car hire, in the past we have rented a car for just a few days here and there, but again it would be worth contacting the rental firm you choose with your specific dates and requirement. (Kostas and Olga who own Auto Club in the link I provided above speak very good English and always answer email enquiries promptly.)

I don’t think it’s too early to start booking accomodation and cars at all, especially as you say it’s a once in a life time trip and you want everything to be as perfect as possible. :-)

The Stunning...
Destination Expert
for Scottish Highlands, Crete
Level Contributor
27,291 posts
400 reviews
6. Re: Once In A Lifetime Trip

I'll add loads more later but for things to do and see have a look at this thread that is packed full of ideas :-) https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g169…

Happy planning and any questions at all and I am sure the friendly forum regulars and not so regulars will be on hand to help out :-)

Chania Prefecture...
Destination Expert
for Almyrida, Crete
Level Contributor
2,313 posts
53 reviews
7. Re: Once In A Lifetime Trip

A lot of the privately owned small hotels in Greece don't tend to publish rates, or start to take bookings until early in that year. There will be some now, but a lot more availability showing online in January. But that's not to stop you approaching the owners now, by email, & you may get a special deal. I would email anyway as you want 2 rooms, there is often a discount to be had in Crete!

Yes, 2 rooms in a nice renovated hotel in Chania's Old Town should be doable on your budget, or you should find a 2 bedroom apartment too. .

Washingon DC area
Level Contributor
2,019 posts
6 reviews
8. Re: Once In A Lifetime Trip

While there's a lot to see in Chania itself, a lot of the "must sees" (a great list from Wydcombe) are far enough outside the city to make a car useful, so it would be worth renting one for your entire stay. In early May, you should be able to find one for about 25 euros a day and would cost less than public transport and add a lot of flexibility.

A couple other activities to consider - a day trip to Rethymnon and lunch at Argyroupoli meetcrete.com/village-argyroupoli-ancient-la…

And a day in Heraklion to see Knossos and the archaelogy museum. If it were my trip I'd take a day off Santorini for it.

If you're comfortable with a basic room, here's a hotel at which I've stayed a few times and found very satisfying:

https://www.luciahotel.gr/

Another comfortable place is the Villa Venezia:

https://www.luciahotel.gr/

New Bern, NC
Level Contributor
60 posts
3 reviews
9. Re: Once In A Lifetime Trip

Thank you for the wonderful thread and information. It might take me until I arrive to absorb it all. LOL!!! Do you know where I might can order/buy a good map of the area? I live in small town and will not be able to find one here.

New Bern, NC
Level Contributor
60 posts
3 reviews
10. Re: Once In A Lifetime Trip

Thank you. How might I find these locally owned places to stay so I can email and inquire about them? Thanks for all your help

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