As Greek islands go, Crete is the largest, located far south near the Libyan sea. Its location means it has good year-round temperatures averaging from 52 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months to 79 degrees in the summer, sometimes much hotter, reaching over 100 degrees.
This means there’s no bad time to visit.
Because of its varied geography with mountains inland, a selection of popular sandy beaches, and much quieter hideaways, Crete has a wide variety of day trips to suit all tastes. Some of the best have been curated here for you.
1. Hiking In Samaria Gorge
Nestled within the White Mountains National Park lies the most famous and longest trekking gorge in Europe, the 10-mile Samaria Gorge.
It starts fromi south of the island — meaning “wooden staircase” as there is a wooden staircase that descends into the gorge.
The trek itself goes through beautiful scenery all the way to the small seaside town of Africa Roumeli on the coast of the Libyan Sea.Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with many different species of flora and fauna and wild Cretan goats.
It’s open from May 1 to October 31 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are no facilities in the Gorge. Although there are occasional spots to sit and rest, there’s very little shade, so take water to drink (there are standpipes to refill your bottle), light food, sunhat and lotion, and sturdy walking shoes.
July and August can reach very high temperatures, sometimes over 100 degrees, so hike it early morning or in the spring or fall. A reasonable level of fitness is advised, and take your time; the trek can last upwards of 7 hours. Rangers are available throughout the route to help if anyone should get into any trouble, such as a sprained ankle or fall.
Regular local bus services run from the Cretan port town of Chania to the entrance at Xyloskalo and also from the exit at Agia Roumeli. Or your hotel can arrange local transport.
Just over 50 miles southwest of the harbor of Chania lies Elafonisi, a small islet with aqua waters and coral creating a pink effect. When the sea is calm, you can walk from the beach out to the islet — connected by a small reef. It’s said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Left untouched for many years, its beauty caught the eye of locals who semi-developed it into what you’ll see now.
It’s quite flat, but anyone with mobility issues should bring a stick to help them walk over the sand. As an organized beach with sunbeds, umbrellas, and a canteen, high summer is very busy with families, so it’s best to visit late spring/early summer or early fall when the weather is still warm, but children have returned to school.
You can drive, but as the road is single tracka lot of the way once off the national road, it’s not for the faint-hearted, especially when meeting a bus. Therefore, public transport from Chania or an organized tour is best.