One of the flagship paintings associated with Crete is the characteristic frame of the Balos lagoon and the flat Tigani peninsula in the background. The picturesque nature of this place attracts crowds of enthusiastic tourists every year, and the beach itself has been systematically occupying very high places in the world and European beach rankings for a long time.
White, and also pink sand and incredibly azure water always evoke unequivocal associations. A paradise beach, a paradise, a wonderful place are the most frequently used terms that always appear in the comments of readers when we publish pictures of the Balos lagoon. It does not surprise us in any case. We have visited Balos many times, at different times of the year and the day, and it always makes an impression on us.
The downside of the beach is its remote location on the northwestern tip of Crete. The approximate distances Balos from the main cities of Crete can be found in the table prepared by us. The large distance that separates these places means in practice that only those tourists whose hotels are no further than in the vicinity of Rethymno can think about visiting this beach. Traveling here from the vicinity of Heraklion means that you will spend most of your day in the car and hence you will not have enough time to relax.
The way of transport you choose to get to the lagoon is also important. Each of them has its own advantages but also disadvantages. Below we present our summary regarding each of them.
The most popular means of transport is a full-day ferry trip from Kissamos. It is used both by organized trips and individual tourists. When choosing this way of travel, you need to adjust your daily schedule to flight times. From late April to October, the ships sail to Balos every day at 10:20 (return time 17:45), 10:40 (return 18:00). During the high tourist season in July and August an additional cruise is performed at 12:30 (return 19:30). This year this additional course is already available from June.
Tickets for the ferry can be bought, among others, at the port of Kissamos. It is also possible on the day of the journey before entering the ship. In this case, however, you have to arrive early, because sometimes the queues set up in front of the ticket offices. Unfortunately, you also need to know that in the case of a large interest in a flight on a given day, tickets may no longer be available. If possible, it is worth making an earlier reservation. This can be done at the ticket offices at the port and at all local travel agencies cooperating with the cretan daily cruises. It is worth looking around for such an office in the place where you live. If you make such a reservation, you do not have to worry about whether you will come on board, because the place is stuck. However, it is necessary to remember that on the basis of reservations issued by the booking office, you can collect tickets at the ticket office that will entitle you to enter the ship.
If you have access to the internet on vacation, you can also make a reservation on the carrier's website: www.cretandailycruises.com Interestingly, this website also has a Polish language version.
In 2017, ticket prices are as follows:
When issuing tickets at the ticket office, an additional mandatory administrative fee of 1 € is required for each passenger over 13 years of age (payable in cash). The ticket price includes only transport. All meals, drinks or lunch on board the ferry are charged extra.
If you have bought the tickets earlier and unfortunately you have to cancel it, it is worth knowing that up to 7 days before the trip you can return them at the point of sale and get back 100% of the ticket price. If this period is shorter (up to 3 days before the cruise) you will recover 80% of the ticket price. In the event of cancellation of tickets or reservations up to 24you will receive only 50% of the cost refund before you travel. Canceling a voyage in less than 24 hours before departure or failing to report aboard means that you will receive no refund.
In the case of organized trips, the question of booking a place and purchasing tickets lies with the organizer. Like transport to the port. Remember, however, that this involves a much higher price of the trip cost.
For individual tourists commuting to the port of Kissamos by car, free parking is available.
To avoid over-crowding, the ships have two routes. In the first option they flow first to Balos and then to Gramvousa. The second route takes the opposite direction.
Depending on the size of the ship, it either flows directly to the shore (larger) or moors at a distance from the lagoon (smaller), from where tourists are transported ashore by boats. Beaching in a paradisiacal environment can be enjoyed for just over 2 hours, after which the ship departs. After about a 20-minute cruise, the boat approaches Gramvousa Island, where it stays for 2 hours. During this time, after going ashore, it is worth climbing 137 meters higher to see the ruins of the Venetian fortress. The path leading up is not very comfortable, therefore it is worth taking more comfortable shoes with you on this part of the trip. Although the approach in the heat is quite tiring it is worth coming here even for spectacular views of the lagoon.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of such transport? It's definitely a plus to visit Gramvousa and the opportunity to watch the lagoon and shoreline from the sea. These views are available only during the cruise. This trip is also positive from the comfort of traveling. In addition to the approach to the fortress, there are no other tiring points :) The downside is that you travel and sunbathe in the crowd. Such trips are very crowded, so you can not count on your piece of beach and peace and quiet. Sailing by boat you will not see the famous view of the Balos lagoon and the Tigani peninsula, unless instead of lazy sunbathing, you decide to enter the trail leading towards the parking lot.
This is the second option to get to the Balos lagoon. In terms of organization, it does not require a greater philosophy. It is enough to have a rented car and some confidence in driving on the Cretan roads. During entry to the gavel at the checkpoint, only the administration fee is charged for passengers over 13 years of age. in the amount of 1 € (as in the case of a cruise).
Choosing this way you have to take into account that after the village of Kaliviani, the asphalt road ends. A further 7-km section of the route will require a gravel ride. Unfortunately, this is tantamount to the fact that possible damage to the car created during such travel, you will have to cover at your own expense. In most cases, this is unfortunately the insurance conditions that you buy by renting a car. And that's basically the biggest risk in this trip.
If you plan to choose this form of travel to Balos, you also need to consider your skills as managers. Although in our opinion this road is currently relatively easy and should not cause difficulties, not every driver feels strong enough to cross this route. In places, it is bumpy and although the steepest section has been paved, some of the ramps can be a source of terror among the "new" tourists visiting Crete. It is also worth taking into account that this road does not have protective barriers installed everywhere. Lack of security separating from the chasm can cause discomfort to drivers with less experience.
Arriving here by car, you must also remember that the target parking lot is quite small, so the space on it ends relatively quickly. Those who arrive too late must leave the car along the road. The end of this "car park" may fall even 1-1.5 km further. Therefore, it extends the distance significantlyit's time to go on foot. Regular parking is more than a kilometer away from the Balos lagoon, so the further you park, the more road you have to climb.
The trail that you will be going to give a bit of bone especially during the return journey. The initial up-and-down approach is not very pleasant. Especially that high temperatures and strong sun quickly suck up water. It's basically the second minus car access to Balos. However, one can not forget that it is also one of the biggest advantages. Following this path you will have the opportunity to see this postcard, spectacular view of the lagoon and the Tigani peninsula. This is something that the passengers of the ship will not see when sailing to the lagoon from the sea.
Unfortunately, choosing the option to drive to Balos by car, you must remember that you will only see the island of Gramvousa from a distance.
The big advantage of driving in addition to the above-mentioned view of the lagoon is that you can actually come here at any time of the day. If you choose morning or afternoon hours, you can count on avoiding crowds in both the parking lot and the beach.
In recent years, a KTEL bus also operated between Kaliviani and Balos, which, for a small fee, also allowed access to a car park near Balos. Unfortunately, for some time now the connection is gone.
At the end it is worth mentioning that along the road in several places you can meet local Cretans who exhibit their products here. For example, the nice Marcos from the picture below offers crayfish in various flavors (including insane strawberry), honey, olives and natural creams.
A lot of people who are going to Crete for the first time are asking us what to see. Limited time of stay and car rental as well as a finite amount of funds that you want to spend on sightseeing cause that among the many interesting places offered by the island you have to choose only the most important ones. So we decided to create our peculiar must-see, or list of places we like the most known and most popular among tourists.
Crete is an unusual place. There are over 300 beaches on approximately 1,000 kilometers of the island's coastline, with over a quarter of them receiving the Blue Flag award every year. From all these places we have chosen twenty most-known, popular and for some reason exceptional beaches. Some of these places are generally recognized hits, but some are our personal choice, beaches which for some reason we deemed worthy to be included on this list.