Do you only have one week available and you want to spend it in Crete? Most people will tell you that’s way too little time for such a big island. Don’t listen to anyone and just book your flights! You’ll see amazing places in Crete wherever you may go, so it doesn’t really matter that some things will be left unseen.
This is not an itinerary but a one-week vacation in Crete you can replicate exactly! You’ll have your fair share of exploration, but also time to enjoy the beach and the sea.
Contents of How To Spend One Week in Crete [Not an Itinerary but an Active Vacation]
- 1 What To Visit in Crete in 7 Days
- 3 Day 1: Check In – Georgioupolis – Beach Time
- 4 Day 2: Beach Time – Chania Town
- 6 Day 3: Beach Time – Kalyves – Aptera – Lake Kournas – Rethymno
- 7 Day 4: Heraklion – Knossos
- 8 Day 5: Road Trip – Beach Time – Agia Marina – Falassarna – Elafonissi
- 10 Day 6: Beach Time – Seitan Limania – Marathi – Akrotiri – Chania Town
- 11 Day 7: Agia Galini – Matala – Plakias – Frangokastello
What To Visit in Crete in 7 Days
Since 7 days in Crete is a short time, you should pick one or two of the four regions of the island to explore during your stay. Check out this Crete travel guide for more details.
If you’re flying into Chania, I strongly suggest that on your first trip to Crete you visit Chania and Rethymno. If you’re keen on visiting The Minoan Palace of Knossos, a day trip to Heraklion would do. Other than that, I’d stick to northwestern Crete, in order to spend less time in the car.
If you’re flying into Heraklion, you can stay somewhere around the town or further to the east, in Malia, Elounda, Agios Nikolaos or even Sithia. You can also pick Ierapetra or Agia Galini. Either way, you’ll have to skip some objectives if you don’t want to be on the run for the entire week.
Here’s a Crete travel planning for one week. Please note that it included renting a car to pick up and drop by the airport of Chania.
Day 1: Check In – Georgioupolis – Beach Time
Georgioupolis is located on the north coast, between Chania and Rethymno. This makes it a great choice to visit both towns, as well as the northwestern part of Crete and part of the south coast (Agia Galini, Matala, Plakias, Frangokastello). Here’s a brief travel guide to Rethymno and another guide to visiting Chania.
My preferred accommodation and warm recommendation for this area is Argiri Apartments & Suites. In fact, the hotel is at about 4km from Georgioupolis, in Paralia Kourna (Kavros).
Two-bedroom apartments at Argiri have a full size kitchen (open plan with the living) with everything you need to cook your own meals (although I’d strongly recommend you try local tavernas). All apartments have a terrace in front, with a table and chairs. There’s free parking inside the courtyard. Everything is sparkling clean, the area is quiet and the garden is properly taken care of.
To get to the nearest beach, you need to cross the main road. There’s no crossing, so you’ll be on your own. Nonetheless, if you want to be safe, you can use the passage that goes under the road, the same one cars use to go in the direction of Chania (instead of turning left and crossing the continuous line).
The drive from Chania airport to Georgioupolis takes about 40 – 45 minutes. You’ll also need about 30 minutes to sign the papers and to get your rental car. I used Auto Rentals Crete during my last trip, in June 20201, and I was very happy with it. The car we got was almost new and in very good condition. Also, the pick up and return process was very easy. You can pay online or cash (online is slightly cheaper) and you don’t need a credit card. The cars have full insurance and a second driver included in the price. I have no relationship with this company. I simply enjoyed their services.
Most hotels start the check-in at 2pm or at 3pm. If you arrive earlier than 2pm, you can try to ask whether you can check in or at least store your luggage for a few hours. Just put on your swimming suit and head over to the nearest beach, Paralia Kourna (or Kavros Beach). There are umbrellas and sunbeds on the beach, but you can also sit on your towel, if you want. The price of using umbrellas and sunbeds depends on the season. As of June 2021, we paid 6 Euro for two sunbeds and one umbrella.
For dinner, you can check out Pelagia’s Yard, the nearest taverna to your hotel. Their food is excellent. Ask for the dish of the day. You won’t regret it.
If you aren’t too tired, you may want to go to Rethymno Town, as it is at less than 30 minutes’ driving from your accommodation. The sunset by the sea is very beautiful.
Day 2: Beach Time – Chania Town
If you like sunbathing, spend your morning on the beach. If you go to Kavros Beach, you’ll be able to come back to your room to take a shower and to change your clothes before going to Chania Town.
During very hot days you’ll want to be somewhere inside by noon, in order to avoid the hottest hours. Besides, you want to catch the golden light of late afternoon to take amazing photos. This is the time when the Old Harbor of Chania is very beautiful.
Take time to wander around the narrow streets of Chania Town. When the evening comes, have dinner in one of the tavernas in the Old Town and get ready to take night photos of the Venetian Harbor with its colorful lights and their reflections on the water.
Day 3: Beach Time – Kalyves – Aptera – Lake Kournas – Rethymno
Are you tired after strolling the streets of Chania for so long the previous day? Use this day to relax on Kalyves Beach, which is a very short drive away from your hotel.
Next, visit the Archeological Site of Aptera and have lunch somewhere in the village. Alternatively, you can get back to Argiri Apartments & Suites and have lunch at Pelagia’s Yard.
Take a short nap and head over to Kournas Lake, which is only a short drive away from the accommodation. You can even walk to the lake, but keep in mind that there are no sidewalks, so you’ll have to pay attention to road traffic.
Here’s my article about Lake Kournas, with photos and visiting tips.
Go to Rethymnon in the afternoon. Park your car and roam around the narrow streets of the old town.
The modern town center of Rethymno is also very beautiful, with its palm trees and its harbor. The main street is pedestrian only from May to October. Walking there during the golden hour is a pleasure. There are also lots of bars and tavernas where you can stop for a drink or two.
As the evening falls, walk along the coastline to watch the sunset. There are also some neat tavernas in front of the sea. If you can find a table, you can have a dinner with a view.
Day 4: Heraklion – Knossos
I got to visit the Knossos archeological site and the Archeology Museum in Heraklion only during my third visit to Crete. If you aren’t sure you’re going to return to Crete, save one day for this trip, as both the palace and the museum are wonderful. Click here to book a combo ticket with audio guide for Knossos and The Heraklion Archeological Museum.
If the Knossos palace is worth a visit, the Heraklion Archeology Museum is an absolute must. You’ll see several thousands of years of history unfolding right in front of your eyes.
Try to visit the palace either early in the morning or in late afternoon, to avoid the heat and to take better photos. As for the Heraklion Archeology Museum, take into account that you’ll need minimum two hours for the visit. It’s bet to get thereby noon, to avoid the midday heat.
If you only want to go to Knossos, you can pre-book your ticket here (this ticket includes a smartphone audio tour).
If aquariums are your thing, you can visit Cretaquarium, as it is only a short drive away from Knossos. There’s also a beach nearby the aquarium. However, on weekends it is extremely busy, so I wouldn’t consider it.
Day 5: Road Trip – Beach Time – Agia Marina – Falassarna – Elafonissi
One of the best things about Cretan beaches is that they all have public showers. You don’t need to get back to your hotel, unless you want to take an afternoon nap.
When it comes to the must-see beaches in Chania, I prefer wild ones such as Menies Beach, but I can understand why you may want to see Falassarna and Elafonissi, the beaches everyone talks about.
Getting a rental car will make this road trip to the most famous beaches of Chania a breeze.
Day 6: Beach Time – Seitan Limania – Marathi – Akrotiri – Chania Town
Seitan Limania is a beach apart. The S-shaped cove looks very pretty from above. You’ll be able to take some cool photos from the main road, provided that someone else does the driving. The water is incredibly turquoise and the waves break on the beach, covering it in white lace.
Marathi is a different type of beach than Seitan Limania. There are actually two beaches at Marathi, both of them organized with umbrellas and sunbeds. There are also lots of restaurants by the two beaches, so you can easily spend one full day there snorkeling, swimming, sunbathing and sipping cold beers and lemonades.
If you feel like moving a little, you can visit the whole Akrotiri peninsula – Agia Triada Monastery, Chorafakia, Stavros and Venizelos Graves before heading over to Chania for another nice evening in the Old Town.
Day 7: Agia Galini – Matala – Plakias – Frangokastello
If you visit all the above mentioned places, you’re going to have a full day.
Start early and plan to spend some beach time in all these places. Have lunch in Plakias or in Agia Galini and dinner in Spili (a very beautiful mountain town you pass to get to this area of Crete).
Driving from Argiri Apartments to Agia Galini takes one hour. You don’t need to enter Rethymnon. Just keep driving on the VOAK (the National Road running along the northern coast of Crete) and take the exit to Armenoi. Continue to Spili and then to Agia Galini.
From Agia Galini, you’ll need 30-40 minutes of driving to get to Matala.
In Matala, check out the bay and the Neolithic caves carved in the rock cliffs. Next, walk to the Red Beach (Kokkini Amos Beach). You’ll see a sign pointing to it. Ensure you wear hiking shoes and take water with you. The walk takes about 30 minutes.
The Red Beach is a naturist beach. If this is your thing, you’ll be happy to go for a swim and to spend some time laying on the red sand. Beware, though, you’ll have to hike all the way back to your car. If this is how you’d like to spend your afternoon, you’ll probably want to skip Plakias and Frangokastello. You’d still have spent a beautiful day in Crete, so there’s no point in forcing yourself to do more. Just stop in Spili on your way back to your hotel and have dinner at one of the local tavernas. The food is awesome, you can trust my word for that!
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