10+1 reasons to Rent a Car in Crete, 2021

Rent a Car in Crete before you arrive

Are you visiting Crete for the first time? Either if you are traveling for business or vacation, this is going to be an exciting new travel experience. Crete is the biggest Greek island, and one of the most beautiful ones with rich culture, unique lifestyle and amazing landscapes. 

Our motto is “Experience Crete like a local” and in order to do so, we highly recommend to book your car before you arrive! Crete offers public transportation and a taxi network that covers almost every destination, but driving your own car in such a big island can completely transform your traveling experience.

Here are 10+1 reasons to rent a car in Crete! Let’s begin!

1.Drive long-distance routes

The local transportation network may be functional but does not connect directly any two destinations that you may think. By driving your own car, you can travel anywhere you want without having to switch buses.

When traveling to an island like a Crete, you should be able to follow your schedule without compromising, and long distance should not be a factor that will deprive you of great experiences and visiting unique places.

A long distance may mean that you can visit a place very few times in your life, but this time is going to be one of them! 

2.Run on Your Own Schedule

When driving your own car during a trip, you are completely independent and free to run on your own schedule without having to worry about bus routes and taxi availability.

There are usually two kinds of travelers, those who schedule every little detail of their trip in advance and those who prefer a care-free vacation, and decide everything based on their current mood. Either way, transportation will not change your plans if you have your own car waiting for you, parked only a few meters away.

Even if you have not booked a car in advance, you will immediately realize that there is a car rental station in every little town or village, all around Crete. You can rent a car in Hersonissos, rent a car in Sissi, rent a car in Anissaras, rent a car in Analipsis, rent a car in Gouves or, literally, anywhere you may need it!

3.More Space

When you drive your own car, you never have to travel light!

Extra space means flexibility and flexibility is a must for families, athletes and groups that constantly seek for new adventures! When you have more than enough storage space in your options have no limits. You can go for souvenir shopping and travel anywhere you want having everything you may need at the back of your car.

If you are a photographer/videographer you can carry with you heavy photography/videography equipment to capture your moments at Crete’s most beautiful landscapes, if you are a sports enthousiast you can carry water sports equipment and if you just seek for new adventures you can always have your luggage with you to be able to spend the night in a different destinations.

4.Be Comfortable

A nice car will ensure unlimited hours of driving comfort that you can never expect when moving around with public transportation!

For some people, vacation is all about relaxing and spoiling themselves. Make a gift to yourself and choose a car with comfortable seats, air conditioning, enough space for you and your friends and  driving extras for even more convenience for your long distance road trips.

Are you traveling with family? Get in touch with our team and we will make sure to suggest the best vehicle for your trip!

5. Enjoy the Road

You, your friends, a car and one of the most beautiful Greek islands is everything you need to create the most beautiful summer memories!

Traveling time is quality time and you can have a lot more fun when enjoying the privacy of your own car than spending this great amount of time in public transportation and taxis.

Play games, listen to your favorite music, take pictures and videos and make every moment count!

6. Unlimited Stops

Amazing sunsets, picturesque villages, crystal clear beaches and luxury resorts will be all around you, making you want to stop and capture the view, meet the locals, taste the traditional products and experience Crete like a local yourself!

Enjoy unlimited stops on your way and let the island decide your schedule for you!

7. Save Money

A good deal for a Car Hire in Crete will be a much cheaper option at the end of the day for your transportation around the island. Sterling Rental offers benefits and discounts for pre-booking, so that you can book your car in the best price of the market.

A Car Hire is a cheaper option especially when you travel with family or friends because in public transportation you always have to pay per person. If you want to save money and make the best out of your trip, don;t hesitate to pre-book your car.

Extra tip: At Sterling Rental, no prepay is needed. So book your car in advance and pay at your arrival!

8.24/7 Support

A car hire usually comes with insurance and 24/7 support. No matter what happens or in case you need any travel information, our team is one call away. Just give us a call and we will support you at anything you may need!

Our goal is to make you feel like home and the most important part of this is to make you feel sure and safe , enjoying your vacation 100%.

9. Drive any Car you Want

You are spending your vacation at one of the most beautiful greek islands and you can enjoy your routes driving, literaly, any car you want. Every trip is a new driving experience and it is time for you to drive the car of your dreams. Rent a convertible for your rides in the city or a Jeep if you are travelling with family! Take a look at our fleet and while choosing your vehicle put your own experience first!

10. Take Great Pictures

A beautiful car can be a part of your amazing vacation pictures!

Driving during sunset, having fun with your friends on a convertible and stopping at the most famous spots to enjoy the view, are the perfect conditions to take amazing photographs during your trip!

Think of all the chances that you might have lost if you traveled around with a bus, not being able to stop and capture the beautiful moments of summer!

11. Driving Extras

Last but not least, if you are a car lover you will take full advantage of all the driving extras that are provided by Sterling Rental!

We love cars and if you also love them, we commit to make this trip a unique driving experience for you and your loved ones! If this trip is just another opportunity for you to drive a new car model then you already are a member of the big Sterling Rental family!

Get ready for one of the greatest trips of your life! Trust Sterling Rental team and come to our island for a new experience!

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The magical routes of Crete: Old Town of Hersonissos – Analipsi – Gouves

Rent a car in Crete & Get ready for a new Adventure

Every month, our customer success team plans a trip or daily excursion to help you explore the island of Crete, and visit all our favorite places before your holiday is over! Every content piece in our blog is a detailed guide through a selection of magical routes in Crete.

The most important thing to keep in mind when visiting Crete: Rent a car and run on your own schedule. The Greek lifestyle is all about enjoying life without stress, and the best way to lose track of time and relax is to be independent.

Today we will rent a car and explore 3 different, but also unique destinations at Northern Crete: Old Town of Hersonissos, Analipsi and Gouves.

Rent a Car in Hersonissos Old Town and get ready for a new adventure!

Hersonissos in a few lines

Located 26km east of Heraclion, Limenas Hersonissou (Port of Hersonissos) is considered to be one the largest tourist resorts in Crete, with multiple luxurious hotels, busy beaches and attractions for all ages.

Limenas Hersonissou used to be the port of the little village of Ano Hersonissos, now named Old Town of Hersonissos. While probably most people visit Hersonissos for the sandy beaches and the lovely weather, there are also rural places which worth your visit and are easily accessible.

Thus, whether you are a food enthusiast, a party animal or a nature lover, Hersonissos combines all these tastes.

The natural beauty of Hersonissos Old Town

The ancient town of Hersonissos or Heronissos (peninsula) was located in the area of today’s Limenas Hersonissou. Pirate raids led the inhabitants to move to a new place up in the hills, the today’s Old Hersonissos Town, which is 2km far from the port. This small picturesque village attracted its first visitors back in ‘50s, when Crete became a tourist magnet. 

The traditional side of Crete

The Venetians called the peak of Hersonissos “Bene Veto” (nice view) and, indeed, you may enjoy breathtaking views to the coastal areas, Cretan sea and nearby villages of the Old Town. The village was declared ‘traditional’ in 1978 due to its history and unique architecture. This traditional village may not offer bars and shops like Limenas Hersonissou, but the highlights here tend to be the easy-going life pace and the colourful stone-built village houses with their blooming courtyards, which remind us of the good old times. 

The Old Town Hersonissos village owns one of the loveliest central squares in Crete, with a fountain in the middle surrounded by traditional taverns and cafes offering local traditional cuisine and Cretan music. Even in the winter, locals enjoy visiting the traditional kafenio (cafe) talking politics, playing backgammon or drinking raki. If you wish to enjoy the authentic Cretan tradition and surround yourself with the old Cretan ambience, this is your place to visit.

What to do in Hersonissos Old Town

Try authentic Cretan food and enjoy the traditional atmosphere at one of the most popular restaurants/taverns in the Hersonissos Old Town square, such as Harakas, Sofas, Taverna 1930, Zachos or Myrtios – all of them provide tasty local dishes! Every Monday, during the tourist season, taverns offer live traditional Greek music and dances.

Staying minutes away of the beach in Analipsis Hersonissou

Analipsis village is located 24km east of Heraclion, really close to the Hersonissos seaside. The initial name of the village was “Svourou Metochi” up to ‘70s, where the village adopted its name from the church “Ascension of Christ” (Analipsis tou Christou) located in the main beach of the village.

Do you stay in Analipsis? Rent a Car in Analipsis and start your route here! 

The ideal destination for beach-lovers

The truth is that it can be hard to choose which beaches to visit in Crete, but if staying near Heraclion, the Analipsis beach is a good choice which responds to all tastes. Soft, golden sand full of umbrellas and chairs to be rented, at multiple areas along the beach. Water sports and scuba-diving are only some of the leisure activities offered in the beach. In addition, the depth of the waters varies through the long coast, making it popular with both families and advanced swimmers. At the end of the beach, just before the coast turns rocky, there is the beautiful Church of Analipsis. Prepare to take some awesome shots there! 

What to do in Analipsis

There are many shops, supermarkets and tour operators located in Analipsis village, making it a good choice for family holidays. Strolling around the streets of the Analipsis village, you may see friendly inhabitants always bringing a great smile and ready to tell you a local story or offer a recommendation. Some great restaurants to choose from are the Familia, Sirtaki or Marina taverns, with their tasty local dishes.    

Mixing past with present in Gouves

Nearer to Heraclion – only 18km away, there is a large area called Gouves. This area is separated into two villages, the traditional Ano Gouves (Upper Gouves) and the seaside Gouves (Kato Gouves, i.e. Lower Gouves), both of them remarkable and quite popular with visitors.

The word “Gouva” means land depression in the shape of a bowl and this area has been mainly developed to support tourism in the coastline area from Heraclion up to Hersonissos and Malia in Crete. 

Are you staying in Gouves? Rent a car in Gouves by Sterling Rental and start your route here!

Rent a car in gouves

What to do in Gouves

Gouves offer peaceful holidays for families, with numerous hotels and apartments and a plenty of sandy beaches with all amenities and sea sports.

Enjoy the afternoon walks and sunset chasing seaside, having in your background pictures the tiny onshore Orthodox church of Saints Constantine and Helen – usually chosen for marriages and baptisms due to its magnificent view.

Ano Gouves, on the contrary, is a traditional village with two 18th century chapels of Saint George and Saint John, many quaint and renovated traditional houses and a central square with myrtle trees.

Old-school kafenia (cafes) and a monument serving as a memorial to the warriors who lost their lives during their contribution to the liberation struggle against Germans in 1940, both conclude the traditional atmosphere.

Enjoy Greek food and local dishes in Spiros tavern in Ano Gouves or from a plenty of choices in Gouves (Limanaki, Medusa or Mylos taverns/restaurants).

Enjoy mind detox nearby

There is an endless choice of things to do near Hersonissos area, depending on your interests and whether you are travelling with kids or not.

Near Gouves, fun activities include the visit to Cretaquarium (one of the largest in Europe), Planet Crete Planetarium, Dinosauria Park and Watercity Waterpark Themed Park. In Hersonissos, you may enjoy seeing local seaworld and reptiles in Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Centre. Quite popular theme parks in Hersonissos are the Acqua Plus Water Park and Labyrinth Theme Park. For golf enthusiasts, don’t miss a visit to Crete Golf Club near Old Town of Hersonissos. Overall, the whole area offers a wide range of entertainment, like buggy safari tours, cycling, bungy-jumping, horse-riding, water sports and, of course, sailing and scuba-diving.

For nature lovers, near Ano Gouves, there is the Skotino Cave, which is said that it was the labyrinth of mythological Minotaur. Driving to the top of the nearby Ederi mountain in Gouves, you may enjoy breathtaking views of the rural area. Near Hersonissos, trek the Aposelemis canyon of medium difficulty, too.

For history lovers, you may visit the Folklore Museum of Gouves, the Piskopiano Museum of Rural Life in traditional Piskopiano village near Old Town of Hersonissos and the Lychnostatis Open Air Museum in Port of Hersonissos with folk equipment, plants, stones and minerals of Crete.

Have a blast!

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The magical routes of Crete: Sissi, Hersonissos, Anissaras

Rent a car in Crete & Experience the island like a local

Your trip in Crete is a lifetime experience, a chance for sightseeing, relaxation, and unique experiences with your loved ones.

No matter how long you may stay, there is always more to see and this is why travelling to Crete just once, is never enough. If you want to make the best out of your trip, take under consideration that Crete is a big island and you should plan everything in advance in order to make time for everything on your to-do checklist.

The most important thing to keep in mind when visiting Crete: Rent a car and run on your own schedule. The Greek lifestyle is all about enjoying life without stress, and the best way to lose track of time and relax is to be independent.

This is why our first advice to everyone visiting Crete for the first time is the same: Rent a Car before your arrival.

A magical route to tradition

At the southern tip of the Aegean, the island of Crete is the place where you will spent the best summer of your life, meet the unique hospitality of the people, the long and rich history and tradition, and last but not least the famous traditional Greek food.

When the great Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis in 1955 said about his homeland that “the radiation of the past is extremely intense in Crete and penetrates us as soon as we step on the Cretan land“, he probably knew very well that half a century later, today, his words would be more relevant than ever.

Crete, perhaps the most special island in Greece, fascinates anyone who visits it at first glance, perhaps because of its charming atmosphere, combined with the warmth, generosity and pure, natural beauty that one sees wherever he looks. 

At Sterling Rental, we have designed short and interesting routes around Crete to propose to our customers so that they can experience Crete like the Cretans and see it through our eyes! Today we will rent a car and explore 3 different, but also unique destinations at Northern Crete: Hersonissos, Sissi and Anissaras.

Sissi is a beautiful small resort on the north side of Crete. Located about 40 kilometers from Heraklion and 25 from Agios Nikolaos, it is an excellent alternative for those who prefer a peaceful yet luxurious holiday.

Sissi is a peaceful settlement, a very charming fishing village, hospitable and calm, but at the same time full of life and surprises for anyone who visits it.


Rent a Car in Sissi and become part of the authentic Cretan way of life

If you are staying in Sissi, you will experience a peaceful and relaxing vacation for you and your family. Rent a Car in Sissi and learn everything you need to know about the village of Sissi and the close destinations.

In this picturesque village that will win you over at first sight, you will be enchanted by the beautiful marina, by the narrow-colored alleys with small shops that sell local traditional products, by the beauty of the Mediterranean that is captured in every corner of this place.

It is said that Sissi serves the best seafood in Crete. For this reason, the taverns are always full of people, who even come from Heraklion to taste the unique Cretan cuisine, fresh fish, but also the traditional Cretan drink, raki.

The nature in the area is wonderful all year round. A special activity that one can enjoy is hiking on one of the dozens of routes that exist, but also mountain biking in the wider area of ​​Lassithi. The fresh mountain air, the observation of the rare birds of the area and the magnificent view of the vineyards and olive groves will excite you. 

What to expect: Unique Cretan cuisine, traditional taverns by the port, crystal clear beaches, and amazing view.


Next Stop: Hersonissos

Hersonissos is the perfect way to combine tradition and fun! It is a place where the visitor can enjoy the long, sandy beaches, the ancient ruins of rich cultural value, but also the possibility of many activities for the whole family.

If you are staying in Hersonissos, you will experience a vivid vacation in one of the most popular resorts in Crete. Although you will be staying at a resort that provides you with everything you have ever imagined, you can always Rent a car in Hersonissos and explore all the places of interest  and historical destinations surrounding this amazing location.

Hersonissos combines a variety of options in activities, entertainment and food satisfying even the most demanding visitors. Holidays in Hersonissos include intense nightlife, swimming on busy beaches, and fun activities for all ages. Don’t forget to walk in the Port of Hersonissos at sunset to enjoy one of the most spectacular sunset views.

Hersonissos is a village that retains its traditional character and has not been altered, but without being completely unaffected by tourism. The architecture of the village is traditional, as well as the rhythms of life of its inhabitants.

The picturesque alleys, the stone houses, the old wells and the stone ovens, will travel you to a place that exudes a rare air of another era. In cafes and traditional taverns, you can taste the traditional, delicious Cretan recipes and relax under the shade of the trees.

What to expect: Sightseeing, long, sandy beaches and intense lifestyle.

Last Stop: Anissaras

The area of ​​Anissaras is part of the beautiful Cretan coastline. Anissaras is neither a village nor a city. It is a large, hilly area that stretches right next to the Hersonissos. However, the two areas are very different from each other. It is said that Anissaras is the “rich and noble suburb of Hersonissos”.

If you are staying in Anissaras you will enjoy the all-inclusive hotels, the peaceful beaches and the unique scenery, while being at a walking distance from Hersonissos nightlife. Rent a Car in Anissaras and drive everywhere around Crete.


A walk on the coastal road of Anissaras will convince you of the incomparable beauty of the place and the possibilities it offers to its visitors. However, if you want a little more fun, Hersonissos is very close and offers endless options for entertainment.

What to expect: Unique view, magical places for photo shooting, and all-inclusive hotels.

Are you ready for a new experience? Contact us and we eill do our best to help you plan your vacation in Crete!

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Hersonissos for water lovers

Hersonissos can be a heaven for water lovers in terms of beaches, water sports and other relevant activities to choose from. Whether you are staying in the area or simply driving there in one of our cars, here are some of the many suggestions we have for you:


Limanakia is a picturesque sequence of three small bays that lie to the west of Hersonissos, up the winding little roads once one has driven past the Creta Maris Hotel complex. Each cove has its own name such as Sarandari and Gefiri (bridge), where the sea is almost always sheltered and calm, radiating the beautiful blue colours of the Aegean. Gefiri cove in particular, has white and slightly coarse sand which means the sea’s colours range even further towards clear and enchanting shades of turquoise. It is best to visit in the mornings on weekdays to avoid crowds as sun beds and parking places are limited. Above the little bay areas, one finds shops, restaurants and cafes for snacks throughout the day.
In addition, there are some pebble beaches located to the east of Hersonissos, in the vicinity of the Lychnostatis Museum. The wider area is known as Drapanos and the beaches there are much quieter than those found on the west side of the town, even on weekends.

The Red Beach and Kouses village

Scuba Diving

for those who wish to enjoy a full underwater experience or even get a PADI/Baracuda diving certificate, there are both lessons and trips available in Hersonissos at the Diving Centre or at one of the two hotels: Nana Beach and Creta Maris. There are mesmerising limpets that shimmer as the sunlight tears through the water, sea urchins firmly attached to the rocks, many different fish and the distinguished octopus usually hiding in holes and crevices which may come out to greet you. If you have a vehicle, the South coast is also a great option for a very different diving experience due to the more diverse terrain.

what started as one swimming pool, a pool bar and a bungee jumping facility, gradually grew into a full-on water park! A wide variety of water sports are available in the beach bay area and there are multiple swimming pools to choose from, depending on what the presence is. Combining music, water and sometimes foam or paint parties, this place gives youngsters a holiday experience never to forget! On the other hand, many of the swimming pools have children’s slides and other fun activities to enjoy during a much calmer family holiday.
Star Beach

The port

if you are looking to remain with your feet firmly on the ground, then an evening stroll along the port is a perfect way to relax. Watch the boats come and go while you daydream away, and upon reaching the little church of Agia Paraskevi, look back on the lights stretching along the shoreline of Hersonissos. Additionally, simply turning around the corner can provide a spectacular sunset with skies painted pink and blue. Alternatively, if you are looking to explore the sea and set sail, choose a trip on the glass bottom boat or with a yacht such as a sailing boat or a motor boat and explore Crete from a different perspective.

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Creta Maris Cinema Hersonissos

Evening entertainment in Hersonissos

Holidays are all about relaxing and having time to do those things that you enjoy, yet never get a chance to do when at home! While you are in the Hersonissos area or if visiting from elsewhere, we have some suggestions to satisfy the needs and wants of a wide variety of guest preferences.

The Creta Maris hotel offers an open air theatre (in the vicinity of Lidl super market) with latest movies showing always at 9pm. A movie runs for 2-3 days and is then changed, giving you the opportunity to sit under the stars more than once, on those hot summer nights and enjoy a film while drinking a cold beer or fizzy drink and trying some of the delicious popcorn. Even if the film isn’t the best choice, watch the planes fly over and absorb the unique experience of casual, outdoor movie-going. In practical terms, there is parking space for your car or bike just beside the entrance of the cinema and we would advise you take a shawl or cardigan along as it can get chilly or damp in the evenings.

Creta Maris Cinema Hersonissos
Kart Racing

Kart racing

For the thrill seekers who wish to simultaneously remain fairly safe, ignore the catapult and bungee jumping at Star Beach and focus on Kartland instead. Have immense fun, whatever your age and however many people join in: a holiday pastime to remember! Speed around the track, overtake others and sometimes, find yourself slightly stuck, off the racing track tarmac. Your “designated group photographer” can chill on the bridge with a cold beer and watch you go round in circles until the perfect shot is captured to help you remember those fun times!


Overlooking Hersonissos town from the South, are three smaller villages: Koutouloufari, Piskopiano and Old Hersonissos. Enjoy evening strolls through narrow streets of Koutouloufari and Piskopiano, decorated by traditional stone built houses. Shops offer arty jewellery, music from bars draws you in and the smell of pancakes and bakery shops is hard to dismiss. Pop in to some of the local ouzeries and taverns that surround the pretty square of Old Hersonissos to try the amazing local food. Take your time and gradually work your way through these tiny, delightful villages that offer a relaxing holiday atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle of Hersonissos town. While these villages are close in terms of distance, they are situated up a steep hill so taking a car or bike would be advisable.

Mini golf

When smaller is better! Crete is home to a professional golfing course but holidays should be relaxing and fun so the mini golf options are: Astra mini golf in Koutouloufari and the court in Hersonissos, situated opposite Star Beach Kartland. Choose between these, depending on where you are located or try them both to compare! Challenge whomever is on holiday with you and have a laugh while trying to get the tiny ball around squiggly lines, over bumps, down drains and ultimately, into the correct hole. The more the merrier, for a time you won’t forget!

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The black beach (Aspes)

Top 5 Hidden Gems of South Crete

A large island like Crete is an explorer’s thrill! Even at peak season times of the year, there are so many places to discover, that one can always find a picturesque village and a quiet beach away from the crowds. While the North is more developed and easily accessible, the South offers hidden treasures all along the coast, from East to West and is truly worth exploring. Here are some of the places where locals go to avoid the more popular spots like Elafonissi, Balos and Lentas:

Makry Gialos and Stavrochori

Make your way down to Ierapetra and then drive along the South coast next to the sea for approx. 25km east until you reach Makry Gyalos (which means long seafront). The sandy beach is over 1km in length and the clear shallow water of the Libyan sea is very inviting despite always being much cooler than the Aegean sea on the North shores of the island.
Once you have had enough time at the beach, drive inland (into that beautiful backdrop of mountains) to Stavrochori. This traditional village has a quaint central square with a kafeneion (café) and tavern which will definitely meet your culinary expectations. Don’t miss a little meander through the village’s tiny streets, captivating old buildings and historical little church.

Makry Gialos and Stavrochori
The black beach (Aspes)

The black beach (Aspes)

A magical beach, only accessible by water. It is found approx. 58km south of Heraklion and there are little boats available to take you there from Tsoutsouras village. Black pebbles cover the seafront and as the turquoise waves sweep the beach, a beautiful relaxing sound is created from the movement of the pebbles and water. There are three small beaches, each with imposing cliffs as a backdrop to the crystal clear waters. Shade can be found amongst the rocks and take a spoon with you to collect some of the pure sea salt which can be found in the rock formations.

Ethia village

Found approx. 55km south of Heraklion, Ethia village is a place where time seems to have truly stood still. In the midst of a little forest, just over 20 people live in this village which is named after the willow tree in Greek (Itia). Park your car and wonder along the paved little streets, among stone built homes and arches and meet the friendly and hospitable residents. Some of the people here will still be in their traditional clothes and happy to take you to the Profits Elias church where an annual festival is held and the most amazing view of the area can be found!
Ethia Village Crete
Trachoulas beach Crete

Trachoulas beach

On the way to Lendas, turn off at Krotos village towards Trachoulas (also known as Trafoulas beach, situated approx. 80km from Heraklion). Park at the top of the hill (east of Agios Faulos port) and carefully walk down the steep winding path and through the mini gorge (approx. 10mins) only to come to the beautiful beach and jump in the cool water of the Libyan sea. There is a small cave where one can find shade but if already taken by others, shade is scarce so be sure to take an umbrella with you. The beach is quite deserted (apart from a few curious goats which will approach you!) and there is nothing available in the form of food/drinks so take anything you need down with you.

The Red Beach and Kouses village

Forget about Matala apart from your general direction when driving from Heraklion and head straight to the red sand beach (terracotta colour actually!) situated just south of Matala. The general feedback from everyone who visits, is that it is a bit of a trek (20mins) but well worth it once you arrive. The view of the beach from the top of the hill is stunning and once you have reached the red beach you will find a shack known as the local beach-bar for refreshments. On your drive there (or back) be sure to stop at the village Kouses in the Phaistos region (62km from Heraklion) for a drink or food and visit the unique family-run herb shop Votano. Giannis who is the owner knows about all the local herbs and teas and can offer you a wealth of information found nowhere else!
The Red Beach and Kouses village
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Explore crete island

5 Reasons to rent a car in Crete

The size and diversity

Crete’s size and diversity make it an amazing place to drive around. It is hard to find a more varied or scenic set of routes and roads than those traversing the island.
Often, visitors don’t realise how big the island is so let’s begin with the basics:
it takes approx. 5 hours to drive from West to East along the North coast (without any in between stops) and approx. 40mins from North to South at the narrowest point of the island

Enjoy independence

A car offers you the freedom and opportunity to see the real Crete, whenever you decided and going wherever you decide.
Freedom in car
Crowded bus

Avoid waiting and busy crowds

As a result, wherever you are based, it is advisable to rent a car in order to truly explore everything the island has to offer without spending time waiting for buses under the hot sun or with busy tour groups visiting the most cliché sights at peak times.

Explore the real Crete

Some examples of places to drive to on the North coast, are:

  • In the Elounda area, drive across the narrow stretch towards Kolokytha beach for a swim and a bite to eat at the first tavern you meet.
  • In the Agios Nikolaos area, seek out the small and traditional village of Kritsa with the picturesque streets and shops and have a Greek coffee in the little square with the locals.
  • In the Malia/Hersonissos area, drive up to Krasi where you can enjoy a ‘kanelada’ (cinnamon drink) at the local ‘kafeneion’ (café) upon entering the village.
  • In the Heraklion area, why not drive to some of the wineries and/or for a local beer tasting? The village of Archanes is also worth a visit!
  • In the Rethymnon area, drive South towards Plakias so that you have to drive right through the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, an experience not to be missed!
  • In the Chania area, visit the beach of Stavros where the famous scenes from the film Zorba the Greek were filmed! Turquoise waters and plenty of choice for snacks and drinks but try to avoid the weekends when it gets busy.
Creta man

Experience local driving culture

Crete’s culture is also reflected in the driving, with a chilled approach unless in a hurry. For example, it is customary to move over the hard shoulder and allow others to pass when they are faster than you, sometimes they will even toot to say ‘thank you’. 

In addition, using hazard lights could mean anything from turning and stopping to just saying ‘hello’, so be prepared and don’t hesitate to copy this behaviour. When on rural roads, it is good to remain alert as herds of sheep and goats crossing are a frequent occurrence – some of them may even come to peer in through your car window!

Crete Local Sheep
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Archaiological Museum Heraklion

The Cultural Part of Heraklion

The Archaeological Site of Knossos

The Palace of Knossos was the centre of the Minoan civilization, as it was the largest palace of all the Minoan centres. It is estimated to be first inhabited during the Neolithic period and to be built around 1900 B.C. on the ruins of the Neolithic settlement. In the site of Knossos, tourists can visit the Great Palace, the Little Palace, the Royal Villa, the House of the High Priest, the Caravan Serai and the Royal Temple Tomb-Sanctuary.

Admission fees: Full: €15, Reduced: €8.

Opening Hours:
Winter: 08:00 – 17:00.
Summer: 08:00 – 20:00.

Visit the Central Market

The central market of Heraklion is located on the heart of the city center and links Kornarou Square with the rest of the city center. It is on 1866 Street, which is an important date for the Cretans, as in 1866 happened one of the most important risings against the Turks. It used to be the main market where locals would shop their daily essentials and, even though, big supermarkets in the city have taken over, it is still crowded. It is lined with small shops that sell herbs, spices, meat, fish, clothes and souvenirs, and there are also little cafes and taverns, where tourists can enjoy Cretan delicacies.
Heraklion Market

The Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum in Heraklion is one of the most important museums in Greece as it exhibits artefacts from the Prehistoric era till the late Roman period. The museum contains archaeological findings from all over Crete and the most extensive collection of the Minoan era worldwide. The site, where the building that houses the museum is placed, used to be the Roman Catholic monastery of Saint-Francis. It was destroyed and rebuilt during 1937-1940. The museum is situated in the city center of Heraklion.

Admission fees: Full: €5, Reduced: €5

Archaiological Museum Heraklion

The Natural History Museum of Crete

The Natural History Museum of Crete, which is located near the city enter of Heraklion, is under the aegis of the University of Crete and its aim is to enlarge upon the diversity of flora and fauna of the Eastern Mediterranean. The museum is housed in a restored industrial building. In 2012, it was rewarded by the Academy of Athens for its work.

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 09:00 – 15:00.
Weekends: 10:00 – 18:00.

Natural History Museum of Crete
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Seitan Limania | Crete, Greece

Best Things to Do in Chania

Old Venetian Harbor

The Harbor was built during the 14th century by the Venetians to serve the purpose of commerce in the area. Nowadays, it is an attraction for both locals and tourists. There are many cafes, reastaurants and tavernas and people use to take a stroll as it is linked with the Old City of Chania containing picturesque alleys. The combination of Ottoman, Venetian and Cretan architectural elements is what makes this harbor so special. Don’t forget to look at the imposing Lighthouse of the harbor and perhaps enjoy a ride in a carriage.
Chania Port | Crete, Greece

Balos Lagoon

Balos Lagoon is formed between the Cape Gramvousa and the small Cape Tigani and is located 56km northwest of Chania. You can either go by car or take a boat from Kissamos which is 17km from Chania. People call it “A paradise on earth” as Balos is one of the few places that have remained almost intact by human intervention. 

It is a unique and exotic destination with a shallow warm beach on the one side and a turquoise beach on the other side. It is quite crowded during the summer but it is worth a visit

Balos | Crete, Greece

Elafonissi Beach

Elafonissi Beach is located 75 km from the city of Chania and its exceptional beauty is the reason why so many tourists visit it all summer long. It is characterized by the turquoise color of the sea, the pink sand and the fact that you have to walk through the sea to get to the other part of the beach. 

It is a Natura 2000 protected area and there are over 110 plant species which create an exotic landscape that is unforgettable.

Elafonisi Beach | Crete, Greece

The island of Gavdos

Gavdos Island | Crete, Greece

The island of Gavdos is located in the southern part of Chania and it is the most southern part of Europe. It is, also, called the Island of Calypso, as experts believe it is the island in which Calypso held Odysseus as a prisoner. One of the most magnificent things to see in Gavdos is the living creatures that are all over the island. 

There are plenty of scorpions, the endangered species of Caretta Caretta and you can see dolphins on your way to the island.

Seitan Limania Beach

Seitan Limania is a hidden beach, only 20 km away from the city of Chania. Although, it is in a quite isolated location, thousands of tourists visit it every year due to the spectacular color of the sea which is almost identical to the color of a swimming pool. 

Seitan Limania means in Greek “The Satanic Harbors” because of the steep rocks that surround it. Be aware, it is recommended to wear your training shoes to climb down the path to reach the beach.

Seitan Limania | Crete, Greece

Gorge of Samaria

Exploring the Samaria Gorge is a must not only for tourists but also, for the Cretans because it is the longest gorge in Europe (16km). 

It is a National Park that attracts thousands of visitors every year and is part of the World’s Biosphere Reserve. The walk through the gorge begins from Omalos, which is 38km away from Chania, and ends to Ayia Roumeli, in the shores of the Libyan Sea.
Visitors are allowed from May 1st to October 15th.

Samaria Gorge | Crete, Greece
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The 7 Best Churches in Crete

Arkadi Monastery

The monastery was built as early as the 16th century and combines both Baroque and Roman architectural elements. It is considered to be a symbol of independence and a center of resistance for Cretans against the Turks.Nowadays, it is one of the mostimportant historic monuments in Crete.

The Arkadi Monastery is just 22 km away from the town of Rethymnon. You will have to reach the National Road, take the exit of Tsesme-Platania and drive through the old National Road. You will pass by the villages of Tsesmes, Adele, Pigi, Loutra, Kirianna and Amnatos before you reach the Arkadi Monastery.
Visiting Hours (from Monday to Sunday):

April – May : 09:00 to 19:00 June – August: 09:00 to 20:00
September – October : 09:00 to 19:00 November : 09:00 to 17:00 December – March : 09:00 to 16:00

Church of Saint Titus

The church of St. Titus is one of the most important monuments in the city centre of Heraklion. It must have been first built in 961 by the Byzantine Empire but it was destroyed during the 15th century. In 1446, it was rebuilt by the Venetians until it was again destroyed by a blaze. 

After the conquest of Turks in 1669, it was converted into a mosque, the Vezir Mosque. Today, it is an orthodox church dedicated to St. Titus and it is the Metropolis of the Diocese of Crete. All relics have been transferred and kept in Venice except for the skull of St. Titus which was returned in Crete in 1966. 

The church is placed in a square with small cafes and shops surrounding it.

Heraklion Saint Titus

Holy Toplou Monastery

The Holy Toplou Monastery in the north-east of Crete is one of the most historic monasteries in Crete and worth visiting for various reasons. First of all, it displays a true depiction of the Byzantine art as it houses icons which date back to the 15th century. There is also a Museum of Copperplate Engravings and Greek Folk Engravings produced by the monks of Mount Athos in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the monastery of Toplou you can, also, find a wine distillery and olive groves on the surrounding area as it has its own brand producing organic olive oil and wine.

If you are driving from Agios Nikolaos, Heraklion, Rethymno and Chania to Toplou Monastery you should take the National Road to Sitia.
It should take you about 1 hour to drive to Toplou from Agios Nikolaos, 2 hours from Heraklion.

Visiting Hours (from Monday to Sunday): from 09:00 – 13:00 and 14:00 – 18:00.

Saint Mark’s Basilica

The Basilica of St Mark was built by the Venetians in 1239, as a symbol of love to their home and to fulfill the religious needs of the Venetian authorities. There was a bell tower which was an exact replica of the Basilica of St Mark in Venice. Under the Turkish rule it was converted into the Defterdar Mosque, named after Defterdar Ahmet Pasha and the bell tower was demolished in order to place a minaret instead. Nowadays, it houses the Municipal Art Gallery, displaying art exhibitions and many cultural events take place there.
It is placed right opposite the Lion’s Fount in the city centre of Heraklion and it is open to the public daily. 

At night, you will see people sitting on the stairs drinking beer, as young people gather there.

Chapel of St Nicholas

The white white chapel is built on a rocky islet and if you look at it in distance you have the illusion that it is floating on the sea. 

It is dedicated to St Nicholas who is the patron saint of sailors and the architect who built it, remains unkown. During the summer, many Greek weddings take place there and it is one of the most beautiful religious monuments in Crete. However, reaching the chapel will not be easy if you are not wearing the appropriate footwear but you will not be disappointed after you have reached it.

It is located in Georgioupolis which is 102 km from Heraklion. It will take you approximately 1h 28m to reach the destination.

Monastery of Agia Triada of Tzagarolon

The Monastery of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) of Tzagarolon is one of the most impressive monasteries in Crete and it is well-known for its impact on the education and economy in the local community. It was built by the brothers Jeremiah and Lawrence Tzagarolo and the fortress built complex and its architectural style is inspired by the Venetian era combined with Orthodox elements. The monastery holds a museum displaying woodcarvings and icons. You can, also, taste and buy organic olive oil or wine as the monastery produces vines and olive oil having won an international award for its products.

It is located in Akrotiri in Chania Perfecture. If you are already in Chania, it is a 15 km drive. You will have to drive to the area of Kounoupidiana and at the crossroad head to village Kambani. If you are driving from Herklion or Rethymnon, you will have to go to Chania and then reach your destination.

Visiting Hours (from Monday to Sunday):
During summer: 08:00 – sunset
During winter: 08:00-14:00 and 16:00 – sunset
Entrance fee: 2.5 € (free entrance for children up to 18)

Agia Triada Monastery | Crete, Greece

Church of St Titus in Gortyn

The church of St Titus in Gortyn is one of the earliest churches in Crete. During the excavations of the church in the 20th century, it was named after St Titus, the disciple of Apostle Paul, as the excavators believed that it was the place of the Saint’s martyrdom. The church was built in the 7th century AD and it was destroyed by the Arabs and rebuilt by the Byzantines during the 10th century. The size of this large five-aisled basilica indicates that it used to be the metropolis of the area. The distance between Gortyn and Heraklion is about 44 km.
Saint Titus | Gortyna, Crete
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