Now that you have seen our day trip excursion to Balos Beach, let’s chat a bit more about the island of Crete itself – with a focus on the towns of Chania and Agia Marina.
Let me start by saying my “perfect vision” of Greece that I held in my mind for years originally did not include the Island of Crete. But, Crete is where Ryan Air flies to from Wroclaw so without much choice it was added to our week-long Greek trip. Plus, given that our flight was only about 100 USD round trip, I didn’t much care where we were flying into – I was finally going to Greece!!!
Let me now say that I honestly am SO glad we were given a chance to explore Crete. Itwas an island full of beautiful beach and mountain landscapes with charming towns. In reality, Crete should be on the list of must-see islands in Greece. Really. It was great.
Getting from the Airport: From the airport, we took a public bus into downtown Chania for about 3 or 4 Euro each (compared to over 50 Euro for a cab). YOU SHOULD DO THIS. The public transportation in Crete is fabulous and the buses are air conditioned and not at all like what you would think of what a “public bus” would be like – they’re more like a travel coach. Just make sure you have cash so you can buy tickets as you get on the bus, instead of at the booth. Otherwise, you may be caught waiting for the next bus. The stop is located right outside the airport, you should see signs. The bus line in Crete is called KTEL.
Since we flew into Chania very late on a Friday night and, therefore, decided just to stay somewhere downtown. We chose a hotel for our first evening that we could walk to from the downtown Chania bus station (the last stop from the airport bus).
Where we stayed in Chania: We stayed at Bozzali Hotel, which was a great choice for one evening. It was a small, B&B type of place. Just be careful if you plan on having a car here. I have no idea where you would park, as it is a bit hard to find, down many winding roads. This hotel was located on the cutest street with many restaurants within walking distance. Below is a look at dinner the first evening. It was all so good!!! Make sure to get tzatziki sauce (we did at almost every meal).And below is the alleyway near our hotel.That said, one of the best things to do in Chania is really just walk around the streets as each is unbelievably charming. Of course, there are many stunning doors here, so I was in photo heaven 🙂
Chania also boasts an alluring harbor. It’s so worth walking around and having a meal here on the harbor- just make sure you keep walking away from the tourist center so you find the best local food. In fact, we were told to look for locals dining in a restaurant before going into it yourself – just know the locals don’t eat until 8 or 9 in the evening so you won’t find any locals much before that 😉
The harbor at night is just as magical as it is during the day.
As I mentioned, we only stayed in Chania on Friday night (though some of these photos above are from a separate day we went into the city for dinner from Agia Marina). On Saturday morning, we took a bus to the town of Agia Marina, where we stayed for both Saturday and Sunday evenings. The reason we did not stay in Chania was because we were looking for a complete beach vacation. We wanted something relaxing and staying in the more touristy town of Chania just wouldn’t work for the type of trip we were envisioning. Agia Marina was a perfect choice, only about 15-20 minutes away from downtown Chania – and, right on the water. Perfect.
Where we stayed in Agia Marina: CHC Galini Sea View
We really lucked out with our hotel. Below is the view from the lobby. Not to mention, I think were upgraded to a full ocean view, lofted room. I know we didn’t pay for a full ocean view room, that’s for sure. (We tried to save a bit more on Crete hotels so we could splurge in Santorini – a wise choice if you need to help budget your trip.)
This hotel was actually much nicer in person than what I expected and I would recommend it. They offer an all-inclusive option here as well but we didn’t chose that as we love experiencing local cuisine. As I mentioned, the bus stop is about a 10 minute walk from the hotel and you can take it very easily into Chania just know that this hotel is a bit of a walk uphill. Oh, and we even rented our Smurf car for our daily excursions from the hotel lobby without a prior agreement.Agia Marina is full of beaches, though we did not swim in any of them. We did, however, eat on the beach a few times. The restaurants here weren’t the greatest in the world, but we didn’t mind so much since the view was so superb 😉 However, I do have to say Chania has some fabulous restaurants to choose from.Oh and let me also add that almost every restaurant in Greece offers a free dessert (pictured below) and some free shots of local booze called Raki. Since I am expecting, I couldn’t have any but my husband enjoyed the extra free drink, I’m sure.Chania is a great town to add to your Crete to see list. And, if you’re looking for a more romantic spot away from a bigger city, don’t forget about Agia Marina – it was a perfect place to kick off our excursions to the best beaches of Greece!
Here’s a recap of our trip that I have posted to date:
- Friday night was spent in Chania, Crete (1 day is plenty if you’re planning a trip to Crete)
- Saturday/Sunday night – we stayed in Agia Marinia, about 20 minutes from Chania (Easily could spend 2 or 3 days exploring the west side of Crete/Somaria Gorge and this is a great location to use a home base).
- Saturday – Day Trip to Balos Beach
Stay tuned to read about the rest of our week in Crete and Santorini!