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Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

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Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

Hello helpful tripadvisors!

I am travelling to Crete for 10 days in early October, flying into and out of Heraklion airport. We are keen hikers (have walked the Lycian Way - or at least a good chunk of it) but also like to relax, swim, wander around old cities and eat ourselves silly in little tavernas... We like non-touristy places but wouldn't let that keep us from visiting top sights, and prefer personal, family run hotels, though happy to splash out if somewhere is really special.

I was hoping I could get some thoughts on my itinerary below?

Day 1 - Late flight into Heraklion, arrive 11pm - one night at Lato boutique hotel (for the wake-up views of the harbour and handy 24 hour check in)

Day 2 - Fit in some early morning sightseeing, then hire a car and head to Zaros for two nights, staying at Heraklia Rooms - go hiking, relax, maybe do a cookery class

Day 4 - Drive to Sougia - spend two nights, hike (as per TA recommendations), relax

Day 6 - leave the hire car in Sougia and take the ferry to Agia Roumeli - stay for two nights and do the Samaria Gorge walk

Day 8 - Take the ferry to Loutro and spend one night - do a day walk

Day 9 - Take the ferry from Loutro back to Sougia, grab the car and drive to Chania - one night in Chania old town or Rethymno?

Day 10 - Drive to Heraklion for an early evening flight home.

What do you think? Would it be better to reach Loutro and Agia Roumeli from Sfakia given our relative time constraint? Should we skip Zaros (I've become oddly attached to going there but realise it reduces our time in the south).

Thanks in advance for your help!

10 replies to this topic
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1. Re: Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

Here are some thoughts:

>Day 1 - Late flight into Heraklion, arrive 11pm - one night at Lato boutique hotel (for the wake-up views of the harbour and handy 24 hour check in)<

If you are staying at the Lato, be aware that not all the rooms have the harbour view. The best rooms - and the views from them - are the Junior and Executive Suites, on the top floor. Rooms on lower floors in that building will also have the view, but not quite as good. Also be aware that some of the rooms are in a second building, and won't have views at all. I suggest you phone the hotel and discuss this with them. I would also stay for two nights (see Day 2 below).

>Day 2 - Fit in some early morning sightseeing, then hire a car and head to Zaros for two nights, staying at Heraklia Rooms - go hiking, relax, maybe do a cookery class<

You need more time in Heraklion. I don't know what you think you can fit in in "some early morning sightseeing", but you should stay the full day in Heraklion, visit Knossos, spend at least a couple of hours in the Archaeological Museum, explore the city to see its magnificent Venetian remains - fortress, arsenali, buildings, fountains - and have a couple of meals in its friendly tavernas to pick up a little bit of the lively energy of this interesting, vibrant city.

So as I said above, stay two nights in Heraklion. That may mean dropping Zaros, as you yourself have suggested (and I would agree: see below).

>Day 4 - Drive to Sougia - spend two nights, hike (as per TA recommendations), relax<

It's a long drive from Heraklion to Sougia: at least 3.5 hours, without stops for eating, looking at the landscape, taking photos. Just so you know: it's really half a day. It takes longer from Zaros if you go there. Even with a very early start you couldn't do either of the two principal walks - to Lissos, and the Agia Irini gorge - in what's left of the day, given the early sunset time in October.

>Day 6 - leave the hire car in Sougia and take the ferry to Agia Roumeli - stay for two nights and do the Samaria Gorge walk<

What exactly is your plan for the walk? Of course it's possible to walk up the gorge, but it will take you the full day, and you'll have to stay in Omalos and walk back down the following day. I don't think you can mean this, given your Day 8 plan! And the walk down would be a killer after the previous day.

You can walk up halfway or a bit more than halfway up the gorge and walk back down the same day. I've done this a number of times and it's very rewarding: with a sunrise start you will have the gorge to yourself for at least three hours. You will be able to get at least to the village of Samaria, maybe a bit further depending on your walking pace and stamina.

If you want to walk the whole gorge, a better plan would be to do it from Sougia - take the bus to Omalos, walk down the gorge, and take the ferry back to Sougia.

>Day 8 - Take the ferry to Loutro and spend one night - do a day walk<

The possibilities are many. Ask for suggestions if you want them - perhaps you've already made a plan?

>Day 9 - Take the ferry from Loutro back to Sougia, grab the car and drive to Chania - one night in Chania old town or Rethymno?<

The ferry will take all day (there will be only one ferry from Agia Roumeli to Sougia, at 1700 or 17.30). The alternative, if you don't want to do this, is to forget Sougia and as you suggest go to Chora Sfakion and leave the car there for your visit to Agia Roumeli and Loutro.

If you have only one day, I don't think it matters greatly whether you spend it in Chania or Rethymnon - they're both lovely cities. Rethymnon will bring you closer to Heraklion, of course, for your Day 10 drive.

>Day 10 - Drive to Heraklion for an early evening flight home.<

What do you think? Would it be better to reach Loutro and Agia Roumeli from Sfakia given our relative time constraint? Should we skip Zaros (I've become oddly attached to going there but realise it reduces our time in the south).

I am possibly the only person on the forum who doesn't especially like Zaros - but then I've only visited it once, to drive through it and have lunch there. The countryside around it is lovely, but the south west is more interesting, and coastal and mountain scenery is spectacular. With only 10 days to spend in Crete, I'd go straight there and concentrate on that area.

I hope this has been helpful. Others will no doubt give you more suggestions. Don't hesitate to come back with more questions - some revision, as you'll see from what I've said, will be needed, certainly for the Samaria Gorge, and - possibly - for Heraklion, where I really think you should spend a day.

Edited: 7:30 am, April 01, 2016
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2. Re: Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

Why are you flying into Heraklion when most of the places you want to see are in Chania Prefecture?

I would spend a night in Paleochora rather than two nights in Sougia. If you really want to visit Zaros, and fly from Heraklion why not spend your last night in Zaros and be only 1 1/2 hrs from the airport at the end your trip?

Are you planning to walk up and back to/from Omalos in one day from Aghia Roumeli? Perhaps that' why you feel the need for two nights at Aghia Roumeli. If you put Samaria gorge in the search box at the top of the forum you can see lots of advice.

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3. Re: Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

The car seems to be a problem for your southwest trip. The bus system is pretty good in Crete. You could take a bus to Chania and connect to either Sfakia or Sougia. I would not replace Sougia with Paleochora. Five nights could be distributed something like 2 nights Sougia, 1 night Agia Roumelli, 2 nights Loutro. You would then ferry to Chora Sfakia and catch a bus to Chania. The timing of the ferrys will help determine your itinerary.

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4. Re: Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

I wouldn't replace Sougia with Paleochora either, though most people like it.

Phillygal is correct that you don't need a car for the south west coast, where there are no roads; and if you decide against Zaros you won't need a car at all. In following your itinerary, and making suggestions for tweaking it, my assumption was that you wanted to have a car for the whole of your time in Crete, even though you know that you won't be using it for several days and will have to return to Sougia to collect it.

If you are willing to forego the car, and if you forget about Zaros, you could use the public bus for the whole of your visit, and save yourselves the expense of car rental, petrol, etc. You can take the bus from Heraklion to Chania, and thence to Sougia or Chora Sfakion, and do your coastal trip, in whichever order you decide, and return to Chania and/or Rethymnon and Heraklion by bus.

If you decide to access the south west coast from Chora Sfakion rather than Sougia, you can take the bus from Heraklion to Rethymnon and change for Chora Sfakion at Vrysses. I can explain how once you decide.

Edited: 10:36 am, April 01, 2016
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5. Re: Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

Good advice so far. Heraklion certainly requires more than a day to do Knossos the museum and the old Venetian area.

Heraklion https:/…72157655935354556

I suspect you actually intended to do the walk up the bottom of the Gorge and then turn around and return to Agia Roumelli the same day.. If not then consider taking the local bus from Rethymnon or Chania and do the gorge from the top. Or as Albastron says from Sougia you can also take the morning bus up to the top of the Gorge.

The advice to use the bus system is sound. We always used to rent a car but on our last two trips simply took the bus. It is inexpensive and comfortable.

Here are images of what you will see.

Ferry trip Libyan Sea https:/…72157653434073393

Crete Libyan Sea villages https:/…

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6. Re: Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

>Are you planning to walk up and back to/from Omalos in one day from Aghia Roumeli? <

In case you are planning what weloveholidays asks, you must understand that that is simply not possible. I'm not saying it has never been done, but it will have been done only by super-fit people who are (a) very fast walkers and (b) very experienced walkers and (c) have walked through the Samaria Gorge several times before and don't mind hurrying this time, having seen it at leisure before.

And having said all that, it would be impossible even for such superhumans in October, when the daylight hours are short.

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7. Re: Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

This is really helpful, thank you!

Couple of thoughts/further questions:

1. Zaros - happy to leave it out this time (my initial plan was to do a tour of the north, with more time in Chania and Milia, when it made a bit more sense to include it). This should also give us an extra day for Loutro.

2. A half day's drive is not a problem - we've driven in the US/NZ, so are used to longer distances, and don't mind if it's only on one or two days. Are the roads particularly hairy?

3. Agia Roumeli - my thoughts were we hike up as far as we feel fit to in the early morning, and then walk back down - didn't realise we wouldn't be able to make it to the top but that's no issue - thanks for letting me know!

4. Loutro - If we miss out Zaros, we could potentially spend an extra night here. I haven't made any concrete plans in terms of walks yet, but have read your recommendations on other threads, which sound great.

5. Chora Sfakion - If we base ourselves in Chora Sfakion, the other alternative might be to do the Loutro - Sfakia walk as a day trip and omit the stay in Loutro. Any thoughts on whether this might be preferable? Or, as we plan to go to Agia Roumeli as well, will this just mean more ferry trips back and forth?

Heraklion - thanks for the Lato hotel tip! As we only have 10 days, my feeing is that we'd be itching to get out to the trails, and to the south, hence the one night - but I'll look into an extra one too.

Many thanks again for your input, it's much appreciated!

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8. Re: Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

You're welcome.

2. I mentioned the length of the drive not because it's a problem, but because I wanted you to realise that you won't have time for either of the walks from Sougia in what's left of the day.

The road from Heraklion to Chania is the main highway: straight and wide, not in the least hairy. It will take you around two hours. The road from Chania to Sougia is narrow and bendy, but if you take it slow it won't be a problem. Do take it slow: it's a beautiful road. It will take you another two hours.

3. That's fine. As I said earlier, you will be able to go at least as far as Samaria village - 2.5 - 3 hours - before turning back. That makes a lovely, do-able walk. If you're minded to go further - this part is fairly steeply uphill - another 4km will bring you to Agios Nikolaos, where there are magnificent cypress trees, the tallest in Crete. If you do gothis far up, you'll have walked almost the entire gorge - all but the first 4km. You'll have walked about 24km, on stones, and your feet will know it when you get back to Agia Roumeli.

Full description of the walk here: www.west-crete.com/samaria-gorge-walk.htm

4. You are spoiled for choice as regards walks from Loutro, as you've seen from my previous posts. They're all good, so just take your choice. If you want a really long coastal walk, you could do the walk to Agia Roumeli. Or, if you aren't tired of gorge walking, consider the Aradena gorge. (You do need to be experienced to do this: it involves quite a bit of scrambling.)

5. I would stay in Loutro, and walk to Sfakia from there, stopping at Sweetwater beach on the way. Take the ferry back. Loutro is a better starting point for most of the walks.

>As we only have 10 days, my feeing is that we'd be itching to get out to the trails, and to the south, hence the one night - but I'll look into an extra one too.<

I know. But you really should not neglect Heraklion. The museum is one of the best in the world, and Knossos an extremely important ancient site. Go to Knossos either first thing in the morning, or late in the afternoon, for the best light, and for peace and quiet.

Edited: 12:37 pm, April 01, 2016
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9. Re: Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

PS I think you are absolutely right to omit Zaros. It would take you out of the way of your main destination, and in any case it's better, with limited time, to focus on one area - in this case, and as walking is your main interest, the south west coast and villages.

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10. Re: Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro from Heraklion - itinerary?

Thanks again everyone. I had assumed hiring a car would be much easier than taking the bus but now think we'll act on all your advice, particularly as this gives us a bit more flexibility with our itinerary in the south west. Looking forward to it!

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