Last updated on November 11, 2023 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Crete

Two weeks in Crete, itineraries with things to do based on your type of holiday

Organising a trip for two weeks in Crete is not as easy, I know, I have been through it. 

This is a big island, 350km long and almost 100km large. It is not just the distance, but the type of roads as well. 

The good news is that you can explore most of it with an itinerary of two weeks in Crete, however, planning is an essential part, and that’s where this guide is going to help.

I have been travelling to Crete since 2010 after 20 odds years of roaming Greece and I am in love with it since

In this guide, you will find different routes based on the type of experience you want to have, either with plenty of beach time or maybe more trekking, a family time or a romantic holiday.

You can read also

Two weeks in Crete, planning a trip - the north coast
Two weeks in Crete, planning a trip along the winding roads of the island

Two weeks in Crete – in a nutshell

Let me say first why I am so in love with this island.

Because Crete has really everything, from the most stunning beaches to incredible trekking options, not to mention the innovative Cretan cuisine and so much more.

But let’s get down to a few itineraries that you will find more detailed later in the post.

Reference map for two weeks in Greece
Reference map for 14 days in Greece

Follow the link to discover more about the itinerary that suits you the best, including top activities, beaches, day trips and of course a few great places to stay in Crete based on what you want to visit

  • Two weeks in Crete for beaches: you have here two options. The first one is to explore Chania and the south coast, the second one is to do Chania and the east where you will find the only palm beach in Europe. Read more below on a beach itinerary
  • Two weeks in Crete for couples: for a romantic trip you should include Chania and the south coast with a few days in the small island of Gavdos. Read more below on a romantic itinerary
  • For families: with 14 days you can think to build an itinerary based on a couple of locations (more could be too much, especially with small kids). If you are travelling with bigger children you can also think to include some trekking. Read more below on a family itinerary
  • For history and trekking: Crete is one of the most amazing islands in Greece for both history and trekking. Knossos is a must-see but there are also other hidden gems around. The Samaria Gorge is a popular trekking option, however, there are other unique walks you should not miss. Read more below for the history and trekking itinerary
  • For a bit of everything: a visit to the unmissable Knossos is a must, as well as at two of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. But there is so much more, including a few secret places and tours. Read below for more details

If you are planning to move around you have two options, renting a car or use public transportation.

I was totally impressed by the bus network running through the island, very good and efficient.

For more flexibility, you can also decide to rent a scooter or a car. I did it in a few occasions, either for a day tour to Elafonisi Beach, for example, or for a few days to explore the east coast

My go-to website is DiscoverCars.com, they give the best unbeatable deals analysing all the current prices from more than 30 rentals companies.

Check the car prices

For every itinerary below, I have added also a section with the suggested hotels and tours. You can buy the ferry ticket on site

You can also book your tours on-site, however, there is no difference in price and of course, they may be booked out, especially if you travel in peak season.

Secluded beach on the south coast of Crete
Secluded beach on the south coast of Crete

Two weeks in Crete for beaches

Here below are two itineraries that will touch the 4 most beautiful beaches of Crete, rated in the top 10 of Greece.

Chania and the south

Two weeks in Crete for beaches
Two weeks in Crete for beaches

The south coast is magical and unspoilt.

One of the main reason is the limited number of options you have to access it.

Well, let’s say there is only a practical one, by ferry, or a challenging one, trekking

This is the itinerary I would suggest for two weeks in Crete around Chania and the south:

  • Day 1: Arrival to Chania and wandering around town
  • Day 2: Take a day trip to Elafonisi Beach in Kissamos
  • Day 3-4: Stay local, check out the most popular beach being Chrissi Akti and explore the beautiful and secluded Koum Kapi Beach and the child-friendly Nea Chora Beach.
  • Day 5: Take a day trip by boat to Balos Beach
  • Day 6: Grab a bus to the lovely town of Palaiochora, so magical at night.
  • Day 7: Stay local at Ammos Beach. Alternatively, go to crystal clear water Gialiskari Beach (4km, you will need either a scooter or a bicycle)
  • Day 8: Ferry to the secluded Agia Roumeli and relax at the local beach
  • Day 9: From Agia Roumeli you can have a walk up to the final part of the 14km long Samaria Gorge. You can do the trekking up to the Iron Gates (3km). Back to town and relax at the beach.
  • Day 10: Ferry to the lovely town of Loutro (accessible only by boat) and time at the local beach
  • Day 11: Walk along the coast to the unique Glyka Nera Beach, where the sweet water mix with the sea
  • Day 12: Ferry to Hora Sfakion and relax at the local beach
  • Day 13: Rent a car or even better a scooter and to go to Preveli Beach (~1 hour), a lovely one with a palm grove and a river 
  • Day 14: Bus to your airport of departure (Chania or Heraklion, you can read more about both cities here)

I would suggest bypassing completely Agia Roumeli and spend more time in Loutro if you are not interested in the Samaria Gorge.

Resources:

Balos Beach and Lagoon - All you need to know - The practical guide
Balos Beach and Lagoon – All you need to know – The practical guide

Chania and the east

The first part of this itinerary for two weeks in Crete is exactly the same as the previous one, however, you will head east instead of the south in the second part.

Itinerary with all the most beautiful beaches
Itinerary with all the most beautiful beaches

In this way, you will be able to experience all the 4 most beautiful beaches of Crete, rated all in the top 10 of Greece.

  • Day 1: Arrival to Chania and wandering around town
  • Day 2: Day tour to Elafonisi Beach 
  • Day 3-4: Enjoy the local beaches of Chania, the most popular Chrissi Akti, the beautiful and secluded Koum Kapi Beach and the child-friendly Nea Chora Beach.
  • Day 5: Day tour by boat to Balos Beach
  • Day 6: Bus to the characteristic town of Sitia
  • Day 7: Relax at the local beach of Sitia
  • Day 8: Rent a car or a scooter and drive east to Vai Beach, the only palm beach in Europe
  • Day 9: Keep your vehicle and explore the other beaches around, as Erimoupolis Beach, or the Kyriamaki Nature Park for more loneliness.
  • Day 10: Bus to Agios Nikolaos and wandering around town
  • Day 11: Enjoy the local beaches of Agios Nikolaos, Kitroplatia or the more popular Ammoudi.
  • Day 12: Take a trip to Spinalonga, a tiny island full of history, with Venetian fortification all around used in a later stage also as a leper colony.
  • Day 13: Day tour to Chrissi Island for the amazing Golden Beach, a white and blue paradise.
  • Day 14: Bus to your airport of departure (Chania or Heraklion, you can read more about both cities here)

Resources:

Chrissi Beach, south of Crete
Golden Beach in Chrissi Island, south of Crete

Two romantic weeks in Crete for couples

Crete can be a really romantic island, even if you visit it in August, the peak-peak season.

Romantic itinerary in Crete for couples
Romantic itinerary in Crete for couples

There are a few places where you can’t avoid the crowd, however, you can find also a few little gems unknown to the most.

This romantic itinerary of two weeks in Crete starts, once again, from Chania.

Just a quick reminder that, even if you land in Heraklion, you can take a public or private bus that will take you to Chania in just 3 hours.

  • Day 1: Arrival to Chania and wandering around town. Head to Chatzimichali Ntaliani for dinner. This is a lovely small pedestrian lane with plenty of great restaurants and a characteristic atmosphere
  • Day 2: Rent a car or a scooter and head early in the morning to Elafonisi Beach, as beautiful as popular. You will have it mostly on your own if you arrive before the day tours. On the way back stop at one of the many villages for a few mesedes (tapas) and a glass of ouzo.
  • Day 3: Bus to the lovely town of Palaiochora, so magical at night.
  • Day 4: Rent a bike and ride (4km) to the characteristic Gialiskari Beach, famous for its crystal clear water
  • Day 5: Take a ferry to the lovely town of Loutro (accessible only by ferry)
  • Day 6-7: Enjoy the romantic Loutro, the local beach and the unique Glyka Nera Beach, easily reachable with a short walk along the coast
  • Day 8: Ferry to Hora Sfakion and relax at the local beach
  • Day 9: Rent a scooter and head to Preveli Beach (~1 hour) through the spectacular coastal trip
  • Day 10: Ferry to Gavdos Island, the hippy and hipster place to be. 
  • Day 11-12: Enjoy the many beaches of the island, including a few naturistic ones, the laid-back culture and the easy-going life.
  • Day 13: Ferry back to Hora Sfakion
  • Day 14: Bus to your airport of departure (Chania or Heraklion, you can read more about both cities here)

If you prefer to be more stable than you can also opt for this option:

  • Weeks 1: stay in either Chania or Rethymno. They are both very romantic towns, with a characteristic old centre and plenty of restaurants and bars full of charm. From these towns, you can organise day trips to Elafonisi Beach, Balos Beach and Preveli Beach. You can also add a day trip to the Samaria Gorge if you are into trekking. 
  • Week 2: you spend it in Gavdos Island, for more isolation and seclusion in the hippy island of Greece

Unfortunately, you will have to give up on Loutro, which is a bit of a pity, such a romantic small village.

Resources:

Two weeks in Crete for families

Travelling with kids means you add a new level of difficulty.

There are more things to carry around and kids tend to enjoy more a stable holiday than an itinerant one.

For this reason, I usually suggest splitting your holiday in max 2 locations.

14 days for families
14 days for families
  • Week 1: book your stay in Almyrida, 25km east of Chania. The beach is lovely and the town is quiet, perfect for a family stay. You can think to explore Chania in the late evening and organise day trips to any of the famous beaches (Elafonisi, Balos and Preveli) either with an organised tour or renting your own car. If you are travelling with big kids than the Samaria Gorge trekking (14km) is also an option. The tour will take you to the start, on the top of the mountain and you will walk down (14km) through the gorge to Agia Roumeli Beach where you will join back the tour operator.
  • Week 2: go to Gouves for an all-inclusive beach holiday or move to Agios Nikolaos for more time at the beach and tours to Spinalonga (history in a Venetian fortress) and Chrissi Island (for one of the most amazing beaches of Greece)

Resources:

14 days in Crete for history and trekking

In this itinerary, you will enjoy a few historical sites, some trekking and a few unique places. You will have some time at the beach too but not as extensively as in the other trips

Two weeks in Crete with trekking and historical landmarks
Two weeks in Crete with trekking and historical landmarks
  • Day 1: Arrival to Heraklion and wandering around town.
  • Day 2: Day tour to Knossos, a Bronze Age archaeological site and Europeโ€™s oldest city. Absolutely stunning.
  • Day 3: Rent a car or a scooter and head to the Paliani monastery, founded in 668AD
  • Day 4: Organise a day trekking to the highest mountain of Crete, where locals ski in winter, Mount Ida
  • Day 5: Take a bus to Agios Nikolaos and wander around town or spend the afternoon at the local beach.
  • Day 6: Take a trip to Spinalonga, the small island with a Venetian fortress used also as a leper colony, an island full of history that dates back to the 15th century
  • Day 7: Organise a day trekking to Richti Gorge, a great walk down to an isolated beach with a waterfall on the way.
  • Day 8: Bus to Rethymno, for the amazing old town and the gorgeous and famous restaurants
  • Day 9: Enjoy the town and relax at the local beach
  • Day 10: Bus to Chania, another town with a characteristic old centre
  • Day 11-12-13: Organise day trips to Samaria Gorge, Agia Irini Gorge and one of the two famous beaches, Elafonisi or Balos.
  • Day 14: Bus to your airport of departure (local Chania airport or Heraklion)

Resources:

Knossos, Europe's oldest city
Knossos, Europe’s oldest city

Two weeks to explore everything

In this itinerary, you will explore a bit of everything, however, you will have to give up on the remote eastern part of the island.

You could literally see most of it if you move every single day, however, in my opinion, you would spend more time actually travelling than enjoying the places.

The trip below assumes that you will arrive in Heraklion and leave from Chania. You can always revert it of course.

Two weeks in Crete to experience everything
Two weeks in Crete to experience everything
  • Day 1: Arrival to Heraklion. Time to explore the city.
  • Day 2: Rent a car or a scooter and organise a trip to Knossos, Europeโ€™s oldest city, and the Paliani monastery, founded in 668AD. It will be a long day but well worth the effort.
  • Day 3: Bus to Rethymno, for the real food experience and the charming old town
  • Day 4: Enjoy the town and the local beach
  • Day 5: Explore the interior of Crete with a day tour (Bygone Adventure with Cooking Class has all you need to explore and experience the local way of doing things)
  • Day 6: Organise a day-trip to the lovely Preveli Beach, in a unique palm valley
  • Day 7: Take a bus to Chania
  • Day 8: Enjoy the local beaches, either the popular Chrissi Akti, the beautiful and secluded Koum Kapi Beach or the child-friendly Nea Chora Beach.
  • Day 9: Organise a day trip to Samaria Gorge, a must trekking destination
  • Day 10: Day tour to Elafonisi Beach
  • Day 11: Wine and Oil tour, a great experience that will help you understand the local economy of the remote Greek island, besides having lots of fun.
  • Day 12: Boat Tour to the spectacular Balos Beach.
  • Day 13: It has been a busy 2 weeks, why not have a rest at the local beach ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Day 14: Bus to your airport of departure (local Chania airport or Heraklion)

Resources:

Samaria Gorge Hike - difficulty, length, map, time and all you need to know
Samaria Gorge Hike – difficulty, length, map, time and all you need to know

DIY 14 days in Crete

If you have still any question, please, leave a comment, I usually reply in no-time.

For a DIY itinerary, I suggest checking out my extensive guide to all the areas to stay in Crete, with a few accommodations suggestion.

In this guide, you can pick the towns that more suites your type of trip and build your own itinerary.

Keep in mind that leaving from Chania Airport makes things easier (quicker check-in process). Heraklion airport can be chaotic.

Read more on best areas of Crete

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

18 thoughts on “Two weeks in Crete [best itineraries with map and places to see]”

  1. Hi Stefano,

    My wife and I are travelling to Crete from Canada for 2 weeks or so in October, 2023.

    We are interested in history, architecture and local culture. We’re past the beach stage except for photos and easy walks. No trekking is planned.

    We will be renting a car while there and I was hoping that you could recommend just 4 areas to stay (3 nights per) so that we can explore during day trips without packing up every morning to move.

    We’re probably going to be using Airbnb or small B&Bs or affordable boutique hotels. Your recommendations would be appreciated.

    Thanks for your assistance.

    Doug

    Reply
  2. Thanks a lot for this Guide! Helped my girlfriend and I get around the island very much ๐Ÿ™‚ In the end, we decided to do:
    (Land & departure from Heraklion)
    -3 days Rethymno (1 Chill, 1 Preveli, 1 city)
    -6 days Chania (1 Golden Beach, 1 Balos, 1 Samaria George , 1 Chill, 1 Elafonissi)
    -3 days Heraklion City (incl. 1 day Knossos)
    -3 days chill in an All-inclusive-resort on the beach ๐Ÿ™‚ (close to Heraklion)

    Reply
  3. Hello ๐Ÿ™‚
    we are a couple that planning to arrive to crete for 16 days (and renting a cre for the whole trip) at the end of august. we are looking for private beautiful beaches mostly on the south coast, our trip is mostly about amazing private beaches that can be reached with a standard car (not a 4X4 or hiking). i saw that you haven’t said anything about the farmost south-east beaches, around the city lerapetra and all over the south’s side. we try to divide the trip to 4 different stays:
    1. Agios Nikolaos
    2. Lerapetra
    3. Hora Sfakion (or closer to Matala)
    4. close to Chania and visit the beaches around Elafonissi
    every stop is 4 days to visit the best beaches around there (according to what google maps says)
    what do you say about this plan? do you think that we need to change anything?
    Thanks in advance!! looking forward for your answer ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Hi Gili, it’s a great plan. The most unknown beaches are exactly there, in the south east coast. Google Maps is always a great tool to look for them. Usually the hardest to get the lonely it will be. Another great spot is Gavdos Island where you can spend a few days.
      Enjoy your trip.
      Cheers

      Reply
  4. Dear Stefano
    I used your guide to Sicily almost exclusively when planning a trip there with my parents in 2019. I am so happy to have found that you have a guide to Crete as well!
    We will be three teens (13, 15 & 17), two adults and two seniors. We have about 10 days. I’m thinking fly into Heralikon (my daughter is a Greek history enthusiast) then head for the east. Not too much hiking for us, but beaches for sure!
    And yes, we will be renting a car from the start…
    Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, so glad you found my guides so helpful. The Crete guide was actually my little baby, the start of my blogging adventure which I have updated throughout the years. I will be in Greece shortly again for 2 months and I am so looking forward to it!!
      That is a great family trip. I love it. Great idea to fly to Heraklion. From there you can visit Knossos of course and the Paliani Monastery.
      There is no need to rent a car to visit Knossos, you can go with a tour with a van (for the whole family) or by public transportation.
      I suggest however to rent a van (I use DiscoverCars website for the excellent prices) to visit the rest of the island and save some money on local tours (like to Spinalonga or Chrissi Island)
      For your holiday I would suggest staying in
      Heraklion for 2-3 days max: Athinaiko Hotel (for a budget solution) or 3 Pines Design Living (for an Airbnb like solution).
      Agios Nikolaos for 2-3 days (a great base to visit Spinalonga and Chrissi Island by car and ferry): Villa Italiana, a real bargain, indeed not in the city itself but such a beautiful place
      Sitia for the rest of the stay (from there you can visit Palm Beach as well as other beaches, my favourite part of the island because not that touristy): This apartment in the centre is so convenient besides the great price. Also Romanza Villas are great, although not in the centre

      I hope I was able to help out.
      Enjoy Crete!!

      Reply
      • You are really a gem! Thanks for all the info! Wishing you a wonderful stay in Greece and all the best… ๐Ÿ™‚

        Reply
  5. Dear Stefano๏ผŒ
    Thank you very much for your post. We plan a family trip (a couple with two kids of 15 and 11 years old) to Crete in August for about 12 days, start with Herakilion and end up in Chania. How many days would we need for Herakilion and Chania city itself? And would it be too hot to do the trekking at Samaria Gorge in the middle of August? I am thinking about the Lazy walk you suggested (because of my knee). But why we have to stay the previous night in Agia Roumeli? Can’t we reach Agia Roumeli in the morning or early afternoon from Chania via Palaiochora ferry boat you mentioned ? And are there organised day trip for such a laze walk?
    Thank you very much for your help in advance!

    Reply
    • Hi Emily,
      it’s always hard to give the exact days in a city because we are all different. In saying that, I personally suggest to spend more days in Chania than Heraklion. Say 2 days in Heraklion (to visit also Knossos) and 3 or more days in Chania (it depends if you want to keep it as a base to visit Samaria, Elafonissi etc). Chania itself is beautiful, however, it really depends on the day trips you plan from there.
      Regarding to the Samaria Gorge. August will be hot, in fact the hottest time to do the walk. If you plan the night before in Agia Roumeli, you will be able to start the walk in the early morning, when it’s cool and still with the Gorge mostly in the shade. You can of course do it also from Chania but it requires more organisation and it will be a much longer day. All of the organised day trips that I know will pick you up from Chania, leave you at the top end of the Gorge where you will start you descend.
      I hope I was able to help out
      Cheers

      Reply
  6. Greetings from San Francisco Bay area.

    Thank you for your post! I would love your recommendation for our upcoming family trip (2 adults and 2 kids: 8 and 15 year old) to Crete in June for 14-16 days aprox. The goal is to spend alternating 4-5 days at the beach (we plan to stay at a nice beach hotel) and spend at least 7-10 days to explore the island (at least 3-4 archeological and historic sites, 1-2 boat tours to small islands; explore cute towns). Can you please advise if it’s best to stay close to Chania (we really like Minoa Palace hotel as our base but haven’t booked anything yet) and do day trips to Heraklion area sites (Knossos, etc) or split our stay into to 2 locations- around Chania and Heraklion area.
    – Do you recommend renting a car or rely on tour pickups and taxi.
    – If staying 2 locations, how do you recommend to move to another location- rent a car, bus, taxi, etc.
    Thank you in advance!
    Valentina

    Reply
    • Hi Valentina,
      you will have such an amazing time with your family in Crete!!

      I love your plan. If you are not thinking about visiting the eastern side of the island (Palm Beach, Chrissi Island, Spinalonga etc) then I would stay uniquely in the Chania area. So easy to reach Heraklion from there for a day trip.
      I personally prefer to rent a car because I feel more flexible. In Crete, it is not just about the destination of your day trip but also the stops in small villages along the route.

      If you decide to stay in 2 places, take a bus for the city transfer and a taxi from the bus station to the hotel, if far away. The taxi from Chania to Heraklion can be expensive and the bus service is actually great.
      You can find a ton more of information about getting around the island, day trips, etc on https://mel365.com/crete-travel-blog/
      Enjoy your trip
      Cheers

      Reply
    • I was in Gazi for a day at the beach and I enjoyed it. It’s around 8-10km to Heraklion Centre, so a quick taxi ride. I had a rented scooter in that occasion and it was an easy ride along the coast.
      Overall is a good solution if you want to stay at the beach.
      Cheers

      Reply
  7. I visited Crete this year with my gf.
    Rethymno is so romantic place and Chania is the ultimate place to explore.
    Stunning views, the best beaches in the world, you must go there.

    Reply

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