Balos in Crete: Ultimate Travel Guide

The beach and lagoon of Balos on the north-western tip of Crete is a paradise that looks like something straight out of a postcard. With its shimmering turquoise waters and pristine white sand, it’s no wonder this place is popular with locals and tourists alike.

Balos Beach – The image of Crete that you won’t forget

Balos Beach is often mentioned as one of the most beautiful beaches on the island of Crete. You should definitely include this beach in your Crete itinerary when planning your trip. The sandbank that separates the lagoon from the sea also has light pink sand, just like the beach at Elafonissi. Whether you’re snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters or simply lazing on the shore, Balos offers an unforgettable escape into the splendor of nature in Greece. The shallow lagoon offers a unique swimming experience. It’s the perfect place to float and soak up the Mediterranean sun. Find out everything you need to know before traveling to Balos in this Travel Guide.

Where is Balos Beach on Crete?

Balos Beach and Lagoon is located on the northwestern coast of Crete, near the Gramvousa peninsula. It is approximately 56 kilometers (35 miles) from the city of Chania, making it a popular day trip destination for visitors staying in the area.

How to get to Balos?

Getting to Balos Beach can be an adventure in itself. In this Balos Travel Guide we show you the two main routes: by car or by boat.

By car: If you want to arrive by car, drive towards the village of Kaliviani and follow the signs to Balos. Before you can pass the last section of the road, you have to pay an entrance fee of around €1 per vehicle. After about 10 kilometers you will reach a parking lot. You should drive carefully on the way there, as the road is not asphalted and there are many potholes. Goats also like to block the road or accompany you on your way. Once you arrive at the parking lot, you will be directed to the parking area.

You should arrive early as the parking lot fills up quickly. Parking there is free. It takes about 90 minutes to get here from Chania. From the parking area, a picturesque hike of around 20-30 minutes takes you down a rocky path to the beach. During the hike, you will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views. It’s best to bring some sturdy shoes for the descent and later ascent. Admission to Balos is free.

By boat: For those preferring a scenic sea journey, daily boats depart from Kissamos to Balos Beach, providing a relaxing cruise with stunning views of the coastline.

Whether by boat or by foot, the effort to reach Balos Beach is well worth the unforgettable experience awaiting you.

Best Things to Do at Balos Beach

The beach and lagoon of Balos offer a wealth of activities suitable for every type of traveler.

Relaxing and sunbathing: One of the best ways is to simply relax on the untouched white sand and soak up the Mediterranean sun while enjoying the breathtaking view of the turquoise waters.

Swimming: Swimming in the shallow, warm water of the lagoon is ideal for letting yourself drift relaxed in the shallow water and provides a safe and relaxing environment.

Snorkeling: For the adventurous, snorkeling in the crystal-clear lagoon is a must. The clear water reveals a beautiful underwater world teeming with vibrant marine life.

Photography: A hike up the nearby hills offers panoramic views that are ideal for photography enthusiasts to capture the breathtaking beauty of the beach and lagoon from above.

Boat tour: An excursion to the nearby island of Gramvousa with its historic Venetian fortress adds a touch of adventure and history to your visit.

Sunset: An unforgettable experience is the sunset on Balos Beach, when the sky turns into a canvas of vibrant colors – the perfect end to a day in paradise.

Tips for your Visit to Balos

As part of the Ultimate Balos Travel Guide, we give you some important tips to make your Balos experience even better.

Arrive early: You should definitely set an alarm clock for the trip to Balos and try to arrive early. As already mentioned, the parking lot fills up quickly. Those who arrive later park along the gravel road. This can lengthen your walk and mean that you don’t have a good parking space for your rental car. In addition, the road to the beach, like the beach itself, is much emptier in the morning. You should also be there in good time if you want a sun bed. The capacity of beds is quickly exhausted, so there are only a few nice spots left or even no sun beds at all.

Sun protection: Bringing sun protection to Balos Beach is essential, as the open, sun-drenched landscape offers little natural shade, making it easy to get sunburned. With the combination of reflective white sands and crystal-clear waters, the intensity of the sun can be quite strong. So sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are crucial for a comfortable and safe visit.

Water and snacks: It’s important to take plenty of water and snacks with you to Balos Beach, as there are few facilities in the area. If you have enough liquid and something to eat with you, you can enjoy your day to the full in this remote and beautiful place without having to cut your visit short or make multiple trips to the nearest snack bar.

Enviroment: Respecting the environment is crucial, and this applies to Balos Beach as well. Please take your garbage home to help keep this beautiful beach clean. Additionally, remember that it is forbidden to take sand or shells with you, so please adhere to this rule.

Where to stay near Balos Beach?

While there are no accommodations directly at Balos Beach due to its protected natural status, there are several great options nearby. The town of Kissamos, about a 30-minute drive from Balos, offers a variety of hotels, guesthouses, and apartments catering to different budgets and preferences. For a more luxurious stay, consider one of the seaside resorts with stunning views and modern amenities. Alternatively, you can find charming villas and traditional Cretan homes in the nearby village of Kaliviani. They offer an even more authentic and peaceful experience. Staying in these areas not only gives you easy access to Balos Beach but also to other attractions and dining options in western Crete.

Where to eat near Balos Beach?

Due to the fact that Balos is part of a protected area, certain rules must be observed to protect nature. This is the reason why you won’t find any official restaurants on Balos Beach itself. However, there is a small snack bar at Balos Beach and at the parking lot above where you can get cold drinks and small snacks. The cheapest and best way to enjoy a proper picnic on the sand, though, is to bring your own food.

If you have decided to visit via a boat tour, check whether you can get a meal on board.

Before or after your visit, you can also find several excellent tavernas serving traditional Cretan cuisine in the nearby village of Kaliviani. In the town of Kissamos, which is a little further away, there is a wide selection of restaurants and cafés where you can enjoy fresh seafood and local delicacies.

Best Time to visit Balos Beach

A visit to Balos Beach can be a wonderful experience all year round. We will show you the advantages and disadvantages of each season in this Balos travel guide.

Spring (March to May): Spring is a fantastic time to visit Balos Beach. The weather is mild, with blooming wildflowers adding to the scenic beauty. The beach is less crowded compared to summer, providing a more peaceful experience. However, the water may still be a bit cool for swimming in the early spring months.

Summer (June to August): Summer is the peak tourist season, with warm temperatures perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The vibrant turquoise waters and bright sunshine create an idyllic beach setting. The main drawback is the large crowds, which can make the beach feel busy and limit the availability of parking and space on the sand.

Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another excellent time to visit, with warm sea temperatures and fewer tourists compared to the summer. The weather remains pleasant, making it ideal for hiking and exploring the surrounding areas. However, as November approaches, there is an increased chance of rain and cooler weather.

Winter (December to February): Winter at Balos Beach is characterized by cooler temperatures and a more rugged, serene landscape. This season is perfect for those seeking solitude and enjoying the natural beauty without the crowds. The main disadvantage is the colder weather and water, making it less ideal for swimming and sunbathing. In addition some facilities may be closed during this off-season period. In this Balos Travel Guide, we advise you not to visit at this time of year.

Please note: Many facilities and services in Balos are fully operational during the tourist season (May to October). Visiting outside these months may lead to limited availability of restaurants, accommodations, and transport services.

How much time should you plan to visit Balos?

If you travel to Balos as part of a boat tour, the excursions usually last the whole day, as you start the trip from the harbor in the morning and return in the afternoon.

If you are visiting by car, half a day including the ascent and descent can be perfectly sufficient. Depending on when you arrive and what you plan to do there, you are of course more flexible by car.

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