Sofia Adventures

Welcome to Sofia!

Sofia is an intriguing city, with corners that show at various times a glint of the splendor of Vienna, the charm of Istanbul, the quirkiness of Budapest, and the brutalism of Moscow. You’ll find Roman ruins in our subway stations, medieval icons in the church basements, and Thracian relics in the former presidential palace. Yet Sofia brings all of these seemingly disparate traditions together into one magical, inspiring city.

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The Perfect 2 Days in Chania Itinerary (Plus Bonus Day Trips!)

Chania, the second most important city of Crete, is located in the western area of the island, and it is a perfect destination for a summer getaway.

There are plenty of things to see, so it sometimes might be hard to choose what to add to your Chania itinerary. Many people who visit Crete travel around the island trying to see the most of it, and it’s common for visitors to devote two days to Chania.

For those who have some extra time to spare on Crete, we have included a few day trip ideas from Chania, which you can pick according to your different interests. You can choose just one or do even more if you’re visiting Chania for more than just a couple of days.

All these ideas in this Chania itinerary can be perfectly included in a more extended trip to the island, combined with visits to cities such as Rethymnon or Heraklion, or even be a city break all on its own.

Day 1 of Your Chania Itinerary

Start the morning with a bougatsa

Greek coffee and bougatsa, an ideal way to start your day in Chania

Start your day in Chania in the most traditional way: reach the center of town and head directly to enjoy one of the most delicious breakfasts in Crete: bougatsa!

This traditional dish is made with a very soft kind of local goat cheese, and it’s one of the staples of the local cuisine. 

The best place to taste bougatsa in Chania is Iordanis. This bakery started producing this sweet 95 years ago and it still remains a favorite for the locals. Iordanis Bougatsa is just a few meters from the old town, and it’s plain yummy!

Visit the local market

Municipal Market of Chania.

After your breakfast, walk for a few more meters until you arrive at the local Municipal Market, or agora, in Greek.

The market first opened to the public back in 1913 and it’s a must-visit on any Chania itinerary. Here, local producers sell their own cheese, honey, fresh bread, and olive oil. The agora is also very convenient for a quick lunch on the go. 

Wander the alleys of the Old Town

Old town alley, Chania.

Once you leave the market from the back door, you’ll be entering the alleys of the old town. Devote at least two hours to walk the pedestrian streets of the Venetian quarter.

Once you reach the area known as Ebraiki, be sure to pay a visit to the only Synagogue still standing on Crete, Etz Hayim. 

The building, abandoned after the years of the German occupation, was restructured in 1999 and is now open to the public. Inside, you can discover one of the oldest mikvah (ritual bath) in the Mediterranean basin.

To experience those sights, tastes, and a few more, it’s a great idea to book a gastronomic walk of Chania that includes every mentioned stop!

Enjoy the afternoon by the waterfront with cocktails

The Venetian port, the mosque, and the lighthouse.

Later on, walk along the stunning waterfront to see the Old Mosque of the Janissaries, the Egyptian lighthouse and the imposing arsenals built by the Venetians over 500 years ago.

A walk along Chalidon Street will allow you to see the Cathedral of the city and Archaeological Museum of Chania, right across the street.

If you’re already in the mood for a bite, choose one of Chania’s local restaurants from this list, you won’t be disappointed.

End your evening having a cocktail on the old Venetian port, Pallas and Barbarossa are two trendy bars, serving very inventive drinks until very late at night. But don’t overdo it, there’s a lot to do on your next day!

Day 2 of Your Chania itinerary

Start your morning in Cape Akrotiri

Stavros Beach.

We have a whole day in the Chania region and we want to make the most of it, so let’s get on the road to visit the nearby Cape Akrotiri.

The area is less than 10 km away from the center of town and although renting a car for a day will be really convenient, you can also travel by taxi (about 15 euros from the center of town). If you’re on a budget, the buses to the area depart from the bus stop right in front of the agora.

You can start your morning on the beach of Stavros. This is one of the prettiest bays of Akrotiri, with tranquil emerald waters, golden, soft sand, and very well sheltered from the northern winds.

Spend a few hours swimming and relaxing under the sun, and take a lunch break in the nearby Almyriki, a beautiful taverna by the sea, serving delicious fresh fish.

Combine it with a cold beer and take some time to soak in the views of the Stavros Mountain. Squeeze in one more swim, and head back in the direction of Chania.

Take in the sunset with a view

View of the city from the Tombs of Venizelos.

On your way back, make a detour to visit the Tombs of Venizelos, Crete’s first prime minister. They are located in a park on top of a mild hill facing the bay of Chania.

The area offers spectacular views of the city, mostly at sunset, and it’s an excellent way to see how large the whole picture is, literally! The view will take you from the sea to the top of the White Mountains.

If you are craving more, a few meters from this park, you can enjoy a coffee in the famous Koukoubaya, one of Chania’s most traditional bars, especially popular for the unique views and delicious homemade cakes — if you like strawberries, do try their Pavlova!

End your two days in Chania back in the old town, enjoy a walk along the streets of the Turkish quarter of Splantzia, home of the most picturesque alleys of the city. You can stop for music at Monastiri tou Karolo, a former monastery which is now one of Chania’s best wine bars.

Bonus: Day Trips in the Chania Region

There are plenty of things you can do if you have more than 2 days in Chania.

There are day trips for those who can’t have enough of Crete’s beaches, but also for those who want to indulge in the local tastes. There’s also a proposal for lovers of outdoor experiences combined with Cretan history and traditions. Take a look and pick what suits you to best customize your Crete trip!

Balos Beach

The spectacular views of Balos Beach.

The spectacular beach of Balos is located on the extreme western tip of the island, about an hour from Chania.

The exotic beach forms a shallow lagoon with magnificent turquoise waters and whitish fine sand. Balos is one of Crete’s most visited places, so try to get there early. Also, be sure to pack a lunch and enough water for the day and the hike. 

Those traveling with public transport can catch a bus to Kissamos from Chania Central Bus Station. Once there, reach the port of Kavonisi and jump on a day cruise to Balos (book in advance if you’re traveling in the summer).

You can also travel by car, driving past the city of Kissamos until the village of Kalyviani. From there on, it follows an adventurous off-road trip on the Gramvousa Peninsula and a 15-minute hike to get to Balos Beach.

Another way to get there is via a shuttle to Kissamos, plus a €27 boat ticket which will cover your transit for the rest of the way.

Gorge of Therisso

Therisso Gorge.

Therisso is located a few kilometers from the center of Chania. You can get there by car or book a whole day excursion from a local tourist office.

The gorge of Therisso has impressive vertical cliffs where it’s not odd to find wild goats jumping freely from one rock to the other. This spectacular drive lets you get a closer look at Chania’s diverse landscape and nature. However, there’s more to see and do. 

The village was the theatre where the Therissso Revolt took place. This event played an important role during the years leading to Crete’s independence and eventual union with Greece. 

Therisso is also popular among locals who usually visit during the weekend to have a traditional Cretan lunch in one of the several great grill tavernas that stand along the main road of the village.

Local Wineries

Manousakis Winery.

The island of Crete is home to 13 unique indigenous varieties of grapes that produce excellent wine labels. There are dozens of important wineries all over the island, especially in the region of Heraklion, but the wineries of Chania are also worth more than a visit. 

If you’re interested in the local tastes, it’s easy to book a winery tour and visit, also combining it with a lunch at the winery itself. This is the winery tour we suggest, which offers an olive oil tasting a well as an introduction to delicious Cretan wines.

If you prefer to plan your own winery visits, we’ll give you a few recommendations (just be sure to have a designated driver or hire a driver for the day!).

About 15 km from the city center, not far from the Omalos Plateau, it’s possible to visit Manousakis Winery, which offers a visit to the premises, wine tasting sessions, cheese platters or delicious dinners.

Closer to the gorge of Imbros, instead, you can visit Dourakis Winery, where it’s also possible to learn about the winemaking process, taste several labels, have lunch or dinner, go for a vineyard picnic, or even learn how to cook like a Cretan!

In the same area, take some time to visit the traditional village of Vryses, famous for their unique Greek yogurt production.

Holy Monastery of Agia Triada.

Finally, if you’d rather pair your wine visit to an interesting historical place, you can check the magnificent Monastery of Agia Triada, 16 km from the city center, and not far from Chania’s International Airport.

The monastery has been producing wine as well as olive oil for years. You can taste all the products in its cellar, visit the museum, the church, and the green fields around the monastery as well.

If everyone in your party wants to drink, don’t drive; remember, you can visit fantastic wineries in Chania trusting this local tour company. Whatever of them you choose, you’ll be enjoying an unforgettable day full of unique Cretan flavors.

Where to Stay in Chania

Chania - Greece - Harbor and lighthouse shown through window shutters

Budget: Doge Traditional Hotel

Doge Traditional Hotel is pretty much exactly that: a lovely historic Venetian traditional house. It was originally built in the 15th century with 8 rooms to offer guests and has been refurbished lovingly. It is an intimate and quiet hotel, perfect for couples and families up to five.

While this charming Chania hotel has many perks, I’d argue the best part of the hotel has to be the rooftop where you can gaze at the beautiful views of the sea – especially during sunset!

Each room has canopy beds set in a beautifully lit room with some nice lamps and chandeliers. This makes each room seem rustic and historic yet still warm and inviting due to the wooden elements in its interiors. Some walls have rough rocks to create an interesting focal point on the whitewashed walls. It also has wooden ceilings which also helps in absorbing noise from outside, aside from adding some serious style points. There are also interesting paintings hung up on the walls to add visual interest.

If you want a bigger suite to accommodate a larger number of people, you can get their superior suite, which has a mezzanine that serves as an additional bedroom. All rooms feature a closet, heating, A/C, fridge, electric kettle, coffee and tea making facilities, sofa bed and safety deposit boxes.

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Mid-Range: The48Suites

This chic hotel features the typical Venetian exterior, but inside it has modern features for the sophisticated traveler. The hotel follows a minimalist aesthetic, livened up with a little playful and artsy décor. Everything just harmonizes perfectly, typical of a boutique-style hotel. It is also located on the picturesque Theotokopoulo Street, where a ton of old houses are lined up – perfect for Instagramming your away around Chania.

It has 3 types of rooms to choose from (which are all suites and apartments). Their prices are somewhat on the lower mid-range, so you’re really going to get your money’s worth here. The superior and deluxe suites offer a balcony (with stylish wicker furniture) and a mezzanine; this is great for families with older kids, but not for ones with small kids as the stairs can be quite dangerous for them.

All of the rooms still follow the minimalist aesthetic, but what’s most important is that they are ridiculously clean (past guests have attested to that)! There’s also a kitchen equipped with all the things you need to prepare a nice dish for your family should you tire of Greek food — if that’s even possible! Coffee machines and a kettle are also provided so you can make your own coffee or tea in the morning or afternoon (or when you feel like having one, which for me is basically always!).

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Luxury: Domus Renier Boutique Hotel

As part of the Historic Hotels Worldwide, this hotel doesn’t just offer a historic Renaissance past, but also a truly luxurious experience you can’t miss. This was once the residence of the Reniers, a noble Venetian family. It is a huge complex, and the main building was converted into a hotel: the exterior and interior of which will basically take you time traveling!

Their rooms are classy, sophisticated, and elegant: no two rooms are alike here. It is also spacious and you are sure to enjoy the simple details of their wooden furniture, adhering to the philosophy that less is more. You will surely love the rain shower in the private bathrooms that totally mimic the rain – bringing the spa experience to your room! For even more of that, you can even have masseuses come to your room for an in-room spa treatment.

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

More Crete Travel Resources

Loutro, Crete, Greece. Turquoise water, white boat, white houses

Headed to Crete? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Greece and local tipping customs.

If you’re still trying to work out where to go on the island, check out our guide to the best places to visit in Crete.

If you’ll be spending a few days in Chania, here is our guide to visiting Seitan Limania from Chania (which is our favorite beach in Crete) and Chania’s best Instagram spots. 

If you will be spending time in Heraklion, check out our guides to the best Instagram spots in Heraklion and the city’s best restaurants and cafes. 

If you’re interested in taking a day trip to Rethymnon, check out our Instagram guide to Rethymnon next, and perhaps our guide to things to do in Rethymnon and the best Rethymnon hotels.

If this will be one of your first trips to the Greek islands, check out our massive Greek Island hopping guide as well as our recommendations for where to go in Greece and when is the best time to visit. 

We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.

5 Things to Bring with You for a Crete Vacation

Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Stephanie Selfie

We have an entire Crete packing list that includes exactly what to bring to Crete, but here are some essentials you don’t want to miss!

A Guidebook – While travel blogs are great, we also definitely see the benefit of having a good paper guidebook in hand to refer to in your on-the-ground travel. We own and recommend the Lonely Planet Greece book as a starter, but you may also want to pick up the Lonely Planet Crete which covers the island more in-depth. 

Sunscreen: Yes, you will want sunscreen in Crete, even if you visit during the winter! While you can buy it here, I suggest you buy the good stuff from recognizable brands or better yet, buy it online in advance. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions.

Motion sickness pills: Great for bus rides especially on mountain or coastal roads – I buy these non-drowsy ones. You can also try these natural motion sickness bands which use acupressure to reduce nausea – they actually work pretty well. And these are a must if you’re also taking ferries, as the sea can be really choppy depending on the weather!

 Travel safety items. We think Crete is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

– Sunglasses. No matter the time of year, Crete has plenty of sunshine! Keep your eyes protected with your favorite pair of sunglasses from home.

Read Next: Essential Crete Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Crete

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Crete, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!

We at Sofia Adventures have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. 

While Greece is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here

Pin This Chania Itinerary!

Planning to visit Chania? This Crete itinerary helps you plan 2 days in Chania in a step by step fashion. This Chania itinerary includes the best things to do in Chania, the best place to visit in Chania region, some Chania restaurant suggestions, as well as day trips from Chania if you extend your trip!

7 Marvelous Things to Do in Pamukkale

The ancient city of Hierapolis otherwise known as ‘sacred city’ was a spa city built by the Romans. It was built around the world-famous warm-water spring, known as Pamukkale (in Turkish, ‘cotton castle’).

The town is located 18 kilometers north of Denizli in the southwest of Turkey. The town of Pamukkale is now the town center for tourism around both the natural springs and the ancient ruins of Hierapolis.

Pamukkale is often considered the eighth wonder of the world and has also been a world heritage site since 1988.

But What is Pamukkale Exactly?

Well, it is a natural spa, located in the River Menderes valley; the carbonate minerals left by the flowing water makes an unbelievably relaxing natural bath. Many weary travelers have passed through Hierapolis over many thousands of years to experience the wonders of this natural beauty and profit from the health benefits.

When you first see this geological phenomenon, you will just stand back and stare. How can this be natural? Man must have had a hand in making it. Well, the answer is no!

So how did this great wonder come about? There are lots of hot springs in this area, around 17 to be precise. When the water from the hot springs comes to the surface, it moves to the travertine. Wait, travertine?

Travertines are a kind of limestone, which are formed with the minerals from the hot spring water. The calcium from the hot spring cools when it reaches the surface, and when mixed with the soil, it creates travertines. Travertine is a strong material, and did you know that it was used to build? The Romans used travertine to build St Peter’s Basilica and square in Vatican City!

The Modern History of Pamukkale

Many modern hotels were built in the area in the 1960s. These hotels were draining the water from the hot springs into their swimming pools and were causing damage to the area. The hotels were then knocked down. In 1988 UNESCO placed Pamukkale on the world heritage site list.

One of the main reasons for this is that the area is free of modern-day buildings. Some of the buildings in Hierapolis are being used again today as a theater since this site was put on the list. Locals have taken great pride in this area and have stopped people from walking on the travertines in shoes. So, be prepared to be barefoot! You have to keep to the designated path so that the travertines are not damaged. There are still many archaeological digs taking place in this area, and many more buildings and sites are being discovered.

In recent years Pamukkale has become a huge tourist attraction. There are lots of hotels and small bed and breakfast places situated in the village of Pamukkale. There are also some nice restaurants in the town, so arrive the day before and take a wander around the town, spent the night, set your alarm clock early and visit the site as soon as it opens in the morning. The day trippers usually arrive around lunchtime so any time before that you will find that you can walk around with a lot more freedom and have a dip in the pools with a lot less people.

There are scheduled opening times for the different parts of the site. The travertine pools are open all hours but stay on the path!

Things to Do in Pamukkale

Bathe in the waters of Pamukkale

You can’t miss the chance to bathe in these health-boosting waters!

So, we talked about the health benefits of these pools but what does that actually mean? Because of the high level of minerals in the water as well as calcium and sodium bicarbonate the water help blood circulation.

After a dip in the pool, you may find that you want a nap, as the hot spring helps reduce stress as well as help you if you are sleep deprived. It is also said that the water can help with aches and pains such as rheumatism and arthritis and for the people who have skin problems such as acne then the minerals can help clear up any problems. The full benefits of hot springs are still being investigated but be sure you will feel great when you get out!

Hot springs have become much more popular over the years, not only because of the health benefits but also because they are a great place to relax, destress, and take in the beautiful scenery. Just be aware that at Pamukkale you will never be alone, there will always be others enjoying the experience as well – this is one of the most popular places to visit in Turkey, after all.

To enter Pamukkale, adults have to pay 50 Turkish lira (around $8 USD) and this fee gives you access to the travertines, the ancient city (and stadium) and the pools. It’s worth it; this is one of the best things to do in Pamukkale, and the whole reason you likely came here!

Note that Cleopatra’s Pool is an additional fee. This attraction is open all year round, but the times change according to the season. In the summer the attraction opens at 6:30 AM until 9 AM and in the colder months from 6:30 AM until 7 PM.

Walk up Pamukkale Plateau

Pamukkale Plateau is where the travertines have formed. There are three different entrances to the plateau. Please note that walking in this area can be difficult for small children or people not so steady on their feet; there is no railing or steps. This is an archaeological site so the paths can be uneven and a little rocky.

To get to the plateau, you can enter through the town entrance and walk up to the plateau, shoes off of course to avoid damaging the travertines! It is about a 20 to 30 minutes’ walk. You can park your car in the town.

The other two entrances have a car parking area with a fee. The north entrance is the best entrance to get to the plateau and the other attractions. You can park your car then either take a shuttle bus or walk the 20 or 30 minutes to the attractions. The south entrance is not the best. You can park your car in the large car park but then you have to walk for 30 minutes under the hot sun.

Want to see the ‘Cotton Castle’ from another angle? Try a hot air balloon! This hot air balloon ride gives you a birds-eye view of the marvelous travertines below.

Feeling even braver? Why not paraglide over it – book your tandem paragliding experience here!

Soak like royalty in Cleopatra’s Pool

The place where everyone wants to go is the Antique Pool, also known as Cleopatra’s Pool. This is the prime bathing spot and one of the best things to do in Pamukkale! This pool is situated between the ruins, which were the columns of the Temple of Apollo. The last entrance is at 6:15 pm, so don’t be late!

This is the cleanest pool you have ever been in, as it is constantly refreshed with water from the hot spring. Surrounded by pines trees and ancient columns, you could almost think you have traveled back to the Roman times.

Don’t worry if the pool looks a little muddy at times, this is due to the volume of foot traffic in the pool. As it is a hot spring, the water is pleasant and warm.

There are shallow ends for kids and deeper parts for adults, but nowhere ist so deep that you can’t stand up in the water.

There is a fee for this pool for around 50 Turkish lira for adults (about $8 USD) and 13 lira ($2 USD) for children aged between 6 and 12. Please note that the pool is not open all year round. Swimming is only allowed between the middle of April until the start of October.

One thing to remember is a towel! They are not supplied; you can buy one there, though! There are changing rooms and lockers for your belongings. Note that you are only supposed to stay in the pool for two hours, but no one really checks or enforces this.

Marvel at the ancient theater of Hierapolis

One of the main attractions of this area is the Hierapolis theater which is in incredible shape. You can’t fail to miss this!

You need to walk up a small hill to get to the entrance, but it is worth it.  The entrance leads you to the highest part of the theater where you can look down onto the stage, which is still intact but with a little damage — but what do you expect after all these years!

The theater was built by the Romans, Hadrian (who also built a very famous wall in England) and Septimus Severus (Harry Potter fans, anyone?).  This theatre could hold 15,000 people at one time; it has been well restored and is well worth a visit.

Visit the area surrounding the Theater

Unfortunately, not all of this area has survived the test of time. The Cathedral at Hierapolis has very little left. You need to use your imagination to imagine what it looked like. Not many visitors make this short walk on the Roman road to the remaining arch, but it still an important part of history.

Someone who visited this area but reportedly was not so lucky was St. Philip.  He was supposedly martyred; it was said that he was hung upside down from a tree, after challenging the snake-worshippers at the nearby temple. His body was found buried about 40 meters away from the church, the Martyrium of St Philip the Apostle.

Tours don’t really visit this area; you have to head uphill from the Roman theater, where you’ll find the Martyrium of St Philip the Apostle, which is a strange octagonal shape. As well as this great ruin, you also have some of the best views of Hierapolis from this site

Visit the Hierapolis Archaeological Museum

The Hierapolis Archaeological Museum is housed inside the ancient Roman Baths. With many artifacts from ancient times remaining, it is an interesting place to visit. There are many items found from the local digs, which include lamps, coins, jewelry and stamp seals. Walk around and remember to look up at the great ceilings, where a large sphinx guards one of the rooms.

You can smell the ancient history as you walk around. Rest assured that this museum will have new items every year, as it moves in relics that have been discovered at the dig sites. Remember to visit the beautiful garden, also located in the museum.

The museum is located in Sümer area of the town very close to the natural park and the amphitheater.  Open all year round, the museum is open later in the summer months. There is a very small entrance fee of around 10 Turkish lira, less than $2 USD.

Take a day trip from Pamukkale

If you fancy a little trip outside of Pamukkale, about 10 kilometers away is the small village of Karahayit. This village houses the 5-star spa hotels; unfortunately, a few too many hotels were built and have ruined the area a little. There is a fountain in the center, which shows off the iron minerals which have left behind a rust-colored hot spring.

Another place worth visiting outside of Pamukkale is Laodicea; this is another ancient city that is still being discovered. As it is set in an earthquake zone, it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. Slowly this ancient city is being rediscovered and is becoming a place of interest.

Tips for Visiting Pamukkale

This part of Turkey is certainly a fantastic place to visit, but before you go, be prepared.

Think about your footwear, as you will have to take off your shoes. You have to carry everything, so don’t wear heavy shoes; take a backpack so that they are easy to carry.

In that backpack add water, especially if you are visiting during the summer months.

Keep in mind that because everything is white, everything is bright and sunglasses are a must! Sun cream is also a must as the water will reflect the sun and if you have fair skin you will certainly burn

Finally, remember your swimsuits and towels, as you absolutely have to take a dip. Enjoy the water and the scenery, as there is no other place like it on Earth!

Where to Stay in Pamukkale

Our Top Choice: For an affordable yet comfortable place to stay that won’t break the budget, we suggest Venus Suite Hotel. The whole property was renovated in 2015, so it has that new new feel to it. It has a gorgeous garden, luxe terrace, and an outdoor pool (y’know, in case you’re tired of sharing the pools with everyone at Pamukkale). The rooms are tastefully decorated with modern conveniences like A/C, room service, private parking, and daily breakfast — all with a free shuttle to Pamukkale’s North Gate.

Budget Choice: The cheap but cheerful choice is Bellamaritimo Hotel, which offers budget-friendly rooms with perks like a A/C, an outdoor pool, a central location near the restaurants and sights of Pamukkale, and an on-site restaurant. The rooms are clean and modern, though a bit on the small side.

What to Pack for Turkey

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Luggage

We have a guide of what to pack for Turkey, but here are five things you definitely want to bring with you!

The Lonely Planet Turkeya good guidebook can help you with the kinds of safety tips you need if you’re out in the city and feel a bit lost, especially if you don’t have internet or a cell signal. These also have specific neighborhood information that will help you in different parts of the city, and it’s a great supplement to blog posts like this one!

Unlocked Cell Phone: Stephanie and I both have unlocked cell phones that we bought in Europe (Stephanie uses a Samsung and I use an iPhone). This allows up to get sim cards when we travel so that we always have the internet. This has gotten us out of so many jams! If you don’t have an unlocked cell phone that can use a Turkish sim card, you can buy a cheaper unlocked phone online and bring it with you!

Pacsafe Citysafe or Other Anti-Theft Bag: This is the bag both Stephanie and I use for all our travels. It has a pouch with RFID technology so our credit cards can’t get scanned from afar, interlocking zippers to make it harder to pickpocket, and it’s roomy enough to be a perfect sightseeing day bag, yet it’s still quite stylish for all of its security features. If you’d rather bring something smaller, you can pack a money belt instead. 

Grayl Water FilterWhile the water is *technically* safe to drink in much of Turkey, I would still avoid it. If you don’t want to be buying millions of plastic water bottles, you can get a reusable water bottle that comes with a water filter so that you can stick to the tap water and reduce your plastic waste. If you’ll be traveling outside of the major tourist centers, check if the water is potable locally.

Seabands: If you get seasick easily, pack some Seabands or seasickness pills so you don’t miss out on the best parts of Turkey – being on the water! A trip to Turkey isn’t complete without a cruise or at least a quick boat trip, so make sure you’re prepared to enjoy it to the fullest!

More Turkey Travel Resources

Allison in Turkey drinking pomegranate juice

We have a ton of resources to help you plan your trip to Turkey!

If this will be your first time traveling to Turkey, check out this guide to planning a trip to Turkey (including visa information) and this guide beautiful places to visit in Turkey. You can also check out our Balkan currency guide, which explains how the Turkish lira works and guidelines for tipping in Istanbul.

If you’re spending time on the coast, we have guides to Antalya, AlanyaFethiye, and more on the way!

If you’re heading to Istanbul, we have you covered. Start with our essential Istanbul Travel Tips and guide to staying safe in Istanbul

We’re working on our massive things to do in Istanbul post, plus you can check out our guide to the best Instagram spots around Istanbul, tips for shopping in Istanbul, the best Turkish food to eat, how to plan an Istanbul honeymoon, and what to do in Istanbul at night.

If you want to be in the city for just a few days (four or less), check out our Istanbul city break guide, which breaks down the best of the city so you won’t miss anything!

Headed to Cappadocia? If you’re curious about the most Instagrammable places in Cappadocia, we’ve got you covered. We also have posts on the best things to do in Cappadocia, and how to plan a perfect 3 day Cappadocia itinerary, plus how to get to Cappadocia from Istanbul.

We have tons more Turkey and Balkans resources, and we publish new content nearly daily. Bookmark our Turkey and Balkans travel pages so you can find any new resources that come out before your trip!

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

If you’re planning a trip to Turkey, make sure to travel with a valid travel insurance policy. While we feel safe in Turkey, it’s a good idea to be covered in case of an emergency. Travel insurance covers you in case of theft or an accident, which can save your trip if there’s an incident.

For travel insurance, we both use World NomadsI’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

>> Get your free quote from World Nomads here <<

Pin this Guide to Things to Do in Pamukkale!

Your Super Useful Guide to Visiting Elafonisi Beach, Crete

The beach of Elafonisi, on the Southwest coast of Crete, has been often ranked as one of the prettiest beaches in Europe, and it is certainly one of the top attractions you can visit on the island. It is known for the alluring color of the sea, the fantastic white flowers that grow in the dunes, the unique juniper trees, and its wonderful pink sand!

In this post, we will tell you about the landscape and the delicate ecosystem of the beach, as well as about the real secret behind Elafonisi’s pink sand beach.

We will also show you different ways of how to get to Elafonisi Beach from Crete’s most popular destinations. Finally, we will include some important tips to prepare the visit and to enjoy one of Crete’s most beautiful beaches!

How to Get to Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi beach, Crete

Elafonisi is in the Chania region of Crete, on the West coast of the island, 75k km south of the closest town, Chania. In fact, Chania is one of the best places to stay in Crete if you plan to visit this beach as a one-day excursion.

Undoubtedly, the best way to get there is by car, and if you’re planning on touring the island in a rental car, do check our guide to driving on Crete.

Instead, if you prefer to rely on public transport, it’s also possible to reach Elafonisi from any major city on Crete. If you’re staying in Agios Nikolaos, Heraklion or Rethymnon, the first thing you must know is that public buses to Elafonisi depart only from Chania, so that’s the first place you must reach.

Buses to Chania depart from Crete’s major towns every hour at quite affordable prices. For instance, the price of a one-way ticket Heraklion-Chania is about €15, it’s about €8.50 from Rethymnon. 

Once at Chania’s Central Bust Station, you will need to check the bus schedule for Elafonisi (which is updated not only annually but also seasonally). To be certain that you get the latest and most accurate information, check Chania’s official public transport website (KTEL) here

The rates for the upcoming season have yet to be published. However, the ticket is around €9 (one-way). Last summer, the company was offering 3 departures per day.

The journey by bus lasts about an hour and a half. If you’re going to be traveling any time between July and September, it’s better to book online at least one day before the departure.

If you prefer to go on a tour, there are several options. The most economic is a group tour which departs from Chania, which will take you to and from Elafonisi Beach from Chania without the hassle of figuring out public transit or braving Crete’s mountain roads. Similar tours also leave from Rethymno and Heraklion, but travel days are longer as a result.

Alternately, you can go on a private tour of Elafonisi and its surroundings, discovering some unexpected stops along the way, on a custom Elafonisi tour led by a Crete travel writer.

Why You Should Visit Elafonisi Beach

The unique flora of Elafonisi, the sea daffodil grows on the sand dunes.

The main reason to visit Elafonisi is the unique beauty you will be able to witness on this small corner of Crete. Not everybody is aware, but Elafonisi is not simply a beach, but actually a very tiny islet about 200 meters from the mainland of Crete. What’s more, due to its unique natural characteristics, Elafonisi is also a protected area.

You can reach this islet walking when the tides are low, or wading from the shore to the island when the tides are high. The walking path is not dangerous or particularly hit by currents, and it rarely reaches more than a meter in depth.

Once you’re on the islet, you’ll be accessing a Nature 2000 protected area, which means that you should in every possible way avoid damaging the natural environment.

Every flora and fauna specimen on Elafonisi is protected, especially because some of them are only found in this area of Crete. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t cut any flower, litter the beach, or light a fire. (But we will say it anyway, because it’s important)

It’s also important to remember that Elafonisi being so popular, the local environment is subject to massive tourism arrivals from May to October; this has a tremendously negative impact on the beach and its ecologic balance. Do everything you can to leave no trace behind.

What’s the Deal with Elafonisi’s Pink Sand Beach?

It’s not really that pink, but it’s definitely beautiful!

Most people come to Elafonisi to find the stunning pink sand beach that has made it so well-known. This is, in fact, an irresistible reason to visit.

However, a few things should be made clear about this issue, mostly because not many will tell you about this. The sad truth is that most pictures you’ve seen online are fake (or at least, extremely heavily edited)! The “pink sand” is never as pink as you see it online. If you’re going to visit Elafonisi expecting to see that stunning color, you’ll be disappointed.

The sand on Elafonisi beach is by no means pink. The sand is very clear and fine, and it’s populated by thousands of microorganisms that have a pink tone on their shell. This makes the sand a bit pink, at times!

The truth is that only a few areas get a pink shade and only from time to time. And that color is very much subject to change according to several factors, such as tides, the hour of the day, the atmospheric conditions, the winds, and more. 

To be honest, you should focus more on the spectacular shades of the sea (from deep blue to light emerald green), instead of desperately seeking for pink sand!

Staying in Elafonisi

Elafonisi is located between the municipalities of Kissamos and Kantanos-Selino, and that means only one thing: it is super isolated. There’s pretty much nothing to do in the area other than lazily lounging on the beach. 

There are just a few available structures (two hotels and a few private studios and rooms to let). These certainly do not cover the demand in such a popular area, if you would like to visit for a bit more than a day, it’s better to book well in advance as they will book up quickly due to low supply and high demand. 

If you want to stay in Elafonisi, we suggest looking at the Elafonisi Resort which is 650 meters away from the beach. It offers gorgeously modern rooms in a variety of sizes and price points. It boasts an unbeatable location amid an olive grove and has a restaurant underneath to make dining out in this rather remote part of Crete hassle-free. Some rooms have kitchenettes, perfect for a longer stay.

>> Book your stay, read reviews, and check prices here

Roads to Elafonisi

The gorge of Topolia on the way to Elafonisi.

Those who want to visit Elafonisi Beach and go back on the same day should know that the last bus leaves at around 4 in the afternoon (though check the timetable for the season to know the exact time)

Instead, if you’re driving there, the best advice we can give you is to get on your way back to Chania early in the day.

There are two main roads to get to Elafonisi (and of course, to go back to Chania). Both are equally narrow and a bit dangerous as in some parts you are practically driving on the edge of very steep cliffs. 

One of these roads crosses the gorge of Topolia, while the other borders the westernmost coast of Crete, passing in front of another famous beach, Falassarna.

Both roads are in a fairly good state, but they’re not advisable at night. Apart from being very narrow, there are several blind bends, free-roaming animals, and sometimes rocks falling from the mountains, mostly when the island had a very wet winter season.

Unfortunately, that’s so far the case for 2020, when Crete got the whole rainfall expected for a year in only two weeks!

What You Need for a Day in Elafonisi

The subtle pink tones of the sand.

As mentioned above, the area is really isolated. The beach offers a few bars and kiosks that sell drinks, ice cream, sandwiches, and salads.

Some also sell sunscreen and a few other basics such as beach towels, goggles, and even cigarettes. In general, these tend to be expensive if compared to Crete’s standard of prices. 

There are a few convenience stores a few kilometers before reaching the actual beach so, if you’re not packing your own lunch, you can stop and stock up there for drinks and food.

There is also a couple of restaurants on the same main road. The one we utterly recommend is Glykeria. It tends to be packed in the afternoon, but that only because the food is really good, the views are spectacular, and the prices quite convenient.

The Weather in Elafonisi

The beach is very wide and the shallow lagoon allows for wind sports.

Another thing that only a few will tell you about this beach is that it tends to be extremely windy, and there’s not much you can do about it. Always check the weather report before planning your visit and if you’re already in the area, look for alternatives if it gets too windy. 

The best nearby beach you can visit in case of wind is Paleochora, which thanks to its geographic position, has one shore that’s well-protected from gusts. Paleochora is about 48 km from Elafonisi and the trip by car lasts about an hour. There are no buses connecting both resorts.

The winds that affect Elafonisi, however, have made the beach a favorite place for those interested in practicing kitesurfing and windsurfing.

There are a few operators on the beach from whom you can rent the necessary equipment. It’s also possible to practice canoeing or to rent paddle boats.

Things to See Nearby Elafonisi Beach

Cave of Agia Sophia

Inside the cave of Agia Sophia.

If you’re traveling to Elafonissi going through the gorge of Topolia, it’s a good idea to stop at the exit of the gorge to pay a visit to the Cave of Agia Sophia (or Holy Wisdom).

This cave is located about 285 meters above sea level, and you’ll need to climb about 150 steps to get to its entrance. Inside this spectacular formation, you will be able to get magnificent views of the gorge, but also discover the impressive stalactites and stalagmites that have given the cave the nickname of “The Cathedral”, due to its shape and the wide spaces inside it.

In the cave, you will also find a very small chapel, built on the side of the rock, also dedicated to the Holy Wisdom of God.

Chrisoskalitissa Monastery

Chrisoskalitissa Monastery.

The other must-visit place in the area is the Holy Monastery of Panagia Chrisoskalitissa, about 15 minutes away from the beach. The monastery is located in an elevated position and offers unique views of the Libyan sea and the nearby area.

On the premises of the monastery, it’s also possible to visit their small museum with an interesting collection of folk objects and religious icons as well. 

The monastery became famous due to the legend regarding its stairs. It is said that out of the 99 steps to reach the monastery, one of them is made of gold, but only those people with a truly pure heart are able to see the golden step shine before their eyes, the rest of us, simply see another common stone step!

Where to Stay in Chania

If you’re visiting Elafonisi Beach from Chania, here are our accommodation suggestions!

Chania - Greece - Harbor and lighthouse shown through window shutters

Budget: Doge Traditional Hotel

Doge Traditional Hotel is pretty much exactly that: a lovely historic Venetian traditional house. It was originally built in the 15th century with 8 rooms to offer guests and has been refurbished lovingly. It is an intimate and quiet hotel, perfect for couples and families up to five.

While this charming Chania hotel has many perks, I’d argue the best part of the hotel has to be the rooftop where you can gaze at the beautiful views of the sea – especially during sunset!

Each room has canopy beds set in a beautifully lit room with some nice lamps and chandeliers. This makes each room seem rustic and historic yet still warm and inviting due to the wooden elements in its interiors. Some walls have rough rocks to create an interesting focal point on the whitewashed walls. It also has wooden ceilings which also helps in absorbing noise from outside, aside from adding some serious style points. There are also interesting paintings hung up on the walls to add visual interest.

If you want a bigger suite to accommodate a larger number of people, you can get their superior suite, which has a mezzanine that serves as an additional bedroom. All rooms feature a closet, heating, A/C, fridge, electric kettle, coffee and tea making facilities, sofa bed and safety deposit boxes.

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Mid-Range: The48Suites

This chic hotel features the typical Venetian exterior, but inside it has modern features for the sophisticated traveler. The hotel follows a minimalist aesthetic, livened up with a little playful and artsy décor. Everything just harmonizes perfectly, typical of a boutique-style hotel. It is also located on the picturesque Theotokopoulo Street, where a ton of old houses are lined up – perfect for Instagramming your away around Chania.

It has 3 types of rooms to choose from (which are all suites and apartments). Their prices are somewhat on the lower mid-range, so you’re really going to get your money’s worth here. The superior and deluxe suites offer a balcony (with stylish wicker furniture) and a mezzanine; this is great for families with older kids, but not for ones with small kids as the stairs can be quite dangerous for them.

All of the rooms still follow the minimalist aesthetic, but what’s most important is that they are ridiculously clean (past guests have attested to that)! There’s also a kitchen equipped with all the things you need to prepare a nice dish for your family should you tire of Greek food — if that’s even possible! Coffee machines and a kettle are also provided so you can make your own coffee or tea in the morning or afternoon (or when you feel like having one, which for me is basically always!).

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

Luxury: Domus Renier Boutique Hotel

As part of the Historic Hotels Worldwide, this hotel doesn’t just offer a historic Renaissance past, but also a truly luxurious experience you can’t miss. This was once the residence of the Reniers, a noble Venetian family. It is a huge complex, and the main building was converted into a hotel: the exterior and interior of which will basically take you time traveling!

Their rooms are classy, sophisticated, and elegant: no two rooms are alike here. It is also spacious and you are sure to enjoy the simple details of their wooden furniture, adhering to the philosophy that less is more. You will surely love the rain shower in the private bathrooms that totally mimic the rain – bringing the spa experience to your room! For even more of that, you can even have masseuses come to your room for an in-room spa treatment.

>> Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here.

More Crete Travel Resources

Loutro, Crete, Greece. Turquoise water, white boat, white houses

Headed to Crete? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Greece and local tipping customs.

If you’re still trying to work out where to go on the island, check out our guide to the best places to visit in Crete.

If you’ll be spending a few days in Chania, here is our guide to visiting Seitan Limania from Chania (which is another favorite beach in Crete) and Chania’s best Instagram spots. 

If you will be spending time in Heraklion, check out our guides to the best Instagram spots in Heraklion and the city’s best restaurants and cafes. 

If you’re interested in taking a day trip to Rethymnon, check out our Instagram guide to Rethymnon next, and perhaps our guide to things to do in Rethymnon and the best Rethymnon hotels.

If this will be one of your first trips to the Greek islands, check out our massive Greek Island hopping guide as well as our recommendations for where to go in Greece and when is the best time to visit. 

We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.

5 Things to Bring with You for a Crete Vacation

Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Stephanie Selfie

We have an entire Crete packing list that includes exactly what to bring to Crete, but here are some essentials you don’t want to miss!

A Guidebook – While travel blogs are great, we also definitely see the benefit of having a good paper guidebook in hand to refer to in your on-the-ground travel. We own and recommend the Lonely Planet Greece book as a starter, but you may also want to pick up the Lonely Planet Crete which covers the island more in-depth. 

Sunscreen: Yes, you will want sunscreen in Crete, even if you visit during the winter! While you can buy it here, I suggest you buy the good stuff from recognizable brands or better yet, buy it online in advance. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions.

Motion sickness pills: Great for bus rides especially on mountain or coastal roads – I buy these non-drowsy ones. You can also try these natural motion sickness bands which use acupressure to reduce nausea – they actually work pretty well. And these are a must if you’re also taking ferries, as the sea can be really choppy depending on the weather!

Travel safety items. We think Crete is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

– Sunglasses. No matter the time of year, Crete has plenty of sunshine! Keep your eyes protected with your favorite pair of sunglasses from home.

Read Next: Essential Crete Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Crete

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Crete, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!

We at Sofia Adventures have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. 

While Greece is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here

Pin this Elafonisi Beach Travel Guide!

Planning to visit Elafonisi Beach, Crete? The famous pink sand beach of Crete is beloved, but there are a few things you need to know before a day trip to Elafonisi beach from Chania, Rethymnon, or Heraklion.  Here's what to bring, what to know, how to get there, and everything you need to know to make your visit to the most beautiful beach in Crete a success!

Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid when Driving on Crete

So, you’ve made up your mind and you’re going for a custom-made itinerary of the island! Congratulations, visiting Crete on a road trip is one of the wisest decisions you could have made! It will allow you do discover unique hidden angles that you would otherwise certainly miss.

Besides, if you intend to visit the southern coast or regions like Lasithi, public transport is less frequent that on the North, which will eventually limit your holidays.

Let’s see, then, some of the things you should avoid doing when driving in Crete, but first, let’s focus on the documents you need to rent a car on Crete (or any other Greek island!).

What documents do you need to rent a car in Crete?

License: Non-EU travelers need to have both an International Driving Permit (IDP) and a valid national driver’s license. Both documents are necessary (as per a recent law) to rent a vehicle in Greece. It’s fairly easy to get an IDP in almost any country. The cost varies from country to country, but the average ranges between $20-30.

EU travelers don’t need an international permit but must travel with their own country valid driver’s license.

It’s also necessary that you present your Passport or ID in order to rent a car in Greece.

A valid credit card is also a must that every rental office will require you to have (even if you pay in cash).

A few words about renting a car on Crete

Stunning roads of Crete.

First of all, it’s necessary that you read what the insurance policy covers. Make sure you understand whether it covers glass and tires, if extra mileage is included, if you’re allowed to drive on certain roads (for instance dirt tracks), and if a second driver is included.

If you’re traveling with kids, make sure you request the mandatory seat according to your kid’s age. Sometimes you’ll need to pay a supplementary fee for this extra, but don’t opt out. First of all, it’s necessary for your kid’s safety, but also because you can be heavily fined if the police find your child traveling without the required seat.

If you choose to rent a motorbike or scooter, make sure you have the necessary permit and always ask for a helmet (kranos in Greek). It’s absolutely mandatory by law and you’d be risking heavy fines (not to mention your life!) if you don’t wear one.

Before leaving the rental office in your new rental car, take photos of the car with the agent during the delivery, especially when they are noting down the damages your car might already have. This way you won’t get charged for any pre-existing damages when you drop off your rental car in Crete.

If you’re used to driving an automatic car, bear in mind that the standard car in Greece has a manual gearbox. If you think you can’t cope with a manual gear car, please tell the car rental company in advance; remember that these cars aren’t common, and it might be difficult to get it last minute.

What company should I use when renting a car in Crete?

To get the best price on car rentals in Crete, we recommend not going with one particular car rental company but rather using a search aggregator to find the best car for your budget and travel style.

We’ve rented cars dozens of times in the Balkans through various search engines and have settled on Discover Cars as the best car rental search engine – it searches over 500 trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental! Compare prices for car rental in Crete here.

Top 10 mistakes to avoid when driving in Crete

Reaching the South coast going through the Gorge of Imbros, in the region of Chania.

1. Avoid speeding… or not speeding at all! 

Locals on Crete have two different philosophies when it comes to driving in Crete. They’re either always in a rush, or in no rush at all!

Avoid going over the speed limits 50 km per hour (30 mph) in built-up areas and 90 km/h (56 mph) on the highway.

Don’t go to the other extreme either. if you don’t keep up with regular speed, it’ll be common to have lights flashed at you all the time.

2. Overtaking… let them do it!

The main (and only) highway on the island is mostly a one-way lane, except for some new portions in which there are two lanes. As a consequence, it’s very common for locals to overtake other drivers.

To do so, the customary practice is to move a little towards the emergency lane (shoulder) and let them pass. Everybody does this, and this is something which you should too so as to avoid being flashed at… again!

3. Don’t drink and drive!

Everyone who’s ever been to Crete has learned to enjoy the joys of a shot of tsikoudia (or raki, the local strong spirit), after a meal, sometimes even two or three.

No matter how much the locals can be used to this drink, it’s very strong and most tourists don’t realize this until they’re behind the wheel. If you have to drink, then add another designated driver to your Crete car rental agreement. If not, avoid drinking raki!

Enjoy Crete’s landscape!

4. Don’t get nervous!

The roads on Crete are generally in good condition, however, many people seem to forget that the island is mostly a land of mountains.

There are impressive peaks, stunning gorges, and bends… Lots of them. So if you’re kind of easily impressed, relax and enjoy the landscape. 

5. Don’t forget to fill up!

Distances on Crete are really long, and when you set out to explore and go a bit off the beaten track, it can sometimes be difficult to find a gas station that’s close enough, or that accepts a credit card, or that’s open late at night.

As a rule, always carry some cash with you (about 20 euros can be enough) for this kind of emergency.

6. Don’t (always) trust the signs!

Road signs on Crete are not always clear enough, or legible enough… nor do they appear soon enough. This might lead to you missing an exit or ending in a completely different place.

This is another good reason to hire a car with a GPS!

7. Don’t forget about the goats!

If they don’t want to free up the road… they won’t, don’t even doubt it!

Goat, but also sheep and other farm animals, are everywhere on Crete, which means roads included.

Be especially attentive on mountain roads when driving in Crete. It’s not uncommon for a group of goats to be sitting in the middle of the road after a bend. Do slow down, take out your camera… and be patient!

8. Don’t trust you’ll find a place to park!

This is especially true when it comes to parking in bigger cities such as Chania, Heraklio, Rethymnon, or Agios Nikolaos.

It’s very difficult to find free parking spots close to pedestrian zones, old towns, and some attractions and archaeological sites.

It’s always better to pay a small fee for parking your rental car in Crete in a private garage than a huge fine for parking in the wrong spot.

 9. Don’t think you won’t get lost; you will!

Driving in Crete can be an exciting experience!

Crete is a huge island, and unless you’re keen on traveling old style (aka carrying a map), it’s a great idea to pay for a GPS equipment to be included in your car.

Besides, you’ve decided to rent a car in Crete, especially to discover hidden places on the island, right? Don’t risk getting lost. Pay for that GPS!

10. Don’t overpack… cars also have space limits!

When packing your bags before the trip, take into account that if you’re renting an economic car, the room for luggage is usually very limited. Either pack lighter or upgrade your rental category.

Final considerations for renting a car in Crete

Driving a car on Crete is not as difficult as it seems, you just need to keep those basic rules in mind and you’ll be able to enjoy a fantastic holiday, and be free from schedules and timetables to discover Crete’s unique amazing landscapes.

More Crete Travel Resources

Loutro, Crete, Greece. Turquoise water, white boat, white houses

Headed to Crete? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Greece and local tipping customs.

If you’re still trying to work out where to go on the island, check out our guide to the best places to visit in Crete.

If you’ll be spending a few days in Chania, here is our guide to visiting Seitan Limania from Chania (which is our favorite beach in Crete) and Chania’s best Instagram spots. 

If you will be spending time in Heraklion, check out our guides to the best Instagram spots in Heraklion and the city’s best restaurants and cafes. 

If you’re interested in taking a day trip to Rethymnon, check out our Instagram guide to Rethymnon next, and perhaps our guide to things to do in Rethymnon and the best Rethymnon hotels.

If this will be one of your first trips to the Greek islands, check out our massive Greek Island hopping guide as well as our recommendations for where to go in Greece and when is the best time to visit. 

We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.

5 Things to Bring with You for a Crete Vacation

Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Stephanie Selfie

We have an entire Crete packing list that includes exactly what to bring to Crete, but here are some essentials you don’t want to miss!

A Guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we also definitely see the benefit of having a good paper guidebook in hand to refer to in your on-the-ground travel. We own and recommend the Lonely Planet Greece book as a starter, but you may also want to pick up the Lonely Planet Crete which covers the island more in-depth. 

Sunscreen: Yes, you will want sunscreen in Crete, even if you visit during the winter! While you can buy it here, I suggest you buy the good stuff from recognizable brands or better yet, buy it online in advance. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions.

Motion sickness pills: Great for car rides especially on mountain or coastal roads – I buy these non-drowsy ones. You can also try these natural motion sickness bands which use acupressure to reduce nausea – they actually work pretty well. And these are a must if you’re also taking ferries, as the sea can be really choppy depending on the weather!

 Travel safety items. We think Crete is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

– Sunglasses. No matter the time of year, Crete has plenty of sunshine! Keep your eyes protected with your favorite pair of sunglasses from home.

Read Next: Essential Crete Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Crete

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance (in addition to your car insurance) for traveling in Crete, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world, really!

We at Sofia Adventures have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. 

While Greece is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<

Pin this Guide to Driving in Crete!

Planning to drive in Crete? Driving on Crete is an adventure, but it's worth it as you can plan the best Crete itinerary this way, with all the best places to visit in Crete at your leisure. Read these tips for renting a car in Crete to avoid these Crete driving mistakes, so you can have an easy Crete road trip!

7 Things to Know Before You Visit Zakynthos, Greece

If you are the type of person that Google searches for everything before visiting a foreign country, then I strongly suggest that you go ahead and type “best beaches in Greece” on your search engine.

I bet all my money that you will not manage to find even one article which has omitted the Shipwreck (also called Navagio) beach. And that’s why Zakynthos is a worldwide famous island, aside from its incredible Ionian views and sea.

Of course, Zakynthos is also known for limitless partying among British teens, and a large number of visitors choose to visit for this reason and only.

That said, whether you’re looking for a relaxing escape or a wild adventure, Zakynthos is the place for both. I experienced both sides of the island and I still cannot understand, how this can be true – but it is.

So if you’re not sure this year what type of vacation you’d like to do, then choose to have a bit of everything in Zakynthos.

What To Know Before You Visit Zakynthos


Choose the right place to stay

Zakynthos is a pretty big place and your decision regarding your accommodation needs to be a bit careful. According to your age, type and needs, you can choose a different location on the island.

Zakynthos, also called Zante, is widely known among British teenagers and young adults, who are regular visitors of Laganas. Laganas, which is a bay of the island, is advertised as the place of “non-stop partying” and “wild entertainment well into the night”. And it’s exactly that and nothing less.

So if you’re looking for a hotel or room, in which you will sleep mostly… in the morning after a wild night of partying, then go ahead and book your stay in one of the countless studios and resorts of Laganas.

However, if you are the type of visitor that is attracted more to the… sleepy side of the island, then your options are plenty as well. Tsilivi, Argasi, Bochali or close to Vasilikos beach are the most appropriate accommodation hotspots and great starting points for your excursions.


Do not wait to visit Shipwreck Beach!

One of your first pro moves is to book your tour. Let’s get some things straight first. The Shipwreck (or Navagio in Greek) beach is accessible only by boat. That means that, if you try to get there alone with a car/ATV etc. you will end up taking only a (no-doubt very cool) selfie, with the panoramic view of the beach.

There are many boat tours offered and if you don’t find them, they’ll find you. Still, I recommend booking in advance to get the best tour and time slot, since if you want to avoid the big masses of tourists, you need to try to get an early boat tour and be there before 12:00.

There are several options for boat tours; our preferred option is this tour which combines the Shipwreck Beach & the Blue Caves on a full-day tour. We picked this one because you can choose an early 8 AM start so you can actually visit the beach before the main crowds hit, as well as add on the stunning Blue Caves to your itinerary.

Avoid the crowds – book your Shipwreck Beach & Blue Caves tour today!

There are several other boat tours you can choose in case you don’t want to visit the Blue Caves or the thought of waking up before 8 AM is too much to beat. In the end, the only thing that matters is that you get to the beach and get to swim in the clearest and bluest waters you’ve ever seen.

On the beach, there is, of course, a shipwreck and it’s no other than “Panayotis” ship. There’s not really a dramatic story behind the ornament of the famous hotspot. Rumors have it that it was smuggling cigarettes and due to bad weather and technical problems, it stranded on the remote beach.

No passengers were harmed during the incident, so you can enjoy a dive without a pang of guilt.


But don’t forget that there are also other beaches worth visiting on the island

Shipwreck Beach is probably the highlight of Zakynthos. And yet, it keeps getting better.

Agios Nikolaos beach (Saint Nicolas) is the ultimate fun summer setting. If you’re looking for a place to drink a cocktail by the beach and have some relaxed time, Agios Nikolaos’s golden sand is waiting for you.

If then again you’re more fond of the silence, Gerakas beach is no doubt a great choice. Forget your Bluetooth speakers and private umbrellas, cause… you might scare the turtles! Gerakas beach has been chosen to be the “maternity home” by Caretta Carettas, who have surely noticed that the Ionian view has a soothing ability.

Moreover, you can pay a visit to a village, named Keri, where you can find another sandy beach offering watersports.

Last but not least, Porto Limnionas is one of the hidden treasures. It’s a real fjord that exemplifies the beauty of Zakynthos island. Porto Limnionas is not your typical sandy beach but offers crystal clear frozen waters in a beautiful scenic bay.

All in all, there are probably more beaches than your vacation days on the island! Other names you should have in mind while visiting are Porto Zoro, Dafni, Alikanas, Alikes and Porto Xygkia. Just in case you have time and energy left to try a different beach.


Spend some time with sea turtles because you can!

I could make probably 1000 cringy jokes about turtles that are shell-arious. But I’m gonna stop right here and move on with the crucial info. There are many ways to see turtles on Zakynthos: boat tours, turtle beaches, and diving.

What I believe is more enjoyable than being on a boat that “hunts” turtles for souvenir pics, is naturally bumping into a turtle on a beach. Of course, it’s all about what works best for you. Plenty of boat tours are offered on the island, and this is the one we recommend, as it brings you to Marathonisi Island where the Caretta Caretta turtles nest.

However, there’s the old fashioned way of simply going to Marathonisi (the Turtle Island), which is only approachable by boat and patiently wait for a turtle to show up. However, there is no guarantee that you will actually see turtles this way.

Snorkeling or diving, again, is a very natural way to observe turtles. But – wait for it – no one promises that you will come across the turtles underwater!

In other words, I cannot give you a magic insider’s tip, that will magically bring a gang of turtles to you, willing to hold a selfie stick and hang out with your group. But, what I can promise is that success is a journey, not a destination. Searching for them is half the fun!

Still want to seek out turtles? Check out this glass bottom boat tour which brings you to Turtle Island!

If then again, you absolutely want to spend time with this amazing sea creature, there’s always the option for you to volunteer in Archelon, the Sea Turtle protection society of Greece. Here’s their website for more info.


Eat like a Greek

We both know that the rest of the article is just a preface. This is the moment we were all waiting for: Zakynthos food tips.

The way I see it, there are always two types of travelers. The one that prefers the touristic restaurants and the one that wants to experience the local lifestyle and food. Don’t look at me, I like both and I eat everything. So I’m going to highlight both types of places with the same enthusiasm.

Since you’re on an island, expect amazing seafood. Grecos restaurant in Laganas is an excellent option for that and is highly suggested. For a more idyllic view, while enjoying your gourmet Greek salad, a visit to Aperitto is worth your time. The setting is very romantic, so it’s perfect if you’re still on a honeymoon phase or… you want to go back to the honeymoon phase.

Greek traditional tavernas, usually with local wine and culinary masterpieces, are spread all over the island. On your way to Vasilikos, the taverna O Aderfos tou Kosta is an amazing choice. There, you can enjoy your warm dinner after a refreshing dive in the beach, in a garden with Greek music.

If then again you start wondering where the so-called “Greek hospitality” is hidden, Xigia taverna is your type of place. Local food and a father and daughter serving you will make you feel welcome in the best possible way!

Last but not least, Malanos is a value for money taverna and definitely not at all worse than the previously mentioned restaurants. You might struggle a bit to find it, but the best places are always hidden.


Have a taste of Zakynthos nightlife

When it comes to the nightlife, it’s all about what you are looking for as a traveler. Luckily, there are options for all. And I mean it. Whether you are a party-goer or a party-pooper, Zakynthos has your type of night outing taken care of.

There’s a lot of criticism against Laganas as a party place, due to extreme behaviors of drunk visitors. Although I understand the point of the locals and local authorities, Laganas has its own character and a separate place in my heart (as all party places do).

My suggestion for Laganas is the Cocktails and Dreams club. When order at the Bartender a Gin&Tonic, he might ask you back “I have one that costs 3€ and one that costs 6€. Which one do you want?”.

Now, it’s not a time for money saving. You love your liver more than this, so choose the second option and have a safe and fun night!

Small hint, you can go out on the balcony of the club and enjoy the view of the party street and possibly masses of drunk people. Yes, that’s what we “sober ones” do when you get drunk.

Laganas is not, of course, your only option for a night outing. It is just the most intense. However, locals prefer spending their nights in all the other places left on the island. Argasi is considered the most appropriate place for Greek people, who usually prefer the clubs Barrage and Island.

In Argasi, you can also discover a hipster bar named Portokali (or “Orange”), with a great selection of drinks and sweets.

Additionally, you can enjoy a really well-made cocktail in the bars of Bochali. There, you can find an abundance of cafeterias, creperies and ice-cream shops as well. My personal favorite is Base, and I can recall drinking an amazing “pornstar martini” there.

Last but not least, in Tsilivi, you can find once again parties in Laganas’ style.


Add some sightseeing to your schedule

To begin with, Zakynthos has a castle. If you’re not aware of it beforehand, you can easily miss that point of interest… as it happened to me. The castle is above Bochali and during the morning hours, you can visit it to see the remains of the old capital of the island.

The Keri Cape is another must-visit place. Rumors have it that you can enjoy the best sunset view from this location. The lighthouse of the village offers a great view of the endless blue of the Ionian sea, on top of a 300 meter high cliff.

Remember that when you reach a large parking area in Keri, on your left you will find a small path, leading to the perfect view spot. Don’t try to go there by car, as it’s very probable that your car will end up being a part of the Ionian view. On your right, you can enjoy the view of the Keri Rocks (or in Greek “Mizithres”).

If you’re the type that cannot go to a place without visiting a museum, I suggest that you give The Byzantine Museum. There you can find paintings of the Byzantium era and religious art. Many of the pieces are of high value and it’s totally worth to see.

You could also pay a visit to Museum of D. Solomos and A. Kalvos. Located in St. Marco square is the museum of two well known Greek poets including Dionysios Solomos. D. Solomos is best known for writing the Hymn to Liberty, which became the Greek and Cypriot national anthem in 1865.

However, since the most important pieces are texts in Greek, I guess it wouldn’t be so exciting for a foreigner. Unless of course, you can read Greek! In that case, this museum is of great national interest and a visit is definitely recommended.

Want to Rent a Car for Zakynthos?

While not all trips to Zakynthos require a car, if you’re staying far from the main town for the local bus station or you want to tour the island independently without going on a guided tour, a rental car may come in handy! [Just don’t drive if you’re going to be drinking, obviously — taxis exist for that reason!]

We’ve rented cars dozens of times in the Balkans through various search engines and have settled on Discover Cars as the best car rental search engine – it searches over 500 trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental! Compare prices for car rental in Zakynthos here.

What to Bring to Zakynthos

If you’re planning a trip to Greece, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.

– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.

– A water bottle with a filter. While often, the tap water in Greece is drinkable, there are places where it isn’t, including some popular tourist destinations like Santorini and Mykonos.

We generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant!

We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.

– Motion sickness pills. Very necessary if you’ll be taking a ferry or boat! The ferries in the Mediterranean can be quite choppy. If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.

 Travel safety items. We think Greece is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Zakynthos is rather safe, but is not immune from pickpockets, so be cautious (this goes double if you plan to go to Athens – the metro is notorious for its pickpockets, and a travel blogger friend of ours got his phone stolen on it!). Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

More Zakynthos & Greece Travel Resources

Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.

If you’ll be on Mykonos, we have our Mykonos Instagram guide and our Mykonos itinerary, as well as our favorite Mykonos beaches!

We also have guides to several other Greek islands, including Thassos, Ios, and more on the way!

If you are still trying to figure out your Greece itinerary, check out our guides on where to go in Greece, the best places for island hopping in Greece, and when is the best time to visit. 

Many people combine a trip to Athens with a trip to Zakynthos. Check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned! 

We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.

Finally, Make Sure You Come to Greece with Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!

We have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.  While Greece is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<

Pin This Guide to Tips for Visiting Zakynthos Here!

Planning to visit Zakynthos, Greece - home of the famous Shipwreck Beach (Navagio Beach)? There's much more to this Greek island than just that! From where to find sea turtles to the best restaurants and bars in Zakynthos to the best Zakynthos beaches to nightlife & accommodations tips, here's your mini Zakynthos travel guide!

11 Awesome Things to Do in Mljet, Croatia

Mljet is one of the most beautiful islands that you can visit in Croatia! If you’re not a fan of endless crowds on the Croatian coastline, especially during the high season, then Mljet will be an absolute dash of fresh air for you!

The thing is, there is no mass tourism on Mljet, unlike most of the places on the Croatian coast, so you will be met with an authentic atmosphere unlike any island in Croatia… not to mention the natural wonders that Mljet has to offer for its visitors!

It is an amazing island for a short retreat from the busy Dalmatian coastline and its techno parties which bring many careless tourists to the coast. Aside from enjoying a sip of local wine with a beautiful view over the lush pine forests and turquoise water, here are 11 awesome things to do in Mljet!


Kick off your Mljet journey in Sobra

Small harbor in the Adriatic sea. Sobra on Mljet island, Croatia

If you visit Mljet from Dubrovnik, the ferry will take you to a tranquil, picturesque village called Sobra. The port is located some 2.5 kilometers from the village itself. But if you visit Sobra from Pelješac instead, the ferry will take you directly to the middle of the Sobra Bay, where the village of the same name rests.

Sobra is a great place to kick off your journey in Mljet, as you can rent a car or a scooter by the ferry terminal. Look for the place called Mini Brum! In no time, you will be broom-brooming through the amazing nature that Mljet is known for!

Sobra is a small village that rests on the northwestern part of the island, surrounded by turquoise waters. There are no regular beaches here, but you can jump from the rocky shore if you’re up for an adrenaline boost!

Although there are just 80 permanent residents in this village, there are enough places to find a place to sleep and eat in Sobra. You can find most guesthouses and apartments in the northern part of the village, where you can find amazing views over the Sobra Bay. We recommend Guesthouse Anita, it has an amazing staff, and is really close to the shore too!

For food, we wholeheartedly recommend you to check out Konoba Mungos! They have amazing seafood, really lovely and courteous staff, and you can even try the Croatian liquor delicacy, rakija, for free, during nighttime. Trust us, it’s gonna fire you up!


Visit the beautiful bay at Prožurska Luka

Beautiful view of small islets at Prozurska luka on island Mljet at Croatia

This small bay and hamlet are simply breathtaking! Walk some 5 kilometers to the west from Sobra village, and you will find this beauty. The hamlet is a really tranquil place, as it has only 14 permanent inhabitants. It gets more lively during the high season though, as the beauty of the bay is well-known with local tourists.

Not too many foreign tourists come here though. Most popularity to this place comes from the sailors, as they use this bay as their marina or a stopover point to Dubrovnik. Also, there is a wonderful pebble beach here that is really popular with Croatian tourists.

You can also enjoy the picturesque view over the bay, and the small Planjak island from a local restaurant. There are two restaurants that we would mention, Konoba Barba, and Konoba Marijina. Both of them offer amazing seafood, with a nice harmony of taste and ambiance.

Accommodation in Prožurska Luka is mainly located at the entrance of the village. Witnessing the sunrise or sunset from Villa Evita Apartments is one amazing experience you will remember for a while!


Experience a small piece of heaven in Okuklje

Boats in the harbor in Okuklje on the Island Mljet. Croatia

Just about 4 kilometers west from Prožurska Luka, there is another bay and the surrounding village called Okuklje. It got its name from the sharp rocks topping the bay. This is a wonderful little bay with lots of nice swimming spots with crystal-clear water.

There are also few hills near Okuklje which offer some amazing viewpoints. If you have a bit of adventurer in you, this is one of the most amazing things to do in Mljet!

For food, we would recommend you to visit Konoba Maestral and Konoba Maran. These restaurants offer amazing seafood caught in the waters of Mljet and coupled with amazing staff, you will get an amazing culinary experience.

Also, you can find a lot of accommodation options in Okuklje, but we would go ahead with the Three Pines Apartments. You can’t beat that view on the Okuklje Bay!


Travel back to the legends in the Odysseus Cave

Odysseus cave on island Mljet near Dubrovnik, tourist attraction, Croatia

Some believe that this is the authentic cave from the legendary story of the voyage of Odysseus. Well, Mljet is an immensely beautiful place, so it’s no wonder that this legendary figure would stay here on the island for seven years!

You can find the cave near Babino Polje on the south of the island. After the Tommy supermarket, follow the road for a bit, and you will find the sign that points to the cave. You will have a nice 45-minute hike to the cave through the rocky surface. Once you see the Hotel Penelopa, which has a bar too, you will know that you’re at the Odysseus Cave.

Now, when you’re above the cave, take a deep breath, and jump down in the water! It is an incredibly rewarding experience. Also, there is a rope sticking up from the cliff if you want to climb back to the spot you jumped off. The Odysseus Cave is a popular snorkeling spot, as the water inside the cave goes down almost 80 meters!

If you value a non-touristy place with no entrance fee, look no further than this cave. That’s why it’s one of the most amazing things to do in Mljet!


Discover untouched nature in Mljet National Park

Aerial helicopter shoot of National park on island Mljet

When you are wondering what to do in Mljet, one of the first things to do is visiting its national park!

It covers the entire northeastern part of Mljet island, which is about 5,300 hectares of land (or one-third of the entire island). Here, you can see many flooded bays and lush pinewoods filled with mongoose, animals that were brought to Mljet to get rid of snakes that used to be all over the island. Also, here are some of the endemic species for the island, like Euphorbia dendroides, for example.

The most pronounced spots in the Mljet National Park are two salt lakes appropriately named the Big and Small Lake. These lakes stretch for four kilometers, and among them, you can walk or ride a bike on the designated trail. Yeah, renting a bicycle here is very much recommended! You can do so in Pomena, Polače, and Mali Most.

In the middle of the Big Lake is a sight from a fairytale. There is a small island with a 12-century Benedictine Monastery, St. Mary Monastery. This monastery is now turned into a cafe and restaurant.

To get there, either take a boat that leaves every hour (from 9 AM to 7 PM) from Mali Most or Pristanište for 4€ (return ticket). You can also rent a kayak to get there, and the rowing experience is very enjoyable. Keep in mind if you swim to the island, you won’t be able to buy anything on the small island!

During high season, the park is open every day from 8 AM to 8 PM, while during the low season, it is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM.

The entrance fees for the Mljet National Park are the following:

  • For adults, 70 Kunas during low season, and 125 Kunas during high season
  • For children and students, 50 Kunas during low season, and 70 Kunas during high season.
  • For children under age 7, the entrance is free of charge!

There is a lot to see and discover in the Mljet National Park, so it is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Mljet!


Go snorkeling at the Mljet coral reef

Coral reef of Cladocora caespitosa, commonly known as cushion coral, Mljet Island

Mljet is renowned for its crystal clear waters that attract divers all over the region. One amazing spot that not many people know of is the actual coral reef! Actually, the coral reef on Mljet is the only one in Croatia, and because of that, we encourage you to experience this amazing sight!

You can find the coral reef on the inland side of the bridge, on the Big Lake in the Mljet National Park. The coral has been damaged during the years, because of invasive algae species, and the increasing temperature of the sea. Still, between 4 and 18 meters of depth, you will be amazed by the biodiversity this coral reef still has to offer!


Don’t forget to taste the amazing wine on Mljet!

Close up of red grapes for wine

Like many other Dalmatian islands, Mljet has over a thousand years of wine tradition, with amazing white and red wine coming from this island. Of course, one of the activities you shouldn’t miss while you’re visiting Mljet is tasting its wine! We have ancient Greek colonists to thank for that!

Don’t mistake Mljet to be filled with grape fields though. When the Mljet National Park was established, the strict rule was that nature has to be kept untouched in that area. That makes the supply of wine on Mljet limited, but also high in quality. You can find most wine fields on the numerous karst fields on Mljet.

On Mljet, you can find two types of wine; Maraština – a white varietal, and Plavac the Little – a red varietal. Both of these are endemic to the Adriatic region. Any of these are just perfect complements with the Mljet cuisine. Or, if you want to ramp up the relaxation in your accommodation, or somewhere in nature, you can always bring a bottle or two with you! Just remember to respect nature on Mljet!


Discover Sutmiholjska off the beaten path

Just a 3-kilometer descent from the only national road on Mljet, road 120, is an almost hidden gem called Sutmiholjska. You can find this descent between Ropa and Babino Polje villages. During the descent, you will pass between fragrant pine wood, with an amazing view of the open sea looking on the Italian coast.

Once you arrive on Sutmiholjska, you will see a small but tiny bay, and a wonderful pebble beach. This place is still undiscovered by a lot of tourists, so it is certainly a nice place to enjoy the surface and the depths of the turquoise waters on the southern side of Mljet island.

Keep in mind that there is no public transportation to Sutmiholjska, so you will either need to walk there, rent a car or a scooter, or start from Babino Polje (pictured above). There is a local bus line that goes from Pomena to Sobra, and it stops in Babino Polje.

Just on the descent to the beach itself, you can find a small bar from which you can enjoy the sunny, tranquil days on Mljet!

The only accommodation option here is Apartments Rotim, which is a short walk away from the bay itself.

Sutmiholjska is one of the most beautiful beaches in Mljet, and one of the best things to do while you’re on Mljet!


Relax in peaceful Kozarica

Kozarica is yet another small bay and hamlet, located on the north side of Mljet. It is a peaceful place, perfect for a holiday getaway. There are a few guesthouses and apartments around, but probably the most unique place to stay here is Lovor, which is a camping ground.

When you get tired of swimming in the bay, you can make a short walk to a strange field, with a small lake in the middle of it, called Slatina. Even though Kozarica is a small place, it houses some of the best things to do in Mljet!


Discover the peculiar Blatina Lakes

If you love spending time in nature, this is one of the things to do in Mljet that you shouldn’t miss! There are three lakes like this, near Kozarica, Blato, and Sobra.

What makes these lakes unique is their formation. These lakes are formed from a mix of seawater with rainfall. The end result is very picturesque; very small lakes that are quite deep, surrounded by karst hills. Also, the salinity levels of these lakes depend on the amount of rainfall that goes inside the lakes.


Go camping to experience the raw nature

One of the most popular things to do in Mljet is camping. As you already know by now, there is a lot of untouched nature on this island. What is the better thing to connect with nature here than camping? Also, a dash of adventuristic spirit is never a bad thing!

On Mljet, you can find only three camping sites. But don’t be sad, as these sites are scattered on just the right places to be nice starting points to explore the island.

The smallest campsite is called Marina, and is near Babino Polje. Camping Ground Lovor is located near Kozarica, and is a bit bigger than Marina, and has some amazing sunset spots for you to discover! The largest camping site on Mljet is called Mungos. It is located between the Odysseus Cave and Sutmiholjska. It even has a restaurant and can accommodate up to 250 people!

___________

Actually, there are a lot of awesome things to do in Mljet, one of the most beautiful Croatian islands. From tasting the local cuisine to exploring the amazing nature, you will avoid the crowds that the Croatian coast is so infamous for during the high season! Also, you will get transported in the local cultural experience like no other in the Croatian region of Dalmatia.

So, if you ever find yourself in this part of Croatia, make sure not to miss the amazing, yet often overlooked, Mljet!

What to Pack for Mljet

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Luggage

Mosquito repellent: Mosquitos in the summer can be nasty! You can bring ones with DEET or without DEET, or I love having some of these mosquito repellent wipes that I can keep in my bag in case I suddenly start to get swarmed and don’t have my regular repellent with me.

Sunscreen: You can buy sunscreen in Croatia, but it’s likely cheaper at home or bought online in advance. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions. Note that if you snorkel near the coral reefs, you should be wearing reef-safe sunscreen.

Water shoes: Pebble beaches in Croatia are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the pebble seafloor is what creates that gorgeous deep turquoise-colored water that is hard to beat, as the lack of sand means you have incredibly clear water. However, on the other hand, pebble beaches and rocky shores can be downright painful!

Our friend recently cut his foot on a rocky beach in Croatia; had he been wearing water shoes, he’d have avoided such unpleasantness! We suggest these unisex water shoes. They’re not sexy, but they will make your trips to the beach far more pleasant!

A secure backpack: We both carry the CitySafe backpack by PacSafe not only on our travels but in our day-to-day lives. It’s cute, it’s functional, it’s comfortable, and it’s secure. We’re talking about interlocking zippers (which you can then put through a second clasp for two layers of security), slash-proof wire mesh construction, and RFID blockers to keep your personal data safe.

It’s neutral enough to be unisex, it’s roomy enough to fit a small laptop, large camera, and tons of odds & ends, and it fits under the plane seat in front of you. We’re obsessed. Check it out for yourself!

Grayl Water FilterTap water is generally safe to drink in Croatia, but if you’re not used to drinking tap water from other countries, the typically harmless bacteria found in all water can cause some gut irritation.

To both be safe and not buy dozens of plastic water bottles, you can get a reusable water bottle that comes with a water filter so that you can stick to the tap water and reduce your plastic waste. If you’ll be traveling outside of the major tourist cities, check locally before drinking from the tap without a filter.

Seabands: If you get seasick easily, pack some Seabands or seasickness pills so you don’t miss out on the best parts of Croatia – being on the water! A trip to Croatia isn’t complete without a quick boat trip (and you’ll be hard-pressed to get to Mljet without taking a boat!) so make sure you’re prepared to enjoy it to the fullest!

More Croatia Travel Resources

Dubrovnik - Croatia - Boats in the harbor with view of old town in background

Headed to Croatia? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip.

First read our guide to planning a trip to Croatia, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a packing list for Croatia in all seasons that will surely be of help!

If you’ll be visiting Dubrovnik, check our guide to the best Dubrovnik day trips and Instagram spots.

For Zagreb, check out our Instagram spots, as well as our guide to visiting Plitvice from Zagreb.

For Split, check out our guide to the best day trips from Split.

For Hvar, check out our guide to things to do in Hvar.

If you’re still putting together your itinerary, here’s a great list of places to visit in Croatia, our Croatian islands guide, and our Croatian waterfalls guide to help you choose.

Finally, you’ll want to read our guide to shopping in Croatia so you know which souvenirs are truly local gems.

If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan busroad trip, and itinerary guides. 

We publish new content nearly every day! Bookmark our pages on Croatia and the Balkans so that you don’t miss out on any new info or resources that we publish before your trip!

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Croatia (or really, any part of the world)! We have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.

While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<

Pin This Guide to Things to Do in Mljet

Planning to visit Mljet, Croatia? This island near Dubrovnik is famous for being home to Mljet national park, coral reefs for the best snorkeling in Croatia, Odysseus cave, and several of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia. Check this guide to things to do in Mljet to discover more about Mljet island, a paradise Croatian island where you can experience Croatia off the beaten path!
Planning a trip to Sofia? Check out our best free trip planning resources