Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea. I always wanted to fully explore Greece, but there are just some islands and places which are expensive and at the moment I couldn’t afford to visit. For example, I always wanted to go to Santorini but the flights and accommodation were super expensive.
So I looked for something else. And here it was, beautiful island Crete. The flight was relatively cheap, accommodation per night around 50-70 EU for 2 people (we used booking.com) and the food wasn’t expensive at all. And most importantly, Crete has many beautiful places and people are wonderful. Wherever we would go, people were friendly. Moreover, the food is so delicious. What I loved about Crete’s restaurants is that at the end of our dinner we always got a huge portion of free watermelon as a dessert and also shot of raki (an alcoholic drink that is popular in Turkey, Greece, Iran).
As Crete is a considerably big island, you should decide which part of the island you would like to discover. If you have only a few days or a week I recommend going to the western part of Crete. After some research, I found two awesome beaches I wanted to see: Elafonisi beach and Balos Bay. Both of them are located on the western coast of Crete and easy to access by car from the city Chania.
The best way and the cheapest way how to get to Crete is to fly to Heraklion, the capital of Crete. There is also an airport in Chania but when I checked, the prices were higher compared to Heraklion. All in all, we spent 2 days in Heraklion, we walked around the city and visited famous Knossos. From Heraklion, we rented a car and drove to Chania. It is a drive of around 2 hours. Chania is a very beautiful city with a lot of sightseeing options and a cute harbour.
At night it gets really busy. I am very glad we didn’t have accommodation in Chania but outside of the city as I can imagine the streets are super noisy.
I would like to show you our awesome room with the view on Chania. Took us around 10 minutes to get to the city by car. The hotel is called Akrotiri and has wonderful 9.0 rating on booking.com.
A day trip to Elafonisi beach
If you are staying in Chania, a day trip to this beautiful beach is perfect. Turquoise waters, rose-tinted sand and shallow warm waters, in one word: paradise. I was so excited to see this place, I call it “pink beach” because of its pink sand which was created from tonnes of crushed shells. Elafonisi beach totally reminded me of the Caribbean because of its white sand and turquoise water. And I recently found out that Elafonisi beach was rated as one of the best 25 beaches to visit according to Business Insider. Check it out here if you like: 25 beaches to see in your lifetime.
How to get to Elafonisi from Chania
Elafonisi is located 76 km west of Chania in the southwestern point of Crete and 5 km south of Chrysoskalitisa Monastery. The best way is to rent a car to get there. It will take you only 1,5 hours from Chania. Our journey took a bit longer as we had few stops along the road. We stopped in the city Palaiochora for a short coffee break and also in Samaria Gorge for this wonderful view.
The road is very narrow with many turns and curves, but the beautiful landscapes is worth seeing. We also had to drive a little bit slower as curves and turns are not my friends 😀 and I get quickly sick.
Once you arrive at Elafonisi beach, there is a huge area for parking. The eastern side of the beach, in the front of lagoon, has the most people. There are umbrellas with seats, showers, lifeguards, little bars and also changing rooms.
But if you want to have more peaceful surroundings, then the western side of the beach is perfect for you. I also saw most of the pink sand there. Elafonisi is a Natura 2000 protected area where turtles and other rare animals have their nests. Therefore, you are not allowed to take any plants or even sand from the area.
A day trip to Balos Bay
I know…isn’t this just an awesome view? I think I wouldn’t even have to write much about that place, as you can see it for yourselves that this place is breathtaking. But of course, I am here to share with you a few tips and important info.
How to get to Balos Bay from Chania
The famous lagoon of Balos is located approximately 56 km northwest of Chania and 17 km northwest of Kissamos. Firstly, if you don’t want to rent a car, you can take the ferry from Kissamos which costs around 25-30 EU.
However, we preferred renting a car as it gives us freedom with our schedule 🙂 You would arrive at Kaliviani where we paid a small fee which goes to protecting the Balos Reservoir. And from there, the fun begins. We were driving mostly at walking speed or max 30 km/h.
To cross the 10 km or rocky stony road is definitely worth it and lovely company is guaranteed.
After some time you will arrive at the large parking area and from there, you follow a path for approximately 1 km which leads to the beach. I highly recommend to come in the morning around 10 AM as there are not many tourists, and ferries come a bit later, so you can take great pictures. It gets really hot, and there is not much shade so I also recommend to take a hat with you and even put a towel (as I did) around your back and shoulders as you will get red as tomato before you even get to the beach 😀 which is not a nice way to start your day 😀
After 15 minutes of walking, you will have this awesome view. BREATHTAKING!
Have you seen those steps? 😀 be prepared! Returning to the parking area is quite hard and tiring (I had couple of stops). 😀
The lagoon of Balos has white sand and beautiful blue and turquoise waters. The sea is very shallow, calm and warm. In many places, the sand has a lovely pinkish colour. You can also rent beach chairs with an umbrella (7 EU per day). There was even cute boat where we could buy fresh fruits and water.
Enjoy your time in Crete, I am sure you will love it as much as I did 🙂 If you decide to travel to those places, please let me know, I would love to see your pictures from your trip 🙂