Crete is the largest of Greece's islands and as such has a lot to offer no matter what your ideal holiday. With glorious beaches, a great nightlife, ancient ruins and stunning mountains, there is something for everyone and the typically hot and sunny weather ensure you can explore everything.
Driving will allow you to take in the beauty and history of the Greek island, as the National Road in northern Crete will take you from Ághios Nikólaos through Heraklion, Rethymnon and Chania before ending up in Kastelli. Southern Crete is very different, with roads becoming narrower and featuring blind bends, meaning extra care should be taken.
There are a lot of options when it comes to hiring cars in Crete, which can get a bit confusing. You can use our booking tool to find the best deal on car hire in Crete, ensuring you have a choice of vehicles and companies so can find one that suits your needs and budget. Holiday Autos also ensures you have everything you need when you've hired your car, including 24-hour support and free cancellation should you no longer need the service. We've provided car hire to millions of people across hundreds of countries so you know you can trust us.
You can pick up your hire car from a couple of different places depending on where you are staying in Crete. If you're arriving at Chania Airport (CHQ), you don't need to go further than the arrivals hall to find the car hire desks. The same goes for Heraklion Airport (HER), which is helpful as it is the second largest airport in Greece and can be very busy. Whichever airport you arrive at, collecting your car once you've picked up your luggage means you can get on with your holiday straight away.
“The pick-up was easy, it took 5 minutes from arriving at the desk to driving out the car, and the return took even less time.”
Hiring a car really does open the whole of Crete up for exploration. As well as beautiful white sandy beaches ideal for swimming, sunbathing or snorkelling, you can head to cities for a bit of shopping or to try out one of the many great restaurants. Of course, you can't really visit Crete without taking in some of its ancient history, which means a trip to any one of the historical landmarks that the island boasts. You may even just want to take in nature with a hike through Crete's mountainous regions. Whatever you choose to do, you'll never be bored while at this destination.
While hiring a car will help you get around the area of Crete you're staying in, it also means you can explore further afield. There are numerous places you should head to in order to get a real feel for the place. If you're staying in Heraklion, then the Palace of Knossos is a must-visit. It's just 6km from the centre of the city and offers you a great look into the history of ancient Greece. It can be reached by driving down Leof. Ikarou towards Par. Ikarou. The historic site is well signposted and so won't be hard to find.
For those visiting Chania, the Venetian Lighthouse is definitely worth seeing. It is just 15km from Chania Airport via the EO Aerodromiou Soudas and it the biggest attraction in the Venetian Harbour. Heading to the lighthouse will also allow you take in the stunning coastal views, visit some local shops and enjoy some food out in the sunshine.
Heading further afield is also made easier with car hire and will allow you to really take in all that Crete has to offer. Rethymno, which is the smallest prefecture on the island, can be found 69km from Chania Airport via the VOAK/E75. Rethymno is home to legendary caves, monuments and monasteries, as well as a great view of the White Mountains.
Staying near Heraklion means that you are just over an hour away from Lasithi, which is the easternmost region of Crete. While there are urban centres to visit in this region, the capital is Ághios Nikólaos. The city is home to the bottomless salt lake Voulisméni and offers a number of museums, Byzantine churches and a beautiful marina. It also has plenty of cafes and restaurants, some of which open right out onto the beach.
Hiring a car in Crete means you really can take in all that the island has to offer, including some of the top attractions.
Spinalonga may not be reachable by car, but you can drive to Elounda, Ágios Nikólaos or Plaka to board a boat to take you to the island. Known as Leper Island, Spinalonga was where lepers from Crete and the rest of Greece were sent for quarantine until 1957. You can walk around the ruined buildings that were called home to thousands of people and learn all about the plight of those diagnosed with leprosy in Greece. A number of boat tours will also include other stops throughout the trip, allowing you to take in the beauty of Crete from the sea.
Located in the National Park of Samaria, which is in the White Mountains of West Crete, Samaria Gorge is a beautiful natural attraction. While a full hike of the gorge isn't for the faint-hearted - it can take between five and seven hours to complete the full 16km walk on rough terrain - you can also take it easy and gently explore the area. The majestic gorge is only open in the summer months, but you can enjoy the beautiful park at all times of the year. If you decide to head to the gorge, practical footwear and comfortable clothing is a must, as is a bottle of water.
Another stunning archaeological site that is a must-visit for those heading to Crete is the City of Phaistos. Located in central Crete, the city dates back to the final Neolithic period and was one of the most important locations of the Minoan civilisation. While the city is in ruins now, you can still get an idea of its former grandeur and learn a lot about the people who lived there by joining a tour of the city.