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Sitia to Matala driving.....

by Tommmo Online Now Feb 28, 2013 at 4:18 PM

There are two ways to go - via Iraklion or via Ierapetra. Which way is faster? I'm sure each is spectacular , but there may be a good reason to choose one as better? We are hoping to cover the distance in a day if possible.

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15 Answers
  • brotherleelove's Profile Photo

    Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by brotherleelove Online Now Feb 28, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    I can't speak to which road is better, but if you go through Iraklion you can stop off at Knossos and Phaistos on the way.

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  • Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Tommmo Online Now Feb 28, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    Thanks btl ... I suspect there could be 4-5 hrs driving involved either way so we thought we better go straight to Matala . Phaistos and maybe Gortis we can see easily enough from Matala next day.

    We plan to go on to Plakias next ....

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  • Spincat's Profile Photo

    Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Spincat Online Now Mar 11, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    It sounds like you have already planned your route (allowing 4 or 5 hours sounds fine), but just thought I'd mention that if you are going to be in Sitia and have a car, Kato Zakro, to the far east of the island is well worth a visit. I'm taking you off your route but, having travelled to Crete 8 or 9 times now, and it is a place I've returned to many a time. You may have already planned to go there though.

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  • Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Tommmo Online Now Mar 11, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    thanks Spincat. We think we'll be staying at Sitia for 2 nights so Kato Zakro is a possibility if not too hard a drive. What is it you like about the place ?

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    by Spincat Online Now Mar 11, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    Have a look at my tip if you have time for a detailed reply
    Crete Island Off The Beaten Path Tips by Spincat
    It isn't really somewhere I'd go for a flying visit though, so I'd skip it if you have tight schedule, but there's a Minoan palace there and lovely, relatively easy gorge work as well as a lovely cove, good rooms and tavernas

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  • Spincat's Profile Photo

    Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Spincat Online Now Mar 11, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    Spincat wrote:
    gorge work

    umm, sorry -that should be gorge walk!

     

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  • Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Tommmo Online Now Mar 12, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    thanks Spincat...
    We have 18 days in all for Crete. when I enquired about renting a car we sort of got chatting and now we are invited to spend the first night in Heraklion for Easter at the guy's home!
    So I think we go first to Ag.Nik. 2 nights then along the coast to Sitia for 2 nights - this is where the possibility of seeing Kato Zakro arose. Then we want to drive and stay at Matala, but the way to go is still a mystery. I think we would be quicker going back to Heraklion and down but there is a way along the coast via Ieraptra too. Any ideas on that? It will be May and it seems a bit cool still for swimming.....
    cheers
    Tom+Kathy

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  • Spincat's Profile Photo

    Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Spincat Online Now Mar 12, 2013 at 1:50 AM

    Well, for what it is worth, it is perfectly possible to drive from Sitia to Matala via Ierapetra, and probably 4 to 5 hours is about right.
    I've done exactly this trip years ago and it wasn't one of my favourite journeys but these things are very subjective. The journey from Sitia to Makrigialos was pleasant but I don't particularly enjoy the coastline around Ierapetra. That part of the coast is quite built up in a ramshackle kind of way. Again, this is subjective, other people love this part of Crete. From Ierapetra you then go via Ano Vianis and Pirgos. It is definitely worth doing this trip if you've not been this way. The drive from Ag Nik (a good choice for the first few days) to Sitia is stunning, by the way, but it sounds like you have halfway decided against going back via that route to Heraklion.

    I can't really advise you on what is best for you, but I would recommend reading the Rough Guide to Crete for helpful info about places and routes, in addition to reading the Crete guide tips on here so you can decide which parts of Crete appeal the most.

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  • Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Tommmo Online Now Mar 12, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    As you mention too, the roads From Kato Zakros to Matala seem very winding and away from the coast and in parts uninteresting and we think it would be better to retrace our way to the route Ag.Nik.-Heraklion and then drive on down to Matala.
    We can then return a short way to see Festos etc. from Matala as a day trip...
    Had a look at your Crete pages and they are excellent help. Have you stopped your visits to Crete now?

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  • Spincat's Profile Photo

    Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Spincat Online Now Mar 13, 2013 at 12:45 AM

    Thank you. I went last year in March for the first time in a while (I wasn't able to travel for about 4 years for one reason or another - and have been off Virtual Tourist too for similar length of time) and had a lovely time revisiting Ag Nik, Neapoli and Lassithi plateau. I hope to go back next year for longer.

    There are some interesting mountain routes travelling between Kato Zakro and Ierapetra via Ziros -but very steep. I think there are two ways one drives around on holiday: sometimes it is just a case of going from A to B by the easiest route and at other times you can take your time and find interesting places en route. It sounds like you've decided to head to Matala and doing the A to B type journey makes sense.

    The only thing I'd say is that there is no pressure in Crete at that time of year to keep to a particular itinerary - you won't have any problem finding places to stay, for example, so, at other times, it is good to just wander without tying your self down. Some of our favourite places have been found that way. I've found that people who have set out to 'do' particular set of things on Crete sometimes wind up disappointed if they stick too firmly to the plans. It is difficult, of course, if you are a long way away and know you probably only have those weeks to see everything in.

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  • Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Tommmo Online Now Mar 13, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    Thanks Spincat - you are right there is a certain amount of pressure trying to fit all of Crete into our time (18 days). Of course, coming from Australia it's a big deal (26 hr.flying) and we probably won't have another chance. Glad you made it back there - it's easier to keep revisiting than it is for us.
    We arrive Heraklion at 9pm and were worried about driving (it's Easter Sat.) to Ag.Nik. but the nice guy we are renting the car from invited us to stay in his house that night .
    We'll try and just cruise and I've started crossing some things off the list like Lassithi plateau and Paleochora. It does seem we do have to have bookings at Chania and Rethymon so that will anchor us to some extent and we'll do day trips out from there . Also the weather ,strong winds etc may influence our plans.
    It's been an age waiting and planning and there's still about 6 weeks to go . I'm not good with waiting!
    I could give you the rough plan if you're interested.....

    cheers
    Tom

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  • Spincat's Profile Photo

    Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Spincat Online Now Mar 13, 2013 at 2:50 AM

    Yes, by all means, do let me know your plan. I think it is very different if you are just making a one-off trip and aren't likely to come back.

    The one thing I would say about staying in Ag Nik, Rethymno and Chania are - try to stay in the centre (i.e. the old part of town) rather than the sprawl of resorts around them (even if, in the case of Ag Nik, some of the resorts are pretty up-market). It is just much nicer and more interesting. The north coast can be pretty built up but the those cities are lovely in the centre. I generally like a mixture of the cities and little remote places in the mountains or on the coast. If it is Minoan palaces you are interested in it is most definitely worth seeing the Heraklion museum - go in the first or last hour of opening to miss the big groups.

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  • Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Tommmo Online Now Mar 16, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    Thanks Spincat, that's how we like to travel too...and we'll stay in the centre of the bigger towns, except Heraklion.
    The plan is...the car rental car has invited us to stay at his house on arrival as we get in late on Easter Sat. May 4 , then morning drive to Ag.Nik and stay 5,6 and 7 then to Sitia for 2 days, on 10th drive to Matala area for 2 days , then Plakia area another 2 days and to Hora Sfakion area for 2 or 3 days depending on seeing Loutro or not so about May 17 now . Then drive up to Chania for 3-4 days, back towards Rethimno for 2-3 days and drive back to Heraklion for a night and then ferry to Naxos for 5 days.
    We'd love to hear any suggestions for our time. We're told we don't have to lock every day in at that time of May hopefully...
    cheers
    Tom+Kathy

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  • Spincat's Profile Photo

    Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by Spincat Online Now Mar 16, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    You'll have a great time, esp spending Easter Saturday with someone local. It is good news that you are staying right in the centre of the towns. One of the loveliest things to do in Crete, to my mind, is to spend time in the mountains (you really get a feeling for the island that way), and I personally prefer to spend a night in a village rather than just a day trip, because you experience more of the atmosphere of the place. It is hard to advise on this beyond what I have already written about on VT, but I think that is the one thing worth considering in addition t your current plans.

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  • gkaralakis's Profile Photo

    Re: Sitia to Matala driving.....

    by gkaralakis Online Now Mar 26, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    hi!
    i have lived in Ierapetra 35 years and now the last 3 live in my village 'Christos'.. it is a very nice route from Myrtos to Males and then Christos to see Agia Paraskeyi springs and the plans. there is a tavern to stop and relax for a little and then go back..
    also in the middle of this rout is Sarakina grorge..
    the only problem is that you have to return back for Matala..
    you will find local products there (honey and olive oil)..
    you want all day to see all this..
    hope to have helped my words..
    have a nice trip!
    george

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