Balos Beach and Lagoon: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Crete’s Most Famous Attractions

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Balos Beach and Lagoon are some of the most popular places on the Greek island of Crete. The beach is considered one of the best in the world and has been featured in many lists as one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, such as CN Traveler’s one. If you are planning a trip to Crete soon, let me give you all the details you need to visit Balos.

Why Visit Balos Beach and Lagoon, on Crete Island

Starring the list of most beautiful places in Greece, Balos allures many travelers to Crete that are yearning for its calm turquoise waters and picture-perfect landscape.

Though not the easiest place to reach on the island, the view of the beach and lagoon from the viewpoint has easily become one of the postcards of the island and should be part of any itinerary to Crete. On one side you’ll see the mirrored still waters of the lagoon reflecting the mountain and on the other side the pristine sea with many shades of blue welcoming visitors for a refreshing dip.

View of Balos Beach from viewpoint

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Where is Balos

Balos is located on the west side of Crete and it’s possible to reach it from the main cities of the island – Chania, Heraklion, and Rethymno.

Here are the approximate distances:

  • Chania: 32 miles
  • Rethymno: 70 miles
  • Heraklion: 118 miles

Visiting Balos Beach from Heraklion or Rethymno would take from 2 to 4 hours. Since it would be a big and tiring drive and you would miss most of the day commuting, I wouldn’t recommend staying in any of them to visit Balos.

Because of this, the best city to stay in and visit Balos is Chania, where you can reach the beach in just about 1h30.

If you’re flying into Crete, the closest airport to Balos is the Chania one that receives international flights from other cities in Europe, such as London and Frankfurt, and the capital of Greece – Athens.

Additionally, Crete is also connected to Athens and other Cyclades islands (Santorini and Mykonos) by ferry with arrivals in either Heraklion or Chania.

Where to stay to visit Balos, Crete

With the distances mentioned above, the best hotels to stay at to visit Balos are in the towns nearby the beach itself, like Kissamos and Falassarna, or in Chania, where you’ll have access to restaurants, bars, and many other attractions.

It’s also important to have in mind that even staying in either Kissamos or Falassarna, there will still be around 30 minutes by car to Balos.

Balos Lagoon

HOTELS NEAR BALOS BEACH AND LAGOON

  • Balos Hotel – Balos is located 5 miles away from this hotel which is the perfect option if you don’t want to wake up super early to go to the beach. From here you’ll also be close to Falassarna and Elafonisi, two must-see beaches on Crete Island.
  • Maria Beach Hotel – Situated 9 miles from Balos Beach, right on the beach, by staying in this hotel you can also visit the nearby beaches and the center of Kissamos.
  • Casa D’Irene Deluxe Hotel – a gorgeous hotel in Falassarna, very close to the beach that could also be a good alternative to visit the beaches on the west side of Crete.

BEST HOTELS IN CHANIA

  • Domes Zeen Chania – for a seaside luxury experience, this is one of the best options. It has a picture-perfect pool, outdoor gym, beach service with chairs and umbrellas, it’s good for families, and is part of the Luxury Collection of hotels. Its sophisticated and comfortable rooms have Byredo amenities, and many have a private plunge pool.
  • Domes Noruz Chania – another seaside hotel with modern bright rooms featuring private pools. It’s the best option for couples since it’s adults-only and is also part of the Autograph Collection.
  • Porto Antico – a historic hotel built in 1659 and is located in the colorful Venetian Harbor of Chania. In this hotel, your rooms can come with views of the Old Town, the port, and the Pharos lighthouse.
  • Belmondo Hotel – also in the Venetian Harbor right where many restaurants and taverns are located and with stunning views of Chania’s Old Town.
  • Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa – placed in the heart of Chania’s picturesque old town, this authentic 17th-century Venetian mansion has a rooftop terrace overlooking the town and the Venetian Harbor.
Pool at Domes Zeen Chania
Domes Zeen Chania

You might like to read my full review of Domes Zeen Chania.

Getting to Balos from Chania

There are two ways to get to Balos Beach and Lagoon from Chania. The first one is by boat, in either group tours or private tours, and the second one is by driving and hiking.

Boat tours to Balos usually stay around 2-3 hours at the beach, and also include a stop on the island of Imeri Gramvousa. Though you’ll be able to swim at the beach and lagoon, you won’t be able to have the epic views from above unless you hike for around 40 minutes up and down against the flow of tourists. Another inconvenience of the boat tour to Balos is that it arrives at the beach around noon, when many other visitors who drove earlier in the day are already settled, and the place can be very crowded. If you’d like to know more about boat tours to Balos, check out the excursions offered at GetYourGuide or tours offered by Uncharted Escapes and Strata Tours.

Now if you prefer to drive yourself as I did, then you should plan on having an early start to your day. I’d recommend arriving in Balos before 10 am (preferably before 9 am), so consider the time since the drive from Chania to Balos takes around 1h30.

From Chania, you’ll have to drive towards Kissamos. Once you pass through Kissamos and the port of Kavonisi, you’ll reach the village of Kaliviani. After driving through the narrow roads of this small village, you’ll arrive at the dirt road that is the official entrance to the road to Balos. Here you’ll find an entrance post where visitors must pay a €1 fee per person to access the peninsula (cash only).

Balos Lagoon reflection

After the entrance post, you’ll start your journey along the dirt road which, despite many comments on the internet, isn’t as bad as it seems. If you go early in the day, you may only encounter a few other drivers and you might have to stop to let a few goats cross the street, but the road is wide enough to safely pass. This part of the drive should take around 30 to 40 minutes.

Balos Beach and Lagoon last part of the hike

Once you arrive at the parking lot, you’ll need to hike down to Balos (it takes roughly 30 minutes). The hike is easy, despite the irregular rocky path. After a few minutes, you’ll get to the viewpoint where you’ll have the most impressive panorama of the lagoon and the beach. Take some time to soak in the magnificent views before continuing towards the beach, where the last part of the hike you’ll have to walk over the white powdery sand. Then, you just need to relax and enjoy your time swimming in the ocean or cooling down in the lagoon.

Just have in mind that, later, you’ll have to hike in the opposite direction on your way to the car, which can be more challenging and exhausting.

Family in the waters of Balos beach

Facilities on Balos Beach and Lagoon

On Balos you’ll find beach chairs and umbrella rental service for around €15, depending on the season.

There’s one canteen selling beverages, but I would strongly recommend bringing snacks and plenty of water for the hike.

Also, there’s a bathroom facility where you have to pay a small fee to use.

Chairs and Umbrellas in Balos Beach

Best time to visit Balos Beach and Lagoon

Like many Greek beaches, the best time to visit Balos Beach is from May to early November. Please have in mind that July and August are very busy and hot months on Crete.

I visited Balos on a weekday in mid-September and had the best time without crowds and had perfect weather – I arrived around 8 am and left around 1 pm to see the nearby Falassarna Beach.

Swimmers in Balos Beach

Best tips for visiting Balos Beach and Lagoon

Be sure to pack enough water and a picnic with snacks and fruits.

Though the hike is ok, you may want to dress comfortably and bring comfortable shoes – either hiking sandals or sneakers (keep your flip flops on your backpack for the beach).

If going to Balos Beach and Lagoon seems too much for you, try the one-of-a-kind Elafonisi Beach that has easier access, or Falassarna Beach which has a big stretch of sand that can please everybody and is ideal for water sports.

Elafonisi Beach

Places to see near Balos Beach and lagoon

Falassarna Beach is also one of the best beaches on Crete and is located approximately 12 miles from Balos. The beach is so vast that you can choose between lots of places to rent umbrellas and chairs. Also, there are a lot of water activities to do here such as windsurfing, paragliding, and other water sports. If you want to do as I did, spend your morning in Balos and your afternoon in Falassarna, where you can have lunch in a cute tavern overlooking the sea in Falassarna Town (I recommend Taverna Spilios).

Falassarna Beach

Balos Beach and Lagoon FAQ

  • Is Balos Beach and Lagoon accessible by car?

Yes, you can get to Balos either by boat or by car.

  • How much does it cost to go to Balos Beach and Lagoon?

If you drive your own car, you just need to pay a €1 fee. If you take a boat, then the boat tour prices change depending on the company.

  • How bad is the road to Balos?

Not as bad as it seems. The last part of the road isn’t paved and has lots of curves, but it’s wide enough for two cars. If you’re worried about traffic, plan on arriving before 10 am and avoid going on weekends.

  • Can you swim in Balos Beach?

Absolutely yes and you should. The blue water is perfectly calm and great for a swim.

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I am Elen, and I help 9-5ers plan their next getaway. I curate travel experiences, from places to sip a coffee to stays in boutique hotels, so you can save time when planning your next vacation. Here you will find travel guides, tips, and the best itineraries for your next trip.

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