Elafonisi Beach, in the region of Chania, Crete, is probably the hottest and most visited spot on the island. And getting there can be a memorable adventure, especially if you drive to Elafonisi. This guide tells you how to get to Elafonisi from other areas of the island, which are the best roads, and what public transport alternatives you have too. Bookmark this guide and come back when planning your Crete itinerary or read it now and discover how to get to Elafonisi beach during your vacation in Crete!
This site contains affiliate links to products and services. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
Last-minute plans for Crete?
Get there: Use Ferryhopper to book your tickets.
Stay: Find great accommodation deals on Booking.com.
Move around: Compare car rental prices with Discover Cars.
Tours: Check the most popular places on the island with GetYourGuide.
- Visit Elafonisi or discover Balos Beach.
- Hike Samaria or Explore the Archaeological Palace of Knossos.
Best Hotels in Chania
Affordable: Aelia Apartments or Polixeny’s Suites in the old town.
Mid-range: Elia Estia in the old town and Atrion Resort in Agia Marina.
Luxury: Casa Delfino in the old town or Domes Noruz by the sea.
Check also Chania Accommodation Guide and Boutique Hotels in Chania.
General Info about Elafonisi
The beach of Elafonisi is a remarkable sandy beach located on the Southwest coast of the Chania prefecture, about 74 km from Chania town (from 1 to 1,5 hours), 130 km from Rethymnon (a bit more than 2 hours), and 211 km from Heraklion (3 to 4 hours).
If you are staying in Heraklion and want to visit Elafonisi in a day, think it over!
Families with kids usually target the area in search of shallow waters, but it’s also popular among young couples looking for a romantic landscape.
Elafonisi is a favorite of backpackers many of which camp in the nearby Kedrodasos Beach.
The best way to learn everything there’s to know about Elafonisi Beach is to open this useful guide and then come back to this post.
Traveling to Elafonisi Beach: Things to Consider
You can get to Elafonisi from anywhere in Crete by public transport, with an organized tour, or by car.
You can choose your trip depending on how you like to travel, how comfortable you feel about driving on roads you don’t know, and how much money you can spend on transport.
Traveling from Heraklion to Elafonis can be really expensive while renting a car can be quite a good idea. Renting your own car is very convenient for those who want to visit places that are hard to reach.
When it comes to Elafonisi, keep in mind that most buses leave way before you can see the sunset, an experience you don’t want to miss! So forget about bus schedules, and discover the island by car!
Bus travel is really easy on the north coast of the island while getting to popular places in the south, including Elafonisi, can be more difficult.
If you’re ready to travel by bus, travel light, plan your schedule and always allow extra time for unforeseen situations, like extra traffic.
If you visit Elafonisi beach, you will certainly enjoy both the views on the road and this amazing pink sand beach.
How to Get from Chania to Elafonisi Beach
Living in Chania has given me the possibility to visit Elafonisi many times. So this is an authentic guide by a local. I always enjoy going there in May or in September, but I’ve also taken friends in the middle of August, at the peak of the season! I do know what crowded roads to Elafonisi look like.
I’ve tried all the possible roads according to Michelin and Google maps. In conclusion, one thing has to be said immediately, the roads to Elafonisi are not easy.
A word on safety: the roads are fairly safe, however, don’t expect, in any of these roads, to speed.
They are all mountain roads, narrow, with blind hairpin turns, and distressing ravines.
There are three roads to consider if you’re driving there from Chania. In fact, it’s the same three roads you can choose if you’re coming from Rethymnon and Heraklion because it’s always wiser to reach Chania first.
Let’s see them now!
How to Get to Elafonisi by Car
Hiring a car is probably the easiest way to get to Elafonisi. Driving gives great opportunities to discover the island. It also gives you the flexibility to stop anywhere on the road to rest or to admire the landscape.
If you’re doubtful about driving in Crete, check this helpful guide about car rental and driving in Crete. Don’t forget to bookmark it before your trip.
How to Get to Elafonisi Beach Going Through Topolia Gorge
This is, hands down, the best way to get to Elafonisi! Departing from Chania, this road will take you to Elafonisi in a little bit more than an hour.
Driving times can double in August, so get on the road early if you can to avoid heavy traffic.
This is also the road that buses take, so it can be considered the safest (and shortest).
The road to Elafonisi Beach going through Topolia Gorge is one of the most breathtaking road trips in Chania, with plenty of opportunities for photos of the Cretan mountains.
The canyon of Topolia starts near the village of Stroules, about 450 meters a.s.l. It ends in the village of Topolia, where the rock walls are very high and steep.
If you are interested in stopping in places such as Potamida or the Cave of Agia Sophia, this is the way you have to choose. You can read about these nearby places here.
Personally, I suffer from extreme vertigo when I’m on the road in the mountains, but I’ve found that if instead of being a front-seat passenger I’m the one driving, I can go through Topolia in a breeze.
I’ve spoken with many visitors with the same condition, and all seem to confirm that driving helps.
How to Get to Elafonisi Beach Driving Along the Coast
This is a beautiful scenery road, that might take a little longer but is worth it for the spectacular landscapes.
It’s rather bendy too, and it’s the common way to go to Elafonisi if you are staying in Falasarna.
You will drive next to the sea and need to be aware of rocks that might fall from the mountains.
There are also goats and sheep blocking the road at times, so you need to be careful… and patient!
Personally, I find that this road is stunning for photography. However, it tends to feel really long because bends do force you to slow down.
It’s the most beautiful road to choose when driving at sunset since the sun sets right opposite this path.
Tip by a Local: I love to combine the first road when going to Elafonisi and this one for the way back. Especially if I return during sunset, the views are fantastic.
In general, the roads are doable with due care. You must be precautious because parts of the roads might not have safety barriers or signposts indicating danger.
When you reach Elafonisi by car, it’s a good idea to either spend the night in the village or to leave at least one hour before the sunset, it’s always better to avoid these roads at night.
How to Get to Elafonisi From Paleochora
Elafonisi can also be reached by boat from Paleochora, certainly more relaxing than driving, but a bit more expensive.
Paleochora is a southern town about 30 minutes from Elafonisi, but the roads are in very bad condition. You can get to Elafonisi Beach by boat. The service is worth considering if you’re staying in Paleochora.
Bear in mind that there is no port in Elafonisi.
The boat will leave you at a nearby docking area, a mole about 10 minutes from the beach. It’s also a good idea to check the prices with several boatmen before buying your ticket.
Booking your Boat from Paleochora
Boats usually leave at about 9 am or 10 am, but it’s always better to confirm with the local boatmen.
It’s also a common practice to discuss the price if you’re traveling in a large group.
The boat usually returns at about 5 pm. You can get tickets close to the jetty in Paleochora or from the local taxi boats. Some boats can also take you to Kedrodasos, not far from Elafonisi.
Remember that the boat from Paleochora to Elafonisi operates between May and October. Check prices here.
How to Get to Elafonisi by Bus
At the time of writing, there is one direct bus to Elafonisi. It leaves from Chania Bus Station at 9 am (summer service). It gets back to Chania at 4 pm, so, unless you spend the night in Elafonisi, there’s no way you see the gorgeous sunset on a day trip!
The ticket is €10 and here is the timetable.
More info about bus travel in Crete:
Traveling with a pet: Traveling by bus with your pet, according to the official website of the bus company, the itineraries on which two escort animals are accepted within the passengers’ area are the ones departing at 5:30, 09:30, 11:30, 14:30, 17:30, and 21:30.
Luggage restrictions: Passenger luggage must be placed in the luggage compartment of the bus. Each passenger can carry 2 pieces of luggage for free. There is an extra charge for every extra piece of luggage. Small pieces (hand luggage, backpacks, etc.) can be taken on the bus but must be placed in the special luggage racks inside the bus.
WiFi: All buses offer a free wi-fi network service, powered by external GSM antennas and advanced free wi-fi routers. There is free wi-fi access inside the bus stations as well.
Discounts: Discounted rates are available for students, families with more than 3 children get a 50% discount on all routes.
People with disabilities have the same discount. Infants until 6 years old travel free of charge. Credit cards and debit cards are accepted to pay for all tickets.
Refunds: In case you pay a ticket and you don’t travel, the company gives the passenger a 70% refund of the ticket price or a refund of 50% in case of a cancellation within 8 hours before departure time.
More info: Information for passengers is available daily from early morning to late at night on the phone at 2810-246530.
You can also call to learn about the timetable by calling this number 2810-245020 with an answering machine 24 hours a day.
Check ferry tickets to Greece here!
How to Get to Elafonisi with Private Transfer
& Private Tours to Elafonisi
Private transfer can be a good alternative to reach Elafonisi when traveling from other parts of the island, especially from Rethymnon and Heraklion if you want to save some money but still prefer the comfort of a car over the public bus.
Prices can be discussed and beforehand, and you can even book the trip online before getting on the island.
Prices vary depending on the transfer company and how many people are sharing the ride.
Please check before hiring the service since the number of passengers inside a car might vary this season due to Covid-19 restrictions. This transfer service is a good way to save money for groups of up to 5 travelers.
Private Tours to Elafonisi
It’s also a good idea to book a private tour. They can vary from just transport to the beach with free time, to other excursions with stops and activities too.
You can compare the best options down here and book in advance to secure your seat.
Make sure to read every detail in order to book the option that’s best for you!
- Day Trip to Elafonisi Island from Chania – From €34 per person. BOOK HERE
- From Rethymno: Small-Group Tour – From €35 per person. BOOK HERE
- From Rethymno: Full-day Trip to Elafonisi with Sightseeing – From €54 per person. BOOK HERE
- From Heraklion: Day Excursion to Elafonisi – From €45 per person. BOOK HERE
- Full-Day Bus Trip to Elafonisi from Heraklion Area– From €55 per person – BOOK HERE
- Departing from Georgioupolis: Full-Day Trip to Elafonisi – From €30 per person – BOOK HERE
- From Falasarna: Private Elafonisi Sailing Cruise – Check prices and BOOK HERE
How to Get to Elafonisi by Taxi
It’s also possible to reach Elafonisi by taxi from Chania, or from anywhere else on the island. Prices can be expensive but it is a very flexible option if you can afford the ride.
The trip can take about 1.5 hours and from Chania, 2.5 hours from Rethymnon, and at least 3 hours from Heraklion (always depending on the traffic and the season).
The ride can cost anything from €80 to €300 depending on your departing point.
It is always advisable to discuss and agree on the price with the driver before you get into the taxi. Taxis can be convenient if you’re sharing the cost with other travelers.
How are you planning to visit Elafonisi Beach this season?
Let me know in the comments below!
Travel Plans for Crete?
More Resources to Organize Your Trip!
Start by heading right to my tips to plan a trip to Crete for in-depth details you need to know about Greece. You can also check my post to better know what to pack for a trip to the island or read this info to visit Crete with children!
Get in touch if you need extra help to plan your trip. If you want to tour West Crete, check my guide. Want more? Join my Private Facebook Group to connect with like-minded travelers who love Crete as much as you do!
Make Sure You’ve Got Everything For a Hassle-Free Vacation!
I never move around the islands without my Osprey backpack, a sturdy but light travel partner I just love. For short trips, I carry this little crossbody bag. If I drive, I pack my Nikon D7200 and a good travel guide: Lonely Planet’s Best of Greece & the Greek Islands.
For accommodation, I use Booking.com. Traveling to remote places is easier with Discover Cars. Other times, I join organized tours with GetYourGuide, which features anything from cooking lessons to airport transfer!
Are you coming to Crete any time soon?
Get in touch and let me know!
Your Insanely Helpful Guide to Balos Beach Crete! (Plus Great Insider Tips)
Safest Beaches for Children in Crete: Insider’s Guide
Dreamy Boat Trips in Crete: Discover Crete by Sea!
The Most Delicious Seaside Restaurants That You Should Visit in Crete!
Loutro, Crete: Fall in Love with Chania’s Heavenly Fishing Village!
This Belongs to a Board! Pin This Guide to Remember How to Get to Elafonisi Beach For Your Trip to Crete!
About the author of this blog:
Gabi has been living in Crete for the last five years. Here, she juggles being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours in the summer, translating, and working as a tech advisor.
She’s written for Greek Reporter, published two travel guides about Greece, and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person would be able to handle.
You might also want to read: