Crete Tours

Updated: April 21, 2017

The best boat tours and day trips in Crete.

The 13 Best Tours in Crete

1. Hiking Tour of Samaria Gorge

Walking the 18 km gorge is the activity highlight of Crete. It’s a little tricky to arrange on your own but with a tour they get you from your hotel to the start of the hike – then pick you up at the other end of the gorge and return you back to your hotel. There’s a tour guide and a couple other interesting stops that you wouldn’t do on your own. Free hotel pickup from these towns: Chania, Heraklion, Rethymnon, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, Hersonissos, Malia, and Stalida.

2. Wine and Olive Oil Tour

A wonderful 7-hour tour from Chania that explores the local farms and wineries of western Crete. Lots of food, olive oil, and wine tastings (but still kid-friendly).

3. Street Stories of Chania: 4-Hour Walking Tour

Great tour of Chania’s highlights and history. Highly recommended.

4. Boat Tour to Santorini

Santorini is the the most amazing island in Greece. This one-day tour involves a 4 hour boat trip (2 hours each way) and about 7 hours on Santorini to explore Fira, Oia, and the fantastic views. (This is a worthwhile tour but if you can stay overnight on Santorini you’ll see much more of the island. I typically do not recommend day trips to other islands as they’re a pour use of time, but I make an exception for Santorini as it’s so unique and special.)

5. Elafonisi Island Day Trip

Elafonisi is the best beach on Crete (maybe the best beach in Greece). It’s pretty easy to get there on your own with local buses but the tour makes it effortless and you also get to stop at some local villages along the way.

6. Heraklion Bites and Sights 4-Hour Walking Tour

Food/walking tours are my favorite way to explore a new city and this is a good one. Heraklion is not as picturesque as Chania but is loaded with true Greek character and lots of history.

7. Rethymnon Conquered Walking Tour

Rethymnon (also spelled Rethymno) is a very interesting city that is often overlooked. This 4-hour tour gives a good overview of its fabulous history and interesting culture.

8. Gourmet Wine Tour (from Heraklion)

Great tour with lunch, wine and olive oil tastings, and vineyard tours.

9. Day Tour to Spinalonga, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, and Plaka (from Heraklion)

10 hour tour that takes in the highlights of eastern Crete.

10. Winery Tour & Tasting, Lasithi Plateau, and Psychro Cave (from Heraklion)

The Lasithi Plateau is amazingly beautiful. The tour is filled with vineyards, olive groves, and windmills.

11. Crete 8-Hour Traditions and Cooking Tour (from Heraklion)

Cook Cretan dishes with a local cook and learn about the life and history of Crete through food. Eat what you cook.

12. Knossos Archaeological Tour

Good tour if you’re based in Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, Rethymnon, or one of the nearby beach towns. Start with Knossos (one of the best historical sites in Greece) then tour Heraklion and learn the history of the island. 10 hours long and includes hotel pickup and drop-off.

13. Chania Art and The City Trikke Tour

An easy tour of Chania’s history and highlights on an electronic Trikke. I’ll be honest, I find these “Trikke” riders annoying – but the tour is good.

See Also

20 Questions and Comments

  1. Tickets for Concerts & Performances in Crete

    Hi Dave,
    Love your site! We will be staying in Heraklion area at the end of June. While there we would like to watch a concert or a play. What’s the best way to learn about what performances are happening and where to purchase tix?

    Thank you!
    Vera

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Concerts and events are commonly advertised by posters on walls and basically anywhere you can stick a poster in Greece. Trouble is they are usually in Greek though you can usually tell who the concert is by and when.

      Online booking options include:

      Songkick
      Bandsintown
      Nowheraklion
      Cretazine

      Concert tickets are generally very cheap compared to home. If the concert or play is at an outdoor venue in an amphitheatre, make sure you bring something soft to sit on. They often sell Styrofoam pads outside such venues: buy two to be sure as the cement seats in stadiums are very uncomfortable after an hour or so.

      There are often free concerts given by top-line musical artists, so don’t miss out on those if you can: they are every bit as good as the paid ones. Summer is a good time for concerts so you should find plenty to entertain you in Heraklion this Summer.

  2. Samaria Gorge Tour Fully Booked – What Should We Do?

    Hi Dave!
    My family and I are going to be in Crete, staying in Chania and would like to tour the Samaria Gorge on either May 26th or 27th — the tour you suggested isn’t available those dates to leave from Chania. Do you have any other suggestions for who to tour Samaria Gorge with for about the same price? Do we need to do the tour to get to the Gorge or can we take a bus ?
    Thanks!
    Jess

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      You can do it on your own with buses but it’s much easier to do as part of a tour. I would wait until you arrive and you might be able to find a smaller local company that does small tours (perhaps through your hotel).

  3. Getting to Elafonisi Beach in Crete

    Dave,
    This website is EVERYTHING. Thank you so much already for all the help!

    While my trip isn’t very long, because it could very well be my only trip to Greece, I saw you recommended crunching in both Crete & Santorini. We fly into Athens on Mon, June 26, to Santorini on Tues June 27, to Crete June 30 and back to Athens July 3 before flying back to the US on July 4. I don’t very much like rushing around but I’m a huge fan of a nice beach. With only 2 full days in Crete, is it realistic to think I’ll be able to get to Elofanisi? Just seems forever away from the ferry in Heraklion. And if I can get there, am I better off staying in Rethimnon as was recommended to me or staying in Chania?

    Thanks!
    Julie

    Ps: planning on staying at Herodian Hotel in Athens unless Ava Suites is better? Also, having difficulty finding a nice, affordable and available hotel so far in Santorini–seems only Aria Lito Mansion–is that ok?

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      It will basically use one full day getting to and from Elafonisi. Is it worth it? Only you can say. It’s a wonderful beach and one of my all time favorites. I’d check the weather just to be sure you’re not going on a windy day but otherwise (if you really love beaches) go for it. Ava Suites is a little nicer than Herodian (but both are great). Ava is also a little closer to the metro station for the port and subway. Aria Lito is a good value hotel with a central location but no caldera views.

  4. Beach Tours to Balos and Elafonisi

    Hi Dave! My husband and I are traveling to Crete in a few weeks, and spending 5 nights in Chania. We wanted to explore Elafonisi beach and Balos beach. For Balos: would it be best to take a boat (big cruise boat, or something more private like Captain Yiorgi’s boat trip) or do the drive? For Elafonisi: any tips for the drive or where to stop along the way? We are in our early 30’s.

    Thanks!
    Lauren

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Balos Beach (Gramvousa Peninsula) can be done by car, but the result is probably not worth the effort you will put into it and your hire car company may not be happy to learn you have taken their car over that rough road (starting from Afrata) you will have to traverse to get there. This is one occasion where the organised tour is worth the money see http://www.cretandailycruises.com/ for details on how to do it in a group setting. Captain Yiorgi’s excursion might be more intimate, but it is more expensive. Do your sums and work out what suits best.

      The drive to Elafonisi is straightforward and is worth combining with a stop at the Eco resort of Milia. You could make an early start on Elafonisi and have a swim and sunbathe before driving back and stopping off at Milia for a mid-afternoon lunch here.

      If you have not driven in Greece/Crete before there are no real unexpecteds. The only issue – from the Greek driver’s point of view – is that tourists tend to drive perceptibly slower (more cautiously) than locals and this can cause irritation (to the locals). The end result is often tailgating (by local drivers) and impatient overtaking on their part. Either drive at ‘local speed’ or, if you are the cautious sort and you get caught by a tail-gating local, let them pass. The road is winding, but pleasant and from Chania it should take you no more than 1 hour and 30 minutes to Elafonisi. Hire cars are usually stick shift types, so if you only know how to drive an automatic you might be limited and want to book a car in advance.

  5. Samaria Gorge in April

    Hi Dave,

    I am travelling to Crete on 11th – 21st April we really wanted to see Samaria gorge but it doesn’t look like it will be open. For the first part of our trip we will be based in Kissamos which we thought would be ideal for the gorge trip. After that we will be staying further west (Hersonissos and then lastly Rethymno) so it may be harder to get to from there.

    Do you know when the Samaria Gorge is likely to open this year? I have read that it is dependant on how the weather was during winter months.

    Thank you
    (great website really helpful!)
    Emily

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      The Gorge traditionally opens on 1st of May, but this date is not set in stone. It’s not usually before the 1st but can be up to 10 days after the 1st. It depends on a number of factors: damage that may have been caused to the trail during Winter, the amount of water in the stream, or the anticipated amount of water that might come, if there is still snow in the White Mountains (Lefka Ori). So, from 11-21st April it is unlikely that you will get to do the walk.

      Kissamos is not the best base for doing the walk BTW. Unless you are on an organised tour, you will have to take two buses: from Kissamos to Chania and from Chania to Omalos at the start of the trial. You really need to be at the trailhead no later than 9am and that means an early start from Chania.

      Rethymno is further from Omalos than Kissamos, so really only an organised tour is going to do it for you, same with Hersonisos. Either way unless you are very lucky, your walk down the Samaria Gorge is going to have to be postponed to another year. Good video here to see what you’re missing.

  6. Bike Tours in Crete

    Hey Dave,

    Great site with excellent information.

    My family will be spending some time in Santorini in July. Before we all meet there, my son and I would like to do some cycling on another island for about 3 days – not touring, just out-and-back each day from the same location. We’re experienced cyclists and can manage 75-80 km round trips without a problem. We would need to rent good road bikes.

    It looks like Crete would be the best combination of easy access from Athens/to Santorini, provide interesting routes (to beaches and archeological sites, for example), a quality bike shop (Olympic Bike) and developed, paved roads.

    I’ve also looked at Naxos. It may also work, but maybe doesn’t maximize all those things listed above.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks!
    K.C. Jones

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Crete certainly offers some extensive cycling opportunities because of its the size, but 40kms out and 40kms back won’t get you very far in Crete. For example, 40kms would get you to the next town of Kissamos. Also the best cycling territory is the north coastline which is thread by the very busy Cretan Northern Axis road and it is not that cyclist friendly. The middle of the island is dominated by mountains so crossing north to south will involve climbing and the south coast doesn’t have an obvious main highway but would be more picturesque than the north. Again, long distance dominate so bicycle touring would be the way to go, rather than out and back tours. Have a look at Hellas Bike Greece to see what’s on offer. You might find some clues.

      The only other island that jumps off the page for cycling and where it is big, well organised and easy is Kos. Hundreds of people hire bicycle here and do day tours. The island is generally flat, small and accessible and there are plenty of bikes on offer. Check out Kos Bike Activities. In practice there is no reason why you can’t cycle on any island and you will always find a place to hire a bike. Most other islands have hills and if you do hills, you will be fine.

  7. Athens and Greece in March

    Hi Dave, I will be staying in Athens the month of March. I want to take in everything there and in the surrounding areas on the mainland. What are some of the best tours for out of the city? My interests are wineries, cooking, cultural events, and historical places, meeting people, etc.

    Leslie

  8. Galaxy Hotel in Heraklion

    We are in Crete for 4 nights after island hopping in the Greek islands. Our hotel is Galaxy Heraklion. Is that the right choice and could we do a couple of tours from there? Would love a boat day trip as one of the tour days.
    Noela Mckenzie

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Nice hotel with a decent location as long as you don’t mind a 10/12 walk to the city center. The highlights of Heraklion are the Archaeological Museum (12 minutes from the Galaxy) and Knossos (bus stop is a short walk from the hotel).

  9. Santorini and Crete in Late May

    Dave, first of all thank you so much for such a wonderful resource. This has been really helpful with planning our first trip to Greece. Wanted to get your input on a couple things. We are a couple in our early 30s going to Greece for our honeymoon. We arrive in Athens at 9:20am Saturday May 20 and fly out of Athens at 1pm on Monday May 29th, giving us 9 days and nights. We plan to fly to santorini from Athens on an early afternoon flight on the Saturday we arrive. We have a cave villa booked in Oia for 4 nights and wanted to spend the remaining 4-5 nights on another island. We love hiking, good food and beautiful beaches so Crete looks very appealing however I know spending at least a week there is generally recommended. Do you think it sounds feasible/not too crazy to take the evening ferry from santorini to Heraklion then take a bus to Chania and spend 4-5 nights there then fly from Chania to Athens for our return flight home. We realize we would not be able to see all of Crete but are mainly interested in hiking the Samaria Gorge, exploring Chania and visiting Elafossini Beach, possibly Balos Lagoon. Would you recommend that we cut Santorini to just 3 nights to spend more time on Crete? Also, do you know if the public bus is operating to the beaches in late May? How are the crowds there at that time of year? We know we are probably missing out on Athens so would consider exploring there on the Sunday before we fly back if time allows. Any suggestions or feedback on our itinerary is greatly appreciated! Mandy Miller

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Yes, it’s definitely doable – you won’t have a lot of time but I think still plenty to have a great visit. Buses will be running to Elafonisi in late May and crowds will not be bad – some people for sure, but nothing crazy. I’d stick with 4 nights (3 full days) on Santorini – so much to do and see.

  10. Santorini-Crete Day Trip

    We will be staying in Santorini for one week and would like to make a day trip from Santorini to Crete. How would we go about arranging this? Is there a tour we can book for the ferries? We are considering staying a night on Crete – would you recommend that? We’ve heard great things about the Chania walking tour and visiting Knossos so would like to do those 2 things at least.

    Thank you,
    Ev

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Due to the schedule of the ferries a day trip is not possible from Santorini to Crete. Ferries leave Crete (for Santorini) in the early morning and leave Santorini (for Crete) in the early evening. So a one day trip is impossible and even staying over one night doesn’t do much as you’d only have the night hours on Crete. To see anything in Crete you would need to stay two nights. A better choice for a short trip from Santorini is Ios, Paros, or Naxos.

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