One week in Crete: Epic 6-7-8 Day Itinerary (First Time Visit)


Itinerary: One week in Crete – What to do + Where to stay?

You want to go for a 1 week trip to Crete and you’re looking for the best Itinerary?

You’re at the right place!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this recommended Itinerary for a week in Crete. You will discover some of the best places to visit on the west part of the island!

During this tour you will visit Chania and its surroundings, the Balos Beach, the pink beach of Elafonissi, Rethymnon, and the Samaria gorge for a superb hike.

Quick note: If you prefer to visit East Crete (Heraklion, Knossos, Spinalonga island, the Lassithi plateau, Vai beach, Matala), you should rather read my other itinerary: How to visit Western Crete in 1 week.

For this itinerary, in addition to the best things to do and must-see attractions, I will also give you all my best tips as well as a list of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

So, what are the things to do in Crete in one week?  Where to stay?

Day 1: Chania

For this one week trip to Crete, you must start by arriving at Chania. It’s simply the most practical way to visit the West of Crete since the city has a well-connected airport.

You can compare flight prices at the end of this article in the section “Going to Crete”.

During this stay you have 2 transportation options:

  • Rent a car.
  • Opt for organised trips with transport included. There are some such trips available for almost any visit that I propose, if you don’t like driving they are an excellent solution. I’ll give you the links further on in the article.

For renting a car Crete, I recommend using Cars . I’ve been using their services for years and I’ve already rented cars in Greece , Corsica , Sardinia and even Thailand.

It is super convenient since you can compare prices directly with all the rental agencies in Chania and you also have access to reviews from former customers.

They also offer (optional) their own “comprehensive insurance”, which provides total coverage in case of damage or accidents (cheaper than the one the rental agency will try to sell you).

If you already know your travel dates for your one-week trip to Crete, you must book your car now for the best price. And since modification or cancellation are often free, this does not commit you to anything!

Click the button below to compare prices now:

On the first day of your holiday in Crete, you can take a small walk in the old town of Chania to discover the main places of interest.

Start by visiting the covered market of Chania where you will have a first glimpse of local products: olive oil, wine, cheese, spices, raki (the local alcohol that will be offered as liqueur after each meal).

Then go to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral and continue your walk in the alleys of the old town where you will find plenty of souvenir shops before reaching the Old Venetian Port. Bordered by restaurants and houses with colourful façades, the place is really pretty.

La Canée port Vénitien
Chania Venetian old port – One week in Crete

At the end of the harbour, you’ll find the Firkas fortress, where you can enter the courtyard for free. The strongholds offer a beautiful view of the Old Port and its emblematic monument: the lighthouse of Chania.

The fortress is also home to the maritime museum which exhibits models of boats and navigational instruments. If this is something you like, the entrance fee is €3.

Then cross the Old Port to reach the other side. You will then arrive at the Kioutsouk Hasan mosque (recognisable by its pink dome), the large Venetian arsenal and the old boat hangars. 

You can continue to the lighthouse or go to the old town to see the church of San Rocco, the church of Agios Nikolaos and the minaret.

You will be near the covered market.

Iguana Beach - Chania
Iguana Beach –  Chania Beach

For the rest of the day, I recommend relaxing on one of the beaches near Chania (go by bus if you don’t have a car). I particularly recommend the beach of Eastern Gulf or Agii Apostoli/Iguana Beach located just next door.

These are 2 small sandy beaches bordered by pine forests and, where you will find a great way to conclude this first day of your 1 week stay in Crete! Closer to the centre, there’s Nea Chora beach, but it is less pretty.

Spend the night in Chania.

I will give you all the practical information and further details to visit Chania in my dedicated article: The best things to see and do in Chania?

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you have a car, you must park in the large paid car park near the covered market and the stadium.

If you would like to take a guided tour of Chania, I recommend ( click on the orange link to book):

Where to stay in Chania?

You can stay at the same hotel in Chania for the entire duration of your one-week stay in Crete.

Here is my selection of the best accommodations according to your budget:

  • Cocoon City Hostel: Youth hostel located in the heart of Chania. Dormitory bed from 18€, breakfast at 5€. Strong points: cleanliness, ambience, warm welcome.
  • Kedrissos Hotel: Located 2 km from the historical centre of Chania. Comfortable and warm double room with balcony from 70€, breakfast included. Strong points: swimming pool, cleanliness, friendly staff, excellent breakfast
  • Irida Hotel: Located 20 minutes on foot from the historical centre. Double room with balcony and sea view from 80€, breakfast included. Strong points: friendly staff, close to the beach, ideal location to explore Chania on foot.
  • Royal Sun: Located between Chania and the Akrotiri peninsula. Modern and comfortable double room with balcony/terrace and sea/pool or garden view from 90€, breakfast included. Strong points: quiet, beautiful pool area with views over Chania, private parking, variety of breakfast options, shuttle to the city centre. It’s my favorite for its setting and excellent value for money! 
  • Kydon The Heart City Hotel: Located close to the covered market. Spacious rooms with balcony and comfortable bedding from 130€, breakfast at 15€. Strong points: the location, the excellent breakfast, the warm welcome and the parking. This is my recommendation for an upscale stay in Chania!
  • Chania Flair Deluxe Boutique Hotel: Located 10 minutes from the Old Venetian Port, this 5* hotel offers sumptuous rooms from 250€ per night, breakfast included. Strong points: Spa and wellness area, excellent location, exceptional breakfast, valet service, private beach. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Chania!
La Canée vielle ville
Visiting Chania – One week in Crete itinerary

Day 2: Balos lagoon

For the second day of your week-long road trip in Crete, you must suggest go and see one of the most famous beaches on the island: Balos lagoon.

On the agenda: a relaxing day to enjoy the turquoise waters and fine sands in a heavenly setting!

Balos Beach is located about an hour and a half’s drive from Chania but you have several options to get there:

1) A day-trip by boat

The boat leaves from Kissamos, a small seaside town, 38 km from Chania. You can reach the port by car (free parking on site), by public bus (departure from the bus station) or with an organised trip from Chania.

To get to the lagoon of Balos by boat, you can choose:

  • The standard cruise that has 2 stops: a first stop of 2 hours on the island of Gramvoussa to swim or climb up to the fortress, and a second stop at the lagoon of Balos for the remainder of the day.

You must book this boat trip in advance by clicking on the green button below:

  • Cruise to Balos lagoon with return transport from Chania included: if you don’t have a car, this is the best option since the bus will pick you up from your hotel and will take you to Kissamos, where you will take the boat to Balos.

The hassle free tour, it’s really super convenient!

To reserve, click on the green button:

Lagon de Balos
Balos lagoon – A must-see during your week in Crete

2) Drive to Balos

It’s a little less easy than it looks at first glance because there are several things you should know:

  • The last part of the road leading to Balos is in fact an 8 km track riddled with numerous potholes and large stones. You will have to drive quite slowly (especially since the rental agencies theoretically prohibit taking this road and the damage will not be covered by insurance).
  • The car park at Balos fills-up quickly. You will then have to park wherever you can on the road-side (and sometimes several hundred metres away from the car park).
  • Balos can be accessed on foot from the car park. The distance is 1.2 km and 150 metres of a descent to the beach. When you have to go up at the end of the day, it’s a little harder.

But the view along the trail is so beautiful that you can take the chance to click beautiful pictures!

I can assure you, Balos Beach is THE place to see when in Crete for a week!

If you have a car after Balos beach in the afternoon, I also recommend 2 other places to see before returning to Chania:

  • Falassarna Beach, a 40-minute drive from Balos. This long beach with translucent waters is very pretty, and has pink sands on the water’s edge. You will also find several beach clubs, excellent for a drink.
  • The Botanical Garden of Crete to discover the plants and fruits of Greece. It takes about an hour and a half to walk along the 2.5 km path. (If you don’t have time to visit it, you can also do it on the fourth day.)

Go back to Chania for another night of your week-long trip to Crete.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you want more details about Balos, you can read my dedicated article: My guide to visit the lagoon of Balos.

By car, try to reach Balos before 11:00am to get parking space. Also bring a little change to pay the entrance fee (€1 per person) or if you want to use the toilet (€50cts).

plage Balos Crete
Balos beach – Crete in a week

Day 3: The Samaria Gorge

The next day, you must continue your one-week itinerary in Crete in a more active manner.

Go to the Samaria Gorge where you can experience the most famous hike on the island: 16 km on foot, with the first part in the forest and the second part at the very bottom of the Gorge, at the foot of the towering 1,000 ft high cliffs.

If there is one hike you must do when in Crete for one week, this is it!

It is a superb track through the most beautiful natural landscapes of the island that await you but a bit hard because the path is made up of large stones and the slope (downhill) for the first 4 km puts a lot of stress on the knees and ankles.

I strongly advise you to bring a pair of hiking shoes to be as comfortable as possible. You should expect a total of 5 to 7 hours of walking.

From Chania, it takes 1 hour to drive to the start of the trail, at the place called Xyloskalo.

You can go there by car or choose a round-trip in a bus. In this case, the bus will pick you up from your hotel and take you to Xyloskalo.

There is also a guide but he always stays with the slowest people, so you can go hiking at your own pace.

This solution is really very practical if you don’t want to bother with organisational issues.

To book this trip by bus from Chania to the Samaria Gorge, just click on the button below:

Samaria Gorges - Crete
Samaria Gorge hike – Things to do in 4 or 5 days in Crete

The Samaria Gorge hike ends at Agia Roumeli, a seaside village only accessible by foot or boat.

As the trail does not circle back and you won’t have time to go all the way in the opposite direction (unless you are a regular at ultra trail), you should take a boat that will take you to Sougia.

Note that there are only 2 boats a day, one at 5 pm and the other at 5.30 pm. If you miss it, you must spend the night in Agia Roumeli*.

Boat tickets (about €11 for a 45 minute trip) can be purchased online in advance (click here) , at the tavern located in the Xyloskalo car park or at Agia Roumeli.

Sit on the right side of the boat if you want to enjoy the scenery during the return trip.

Once in Sougia, the journey does not end there as you will then have to catch a bus that will take you back to the car park (1 hour drive). Buses always wait for the boat to arrive before leaving.

Remember to book your bus ticket on the official KTEL website (click here) , 1 or 2 days in advance to be sure to have a seat.

Collect your car back and spend the night in Chania.

*In case you took longer than expected for the hike and the boat left without you, you can book a room in a small hotel. Here are my recommendations (click on the links below):

Voyage Tips - Advice

For a complete description of the route and all the detailed practical information, I recommend reading my dedicated article: Gorge de Samaria: the definitive guide.

Parking costs €5 and €5 per person for the entrance to the Samaria National Park.

At km 14, near the exit of the Gorge, you can take the shuttle (€2/pers.) that goes to Agia Roumeli for the last 2 km (if you are tired or you are afraid of being late for the boat).

The Gorge are only open from May to Mid October and can be closed on certain days due to rain, thunderstorms or the risk of fire. Visit the official Samaria website (click here)   before leaving.

Samaria Crète
Samaria Crete

Day 4: Elafonissi beach

You just can’t visit Crete by car for a week without going to the Elafonissi beach!

This beach is on the agenda for today, because after walking for hours on the previous day, you deserve a relaxing day on one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete.

To reach Elafonissi from Chania, it takes about an hour and a half. 

For those who have rented a car, there is a huge free car park just next to the beach. Unlike the lagoon of Balos, Elafonissi beach is directly accessible.

If you don’t have a car, the only other way to get to this must-see spot on a week-long tour of West Crete is by taking the bus. 

You should opt for an organised trip as the the bus will pick you up from your hotel (and will take you back at the end of the day).

To book this bus trip from Chania to Elafonissi, just click on the button below:

Elafonissi pink sand beach – West Crete itinerary

Like the lagoon of Balos, the beach is known for its translucent and shallow waters and especially for its pink sands. This particular colour comes from the decomposition of the shells of certain pink molluscs, which mixes with the sand.

Elafonissi beach is divided into 2 parts.

On one side you have the main beach located directly next to the parking lot where you can rent deckchairs/parasols for only € 7 for 2 people. There are 2 snack-stalls and a toilet (paid).

On the other side, there’s Elafonisi island located just opposite, which you can reach on foot by crossing on the sandbar or in the water. Here, the landscape has remained wilder because the island is a protected natural zone.

There are far fewer people and you will find plenty of coves with turquoise waters and pink sands. The perfect place to enjoy your day and swim peacefully.

You can also take a short walk to the end of the island where you’ll find a small chapel.

For more information on Elafonissi beach, please read my article: How to visit the pink beach of Elafonissi?

Voyage Tips - Advice

On the road before arriving at Elafonisi, you must stop and visit the Agia Sofia cave. It will only take you about 10 minutes, but the entrance is free. Here you can admire some stalactites and stalagmites and enjoy the view of the Topolia Gorge.

However, I don’t recommend visiting the Chrysoskalitissas monastery (located just next door), which is in all the travel guides on Crete. Even though the entrance fee is only €2, there is simply nothing to see.

After Elafonissi, you can also go to the beautiful beach of Kedrodasos (5 minutes by car + 10 minutes walk). Lined with junipers and completely untamed, you won’t be able to resist taking a swim in the turquoise waters.

Elafonissi Grèce
Elafonissi beach, one of the most beautiful beach in Crete!

Day 5: Akrotiri peninsula

Today, for the next leg of your 1 week road trip in Crete, you should stay close to Chania and explore the peninsula of Akrotiri.

It is located just outside the city and has some of the places to see during your week in West Crete.

To make sure you don’t miss anything, you must visit these spots in the following order after arriving from Chania:

1) Stavros beach:  a sandy beach located in a small bay sheltered from the wind. It is very well known in Crete as it was a shooting location for the film “Zorba the Greek”, released in 1964 and starring Anthony Quinn.

2) Agia Triada monastery, 15 minutes by car from Stavros.

It is one of the most visited monasteries on the island. Dating back to the 17th century, I found the site really well maintained.

Here you can explore its church, the wine cellar, the flowery and well-maintained gardens, a small museum and a shop where you can buy wine, raki and olive oil produced by the monks. There are tasting sessions too.

Entrance to the monastery costs €2.50 / Free parking / Ladies, legs and shoulders must be covered. You can rent a pareo/shawl at the entrance.

3) The Governto Monastery, 10 minutes away from Agia Triada.

Less well-known than its neighbour, it has a pretty inner courtyard and a small church. Please note that photography is prohibited.

The monastery is closed on Wednesdays and Fridays. The other days of the week, it is open from 9:00am to 12:00pm and from 5:00pm to 8:00pm.

As you leave the monastery, on your right side and at the back of the alley, you will find a small gate leading to a path leading down to the seaside. The path goes through a cave, passes through the ruins of the Katholiko monastery and leads to a small, pretty cove with turquoise waters.

It takes about an hour and a half to go there and back, but the difference in altitude is quite large and there is no shade on the way. Bring enough water and wear good shoes.

Agia Triada Monastery Crete
Agia Triada monastery – Crete

4) Seitan Limani beach is one of the best beaches to go when in Crete for a week.

The beach is located below a small canyon where the water has managed to carve a path over time. It’s very photogenic, and you can swim in the turquoise waters (often agitated because it is quite windy) surrounded by high rock walls.

The path leading down to the beach in 15 minutes is a bit dangerous as it is quite steep and very narrow.

It is better to have a pair of sneakers and be sure that you aren’t afraid of heights, but if you don’t feel like going down, you can always admire the view from the car park.

5) Marathi beach which actually has 2 sandy coves.

Most of the beach is private, with deckchairs and parasols available for hire and all the car parks around it are charged. Very easy to access and with its shallow waters, it’s a popular family spot.

If you go on this recommended week-long itinerary in Crete with your children, it is a good place to swim.

6) The Loutraki beach, which forms a small cove with sands and turquoise waters. It’s really nice but there’s a tourist complex right nearby, which is very crowded.

Spend another night in Chania.

Voyage Tips - Advice

The plan for this day is much less practical if you don’t have a car:

  • In summer, public buses run from Chania to Stavros, Seitan Limani, Marathi and Loutraki. But these are different bus lines that do not circle around the peninsula and you will have to go back to Chania every time.
  • For the Agia Triada monastery, you will have to take a bus to the airport and finish the last 3 km on foot or by taxi.

If you wish to replace the visit to Akrotiri with another activity, you will find ideas for day 7 of this itinerary.

Seitan Limani
Seitan Limani beach, on Akrotiri peninsula – 1 week tour in Crete

Day 6: Rethymnon

It would be a shame to go to Crete for a week without going to Rethymnon, so that’s where you must go on this last day.

Rethymnon is a 1-hour drive east of Chania and there is also a bus line linking the 2 cities.

To make sure you don’t miss out on the must-see sights, here is the itinerary you must take take to visit the old town and its pretty historic centre.

Start by visiting 16th century Venetian fortress. For €4, you can take a walk up the ramparts to admire the view of the city.

If you are an art lover, you can then visit the museum of contemporary art. Entrance costs €3.

Continue the walk through the Old Venetian port and enter the heart of the old town to see:

  • The Rimondi fountain
  • The Nerantzes Mosque
  • The workshop of the the last filo pastry maker in Crete located on the Rue Vernardoy
  • Rethymnon Archaeological Museum
  • Grand gate
  • Other religious buildings: the Four Martyrs Church, the Veli Pasha mosque and the Kara Mussa mosque.

To learn more about places to visit in Rethymnon, you can also read my other article: The 13 best things to do in Rethymnon?

Le port vénitien - Que faire à Réthymnon
Visiting Rethymnon – Trip to Crete

For those who are driving on this week-long trip to the west of Crete, after Rethymnon, you can go and visit the Arkadi monastery, 20 km away.

Along with the Agia Triada monastery, it is one of the best known monasteries on the island.

A quick history: under the Ottoman occupation of the island, hundreds of inhabitants fled to the monastery but it was besieged by more than 2,000 soldiers. The inhabitants chose to to burn the barrels of powder stored in the wine cellar rather than surrender.

Every one of them were killed, the people an their enemies. This act of resistance marked the beginning of the Cretan struggle against invaders.

During the visit, you can discover the famous wine cellar, the museum containing relics and the 16th century Venetian church.

Then drive back to Chania. Halfway, about 30 minutes from Rethymnon, you must take a stop at Kournas lake.

This is the perfect spot if you fancy a swim in fresh water, because it is the only natural lake in Crete. 

You must also rent a kayak or a paddle boat for 1 hour and go around the lake: you might catch a glimpse of the many sea turtles that live there.

Spend the night in Chania. 

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you want to go on a boat trip during your 1-week holiday in Crete, there’s one that leaves from the Rethymnon port at 11:30am.

The cruise lasts 5 hours and you can admire vistas of the city and the surrounding coast. It also includes a swimming stop (mask and snorkels provided) + lunch.

Book your boat trip to Rethymnon by clicking on the green button below:

Lac de Kournas
Kournas lake

Day 7: Activities to do around Chania

Now you are at the last day of your week-long stay in Crete.

If you are taking a flight at the end of the day or the next day, you must make the most of your remaining time by choosing one (or more!) of the activities from the list below.

You just have to click on the orange link to get all the details and reserve:

  • A boat trip with 2 snorkelling stops and another paddle boating stop – mask/snorkel/fins included.
  • A private boat trip – Your captain will take you to the most beautiful places!
  • First diving experience with an English-speaking instructor – Pick-up included from Chania
  • Canyoning in Seitan Limani  with a French-speaking instructor – several rappelling sessions on the agenda!
  • A 2-hour paddle boat trip in Loutraki Bay with a snorkelling stop
  • Paragliding   off the coast around Chania
  • Surf lessons near Chania, towards Agia Marina
  • A sea-kayak trip from Kalathas beach (15 minutes from the centre of Chania).
  • A day in a water park

Hiking enthusiasts will also be able to visit the Imbros Gorge for a 3-hour walk down the Gorge.

Samaria National park Crete

If you don’t have a car or you just don’t feel like driving, there are also several organised bus tours that let you explore the traditional mountain villages and include tastings of local products as well as lunch in a tavern.

Here are some of the different trips on offer:

Voyage Tips - Advice

For a 6-day trip to Crete, you can remove any day from the itinerary that you prefer least, depending on your interests.

For an 8-day itinerary in Crete, you can add organised activities or trips. You also have the Agia Irini Gorge hike which is very well known in the surroundings of Chania.

One week tour in Crete – With a travel agency

On, I give you all my best tips and itineraries to plan your trip to Crete by yourself. (All my Crete guides are here)

However, if you prefer to book a Crete tour with a travel agency, I recommend you to check the 10 best Crete tours by clicking the button below:

Feel free to give us your opinion and suggestions on our one-week itinerary in Crete!

If you have any questions for organising your one-week tour in Crete, please feel free to ask me in the comments.

How to get to Crete: flights & ferries prices

By plane

To reach Chania, the quickest option is to take a flight.

Chania airport is located on Akrotiri peninsula, 14 km from the city centre.

As always, you should book your plane tickets as early as possible to get the best prices. You have to know that the flight prices to Corsica can vary a lot throughout the year!

So to check the rates and schedules, you can use our flight comparator, in partnership with Skyscanner:

By ferry

Chania can be reach by ferries from the port of Piraeus in Athens. However, it takes 9 hours for the crossing.

To check prices and schedules of ferries to Crete, simply click on the button below:

Renting a boat in Crete

If you want to rent a boat for a nice day at sea during your stay in Crete, you should book it with Samboat.

Motorboats, sailboats, yachts, small boats without a license, with or without a skipper: they simply have the most complete offer for boat rental!

So, what are you waiting for to book your boat trip in Crete? 😊

Book your trip now and save money!

You’re traveling to Crete? These articles will help you!

Discover all my articles about Crete: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Crete are listed there.

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Crete one week itinerary
Crete one week itinerary

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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