One of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, Crete is the largest Greek island in the Mediterranean and is full of incredible historical sights, glorious beaches and countryside, wonderful food and friendly people.
Crete is one of the best known of the Greek islands. It has a coastline of a thousand kilometres dotted with deep blue bays, hidden coves and peninsulas as well as many sandy beaches.
The beaches are among the best in the world and yet much of the island is quiet and unexplored, offering plenty of opportunities for those who take advantage of Crete car hire. For the best resorts, visit Rethymnon, Stalis, Gouves, Sissi, Elounda, Hersonissos and Aghios Nikolaos. Elafonsi beach is also hugely popular. Car hire is ideal if you are heading to the incredible inland mountains, Samaria Gorge and the caves and coves around Palm Tree Forest, many of which are usually deserted. Also head to Vrisses, which is a lesser-known tourist spot but famous for its Greek yoghurt. Try it with a swirl of local honey and you'll be hooked!
The Greek people certainly do love their food and you'll find many local restaurants serving the best local produce, with plenty of fish, fruit and vegetables. With your hire car you'll be able to head out to some of the villages and try restaurants away from the main tourist areas. Try the mezedes, which are served at tavernas and bars and which include local specialties such as trypopita (a pastry filled with cheese) and local cheeses such as the hard and smooth Cretan graviera and the creamy and white mizythra. Look out for grilled pork and lamb and fresh fish of the day. Main courses and mezedas will usually be shared among groups, usually from big platters placed on the table. Traditional drinks will include ouzo, raki and Metaxa.
The island was the home of the ancient Minoan civilisation, with well-known archaeological digs at Phaistos, Knossos and Gortys. These sites are visited by many thousands of people each year. There is also the birthplace of the Greek god Zeus and the Venetian fortress of Rethymon. Also try to visit the palaces at Phaistos and Knossos, the Historical Museum of Crete, the Archaeological Museum at Firka and the Foundation Museum of Cretan Ethnology.
Most visitors arrive at Chania (CHQ) or Heraklion (HER) airports and the flight takes around 3-4 hours from the UK. Most visitors choose to travel during the summer and Easter holidays, but Crete is enjoyable all year round. May is a particular favourite and the island really comes to life with an explosion of flowers. September is also glorious and is when the sea waters are at their warmest.
Car hire in Crete is readily available and the best way to see the island, which is 250 kilometres long. You can organise car rental at the airports or at most of the resorts and towns, such as Agia Pelgia, Agios Nikolaos (ideal for Vai, Elounda to Sitia, Makry Gialos and Ierapetra, Gouves (for Kokkini Hani or Gournes) and Hersonissos (for those staying in Analipsi, Anissaras, Ano Hersonissos, Piskopiano or Koutouloufari). There's also Plakias and Rethymnon, with its beautiful Venetian harbour and old town.
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