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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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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