Balos Beach Crete is one of the best beaches in Crete, and for that matter, Greece, the Mediterranean, Europe and the world. You’ll see tours to Balos advertised at every travel agency between there and Crete capital Heraklion, and for once, the hype is absolutely justified. Balos Bay is absolutely breathtaking. 

Visiting Balos is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Crete. Along with nearby Chania beaches at Falassarna and Elafonissi, it’s one of the highlights of any Crete holidays. It’s in a wild, remote area, and one of the best places in Crete to visit, hands down. It’s so spectacular that you may want to consider basing your decision on where to stay in Crete in allowing some time to get there.  

Image of Balos beach Crete Greece
Balos beach and Gramvousa Island

So what do you need to do to get to Balos Beach Greece? How long do you need at this stunning Crete lagoon? Read on for everything you need to know about one of the best Crete travel experiences of all. 

BALOS BEACH CRETE – IN A NUTSHELL 

Image of Balos Lagoon Crete Greece
The classic view of Balos beach and lagoon

Balos beach and lagoon are located between mainland Crete and Cape Tigani  

It is one of the best beaches in Europe, and indeed, one of the best beaches in the world 

It’s in the far north-west of Crete island, an hour’s boat ride from the nearest port at Kissamos in Chania province 

Many Balos cruises also visit Gramvousa Beach – another of the most stunning Crete beaches 

Image of the beach at Balos Chania Crete Greece
A close-up view of Balos Beach

The boat to Balos beach moors a five-minute walk from Balos lagoon and beach 

The water in the lagoon area is mostly very shallow, ideal for kids to paddle and splash in 

Image of Balos Beach Crete
Balos beach from the ferry

The seaward (north) side of the beach has the deeper water, with waves being swept towards the shore – it’s great water for swimming 

If you want to get the best views of Balos beach, you need to climb the steep footpath up the mountain towards the car park – the classic high view over the sands and Cape Tigani is near the top of the walk 

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT BALOS, CRETE? 

Image of Balos beach Kissamos Crete Greece
Balos Beach on a glorious ‘autumn’ day

We were lucky to stay in Crete for several months, over the peak summer season into the October shoulder season and beyond. 

During this time we made friends with numerous locals, all of whom said the same thing – avoid Balos in the July and August peak season. We were advised that it was far better to visit in October, when Balos lagoon beach would be far less crowded. We followed this advice, visiting in mid-October. 

Image of people on Balos beach Crete Greece
A relatively quiet day on Balos beach in October

Even then, the Balos boat trip was pretty busy, with at least 300 passengers on board. Most of them made a beeline for the ‘main’ beach, with the sand facing the sea just after the narrow inlet to the lagoon. An isolated patch of paradise it was not. 

Image of pink sand on Balos Beach Crete
Like nearby Elafonissi, Balos also has some distinctive pink sand

The Balos ferry runs for six months of the year, from the beginning of May to the end of October. The water is usually too cold to swim in until late June, sometimes even early July. The Crete sea swimming season does, however, last until the end of October. On balance, this is the time we’d recommend visiting Balos beach as you can enjoy some time in the crystal-clear turquoise water without the full-blown summer crowds. 

BALOS BEACH FACILITIES 

Image of beach umbrellas at Balos Beach Crete Greece
Beach umbrellas at Balos – you can hire them on the ferry or on the beach

As it’s a remote beach, facilities at Balos beach are fairly sparse. 

There is a stock of sunbeds and umbrellas which would probably sell out during the high season.  There is also the option of hiring an umbrella for 4 euros (plus a 5 euro deposit) from on board the ferry. 

Image of pedalos and beach equipment for hire at Balos Beach on Crete
Go on – go for a ride in a flamingo pedalo

Otherwise, there is a small WC block on the mainland (east) side of the beach, a short walk up the hill. 

You can also hire a huge swan or flamingo pedalo if you so wish – these are available on the busiest section of the beach, close to all the umbrellas and sun beds. 

There are also a couple of small cafes and snack bars just above the beach on the mainland side. 

BALOS TRAVEL – THE KISSAMOS TO BALOS FERRY 

Image of the ferry 'Gramvousa' moored of Balos beach Crete Greece
The ferry boat ‘Gramvousa’, shown moored off Balos lagoon and beach

The boat to Balos beach departs from Kissamos each day during season. The ferry, Gramvousa, is operated by Cretan Daily Cruises.  

Image of Gramvousa Castle and beach Crete Greece
Gramvousa Castle and Beach

It’s one of the best boat trips in Crete, taking you around a rugged peninsula into the open sea. On some days you stop at gorgeous Gramvousa Island for an hour or two, giving you time to see the amazing beach and the Venetian Gramvousa Castle. The journey to Gramvousa takes an hour. 

After the Gramvousa stop, it’s a 15-minute trip across the water to the mooring for Balos Greece. 

Image of the view back from the ferry towards Balos beach
The end of a fantastic day – looking back to Balos from the ferry

Most of the Balos tours booked around Crete use this boat – it has a 1200 passenger capacity. The tour guides even have a few tables to themselves! 

The fares in 2019 were 27 euros for adults, and 13 euros for under-12s. 

There is also a Falassarna to Balos ferry during the season. – this normally ends around mid-October. 

GETTING TO BALOS BEACH BY CAR 

Image of Balos beach and Cape Tigani Crete Greece
The view of Balos beach near the foot of the path from the car park

The road to Balos Beach is a narrow dirt road that is meant to be used by four-wheel drive vehicles only. It’s a 12 km ride from Kissamos port to the Balos Beach parking area, which is high above the beach. 

The Balos Beach road is also narrow in places and precarious, with a big drop into the sea and some stretches with no protection against this. 

Image of the dirt road to Balos beach from the sea Crete Greece
The dirt road to Balos, seen from the ferry

We didn’t opt to drive there, so didn’t use the road, preferring the Kissamos to Balos ferry instead. 

However, we could see the road from the sea. We were surprised to see that most of the vehicles using the road were small hire cars. We looked extensively into car hire in Crete. And the terms were similar in many places: you’re not meant to go off road (onto dirt tracks like this). If you do your insurance may be void. 

WALKING TO BALOS BEACH 

Image of Balos beach and Gramvousa islands Crete Greece
The view of Balos from near the end of the hikes from Kalyvinia and Falassarna

You can also hike to Balos beach. There are two routes – one from Ancient Falassarna, 9 km (6 miles) to the south, and the other from Kalyviani, next to Kissamos harbour. 

I haven’t attempted either, though had pencilled in a day to do the walk up from Falassarna. Locals described it to me as very difficult, and if I’m ever in the area again, I’ll be doing it, for sure. Both are around 9-10 km in length, with some hard, rocky terrain. You’d need to be well-prepared, with adequate water, food, sunscreen and mobile charge.