Vai Beach, Eastern Crete
Vai Beach, Eastern Crete

Airline flights. Heraklion or Chania

How to reach Crete
The main accesses are: Heraklion (port and airport), Rethymnon (port), Chania (port and airport)

A. By plane
National airlines (Air France, Swiss, Lufthansa, Alitalia etc.) fly to Athens or Thessaloniki. Then you have to connect with local airlines (Aegean, Sky Express, Olympic Air) to Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Corfu, Kos etc. For example, the flight time from Paris to Athens is approximately 3 hours.  

Direct charter flights to Crete are offered from Paris, Lille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille, Brussels, Zurich etc. And almost all airports offer this destination but with a stopover. These charter flights are usually available from April to October and are priced from €150 to €450 depending on the period and the competition, and sometimes even much cheaper. Most of them land in Heraklion and a little less in Chania (west of the island). Please note that as Crete is part of Europe, your passport or National Identity Card will suffice.

Your arrival at Heraklion  Heraklion airport is located in the centre of the island, which is just over 250km long. Thus, it takes 1 hour to get to Rethymnon (80km) or Agios Nikolaos (70km), and 2 hours to Chania (160km). The north of the island is served by an expressway, which connects the east with the west. Heraklion's airport, Nikos Kazantzakis, is 5km from the city centre. To get there, you can choose between a taxi and the bus, line 1, opposite the terminal. In Heraklion city centre there are two bus stations, one for the east of the island and one for the west, with departures in summer every hour.

B. By car and and ferry
1. from Italy

The journey takes at least 3 days if you go through Italy. In any case, the duration of the trip makes it difficult to envisage a stay in Crete of less than 15 days.

From Italy, via the Greek mainland: take the highway along the east coast of the peninsula to Ancona, Bari or Brindisi, 3 ports from which ferries leave for Igoumenitsa (north-western Greece, opposite Corfu) or Patras (north-western Peloponnese); from there, drive to Athens-Piraeus (approx. 3 hrs. drive), to take a boat to Crete.
You can also head to one of the 3 ports of the southern Peloponnese: Kalamata, Gythion, Neapolis, towards Kissamos (Kasteli) in western Crete.

  1. From Greece

* By boat from mainland Greece : 3 or 4 departures every evening (around 8-9pm) from Piraeus, the port of Athens, to Heraklion, Rethymnon or Souda (the port of Hania). Arrival at 6 am. These are ferries that load motorcycles, cars, caravans, campers and trucks. Two companies share the destinations: Anek Lines and Minoan Lines. Minimum price (without cabin): 45€.

By boat from one of the 3 ports of the southern Peloponnese : The ferry will take you to Kalamata, Gythion, Neapolis, to take the ferry to Kissamos (Kasteli) in the west of Crete. The company is "ANEN Lines" Tel: 003028210 24148 or 24187.

By boat from Santorini, and arrival in Heraklion

By boat from Rhodes, via the islands of Karpathos and Kassos. The arrival is at the ports of Sitia or Agios Nikolaos

As a general rule, it is preferable to make the Piraeus - Crete crossings at night, and we advise you to book a berth if possible, as the nights are very uncomfortable on the pullman seats. For further information: Ferries_in_Greece


Driving in Crete

When you leave the northern axis of the island (expressway), the road network is composed of paved roads, certainly, but not always well maintained. Winding roads, crossing mountains and villages, crossing pedestrians and ... goats.  So, be very careful!

Here, we are not in Switzerland! Here, we have the highest number of road accidents in the EU. The continuous white line, separating the lanes, is not respected when overtaking, the indicators are random, and the hard shoulder is used to turn around and let yourself be overtaken by another car which announces its intention by urgent headlights calls. So drive in that hard shoulder to let yourself be passed. It is allowed (tolerated?) but be careful in case another car is parked there. The old Cretan peasants, otherwise friendly and welcoming, but with their old Toyota farm pick-up, believe that the road belongs to them, and park at their convenience.

Often, seatbelts are not worn, some motorcyclists ride without helmets, speed limits are often exceeded, traffic lights are sometimes ignored. I would add that, at night, one must be doubly vigilant. Fatigue and especially alcohol make the roads dangerous because of the excessive speed of some and, especially, overtaking. So, be careful! Finally, if you have an accident, serious or not, you must not leave the scene. The same goes for the other vehicle involved. Take a picture of its plate, just in case. There are drivers who drive without a license and sometimes are not insured! Call 112 (emergency service, throughout the EU), and/or 100 of the police, and if you have a rental car, call the rental company immediately.

Have a good trip and a good vacation on this beautiful and welcoming island!

(Editor: Nikos Papadogeorgakis / Degeorges Nicolas)