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Transportation on the island of Crete

Whether by plane or ferry... we are on the island of Crete. And we have several options to transport ourselves further, to travel and discover the beauty of this unique Greek island. We can choose between public bus transport, rental car (motorcycle, bicycle) or taxi. A boat trip is also a wonderful experience.

Transport options in Crete

If you have arranged your holiday in Crete through a travel agency, you do not need to worry about airport transfers. You can find a bus from your travel agency that will take your clients to each hotel.

Otherwise, you usually have several options to choose from. Classically, you can use the bus lines that stop at the airport and take you to the city centre, where you can continue to the resorts by regular buses. Other options are taxi or car rental. You can rent a car online in advance and have it delivered to the airport (on-time delivery to the airport is usually free of charge), and sometimes rental companies have a stand right in the airport lobby.

If you are arriving at the airport in the capital Heraklion or the airport in Chania, it is not a problem to use a bus, taxi or rental car. From the airport near Sitia, you can only get there by taxi.

Bus transport

Bus transport in Crete is a relatively cheap, reliable and comfortable means of transport. The public bus service in Crete is provided by K.T.E.L. The bus runs several times a day between the largest towns and the busiest resorts, and usually twice a day to the smaller villages. In the big cities the buses converge on the bus stations, in the smaller villages the buses usually stop in the middle of the square and in the case of the seaside resorts the buses usually stop on the main road at the edge of the resort (sometimes they go to the hotels, but sometimes this is not possible due to the narrow streets and the number of tourists).

Outside the bus stations, it's always better to wave at the bus to indicate that we want to approach (like when you have a "on signal" stop here). Drivers here are used to it and it's better to wave unnecessarily than to wait for several hours for the next connection. Sometimes even drivers of other lines will stop for you. The drivers here are really generally very helpful and usually don't even have a problem stopping outside the traditional stops. You don't pay anything for trying.

The buses are reliable and usually punctual, but sometimes there are delays (classically during construction work or closures). The most up-to-date information is available on the internet (on the K.T.E.L. website - timetables, price lists, maps of major cities, etc.), paper timetables are then posted at each stop.

There are modern, air-conditioned buses on the main routes, and older buses can be found between the smaller villages, but in general the buses in Crete are described as good and safe. As well as smoking, eating and drinking is also forbidden on the buses (if you drink plain water from a bottle, the drivers usually tolerate it).

As far as fares are concerned, bus transport in Crete is not expensive. For shorter journeys the fare is about 1 Euro per 10km, for longer journeys it's usually less. At bus stations or where there is a booth with a ticket seller, tickets are bought in advance. At other stops, you pay directly to the driver.

K.T.E.L. website: www.e-ktel.com/en/
Printable timetables: https: www.e-ktel.com/en/services/dromologia

Car, motorcycle and bicycle rentals

A very popular way among tourists and probably the most ideal way to travel around a certain area of Crete - you are not limited by timetables, time delays and most importantly you can adapt your trip to your current mood and fitness. Most rentals are by car, but motorbikes and bicycles are also available.

However, just as motorbikes are popular among tourists on other Greek islands, on Crete they are rather recommended only for good drivers. Unlike the smaller islands, traffic on the main Cretan roads is quite thick and busy, and another tricky thing is the narrow and winding roads in the foothills, which are often quite steep and, especially on the bends, you could skid on sand and stones. But if you are used to travelling like this, there is definitely something to it and this option exists in Crete too.

If you decide to rent a car, you also get a choice of two types of insurance - standard (not including glass, wheels and chassis insurance) and full. The very low price compared to the competition is suspicious. So if you know in advance that you want to rent a car and for how long, then it's ideal to order a car online from home - you can read the contract and choose the type of vehicle in peace. Rental companies generally offer smaller, 4 seater vehicles, larger, off-road vehicles and minibuses for 6 to 9 people. If you book your car online in advance and want to have it delivered straight to the airport, this is usually free. If you want to bring it to your hotel afterwards, this is by arrangement.

There is usually at least one rental company in each of the busier tourist resorts, and usually more (it's also worth going around and comparing prices, as it's not uncommon for a rental company on the outskirts of a resort to be much cheaper than one right in the centre). Negotiating a contract through a travel agency, which of course charges a commission, also adds to the price.

Rental prices are really individual, so just to give you an idea - a classic, smaller car will cost you about 65 Euros per day, about 270 Euros per week. Outside the high season, prices are usually much lower (about 50 Euros per day and about 210 Euros per week).

Taxi service

The biggest advantage of the taxi service is that it is available almost everywhere and can take you anywhere and anytime. And the second advantage is the price, which is not extreme. Taxis use meters and are priced within two tariffs: 1) city/day (5am to 24pm) and 2) out of town/night (24pm to 5am). The exception is taxis in small municipalities (here called "Agoraion"), which sometimes have fixed prices for individual trips and do not use meters.

The specific prices therefore vary both according to the tariffs and also according to the area. To give you an idea, you can expect about 1 Eur per boarding and then about 0.34 Eur per km (0.64 Eur in the second tariff), plus other possible surcharges for waiting, excess baggage, etc.

Shipping

We are on an island, so we have one more travel option - for us tourists quite unusual and interesting - boat transport. For the most part, these are tourist and cruise boats for smaller groups of people, which take, for example, cruises along the coast and along the most beautiful beaches of Crete, or also trips to the adjacent islands, which are in the vicinity of Crete in large numbers. Popular destinations for boat trips are the islet of the god Zeus, the island of Gramvousa with the remains of an old Venetian fortress or the island of Chrisi with its beautiful white beaches.

From Crete you can also visit another popular Greek island, Santorini. Large ferries are already used for transport over longer distances and between the Greek islands. For more information see the article How to get to Crete.

Road network in Crete

Much of Crete is covered by the road network, the exceptions being the mountainous areas and the really remote areas. The main road runs along the north coast of Crete, where a new motorway (the so-called New National Road/North Cretan Motorway) has also been built. The new highway connects the major Cretan towns from Kissamos in the west, through the towns of Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion to the town of Agios Nikolaos in the east of the island and will save you a lot of time when travelling longer distances.

Almost parallel to the new motorway is the former main road (the so-called Old Road), which is very convenient if you want to travel from one resort to another and don't want to keep coming and going off the motorway (there is also public transport), or if you just want to enjoy the nature around you. You can reach all the villages from Kissamos in the west to Sitia in the east. On the other hand, it is of course slower and sometimes literally overcrowded with locals and buses.

Basic traffic rules in Greece

Greece has similar traffic rules to other European countries. The maximum speed limit is 50 km/h in the village, 80 km/h outside the village and 100 km/h on Class 1 roads with fast traffic. and on motorways a maximum of 120 km/h. However, it is advisable to be cautious when driving, as the local Greeks sometimes have a rather peculiar driving style. However, if you don't want to cut a hefty fine out of your holiday budget, don't get swept away by the crowds and actually obey the traffic laws.

It's compulsory to wear seatbelts when riding in the front seat and to have a car seat for children (usually provided free of charge with a rental car). A helmet is required when riding a motorcycle. And for drivers, there is a ban on talking on the phone while driving. Although a certain level of alcohol in the driver's blood is tolerated in Greece (generally 0.5 per millilitres, 0.2 per millilitres for beginners and motorcyclists), it is not recommended to consume alcohol before driving, as being at fault in a drink-driving accident is severely punished.

In the experience of car rental companies, who occasionally have to deal with fines from their clients, tourists in Greece make the most mistakes when parking. In addition to the classic "no parking" and "no stopping" signs, you may also see yellow lines painted directly on the road. Do not park where yellow lines are painted. If you find a pink piece of paper behind the wiper when you return to your car, it is probably an €80 fine for bad parking. You need to go to the post office with the slip and pay the fine there (in which case the fine is reduced to 40 Euro). If you throw the ticket away, the police will request the contract and your personal details from the rental company and then recover the fine in full. Fines for speeding or not wearing a seatbelt as a driver or passenger are less common.

Indicative amounts of some fines: violation of parking ban 80 Euro, talking on a mobile phone while driving 100 Euro, speeding up to 350 Euro, not wearing seat belts 350 Euro, not stopping at a stop sign 700 Euro, etc.

And the reality on Crete?

The way of driving of the inhabitants of Crete is not different from the inhabitants of other Greek islands or southern countries in general. You should keep calm on the road and not be distracted by the fact that Cretans honk their horns a lot, often exceed the speed limit, don't use their turn signals and overtake from left and right.

Especially in the biggest Cretan cities like Heraklion, Chania or Rethymno, the roads are more like a jungle, with everyone trying to get where they need to go as fast as possible. At junctions, watch out for large and obviously stronger cars, as sometimes the right of the stronger car wins out over the right of way or traffic lights. Particularly when parking, we recommend not looking at other people and rather following the signs and road markings, as cars often park where it is forbidden. It's strange, but where locals dare to park, rental cars often don't. So we definitely choose bus transport for travelling to big cities, because it's not worth the nerves and time wasted looking for a free parking space.

Apart from the major roads in Crete, the roads here are rather narrow and, due to the mountainous nature of the island, very winding. However, if you don't take unnecessary risks, they are not particularly dangerous. Motorbike and scooter drivers should be careful, however, as they can skid on the sand and gravel that accumulates in the bends and, especially after rain, these roads can be very slippery. So be sure to take your time and drive carefully. It would also be a shame not to slow down occasionally when the roads often lead through such beautiful and unique countryside.

However, direction signs are a test of observation when we need to take a turn off the main road. Often these signs are placed right at the junction itself, and sometimes even a few metres beyond it! Another reason to ease off the gas;)

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