Car Trips Crete
From the east coast to the west coast you can travel up to five hours by car. Therefore, one should already consider what one wants to see before booking the trip or the hotel. If one spends the holiday approximately in the middle of the island Crete, many destinations for excursions are closer than if one lives in the extreme east or west. Good holiday places for rental car trips are e.g. Malia, Chersonissos, Iraklio, Bali and Rethymno.
Book the rental car
With a rental car, one can explore more on day tours than with the bus and cover longer distances faster. A disadvantage is, especially if you are alone on Crete, the high price for car and gasoline. The majority of tourists nowadays book their rental car in advance at home in peace on the Internet. Of course there are also many offers for rental cars in Crete. The prices vary enormously depending on the season and from place to place. Often in the high season (July to September) there are hardly any rental vehicles left to get. Those who have little experience with renting cars should inform themselves well in advance.
The price for the car alone is only one criterion. Mistakes in car rental can be very expensive. For example, car rental companies and contracts differ enormously when it comes to insurance. Also the model of the vehicle, additional costs like for child seats or for young people, place of the collection of the vehicle, the tank filling and much more one should consider. In Greece, very old and unroadworthy cars are rented much more frequently than in Germany.
To rent a car you need a driving licence, an identity card or a passport and often a credit card. In Greece there are still many, mostly smaller, car rental companies that do not require a credit card. You can simply pay the rent in cash. The number of kilometres is usually not limited, so you can make as many trips to Crete as you like.
Gasoline and diesel are about 20 cents more expensive in Crete than in Germany (as of early 2018). In remote regions there are often no petrol stations. Petrol stations usually have a filling station attendant (no self-service). Cash payment for petrol is common, many larger petrol stations also accept credit cards or EC cards.
It is important to have a reasonable road map or a navigation device. Signposts on Crete are often not available and sometimes wrong. The free map of car rental companies is usually just a simple piece of paper with the most important places and advertising. The map should be up-to-date and accurate, will recommend for Crete this road map.
Destinations for car rental excursions in Crete
Ancient sights: These are on Crete above all the palaces and other excavations of the Minoans. The Minoans were the first high culture in Europe and lived mainly on the island of Crete. Particularly interesting are the four large Minoan palaces, above all the palace of Knossos.
Knossos is next to the Samaria Gorge the most important sight on Crete. It is near the capital Heraklion, seen from the city center about eight kilometers (into the interior of the island to the south).
Another Minoan palace in the south is not too far from Matala. It is the palace of Phestos. The third palace is on the north coast near the resort Malia. The palace of Kato Zakros is located in the very east of Crete.
So all holidaymakers who spend their holidays in the eastern half of Crete should be able to reach one of the four palaces quickly by rental car. Those who are on holiday in the west, e.g. in the big holiday resorts west of Chania, have to accept a drive of some hours.
Museums: There is only one important museum. It is the archaeological museum in the capital Heraklion. It is one of the 4 to 5 most important sights of Crete.
Beaches: There are many beautiful beaches in Crete. There are perhaps four outstanding beaches. These are the Caribbean beaches in Balos and Elafonisi (both Western Crete) and the palm beaches of Preveli (Southern Crete) and Vai (Eastern Crete). You can find more information about this on our page about the most beautiful beaches on Crete.
Three of the four beaches are easy to reach by rental car. Getting to Balos is not easy. In Vai you can park directly behind the beach, in Preveli you have to go down a longer staircase (about 15 minutes). A Vai and Preveli is a small parking fee.
Hikes: By far the most famous hike is through the Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe. In summer, several thousand people go on this hike every day. This hike is not recommended by rental car as there is no easy way to get back from the end point to the starting point. More information here.
Also most other hikes on Crete are like the Samaria Gorge in the southwest of the island of Crete. Also with the Aradena gorge and the shorter Imbros gorge the rental car is not so helpful. The majority of the known hikes on Crete are in the south of the island.
Cities: The two most beautiful cities on Crete are Chania and Rethymno. Both cities have a grandiose old town, which one must have seen. Finding a parking place for the rental car in Rethymno and Chania should not be a problem if you are already paying a few euros for parking.
The largest city Irraklio is considered less beautiful, but the archaeological museum is an absolute top sight (less than one kilometer from the city center).
Unknown Crete: If you want to get to know Crete, you should also visit some remote villages in the interior of the island. Especially in villages without known sights one gets to know the real Crete. Such excursions with a rented car are the holiday highlight for many tourists.