Crete is a beautiful Greek island known for its stunning beaches, rich history, and delicious cuisine. However, driving on the island can be an adventure in and of itself. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re planning on driving in Crete.
First and foremost, you will need a valid driver’s license to drive in Crete. If you’re coming from the US or Canada, you’ll need an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) in addition to your regular driver’s license. It’s important to note that driving in Crete is on the right side of the road, as it is in most of mainland Europe.
If you’re planning on driving in Crete, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the road signs and traffic laws before you go. There are a few differences from what you might be used to, such as the use of roundabouts instead of four-way stops, so it’s important to be aware of these differences to stay safe on the road.
The roads in Crete can be narrow and winding, especially in the mountainous areas of the island. If you’re not used to driving on narrow roads, it can be a bit nerve-wracking at first. It’s important to take your time, be patient, and always be aware of your surroundings. You may also encounter livestock or pedestrians on the road, so it’s important to be alert and prepared to slow down or stop if necessary.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the speed limit on the island is often lower than what you might be used to. This is especially true in residential areas and near schools, where the speed limit may be as low as 20 km/h. Pay attention to speed limit signs and be prepared to slow down accordingly. The speed limit on the highway is 90 km/h unless indicated but the speed limit signs. Parts in Heraklion can go up to 110 km/h on the signs.
1. Double check when crossing: When driving through a traffic light, even though you might have green, Greek drivers have the habit of crossing the red light. Make sure you double check the road when you have green before going, especially if you are first to go and make sure no car is coming from another direction.
2. Be prepared for narrow roads: As I mentioned earlier, many of the roads in Crete are narrow and winding. If you’re not used to driving on narrow roads, it can be helpful to practice in a less busy area before tackling the more challenging routes.
3. Take note of the road conditions: Some of the roads in Crete can be quite rough, with potholes, loose gravel, or uneven surfaces. It’s important to pay attention to the road conditions and adjust your driving accordingly.
4. Be mindful of other drivers: As with driving in any unfamiliar place, it’s important to be calm with other drivers who may not be as patient on the road. Locals are sometimes aggressive or impatient drivers, so always be courteous to other drivers.
5. Take frequent breaks: If you’re planning on driving long distances, it’s important to take regular breaks to stretch your legs and rest your eyes. Not only will this make the drive more comfortable, but it will also help you stay alert and focused on the road.
6. Use your horn sparingly: Honking your horn in Crete is generally seen as an aggressive gesture, so it’s best to use it sparingly. If you need to alert another driver of your presence, a quick beep is usually sufficient.
7. Avoid driving at night: While it’s certainly possible to drive at night in Crete, it can be more challenging due to the narrow roads and lack of streetlights in some areas. If possible, try to plan your driving during daylight hours.
8. Use a GPS system: Having a GPS system (in the car or Google Maps) can be extremely helpful when driving in Crete, especially if you’re not familiar with the island. Make sure to rent a car with a reliable GPS system or bring your own navigation device.
9. Watch out for motorcycles and scooters: Motorcycles and scooters are a popular mode of transportation in Crete, especially during the summer months. Keep an eye out for them and give them plenty of space on the road.
10. Check the weather forecast: Crete can experience sudden weather changes, especially during the winter months. Before heading out on a long drive, check the weather forecast to make sure you’re prepared for any conditions you might encounter.
11. Keep your documents handy: Make sure you have your driver’s license, rental agreement, and any other necessary documents with you in the car at all times. You may be asked to show these documents at police checkpoints or if you’re involved in an accident.
In the larger cities like Heraklion and Chania, street parking can be difficult to find, especially in the tourist areas. However, there are usually parking lots or garages available for a fee, but generally it is very affordable as low as 1 euro an hour. In smaller towns and villages, street parking is often easier to find, but be mindful of any signs indicating restricted areas or time limits.
If you’re visiting during the peak summer season, be prepared for crowded parking lots and limited spaces. Consider arriving early or taking public transportation to avoid the stress of searching for a spot. With a little planning and patience, parking in Crete can be manageable. And once you’re parked, you can enjoy all that this beautiful island has to offer.
Here are the best parking places to park your car in the cities of Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos.
Driving in Crete can be a bit of a challenge, but with a little bit of preparation and patience, it can be a great way to explore the island at your own pace. Just remember to take your time, be aware of your surroundings, and always follow the rules of the road. Happy driving!