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A Guide to Your Trip by Car in Crete

Crete ● 18 December 2017

Crete is one of the most beautiful islands in the Greek islands, and known to be one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country of Greece as a whole. In fact, Crete is in many ways a microcosm if history of the great country of Greece, but Crete also is proud to have developed a culture of its very own, focused on music, poetry, and of course, tourism and accomodation. In fact, 15% of all arrivals to Greece come through the capital of Crete, Heraklion. That might seem like a small number, but again, it’s 15% of all arrivals in Greece, not just in Crete! So what makes Crete so special? Find out for yourself on a road trip of your very own. Here are some of the top scenes and areas you should visit if you’re road tripping your way through the beautiful island of Crete.

Chances are, if you’re starting off your journey in Crete, you’ll be at Heraklion yourself. This is the best place on the island to rent a car and make a plan for your adventure. You should take some time to familiarize yourself with this area, as you’ll probably have to end up back in Heraklion at the end of your journey to return the car and then go back to your home country. Luckily, Heraklion has plenty to keep you busy. Fabulous fish taverns, luxury hotels, gorgeous Venetian fountains, and of course, the world-famous Archaeological Museum all make Heraklion the perfect place to start getting used to the culture and lifestyle of Crete.

Balos Lagoon

Another important place to hit on your travels through Crete is Mali, that is, if you’re a diehard partier. With lots of bars, taverns, and venues, Mali is often frequented by young travelers and young locals, so if you’re trying to have a relaxing time you might want to skip out on this town, but if you’re looking to party with the Greeks, Mali is the place for you. If you’re looking for a place to spend some quiet time, we advise you to explore the Lassithi Plateau. On this gorgeous, flat plateau, you’ll get a real taste of traditional rural life, on which small villages are scattered about. You’re sure to find a homey, hall-in-the-wall tavern in here, or at least spend the afternoon enjoying the greenery.
Once you hit the city of Rethymno, you’d be wise to get out of the car and go for a walk. There is plenty to see here in this busy, town-like place: a bustling beach strip, a castle from the 1600s, and an array of cozy lanes and streets lined with an eclectic collection of architecture. Additionally, Rethymno is known for its turtle population, which spikes in prime tourist season - the summer months from June to August.

If you’re looking for a bit of a more upscale crowd just to spend a few nights in, you should drive down the road to Elounda, also sometimes called Elouda. This is a rather more “posh” area of Crete, with the breed of tourists who love to spend a few nights at high-market hotels and the shopping districts. In the beautiful lagoon of the city, a mermaid is said to live there, occasionally revealing herself to visitors, an inhabitant of the sunken city that is said to sometimes be visible under the clear waters on a sunny, clean day. Not interested in fantasy? Take a trip to the tiny island of Spinalonga, which used to be home to an exiled leper colony. This location is chilling yet remarkable in its own right, and sure to be a great bonus to the history buffs you’re travelling with.

Next on your list is the ancient city of Kandanos, known for its rich, tumultuous history. While today, Kanados is a small settlement set in a landscape full of olive trees, its residents from centuries ago were involved in the violent revolts against the Ottoman Turks who had the island under siege. Then, some centuries later, Kanados inhabitants resisted the German occupation during World War II, leading to a brutal decimation of nearly the entire village. If you visit Kanados, you should be sure to be respectful and ready to hear about some of that history, especially if you’re visiting during the month of May, where you’re sure to see some activities, recreations, and memorials taking place to honor what is called the Battle of Crete.

Making your way to the more western part of the island, you’re going to encounter some of the most scenic landscapes for hiking or even leisurely walking. The Samaria Gorge is a famous location for its 16 kilometer long hiking trail, as well as more kid-friendly walks down the rocky, scenic path to the head of the trail overlooking the gorge. Be sure to stop by the National Park for some great photoshoot opportunities!


These are just a few ideas and suggestions, but the truth is that you could likely spend a week if not more in each of the areas that we listed, not to mention all the cities and smaller villages that dot the beautiful island of Crete. We suggest taking the time to research all the different places available for you to visit on the island so you can prioritize and plan, but if you prefer to improvise, don’t be afraid to stop and ask your hostel receptionist, or even just a friendly local, if there are any highlights you should be sure to squeeze into your trip. Just make sure to return your rental car in a timely manner. Be safe and polite to everyone you might run into! Have fun!

Where to Stay

Hotel in Rethymno, Greece Forest Park
Forest Park
Agiou Ioanni, 74100 Rethymno, Greece

Forest Park is located in the town of Rethymno, a 15-minute walk away from the sandy beach. Rethymno Port is a 20-minute walk away.

Hotel in Agios Nikolaos, Greece Elounda Krini Hotel
Elounda Krini Hotel
Andrea Papandreou, Elounda, 72053 Agios Nikolaos, Greece

Elounda Krini Hotel is located 1 km away from the center of the popular seaside resort Elounda and just a 5-minute walk from the beach. The scenic town of Agios Nikolaos and the port is at 8 km, while the capital of Crete, Heraklion, is at 70 km. Supermarkets, shops, restaurants can be found within a 10-minute walk.

Hotel & Appartment in Agios Nikolaos, Greece Elounda Garden Suites
Elounda Garden Suites
Leoforos Dimokratias, Elounda, 72053 Agios Nikolaos, Greece

Elounda Garden Suites are located just 200 meters from the center of Elounda seaside resort and 400 meters from the sandy beach of Schizma. Agios Nikolaos town is at a distance of 10 km and Heraklion International Airport is at 70 km.