Driving Tour Crete (East) - Greece
Short walks of generally 3-4 hours plus optional day excursions; level or slightly hilly terrain using well kept paths.
2. Average/ Moderate
Easy day walks with more strenuous excursions. 4-5 hours per day in hilly to mountainous areas using well kept, sometimes stony paths.
Strenuous day walks or trekking in mountainous areas. 5-7 hours per day, sometimes carrying backpacks with stuff for one night; altitude differences between 1,500-3,000 ft. (500-1,000 m.) per day.
Serious excursions in high mountains, sometimes carrying backpacks with stuff for several nights. 6-8 hours per day; altitude differences up to 3,600 ft. (1,200 m.) per day. Only for those with an excellent condition and without fear of heights.
Easy cycling in nearly flat areas; Little or no experience needed. Approx. 20-50 km daily. Bicycles with up to 3 gears will do.
2. Average / Moderate
Nearly flat to hilly areas with the occasional short climb. Approx. 30-65 km daily. Bicycles with minimum 7 gears will do.
Strenuous cycling with some steeper climbs. Some experience needed. Approx. 30-75 km daily. Bicycles with up to 21 gears needed.
Serious and strenuous in mountainous areas. Slopes are longer and/or steeper. Good physical condition needed. Experience and a mountain bike needed. Approx. 30-80 km daily.
You can choose from 4 different levels of comfort, although most of our trips are rated 2 or 3 (or a combination of the two) on our accommodation scale. We try to provide en-suite rooms where possible but on occasions this may not be possible on some tours.
We are constantly looking for hotels, B&B’s, guesthouses and mountain huts that offer a special location, ambience or atmosphere that fits the trip. Accessibility to the route and personal hospitality of the owners are part of our choice of accommodations.
A hotel, a pension or a mountain hut with all the basic facilities. Most rooms have a shared bathroom.
Fine hotels or B&B’s with basic to moderate facilities. Almost all rooms have a private bathroom.
A 3-star hotel, B&B or guesthouse. Comfortable rooms with private en-suite bathroom and often air conditioning. Some accommodations might have a swimming pool.
A 4-star chateau hotel or guesthouse. The rooms are relatively large with en-suite bathroom and air conditioning. A warm welcome and a high quality are guaranteed. Some hotels have a swimming pool or sauna.
Crete is the largest island of Greece and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean. Here visitors can enjoy the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore beautiful beaches and impressive mountain scenery, fertile valleys and steep gorges. You can also become part of the rich gastronomic culture on the island. Crete is one small universe full of beauties and treasures and an ideal island to explore on a self-drive tour.
- Visit the fabulous site of Knossos
- Enjoy great seaviews
- Crete hospitality
- At Vai you find Europe's only palm tree forest
- Windmills at the plateau of Lasithi
Day 1 Arrival at Heraklion airport to Tylissos
Distance: 17 km, 11mi. Pick up your rental car at the airport and start discovering Crete, with its rich history, pleasant climate, famous tasty Cretan food and wines, endless beaches and much more! Drive to you first accommodation which resembles a traditional Cretan village.
Day 2 Around Tylissos
No visit to Crete is complete without a visit to the fabulous site of Knossos. The Royal Palace with its 1,400 rooms dates back some 4,000 years and was the home of king Minos, ruler of the Minoans. Knossos is the site of the Labyrinth where Theseus slew the Minotaur.
Day 3 Driving tour: Tylissos - Koutsounari
Distance: 120 km, 75mi. On your way to the quiet countryside of Crete you will enjoy great sea views. At the Lassithi plateau you can still find many old wind mills that were used to pump water from the ground. You are also able to visit the birth cave of Zeus, the Dikti cave. After Lasithi you will drive to the picturesque harbour town of Agios Nikolaos. Here you can stop and taste fresh fish, salads and vegetables and find out yourself why the Cretan diet is world famous. Drive on and cross Crete from North to South while you marvel at the steep cliffs of Ha. From the town of Ierapetra on the south coast, it is not far to the beach of Koutsounari, where your next hotel is located.
Day 4 Around Koutsounari
Today you spend your day as you wish: you can make a boat trip to the nearby idyllic uninhabited Islet of Chrissi, where you can swim in crystal clear water, sunbath on golden sandy beaches and have lunch.
Alternatively you can discover the authentic countryside of Crete and drive north. Small mountain villages such as Schinokapsala and Stavrochori were refuges for the inhabitants in order to escape the constant pirate attacks.
The third alternative trip would be a visit to the east of Crete. First you drive north to the harbour town of Sitia. On your way to Vai you will pass the monastery of Toplou, where you can admire the beautiful icons. At Vai you find Europe’s only palm tree forest. Drive to the 'Valley of Death' at Zakros and admire the nature and gorge that slightly resembles the Grand Canyon.
Day 5 Driving tour: Koutsounari - Agia Galini
Distance: 136 km, 85 mi. A wonderful scenic drive from Koutsounari to Agia Galini will offer great sea views on the south coast. Stop for a cup of coffee or raki (Cretan gin) to see Cretan village life at its best: hospitality combined with a relaxed lifestyle in a country blessed with over 300 sunny days per year. In this region you encounter the hill of Phaistos, famous for the Disc of Phaistos with characters that were never deciphered.
Day 6 Agia Galini
Visit the world famous caves of Matala Beach! Matala became known to the entire world during the 60’s and 70’s when hippies from every corner of the world were gathering there enjoying the lovely sea and the freedom offered grandly by this gorgeous inlet.
Day 7 Driving tour: Agia Galini - Heraklion
Distance: 80 km, 50 mi. On your way to Heraklion, the lively capital of Crete, you stop to admire the magnificent Lake of Zaros, which makes a great place for lunch as well. Discover the vivid town of Heraklion. Among the most outstanding sights are the fortification walls that delimit the 'old city'. The first fortifications were built by the Arabs and were later reinforced by the Venetians (15th century). In the old (Venetian) port, next to the modern facilities, one can see the vaulted tarsanades where ships used to be built, while the western side is dominated by the Koule fortress (16th century). The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is certainly worth a visit too!
Day 8 End of trip
ADIO SAS! Goodbye! After breakfast you drive to the airport of Heraklion, drop off your rental car and check in for your flight.
- 7 nights with breakfast in 3*** hotels or B&B (for an image selection, please see Flickr)
- 7 day car rental, automatic
- 24-hour telephone assistance, just a phone call away
- Detailed route description and map
- Flights and public transportation
- Travel insurance
- Other meals
- Personal expenses (drinks, phone calls, tips, etc.)
- Any items not mentioned in the program
Optional services (to be booked in advance):
- Additional night(s) at any of the accommodations (please use booking remarks field)
- Upgraded car insurance to all-risk insurance
- Navigation system for the rental car
- Night delivery/drop off of the rental car
- Airport or station arrival and/or departure transfers
- Single supplement
On Crete we offer 2 self-drive tours that can be easily combined: Self-drive tour East Crete, 8-days and self-drive tour West Crete, 8-days. In case of a combined booking, the order will be: first the Self-Drive tour East Crete and then the Self-drive tour West Crete. You will stay 1 extra night in Agia Galini instead of spending the night in Heraklion. You will spend just 1 night in Heraklion that way (the last night).
As the roads are relatively narrow in Greece, the rental cars are all small family cars with an automatic transmission. Should you prefer a manual gearbox, then please let us know.
How to get there:
Best arrival and departure airport is Athens International. From Athens to Crete you can either go by plane or by ferry from Piraeus. The new aiport in Athens offers good public transort connections to the port of Piraeus.