There are probably many things you have thought about Crete, the largest of the Greek Islands; for example, what is the best beach and how long can you get off work to enjoy it? However, here we will answer some of the questions you’ve probably never asked about Crete.
How do I get to Crete?
Usually the easiest way to reach Crete is to fly, either from within Greece or outside it. There are direct flights from many European countries, or it is possible to fly via Athens from most major cities in the world. Crete has three airports
– Heraklion, or Kazantzakis, Airport (HER)
– Chania, or Daskalogiannis, Airport (CHQ) and
– Sitia Airport (JSH).
Each is an international airport, although Sitia is brand new but very small.
Your other option is to get a boat to one of Crete’s ports. There are Minoan Lines or ANEK/Superfast ferries from Piraeus (Athens) which takes about 6 – 8 hours. You can take it overnight, and wake up to beautiful views as you approach the island. Although it is not as fast as flying, it is very relaxing and enjoyable.
How many airports does Crete have?
Crete has three airports — in Heraklion (HER) , Chania (CHQ) and Lassithi (IATA: JSH, ICAO: LGST). The airports of Heraklion and Chania are the most commonly used ones, that connect Crete with Athens, Thessaloniki and other major European cities. During the summer months many charter flights fly directly to Crete. The Sitia Airport (Lassithi) is located 1 km northwest of the city center. The airport was previously used for smaller domestic flights. In 2018 the Sitia Airport started operating its first international charter flights from Germany, Denmark, Norway and Stockholm.
When should I go to Crete?
Crete is well known as a beach destination, however it is a beautiful place to visit year-round. The warmest and driest times to visit are May – September, where average temperatures average in the mid 20C (Celsius). It can get quite hot in the summer months, even up to the mid 30C or low 40C. Even the coldest winter month, January, still reaches an average temperature of 11C – so Crete has a very mild climate. Therefore, it is possible to enjoy the island all year, although it is far quieter in the winter months.
You can check the weather forecast here.
Where are the best places on Crete?
There are so many great places in Crete that it is hard to choose the best! Some of the most well know locations are Heraklion, the administrative capital with great shopping and cultural attractions such as museums; beautiful Chania with impressive architecture, amazing food and lively nightlife; Rethymno, a quieter town with gorgeous buildings and access to a long, sandy beach; and Lassithi with beautiful beaches and ancient remains, which make it a popular tourist region. Of course, there are countless other Cretan locations, as well – the key is finding the one that best suits what you want from your holiday!
What are the most surreal places to visit in Crete?
In Crete you will find plenty of Instagram-worthy locations and postcard views. From quaint coastal towns like Elounda to traditional mountainous villages, out of this world beaches (Balos Lagoon, Elafonissi, Falassarna, etc), scenic hiking routes (Samaria Gorge) and remote villages (Loutro), which can only be reached by boat or on foot. Whether you are a history buff, a hiking enthusiast, nature lover or simply seeking to have a fun time — you will definitely find something to love in these surreal places in Crete.
What are the most beautiful beaches in Crete?
Crete is blessed with over 1000 kilometers of coastline and is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. From Blue Flag awarded beaches to smaller coves and those with an exotic vibe — the choice is endless. Balos Beach is one of Crete’s most stunning landscapes, this dreamy paradise is located approximately 56 km west of Chania and is famous for its mesmerising turquoise waters. Elafonissi Beach with its tinted pink and white sand, which is the result of all the ground-up shells — will simply take your breath away. The Preveli Beach in South Rethymnon is famed for its gorgeous palm forest. An oasis where a river lagoon flows directly into the Libyan Sea. For more inspiration and details read our post Most Exotic Beaches of Crete – Guide.
Should I rent a car in Crete?
Definitely if you wish to explore the island at your own pace and in comfort. Although there is a public transportation available in Crete, the times and frequency vary depending on the season. Also, keep in mind that buses do not run to all the areas of Crete which means that if you wish to explore the off the beaten track areas and beaches, you will need a car. The taxi service will cost you much more than renting a car. Thus if you are planning on exploring Crete — rent a car. You will be glad you did.
What languages are spoken on Crete?
The official language of Crete is Greek, however English is widely spoken as well.
What is the population of Crete?
Crete is the most populous Greek Island, and fifth most populated island on the Mediterranean. It has an approximate population of 620,000 permanent residents.
What is the Cretan environment like?
Crete is home to incredible natural beauty, so it is a photographer or nature lovers paradise! It is geographically the largest island in Greece, and the second largest in the entire Mediterranean (after Cyprus), at over 8,300 km2. With over 1,000km of beautiful coastline, it is a truly spectacular place to drive around.
Inland, Crete has fertile lands with spectacular mountain ranges including the White Mountains, Idi Range and the Dikti Mountains. There are also rivers, caves and gorges – and of course, stunning beaches that have made Crete famous all over the world. Finally, Crete also has a surprising and diverse range of wildlife, including goats, frogs, turtles and many birds.
What should I wear on Crete?
There is no strict dress code on Crete, so you can wear most anything you are comfortable with or would wear back home. Of course, this means applying some common sense – if you wouldn’t wear it grocery shopping at home, you probably shouldn’t in Crete either! Also, the major exception is that if you visit any churches or Monasteries, both men and women should cover their knees and shoulders.
What should I do about money (and tipping)?
Crete, like all of Grece, uses the Euro. You can take out Euro notes from the many ATMs on the island, however it is best to make sure you have some spare cash over the weekends, as they are not always refilled. You can also use a credit card at most places, although it is a good idea to keep some cash for small purchases or tipping.
Most restaurants and cafes already include a service charge, however you can still tip if you feel it is appropriate. A small tip is enough and will be very appreciated! You can also tip other service staff like tour guides or cleaners at your hotel.
What food should I try on Crete?
Greek food is delicious, and Crete is particularly renowned as a culinary hub. There are many dishes to try on Crete! Cretan cheese varies from village to village, but is always tasty. Dakos is a popular bruschetta-like meal with tomato and cheese drizzled with olive oil and a variety of herbs. For something different, you can try chochlioi boubouristi, or fried snails! Finally, you might like to sample Raki or Tsikoudia (Cretan Brandy), a type of liquor made from distilled grapes, in the villages of Crete.
There are a countless number of places to enjoy Cretan food, and some of the most delicious food can be found in out-of-the-way villages. However, you can find traditional Cretan restaurants all over Crete at this page about top 8 restaurants to eat like a Cretan.
What souvenirs should I bring home from Crete?
There are many wonderful souvenir products to bring home from Crete, either as a memory from your holiday or a gift for friends and family. Some of the most popular souvenirs are food related, such as delicious olive oil or honey which is bound to transport you back to Crete each time you sample it!
Another great gift from Crete is ceramics, which have been made on the island for over 5,000 years! Crete is also famous for its beautiful religious paintings, known as ‘icons’, however antique icons cannot be exported from the island without permission.
What should I do in an emergency?
Crete is a very safe destination for tourists, however it is a good idea to note the emergency numbers in case of an accident or theft. The tourist emergency line is 112. The general emergency lines are: ambulance (166), police (100), fire brigade (199) and forest fire report line (191).
For some other emergencies (such as a lost passport), the best place to contact is your local embassy. Many countries have an embassy on Crete, otherwise you may need to travel to Athens. You can find a list of embassies on Crete here
How long does it take to drive from one end of Crete to the other?
Considering the most western point of Crete is Elafonissi Beach and the most eastern point of Crete is Kouremenos Beach, the distance is 354 km. The driving duration is 5 hours and 30 minutes. Here is the google maps link for this route
What side of the road does people in Crete drive on?
We drive on the right hand side.
What is the driving speed limit in Crete?
On the highway the speed limit is 90 km per hour (55 miles per hour). With the the city and road on the suburbs the speed limit is 40-50 km per hour (25-30 miles per hour). Of course you have to obey the signs restricting the speed limits. In some parts of the highway the limit could be less than 50km/hour.
Is it easy to find parking in Crete?
Crete is a large island and all of its city centres get extremely busy especially during the summer months when the island is bustling with tourism. Access to the Old Towns is usually limited to pedestrians making it a challenge to find parking. To help you better plan ahead check out our guides to Parking Spots in Heraklion and Parking Spots in Chania.
How is winter in Crete?
A common question which travellers usually ask is which is the best Greek island to visit in winter. Crete is located in the southernmost point of Europe where winters are fairly mild. Being the largest of all the Greek islands, Crete is an all year round tourism destination. To help you plan your visit to Crete at any time of year check out our post on the Best Time of Year To Visit Crete.
Can someone easily visit Santorini from Crete?
Yes. If you wish to visit Santorini, the crown jewel of the Cyclades you can easily do so on a day trip from Crete to Santorini. The day trips to Santorini depart from Heraklion or Agios Nikolaos. The guided day trip will take you to discover the highlights of Fira, enjoy a swim at the black sand beach in Perissa, where you will end your evening admiring the most photographed sunset from the village of Oia.
Is it easy to travel from Athens to Crete?
The answer is yes. If there are no direct flights to Crete from your departure city, there is nothing you should worry about. You can fly into Athens from where it is easy to travel to Crete. Flying to Crete from Athens is the fastest and easier solution. The average flight time is approximately 50 minutes and there are daily connecting flights from Athens (ATH) to Heraklion (HER) and Athens (ATH) to Chania (CHQ). Another options is to take a ferry boat from the port of Piraeus (Pireas). Depending on the type of vessel, sailing time is about 5 to 8 hours. The overnight ferries arrive to their port of destination between 5:30 and 6:30 in the morning. During the summer season there are more frequent routes that serve both Heraklion and Chania.
Which are some unique tours to take when in Crete?
There are numerous tours you can opt for when holidaying in Crete. From the classical tours that take you to the most renowned landmarks such as Knossos Palace to boat trip excursions, wine tasting and much more. Here are some of our suggestions on the 5 Top Tours in Crete.
Is Crete suitable for families traveling with young children?
Crete is a family friendly island and a popular holiday destination for families traveling with children of all ages. From the kid-friendly sandy beaches with shallow waters, to numerous recreational activities such as CretAquarium, Venetian fortresses, museums, snorkelling trips, water parks, caves and much more — Crete is a paradise for kids. The Greek tavernas are very family-friendly and you will find plenty of dining options around the island. Many of the Greek dishes are not only tasty, but healthy too. Kids will definitely enjoy bites such as cheese (tiropitatakia) and spinach (spanakopitakia) pies, meat balls (keftedakia), calamari (fried squid), saganaki (fried cheese) and many other classic dishes such as moussakas (an eggplant- or potato-based dish garnished with ground meat and topped with a béchamel sauce).
Crete offers many family friendly accommodation options. Here are our posts on the 5 Family Friendly Resorts in Rethymnon and Heraklion for Kids: Where to Go and Have Fun. Crete is a large island and you will need a car to get around. Check out our best deals here.
What are the best travel apps to use in Crete?
To help you get around Crete you will need a proper GPS system. Of course you can use Google Maps, however if you want to be fully covered in all areas that have poor signal we recommend that you use Sygic Eastern Europe: Gps Navigation. For more details check out our detailed post here.
For a detailed guide to Crete we also recommend the My Crete Guide which is available for both Android and iOS, and is free. You can customise the content based on your interest and use the app when you are offline too.