Balos Beach & Lagoon, Crete: Practical Tips for Your Perfect Trip

Famous Balos Beach is truly a gem of Crete island. Turquoise water, white sand and the picturesque island of Tigani make perfect scenery. Balos belongs among the most beautiful places of the whole Mediterranean. I bet you already know its photos (it will show up among the first pictures in Google for the word “Crete”). The beach itself makes a connecting between the Tigani island and the mainland. Balos Beach and Lagoon are located at the northwestern corner of Crete in the Chania region.

Balos Beach and Lagoon

The best view of Balos Beach and Lagoon is from the upper viewpoint. You come across this viewpoint if you walk from the parking lot. In case you arrive by boat, we highly recommend doing a 15-20-minute hike up there. It is definitely worth it! You can see the whole Balos Lagoon from above as well as the beach connection of Tigani island and Crete island. Water in the lagoon is amazingly turquoise and warm. The lagoon has approximately 450 – 500 meters in diameter and it is not deep at all which is perfect for families with children.

View of the Balos Beach & Lagoon with Tigani island.
View of the Balos Beach & Lagoon with Tigani island.

A better place for swimming is on the other side of the beach towards the north and Gramvousa island. Water outside of the lagoon is a little cooler and deeper. You might also find some pink sand spots on Balos. Sand has a pink color because of thousands of crushed shells. To see pink sand in much bigger concentration, visit another magnificent beach of Elafonisi, which is famous for its awesome pink sand.

Facilities at Balos Beach

You will find a beach bar, shower, toilets and changing rooms during the season at Balos beach. You can also hire sunbeds and beach umbrellas. Visitors arriving by boat have the opportunity to buy drinks or snacks on the boat as well.

Best time to visit Balos Beach

If you want to avoid tourist crowds, come early in the morning to enjoy at least a few quiet hours on a paradise beach of Balos. If you visit the place off-season or early/ very late in the season, you might be the only people in the area. There was hardly anyone during the 4th week of October.

Weather at Balos Beach

Balos Beach WEATHER

Average sea temperature at Balos Beach

Balos Lagoon is quite warm!
Balos Lagoon is quite warm!

Getting to Balos Beach

Balos by car

Getting to Balos by car is quite adventurous. The last 8 km on the peninsula is just a dirt road with lots of rocks. Count at least 30 minutes for driving this section. There is a toll of €1 per person collected at the beginning of the road – be prepared for that and have cash with you! Also, keep in mind that insurance of most of the rental companies doesn’t cover driving on a dirt road like this.

There is a free parking lot available at the end of the road. If it is full, park your car along the road. From here it is still about 1.5 km by walk. The path is stony and it will take you about 20-30 minutes to get to the beach. It is best to take some better shoes than flip flips, e.g. sandals because of this section. Wonderful views await you on the way. So don’t forget your camera or phone.

You can use the donkey taxi on the way back, towards the parking place.

Plan your trip

First, you will need a car. Compare prices of car rentals nearby and choose the best once for you.

Getting to Balos by car take can take a while, especially from further destinations. We have prepared a table of distances and times between individual cities and parking lot at Balos:

CityDistanceTime needed
Chania52 km1,5 hours
Rethymno108 km2 hours
Heraklion191 km3 hours
Paleochora59 km1 h 45 min.
Matala183 km2,5 hours

Balos by boat

You can easily get to Balos by boat from the Kissamos harbor (it’s a full-day cruise). Book your boat tickets to Balos and Gramvousa Cruise here.  

There are also connecting buses from Chania, Rethymno, and Heraklion available. Buses are organized with a hotel pick up and drop off at Kissamos port, where you board on the cruise ship. You can book the following buses:

Rent a sunbed and umbrella if you want. Balos Lagoon.
Rent a sunbed and umbrella if you want. Balos Lagoon.

What to expect from Boat Cruise to Balos?

The meeting point is at Kissamos Harbor. There is also a free parking area available in case you arrive by car. As soon as you board, you will have an hour-long cruise towards Gramvousa Island (see below), where you spend approximately 2 hours. After that, it’s only 20 minutes cruise to Balos Beach and Lagoon. Free time on Balos is a little bit longer – 3 hours. Bar and toilets on the boat are available all the time. The whole trip in total takes about 7 hours.

Gramvousa Island

If you go to Balos by boat, you will also have the opportunity to explore nearby Gramvousa Island. Already on arrival, you can see the shipwreck of a 35-meter-long cargo boat. The boat carrying cement got stranded here in 1968 due to bad weather.

The island of Gramvousa is exceptional for its flora. There are 173 different plant species, including critically endangered Anthemis Glaberrima that grows only in the Greek islands.

The dominant landmark of the former pirate island of Gramvousa is the Venetian fortress from the 16th century. It was built 137 meters above sea level and you want to hike up. We definitely recommend better shoes than flip-flops. For those who aren’t interested in fortress exploration, there is a beautiful Gramvousa Beach. The water is shallow and clear, just be careful of rocks.

Map of Balos Beach & Lagoon

Packing list for Balos

  • Plenty of water
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Hat or Cap
  • Beter shoes than flip-flops for hiking (from the parking lot to the beach or for hiking to the Gramvousa fortress)
  • Cash (fee for the Balos road, drinks or snacks)

Natural area protection

Area of Balos and Gramvousa Island is protected area by EU’s Natura 2000 project. It is forbidden to:

  • Take anything out of here (shells, rocks, plants,..),
  • Starting fire,
  • Smoking around bushes,
  • Leaving your rubbish,
  • Free camping,
  • Anything that might harm the ecosystem.

Accommodation nearby Balos Beach

Kissamos Bay is a great base for exploring the area and other beautiful places and beaches. We recommend these two hotels with excellent reviews:

If you are into camping, there is a lovely place called Camping Mithimna, which is right at the beach.  There is plenty of other options in Kimassos area, check them out here.

Watch this awesome drone video from Balos Beach and Lagoon:

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Balos Beach & Lagoon, Crete_ Practical Tips for Your Perfect Trip

Balos – FAQ – frequently asked questions:

How to get to Balos by boat?

You can easily get to Balos by boat from the Kissamos harbor (it’s a full-day cruise). Book your boat tickets to Balos and Gramvousa Cruise.  

How to get to Balos by car?

Getting to Balos by car is quite adventurous. The last 8 km on the peninsula is just a dirt road with lots of rocks. Count at least 30 minutes for driving this section.

There is a toll of €1 per person collected at the beginning of the road – be prepared for that and have cash with you! Also, keep in mind that insurance of most of the rental companies doesn’t cover driving on a dirt road like this.

There is a free parking lot available at the end of the road.

What is the best time to visit Balos?

If you want to avoid tourist crowds, come early in the morning to enjoy at least a few quiet hours on a paradise beach of Balos. If you visit the place off-season or early/ very late in the season, you might be the only people in the area. There was hardly anyone during the 4th week of October.

What is the best accommodation near Balos beach?

Kissamos Bay is a great base for exploring the area and other beautiful places and beaches. We recommend these two hotels with excellent reviews:
1) Beautiful Eleni Apartment
2) Beach House

If you are into camping, there is a lovely place called Camping Mithimna, which is right at the beach. 

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Adriana a Matěj - Czech the World - travel blog

Adriana & Matěj

Travelers, sport enthusiasts and photographers behind this blog. Creating high-quality and informative guides for your travels. Read more about us here.

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