About Crete Self Drive 1 - Captivating Crete
Take time to explore Crete, the largest Greek Island. A journey full of Crete's major sights.
Activity code: GRFDCR01
Duration: 15 Days
This incredible self-drive tour includes our favourite locations on the island of Crete - ancient sites, stunning mountains, rugged coastal scenery, quiet villages and places off the beaten track. Overall it is a perfect itinerary to visit as much of Crete as is sensible in two weeks and will probably leave you with a desire to return to one particular location to explore a little more or maybe choose your favourite place and simply stay put and relax. If you or your family have an interest in the history and culture of ancient Greece and enjoy the open road then you will not be disappointed by this package.
As Heraklion is centrally located and has most of the flights it makes sense to start your journey there but it is also possible to start and/or finish in Chania. This is our recommended route on this island, it is a tried and trusted itinerary allowing you plenty of time to enjoy the countryside as you travel. If you are looking for any modifications then we will also be very happy to discuss a completely tailor made itinerary.
Not included: In January 2018 Greece introduced an Overnight Stay Tax of 0.50 to 4 Euros per room or apartment per night, which is payable locally - the amount varies according to the category of the accommodation (i.e. most self catering and 1-2 star hotels = 0.50 Euros, 5 star hotels = 4 Euros).
We are able to tailor-make this holiday to suit your requirements for any or all of the following - departure airport, budget, hotel type/size, overall duration, pre-booked activities, etc.
Accommodation: the hotels in this itinerary are generally small, independent or family-run, properties which add significantly to your travel experience in these fascinating countries; however, please do not hesitate to request alternative hotels.
Transport: to take the stress out of arriving and departing we can offer a private airport transfer service; we can deliver and collect your hire car from your hotel in Heraklion (or Chania). All our vehicles have a/c and we provide detailed driving routes, sightseeing suggestions and parking information for all accommodation.
If you would like to visit these wonderful places but don't wish to drive then we have a choice of guided tours or we can offer you a private driver for the itinerary you have chosen.
Please contact us if you would like a completely tailor made fly drive itinerary. All we would need to know are approximate dates of travel, what standard of hotel you would prefer, and if there are any particular areas or classical sites which you would like us to include (or to exclude!) in your itinerary. Your holiday can be as active or leisurely as you please. Staying one night at each stop allows the maximum amount of sightseeing; two or more nights will allow you to do side trips, whilst staying in one place will give you the opportunity to relax and explore the local area.
Ask about our fabulous bonus offers when you book this package with us:
Arrive at Heraklion Airport, collect your rental car & check in at your hotel in the centre of the city for a 2 night stay. Heraklion is the largest city on the island of Crete and there is plenty to explore - the massive Venetian walls, the mediaeval castle in the harbour, Morozini's fountain and many other Venetian buildings and monuments which lend a special character to the city.
The museum in Heraklion holds great treasures of the Minoan civilisation and is regarded as one of the most important museums in Europe. You may prefer to visit the world renowned Palace of Knossos, just outside the city.
Depart for the west of the island, one of the most picturesque areas of Crete. Enjoy your first day in Chania by visiting the Christian Basilica at Almyrida dating from the 6th century. The Monastery of Gouverneto at Kydonia is also worth a visit - the actual complex was built from 1537 - 1548 & according to tradition, it was connected with miraculous St John the Hermit and was used for housing the Saint's pilgrims. This monastery is a typical example of Orthodox monastic architecture which flourished during the 16th century, but which was partly destroyed during 1765 and in the revolution of 1821. You might also like to take in the Archaeological Museum, the Historical and Naval Museums, the colourful indoor market, the extensive public gardens and the historical buildings of Chalepa, a suburb of Chania. Alternatively, escape to the countryside full of lemon groves, chestnut trees, wild flowers and fragrant shrubs, some of which are unknown outside Crete.
There are many options today: you might like to tackle the Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe, or perhaps visit the old monastery at Chrisoskalitissa.
Depart after breakfast for the south and east, diverting off the coastal highway around Vryses (a charming place in its own right for a break) and driving up into the centre of the island prior to the incredible drive down the Imbros Gorge to the Libyan sea. From here you can continue along the southern shore and stay at Frangokastello for a night, staying within sight of the well-preserved Venetian castle .
Today you can choose between travelling directly to Rethymnon for a two nights stay or meandering around the southern coast visiting Plakias, Preveli and travelling up through the Kourtaliotika Gorge. Rethymnon, more than any other town on the island, retains its ties with the past; it is an extremely picturesque city which is situated beside a long stretch of sandy beach with historic houses, a Venetian fortress and a Turkish minaret!
Optional day trip to the picturesque Monastery of Arkadi surrounded by beautiful countryside; this day can be combined with ancient Eleftherna and rounded off with a sunset meal in the charming sea-side village of Panormos.
Travel south from Rethymnon via the delightful village of Spilli en route to Aghia Galini or Kokkinos Pyrgos or Matala on the Libyan Sea. From here you can visit the archaeological sites of Phaestos, Gortys or Aghia Triada in the Messara plain.
If you make an early start then there is time to visit any of the ancient sites you didn't manage on day 8. Afterwards, leaving the province of Rethymnon behind you will enter the province of Lassithi, the easternmost region of Crete. There are churches to visit and villages to explore as the first section is inland, we recommend a stop in Myrtos. The road will then hug the southern coastline to Ierapetra.
Continue along the south coast until the road heads north for Sitia. Near Sitia are the ruins of ancient Zakros.
A short distance from Sitia you will find Vai beach with its forest of palm trees, unique in Europe, nearby you will also pass the Monastery of Toplou.
Now is the time to complete your circuit; continuing your exploration you will pass by the Gulf of Mirabello on the north coast (including a possible stop at the ancient site of Gournia) and the picturesque town of Agios Nikolaos, the capital of the Lassithi province.
Relax in Agios Nikolaos or a nearby beach or even a morning visit to the island of Spinalonga, the former leper colony.
Make your way along the north coast, with a possible detour to ancient Malia, to Heraklion where you overnight.
Depending upon your flight time you may be able to spend more time in the museums of Heraklion, fresh with a new enthusiasm and first hand knowledge of the island of Crete and its history. Drop off the car at the airport before your flight home.
Prices shown are 'per person' in UK Pounds and are based on a travelling party of at least 2 adults. A single supplement needs to be added to the twin/double price if single rooms are required.
Prices are indicative and will vary depending on your chosen accommodation, room availability as well as time of travel. Please take this into consideration when comparing prices; we always aim to match a high quality experience with exceptional value for money. Please note that discounts will apply if there are 4 or more people in your travelling party as fixed costs such as transportation and any guides will be shared equally between the group.
NB: Flights available to book with us through a range of airlines, from various UK airports.
"I just wanted to let you know that we really enjoyed our fly drive / 9 nights in 5 different hotels all very well located even if yours truly map reading skills were severely tested. I have completed the questionnaire but haven't commented on the individual hotels which were all very good and to finish in the Palazzo Vecchio in Rethymnon was very special. We did KM 1,446 so covered quite a bit of the island both on the coast and the country roads through the hills. The people all so very friendly and kind. We enjoyed the Greek food and the local wine even more so!"
C Kett, UK, May, 2017
"Now that we have had a few days in which to recover, less from the holiday than from the return journey, it is time to thank you and your colleagues for organizing our trip to Crete so well. We had a wonderful time, and we are especially grateful to you for arranging for the wild flowers to be on display in such profusion. Our cameras hardly stopped clicking. We would love to go back, and maybe we will, but there’s so much more world to see. Meanwhile, you can be sure that Rediscover the World will be the main contender when we look for help in organizing our next trip, which I hope will be very soon."
R Sayer, UK, April, 2017