With no new updates on the 2022 World Cup and my World Cup Wednesday post being postponed until I get more info, I’ll continue to post about my Europe Trip from this summer.
Planning my trip to Greece I wanted to go to one island to see the beautiful blue water. Two places came to mind, Mykonos & Santorini. Looking at other blogs, I realized that these two places were more of party and honeymoon islands and I was looking for an island that had more adventures.
I found Crete in my book 1,000 Places to See Before you Die and it showed that it had some great beaches and some amazing gorge hikes. Leaving Athens at 22:00 a short-hour flight to Chania and then a shuttle to the hotel. I plan to figure out my hiking and plans as we go in the morning.
Day 1 – Old Town Chania 06.29.2021
We stayed at Alena Apartments which is a short walk to Old Town and directly next to the bus station. My brother and I headed to Old Town to see the church and walk around.
After walking around a bit we headed down to the coast to get some lunch at Yolo Cafe. Great views of the coastline!
My brother took me out to dinner at Magna Grecia for my 32nd birthday. Nothing too crazy for the night since we have a big hike planned for tomorrow.
Day 2 – Samaria Gorge 06.30.2021
The main reason I came to Crete was to hike this gorge. The Samaria Gorge is about an hour and a half bus ride from Chania and costs 20 EUR (return). To get bus tickets you go to the main bus station in the morning and buy them from the ticket booth. We took the bus at 08:00 and started our Gorge hike at 10:00. The cost for entry is 5 EUR. You start at the top and hike down 15km. The bus ride up to the top was a little over an hour long. When you get to the top there is a small restaurant for breakfast and snacks and toilets.
The beginning of the hike is somewhat steep and rocky. As you walk down there are plenty of places to get water from, natural springs or the river. Once you’re down the steepest part you walk a relatively easier path crossing what would be the river in spring and winter several times. As you get closer to the halfway mark (during June/July) you start to cross the water. The halfway point is an old settlement town in Samaria. This is a great place to stop for a half-hour, use the toilet get water, etc., and if you’re lucky even get some photos of wild goats.
The second half of the hike reminds me of Zion National Park, except you don’t get as wet. At this point, it is basically flat but very rocky and you cross the river several times. There is a swimming hole part but apparently, after talking to a guide you’re not supposed to swim in it. I did jump in since it was 37 Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).
At the end of the trip, you need to present your entry ticket so DO NOT lose it. Otherwise, I suppose you just pay another 5 Euros but regardless it was needed. There is a juice stand at the end otherwise walk another 2 (1.2 ) km (mi) to get to Agia Roumeli. If you’re gassed after the hike you can pay 5 euros for a small bus or carpool to drive you to the city. You have to get there anyway because you need to take the ferry to get to the bus station that will take you back to Chania.
Once we got to Agia Roumeli, we went to have lunch at Calypso Restaurant. The place has good food and a great view of the ocean. If you complete the hike in time you’ll be able to enjoy the beach and food otherwise you’ll need to hurry to the ferry. The beach has the hottest fucking rocks I have ever stepped on in my life so wear shoes, sandals something to protect your feet. The water is crystal clear and the place is stunning. Honestly, this beach and ocean water may have been better than in Fiji.
The ferry costs EUR 12.50 and took about an hour and a half to get to the bus station in Hora Sfakion. And then it was another hour and a half roughly to get back to Chania. Very long day 07:30 to 21:00 but worth it and I highly recommend it. On our walk, we crossed paths with a Swedish tour guide who recommended that tomorrow we hire a car and drive to Preveli for another canyon hike.
Day 3 – Palm Forest 07.1.2021
Our last full day in Chania and Crete. I woke up early and started contacting the main rental companies such as Enterprise to hire a car for the day. An Automatic was costing up to EUR 100 which didn’t seem worth it. So after about two hours of calling around my brother and I decided to give up. As we walked out of the hotel we saw a local rental car business (Tellus Travel Car Rental) and we stopped inside. They got us a rental car for EUR 40 for the entire day and automatic. The insurance on the car was a mandatory deposit of EUR 100, returned if no damage.
Driving in Greece is absolutely insane, they are very impatient and aggressive drivers. This was more intense than Mexico but still loses out to Brazil. Although I will say this I never saw someone pass 7 cars on a one-lane highway before until now, so that was impressive. IF a car is behind you, just get over to the shoulder as much as you can, they will appreciate it and pass you. Also, I’m not sure how speeding works because they have cameras everywhere in Crete yet people easily go 15 – 20kmp over the speed limit. I also sped by accident many times and I didn’t end up getting a ticket in the mail.
A two-hour scenic drive to Preveli was a bit easier once we got inland and past the coastline. The parking for the Palm forest is EUR 5 and at the top of a hill. The lot fills up fast and luckily I got one of 3 spots remaining. So go early! A nice steep walk down a lot of stairs to the bottom and you arrive at the beach. There is a small restaurant, changing rooms, and toilets. Also big geese, ducks, or something that are walking around.
This hike is like zion except you will actually have to swim at some points up the canyon to keep going. Bring a dry bag for all your electronics. We don’t have too many photos of this because we wanted to keep the camera as dry as possible and lower the risk of losing or damaging our cameras, but I did take some good Go Pro videos which I’ll need to upload to Youtube.
This was an amazing hike, there are some spots to chill, some smaller waterfalls and swimming holes, and even some places where you can climb up rocks and jump in. Eventually, if you do this hike you’ll get to a point where it becomes too risky to continue. The spot is filled with boulders waterfalls, rushing water, and very deep. So we decided to turn around.
According to my google timeline map, I made up just passed the “Preveli Gore” point on google maps. After doing this hike it did look like you could get out of the canyon and continue to walk up the Kissano Faraggi river but I didn’t know that and it was well over 42 degrees Celcius (108 Fahrenheit) so I was 100% staying in the water.
On our drive back it was recommended that we stop at Lake Kournas to take photos. There is paid parking at businesses or if you’re lucky you can find some free parking. The place has a lot of peddle boats for people to use. It’s really beautiful but with it being so hot the pollution or humidity as they call it created so much smog the photos didn’t turn out that well.
We went out to eat at The Green Eye in Chania for dinner and drinks. We were one of the few people there due to the lack of tourism for Covid so the owner and server had drinks and dessert with us for free, it was great! Back to Athens tomorrow to hire a car for a long road trip around Greece! Next stop Delphi.
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