Your Next Big Trip

Balos Lagoon: A Perfect Day in Crete

Balos Lagoon- A Perfect Day in Crete

Balos Lagoon is located 56km northwest of Chania and 17km northwest of Kissamos. This makes it the perfect day trip from either town. Some describe the journey to Balos as “an act of pilgrimage.” The journey is certainly not easy but the reward outweighs the effort.

Balos has become “Instagram famous” in recent years. My aunt, who travelled around Crete over ten years ago had never heard of it. Today it is popular with travel bloggers, cruisers and  thanks to its picture-perfect landscape that looks even more beautiful in real life. Balos is home to turquoise water, rugged cliffs and unspoiled white sand. Sound perfect? It is.

Balos Beach Crete- Your Next Big Trip


Getting to Balos- bus, boat or car?

It is possible to get to Balos by bus and boat. There are some instances where I favour public transport. Of course, it’s more environmentally friendly. It can also provide an insight into local life. For Balos, this just wasn’t the best option for me.

Most ferry trips offer limited time at the lagoon. Even in low season with a cool breeze blowing we wanted as much time there as possible. Plus you will miss out on the hike down (although this could also be seen as a positive!) We rented a car in Chania and drove from there. The journey takes about an hour on a tarmac road to Kissamos. From Kissamos you will reach a dirt track that runs for about 8-10km along the cliff edge. Take it slowly and watch out for goats!

Goats at Balos Lagoon

In high season the road gets very crowded. I’ve read that cars park right down the narrow cliff road. However, in low season, the drive was perfect. I think we met just 2 other cars on the 8km stretch. Just make sure to check your rental insurance will cover you off road. Our company actually advised us to go there but many won’t cover you for damage to the undercarriage of the car.

In preparation for our drive we consulted the usual travel websites to make sure our tiny VW Up rental car could manage the journey. The consensus seemed to be, if you can drive on Irish roads you can drive anywhere! The dirt road was in poor condition, but no more than any Irish boithrín. We took our time, stopped for photos (and goats) and enjoyed the spectacular coastal views.

Driving to Balos Lagoon

Hiking down to the beach

Before we got there, I had read about a “gut busting” hike to the beach. With an old ankle injury rearing its head shortly before the trip, I was nervous. But to be honest…it really wasn’t that bad! It is a slow 20-30 minute descent down to Balos from the car park, along an uneven dirt track. While you don’t have to be particularly fit for the hike, it is useful to wear decent runners to prevent any ankle injuries.

Balos Beach Crete

As we reached the halfway point we saw the signs for donkey taxis but no donkeys! We took a short rest at the view point. The donkey taxis don’t run in low season so we soldiered on by foot. What the guide books don’t tell you is that the views of the lagoon distract from any feelings of tiredness on the remainder of the hike. It really is as beautiful as the photos!


Swimming at Balos

The beach was almost empty when we arrived (hello low season perks!) so we had our pick of swimming spots. Dipping a toe in the ice cold lagoon was enough to send me back to our picnic blanket. Let’s just say, if you want to feel alive, Balos Lagoon in October is the place to swim! If you prefer to keep the full function of your toes, the water on the main beach side is warmer.

Once your swim is complete, all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy the views!

Balos Beach Crete

Have you taken a great road trip recently? Let me know in the comments, pin this post or talk to me on Facebook!

Balos Lagoon- a Perfect Day in Crete

28 thoughts on “Balos Lagoon: A Perfect Day in Crete

  1. Susanna Kelly

    This looks amazing! Traveling off season is the best, isn’t it? Even though your drive was a bit sketchy it looks like it was all worth it. I would love to visit here someday! <3

  2. Hang Around The World

    What we love about Crete is its history but thanks to your post we have learnt something new. We’d love to try hiking down to the beach, they sound like a super experience with a super end 🙂

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      I was amazed by the history in Crete. Particularly its place in Greek mythology with Theseus and the Minotaur. It’s really a perfect destination- great history, friendly people and beautiful nature.

  3. Hendrik

    Such lovely photos, I must say the first one even looks a bit surreal. Beautiful, but a bit like a huge cake in the middle of the sea 🙂
    Havent heard of this place before, but this gave me an inspiration for our next greece trip, hopefully next year.
    Great tips and cool photos, thank you for sharing your experiences!

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      Haha I hadn’t thought of it like that but now that you say it, it does look like a huge cake! I hope you get to Greece this year. Definitely put Crete on your list.

  4. Gareth

    Wow, what an incredibly distinctive part of the world. The way island rises out of the water is so unique while I really love the photo of the goat chilling out by the cliff edge. The little chapel is really quaint too although I think I’d much prefer the swimming to hiking. Nice post

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      The hike wasn’t too bad thankfully but the swim was a nice relief after it. We passed lots of little chapels in Crete. They seem to be everywhere, in the most remote places. They’re a beautiful addition to the scenery.

  5. Lynne Sarao

    Oh wow, I knew Crete was supposed to be beautiful but I had never heard of this particular spot – and I’m definitely instagram addicted! Your post has made me literally want to buy plane tickets and fly off to this stunning spot tomorrow. It’s definitely going on my bucket list. Stunning photos by the way!

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      It’s a little slice of paradise. I’ve heard September is the best time to go when temperatures are still warm but the crowds are minimal.

  6. Maja | Mexatia

    It looks just beautiful! We also love to travel in low season and, even you do miss some things like you donkey taxis, you get peace and tranquility. I would love to sit down there and enjoy the view for few minutes, just on my own.

  7. Noemi of Pinay Flying High

    We’re headed to Crete next year to attend a wedding and I’m bookmarking this for our trip. It’s gorgeous! I don’t think my Greek husband knows about this as well. Lol. I’d prefer to rent a car in Greece too.

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      A car was definitely the way to go. It gave us the freedom to stop in all the lovely tavernas and small towns we passed along the way.

  8. Allison

    I was in Crete many years ago and I can’t believe I didn’t make it to Balos Lagoon. The view from the cliffs look amazing. I’m not a fan of icy water so I would have been straight back to that picnic blanket as well!

  9. neha

    The place indeed looks amazing. No wonder it has trended on Instagram. I particularly love the different shades of blue and green spread across the beach

  10. Natalie

    Take it slow and watch out for goats…LOL! Now that is a sentence you don’t read everyday! We are headed to Greece in 2017 and I’m looking at all the possibilities for things to see. Clearly we won’t be there long enough!! Great post.

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      Crete is definitely unique anyway! Enjoy Greece, I definitely have to go back to see more of it!

    2. Cliodhna Post author

      I really want to see more of Greece. The ferry to Santorini wasn’t running while we were there but in the summer is seems easy to make the trip between the two. I’ll definitely be back.

  11. Nadine Smith (Scenes From Nadine)

    I feel so uncool now because I’ve never heard of this place before! I’ve heard of Crete, but not Balos! The perks of traveling during the low season… you get all that beauty for yourself! Spectacular view! And it’s so fun that you were able to see that goat hanging out and enjoying the view too!

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      Don’t worry, I hadn’t either! My boyfriend (who doesn’t travel much) is extremely proud of himself for this find!

  12. Brown Gal Trekker

    nice… never been to crete. It’s nice to know there is nature to enjoy there. Lucky that you’re there off season. It must be superbusy at peak season.

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      I’ve heard that beach is full with literally thousands of people! It’s definitely worth a slightly lower temperature for the place to ourselves.

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      It was beautiful! I think September would be the perfect time to visit as it was a little cold when we were there in October.