The quick summary of Stalos in the winter: everything is closed! Yet this can be a blessing in disguise. I have been staying with The Nomad Pup in Stalos, Crete for the first part of our journey. We will be here until the 5th of April. I arrived on the 6th of February. Let me break down what to expect.
Stalos is located just west of Chania, one of the bigger cities on the island. Chania is situated North-West on Crete. About a 30 minute drive from the airport and you’ll arrive at Stalos! It’s a small town between a few other small towns. Agioi Apostoli is to the east, right before Chania. To the west is Agia Marina and then Platanias. The main road connects from Chania all the way through all of these towns, named PEO Kissamou Chanion.
Shops & Restaurants
All the shops are closed in the winter! Stalos is a touristy town so everything shuts down from October/November to March/April. Even the ATMs say they are only open April to October. There are lots of beach shops but they are all closed up. So far I have only found one restaurant that is open, Evilion Bistro. Their kitchen for dinner only opens at 7pm though. Don’t be fooled by the opening times on Google though, even if restaurants or shops say they are open, they most likely aren’t.
There are a few other delivery shops that are open, but I found they were hard to come by. One I have ordered from before is Giaourtoplimmira.
Before I rented a car, I did my shopping in Chania and brought it back on the bus. Now that I have a car, I stop by Lidl which is a short drive away.
This is the highlight of Stalos and what makes it shine, even in the winter. Stalos has a beautiful beach where you can see both the mountains to the East and the island Agioi Theodoroi. During the winter they are completely empty. You can walk your dog up and down the beach, often times without running into anyone else. A nice day you may see a local or two but that would be it. You would not have that same freedom in the summer, as all the tourists comes to relax on the beach.
Stalos stays around the 50s/60s mark throughout the winter. There are often rain or thunderstorms during the winter. It can get very windy! Just the other day we had a very bad storm where some bridges collapsed. But there are also gorgeous days where you are shocked no one is at the beach. Winter time is definitely more hit or miss when it comes to weather, but the hit days are worth it!
Getting Around: Bus
Large buses run to and from Stalos and Chania, but not very frequently. There is a bus schedule located here but it only says the time it leaves the terminal, so I often was waiting a while for the bus. Once you are on the bus, there is usually a “conductor” of sorts who isn’t driving but collects the fare. You just sit down and he will come to you and ask where you are going. I just say Chania (pronounced Han-ya) and hand over my 1.80 euros and they hand back a ticket. Ride the bus all the way to the last stop, which is the Chania bus terminal. On the way back, the buses will most likely be waiting at the terminal to leave. Jump on and the conductor will come by once the bus starts moving for the fares. These times you know for sure because the schedule says what time they leave.
I have not tried to bring my dog on the bus, but I assume they would not be allowed. If they are in a carrying case you may have luck depending on the driver and conductor.
Getting Around: Car
You can also rent a car! There are several options at the airport to rent a car. Schedule in advance or walk up to one of the booths. If you want to rent from Stalos, you are out of luck as all of the rental places in Stalos are closed. In Chania, many places are closed but there are a few car rental places open. I ended up renting from Europrent, who’s prices were comparable to the big brands at the airport. Just a note to remember to get an International Driving Permit before you leave the US. I forgot and I had my mom send it to me, but I still haven’t received it! I was able to rent from Europrent with only my actual license luckily.
By renting a car, it is much easier to bring my puppy around with me places. He can’t walk very far so even though we live within walking distance to the beach, we still drive there!
To sum it up, I have enjoyed living in Stalos for the winter! It is gorgeous and the empty beaches are unbeatable. Atlas and I have plenty of places to explore. Yes, it is a bummer that the shops around here are closed but since we are renting a car it is no problem. Definitely consider visiting Stalos in the off season!