Every region in Crete has something different to offer travellers; wherever you go, you will have the opportunity to taste some of the most amazing food, all fresh, delicious, well cooked, locally produced and homemade.
We highly recommend driving in Crete to go to explore all of the regions.
You will see proud old Cretan villagers dressed in their distinct black outfits enjoying their coffee early in the morning or in the afternoon in the picturesque village squares, giving you the feeling that time stands still on this island. The fascinating archaeological sites, crystal blue-green sea, sandy beaches and palm trees will amaze you while you drive along pleasant asphalt roads enjoying the spectacular view of the mountains or breathing in the fresh salty air of the coastline.
With so many routes and an endless list of sightseeing options, it’s not easy to select the best route for your Crete trip. We did the hard part for you and compiled the best advice and suggestions on what you should not miss when driving in Crete from the local experts.
Gelasakis Rental Company has been operating in Crete and in Greece for more than thirty years and their advice is top when renting a car in Crete.
Driving in Crete: 6 road trips routes
You just need to choose your type of car from a big selection of cars available and get ready for some wonderful experiences around the southern island in Europe.
1. Head to Vamos villages
Discover the unspoilt traditional villages in the Vamos area. From the main village of Vamos drive to Kefalas, pass Kokkino Chorio (Red Village) and end your route at Gavalochori. These charming villages with the characteristic architecture and sculpture, a fusion of the past centuries, welcome you to treat you homemade sweets with honey and fruits, nuts and “skaltsounia”, country wine and homemade raki.
Visit the folklore museum in Gavalochori and admire the old time classic “Κοpaneli” in all kinds of fabrics and styles as this is the original birthplace of this artistic lace-making. Enjoy the great view of northern Crete and the White Mountains, meet the locals in the main squares and listen to the one of a kind “madinades” – traditional century-old poems – breath the fresh air from the mountains that surround you. The route is easy and beautiful and shows another side of Crete’s charm; its mountain villages and its well-preserved monuments.
2. Explore the amazing beaches
You may have seen pictures of them everywhere but it’s a whole new experience if you witness these coasts live in front of you. Visit Falaserna, known as one of the best beaches in the world and the best in Europe, as voted so almost every year.
Drive a little further and you will reach Gramvousa beach or Balos at the tip of the western-most peninsula. Check out this incredibly crystal clear light blue water and the golden sand; you will feel you are in the Caribbean within minutes away from the town of Chania.
In the south you will meet Fragokastelo with its impressive Venetian fortress and just a little further down meet the exotic Elafonisi. Leave the car at the plot in front used as an open parking space and walk to the beach feeling the light sand under your feet admiring the fascinating view to the sea and the open horizons in front of you. This is definitely one of the best beaches in Greece. You will usually find it very busy in August as it is one of the favorite places to swim for locals and visitors, yet it should be on your list for your road trip as both the route is beautiful and the scenery will leave you breathless with its contrasts and natural splendor.
3. Discover the Palaiochora and Sfakia
Get into the real Crete by driving a little further south until the little town of Palaiochora. There you will meet the endless beach of Palaiochora, a 2-km-stretch of golden sand and crystal clear water surrounded by the natural grandeur of the mountains. Next to it you will find the beach of Chalikia.
Although less organized, you can find peace of mind even in mid-August when everywhere else is packed and busy. Visit the local taverns that serve fresh fish and regional dishes full of taste and aroma, spend a nice afternoon together with residents and travellers who will wholeheartedly share this great place with you.
In Sfakia you can leave the car at the open space car park, enjoy the quaint village and even take the little fishing boat and reach Loutro, the tiny fairytale hamlet literally in the water. Don’t miss the opportunity to eat at the one and only unique tavern overlooking the crystalline green-blue water!
From these villages you can either head to the mountains – if you like adventurous driving on winding roads – or continue on the coast until you reach Preveli and its breathtaking view and sea.
4. Wellness and nature in Agios Pavlos and Triopetra
There is nothing like the dragon mountain that enters the sea in the village of Agios Pavlos. If you love yoga and wellness this is the village of your dreams. All day activities like hiking, climbing, horseback riding are on the list, as well as swimming or sand dune climbing.
Enjoy this unique little village which seems hidden from the rest of the world, visit the local bar and tavern for some delicious home-grown salads, dishes and sweets and continue to Triopetra that lies just next to it. There you will find more choices with taverns and restaurants and a beautiful beach ideal for the whole family.
From here you can either continue to Matala– the famous hippie villages of the 60s- or return to Chania admiring the awe-inspiring view of the sunset on your way.
5. The cosmopolitan coastline of Platanias
In just a short drive from the center of Chania, you will find the exotic coastline of Platanias, always busy with people who love to see and to be seen. Great nightlife and full of restaurants and beach bars, this area is idyllic if you want to have everything at your fingertips.
You will find some luxurious resorts by the beach, boutique hotels and guesthouses, shops and taverns and coffee shops (learn how to order coffee in Greece) open from the morning until late at night. It’s an ideal area for those who want to relax by the sea and be just a hop away from the sights around the Chania region.
6. A trip to Knossos
A trip to Knossos the unique archaeological sight in the world must be on your list! It’s a 140 Km drive from Chania to Herakleio, the drive is easy as you can either be on the national road all the way or if you have just a little more time you can choose multiple routes through beautiful villages by the sea or by the mountain.
Top tips when driving in Crete
Crete driving travel tips:
- Gelasakis travel agency and car rental offer 24/7 service and assistance.
- You enjoy a 20% discount if you are a repeat customer.
- Subscribe to their newsletter and learn first about the special discounts and offers all year round.
- Special rates are offered for business rentals.
- Select the car that will fulfill your need among 8 categories, small ones to mini-vans and SUVs, manual or automatic.
- The best time to be at the beach is when the sun is strong. Driving in the middle of the day is not recommended, as temperatures in the summer are high. The cool water of the sea seems to be a better option!
- Always have your driving license and rental papers with you in the car and always wear your seatbelt.
- Ask Rentacar Chania for more info and advice on the routes you want to drive in Crete.
Read more of our road trip tips.
Gelasakis car rental is a travel agency that specializes in fulfilling every customer needs when travelling to Crete. Having more than 30 years of experience and being leading travel experts, you can be sure you are in the right hands when it comes to the best tips to driving in Crete.