If you decide to rent a car and go exploring Crete, you will certainly feel the immense pleasure that this adventure is offering.
Driving on Crete can seem to you a little heavy, but if you drive carefully, respecting the signs and speed limit, there shouldn’t be problematic situations.
Advantage of driving car on Crete: Advantage of driving car on Crete is immeasurable, you’ll see many interesting things, meet lovely people, get to the places that you have never even dream of.. It seems to me that exploring Crete really change people, for the better in every sense.
Before this adventure, you should read some information about roads and unwritten rules of driving on the Island.
Highway National Road: Highway, known as National Road, has 4 lanes, 2 in each direction, separated in some way (with grass, metal fence…). Every year, they are working on improving quality of roads and extending them.
Thus, the wider road is built on the Messar area, in the direction from Heraklion (north) to Matala and further to Timbaki, Kokkinos Pirgos (the south of island). There are, inter alia, archaeological excavations of ancient cities Festos and Gortyna.
Drive on the south side of Crete
Far from the north coast, situation is changing radically, and roads are narrow and can have vast curves and serpentines.
If you want to visit the farthest parts (usually approaches to the beach on the south side, monasteries and caves in the mountains – that are usually the most beautiful), then expect gravel. It is important to talk with locals before starting trip on this roads, because some of the parts are approachable only by ATVs.
In some places, for example near Preveli beach, you will leave car on the parking and follow the path by foot, so it is smart to have shoes for walking on rocky.
Look on the map how is the road, because traveling on the road with lot of curves and serpentines lasts longer then it is expected when you look at the distance in kilometers. Crete is a mountainous island and you will want to stop and just enjoy the view or suddenly come to some attraction, church, tavern or fellow travelers may have nausea.. consider it while you’re planning the trip.
Unwritten rules for driving on Crete
Drive on the right side. The limits are 50km / h in built-up area – 90 km / h on the highway. You must observe speed limits, not because of the police (I have not seen this for 2 years in Crete), but for your own safety.
– Do not be surprised if on a narrow mountain road before you pick up comes up from some curve (the villagers in the mountains prefer to drive) – be focused, alert and ready when you are driving, especially in the mountains.
– Traffic signs, road signs are in Greek and English and often not very big, so it’s easy to overlook!
– Cretans drive in the auxiliary tray (up to half a car – not all the way to the possibility of landslides in some places), so be careful when stopping. It is best to get off the road if you need to stop unexpectedly.
– There is a huge number of vehicles (families usually have 2 cars) in Crete. The number of cars, seems to me, tripled over the years (rent-a-car). In Heraklion, parking is a big problem – keep that in mind, and if you have the opportunity visit Heraklion by bus.
-It is important not to drive near the left side of your taskbar, to leave room for overtaking.
– Allowed level of alcohol in the blood is 0.5 mg. and the police are not tolerant on this issue, despite the fact that you are a tourist.
– There are radars and they work, especially in places where speed is limited to 40/50 km / h. You will see a visible notice on the existence of a radar on a some part of road ..and the restrictions.
– No pay phones for emergencies, so charge your cell phone.
-When you drive around the town, pay special attention to motorcyclists, scooter, bicycle. Motorcyclists frequently overtake on the right side (instead of left), even if they leave enough room to pass on the left, they will do everything to go round to the right.
– If you see a car in the rearview mirror that dim headlights, it is a sign that a driver who is moving faster than you require to move to the right so they can overtake.
-Locals forget to use signaling (indicator) when intend to change direction or to stop – it means that while driving, turn on your sixth sense, instinct and foresight.
-white solid line may suddenly disappear on the way.
-Especially be careful on Saturday night because a lot of people coming out then, drink a glass more and …
-While driving in the settlements notice a lot of pedestrians on the road. Often there are no paths for pedestrians and they are forced to walk on the road.
-Animals (sheep, goats, dogs, cats …) are frequent participants in traffic. Goats often graze next to the road, so they can be seen in mountainous areas lying on the road (not too much often, but be careful …)
– MANDATORY! Take along 2-3 bottles of water to clear the glass in the car, in the case of driving on non-asphalted roads, the dust will disturb you while driving. Therefore, in the trunk … a bottle of water and a cloth for cleaning the glass.
– Also it wouldn’t be bad to bring some newspapers or towels or … to protect the interior while the car is standing in the parking lot, because it probably will not all find a parking place in the shade.
Phones for the emergency service:
Phone for the emergency service 112 and is free. By calling you will get information about the emergency, firefighters, police and coast guard – in English, Greek and French. Help on the road you can look for on 154. Towing services at number 104, call the police 100, 166 ambulance, fire service by dialing 199.
Parking on the island
Parking spaces in cities are charged for example: in Rethymno 1.70 for the first hour, every following +0,30 but in Rethymno there is free public parking near the park … in some places you can buy a parking ticket…). You can often park, as the inhabitants of the island, wherever you want on the street, if you manage to infiltrate the remaining space – you take the risk, as well as residents.
Roads in Crete
The roads in Crete vary in quality. Major cities are connected by wide highways, smaller settlements have narrow roads, the farthest places – non asphalted road.
North Crete has a wide road E 75 from Agios Nikolaos, over Heraklion to Chania and Rethymno.