Crete Self Drive 1 - Captivating Crete

The Grand Tour !

Summary

Take time to explore Crete, the largest Greek Island. A journey full of Crete's major sights.

START / FINISH - Heraklion.

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.

Extra Information

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.

Rediscover Greece Bonus

Ask about our fabulous bonus offers when you book this package with us:

  • Special add-on stays in a rural villa, boutique town hotel or beach resort.
  • Extend your holiday with a few days on Santorini [travel by hydrofoil].

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).

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What's included on your Fly Drive Holiday ?

  • 14 days car rental with unlimited mileage, full insurance, CDW, taxes, delivery and airport drop off.
  • 14 nights hotel & guest house accommodation
  • Bed and breakfast basis throughout.
  • Fully detailed itinerary with sightseeing and route suggestions
  • Fully protected for your peace of mind.
  • FREE travel app with all your documents, maps, weather & much more
  • You also have the full back up of our office in Greece during your stay.

Highlights

Itinerary

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!

Recommended places to stay

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.

Recommended places to stay

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.

Recommended places to stay

Continue along the south coast until the road heads north for Sitia. Near Sitia are the ruins of ancient Zakros.

Recommended places to stay

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.

Recommended places to stay

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.

  • Overnight in Heraklion.

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.

Reviews

Flexible Tailor-Made Holidays

  • We believe passionately that no two holidays should be the same.
  • With our flexible tailor-made holiday options you can travel at your own pace.
  • Rediscover a city, a resort or an island in a weekend or longer.
  • Take a small group tour or embark upon a more adventurous trip.

Travel Knowledge

  • We have all travelled extensively and will be happy to share our experiences.
  • Personally-chosen hotels, riads, guest houses & apartments in places we know and love.
  • Individual sightseeing recommendations and route planning.
  • Add excursions, activities and food & wine experiences (one of our passions).

Why book a Fly Drive ?

  • Accommodation choices are small, independent or family-run properties which add significantly to your travel experience.
  • Stress-free arrival & departure transfer service.
  • Detailed driving directions, parking info, suggested routes & sightseeing ideas.
  • Fully protected for your peace of mind & financial security.