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Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

Baltimore, Maryland
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Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

Hello everyone and thank you in advance for reading,

My husband and I will be traveling to Crete for my birthday at the end of May and I am trying to plan our trip. Since we plan on having a relaxing, but educational vacation (beaches for a few days, then some historical sights for a few days) I would like to know if we should hire a car to get around Crete, or if the bus system is a good option. We will be arriving in Chania and hopefully staying near a beach.

Is it worthwhile to hire a car for the week we are here, or is it possible to use the buses to get around the island (to the best beaches, the most interesting historical sights, etc.)?

Thank you everyone and I welcome all advice!

North Yorkshire...
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1. Re: Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

We stayed in Malame (down coast from Chania) last year. We used buses mainly as they are cheap, clean and regular .Also meant I could enjoy a beer/wine without worrying. We hired a car as and when needed as they are really cheap. If you use the local hire companies there are no hidden "extras" such as CDW etc. So, my advice: mix and match as necessary.Certainly do not go to the expense of a hire car for whole trip and then see it sat outside your hotel not being used !

London, United...
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2. Re: Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

The buses are good and reliable, but they don't go everywhere, and even if they do go wherever you want to go, they will take longer; time will be spent waiting for them and changing. Since you'll be wanting to make the most of your short stay, and use your limited time most efficiently, renting a car would definitely be the thing to do.With a car you can just get in and go where you want to, when you want to, without worrying about catching the bus back.

Of course a car will be more expensive. In favour of the buses is the obvious fact that you don't have to drive them and will therefore see more of the landscape you're passing through - and you see it better because you're higher up than you are in a car.

I love Crete's buses and always use them, but for a short stay during which I wanted to get around and see as much as possible, I'd rent a car.

Having said all that, much depends on where you want to go and what you want to see. If the main ancient sites are one of your interests, they are all in the east so you need to fly to Heraklion and stay there or in one of the nearby beach resorts. From Heraklion you can easily get to Knossos in half an hour, and to Malia in just over an hour by bus. There will be day tours that take you to Phaistos, Agia Triada, and Gortys (it would be difficult if not impossible to do this in a day by the public buses).

The buses will also take you east and west of Heraklion to the north coast resorts, and to the beaches and villages of the south coast.

Here are links to the timetables( currently still the winter timetable, which will update eventually (probably not before mid-May or June).

bus-service-crete-ktel.com/timetabledet.php…

bus-service-crete-ktel.com/timetabledet.php…

This may help you work out where you might go, and how long it might take.

You should know too that the "best beaches" are mostly in the west: Balos, Phalassarna, and Elafonissi are the famous ones, and major tourist destinations, but some of the beaches on the south west coast which are much more remote are very good too. If beaches are your main interest, I would suggest you fly to Chania, but that would mean giving up the idea of visiting the main archaeological sites. With only six days to spend, you really need to choose between one side of the island the other: there's no point in trying to cover the entire island; you'd be spending most of your time in a vehicle, whether bus or car.

Nanaimo, Canada
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3. Re: Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

While I am perfectly content to rent a car for the whole week and leave it in the parking lot if we decide to stay in town all day I think that robtt and I are on the same page that renting a car is the best way to explore outside of Chania area. Places like Ancient Aptera, Falasarna and a day trip to the Libyan Sea all require a car.

Baltimore, Maryland
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4. Re: Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

Hello and thank you for sharing your experience! Do you remember what car rental service you used?

Baltimore, Maryland
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5. Re: Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

Thank you so much for the in-depth responses, I just have a few follow-up questions before deciding because it sounds like renting a car and staying on the west/Chania side of Crete is our best option.

1. I have visited a few cities where it seems like all the locals speed and drive in an unsafe manner. Would it be safe and easy for an American driver to drive in Crete, or would it be stressful?

2. I know some of the beaches are more difficult to get to and might include rocky roads. Should we reserve a special kind of vehicle--an SUV or Jeep over a compact car?

Thank you for all the responses, they help tremendously!

Agii Apostoli...
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6. Re: Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

Some sights such as Samaria gorge, Balos/Gramvousa and Elafonisi might be the same price or cheaper as going with a local bus, or if you pay 3-4 euro more, you can go with a travel agency (around 12 euro per person).

I think driving might be a new experience, but not impossible. Most US and Canadian citizens rent automatic cars, which are more expensive. Automatic is good for straight roads, but not for mountainous such as in Crete.

Accidents on dirt roads are not covered by insurance, and flat tires are not covered anywhere!

I think you don't really need a jeep, most exceptional beaches can be visited by normal car.

London, United...
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7. Re: Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

I have experienced no difficulties driving in Crete, despite coming from the UK and driving on the "wrong" side of the road. You are from the States, which eliminates even that problem.

You do need to know a few things about Cretan driving habits and customs, and you'll find them here:

http://www.west-crete.com/driving-crete.htm

and here:

explorecrete.com/various/crete-driving.htm

As long as you are careful, you should be fine.

Rent a shift car. The gears of an automatic are not suitable for the steep, winding roads you may encounter once you get off the main roads. You don't need a 4x4.

Note that you cannot use a car to do the walk down the Samaria gorge. If you want to do it, you will need to use the public bus to Omalos and back from Chora Sfakion, or take one of the organised tours.

Edited: 8:03 am, April 09, 2013
Nanaimo, Canada
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for Chania Town, Naxos
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8. Re: Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

We will be renting from Athens Cars Crete for the third time this May. Slightly older cars but in good mechanical order and all insurance is included. Pick up and drop off at the airport with flexibility between Chania and Heraklion whatever you need.

The National road in Crete is a good highway. Local drivers go fast and expect you to be way over to the right so they can get by. That is the secret of driving in Greece: stay over to the right and be aware that there is just as much activity approaching from the rear as there is coming towards you.

Smaller secondary roads are quite small and there may not be opportunity to get over to the right as it is too narrow. Don't get fussed, you can pull over in a safe spot if you have cars piling up behind you but just be steady and alert and you will do fine. by the end of the trip you will be driving like a Greek and will enjoy passing on blind curves. No really, it is astonishing how fast we adapt to local conditions.

Rethymnon, Greece
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for Crete
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9. Re: Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

My god Alabastron, I've never seen so many useless information about driving in Crete as in that first link you posted. That is not humorous it's dangerous.

The second link has far better information but I do disagree in the moped drivers tenting to overtake from the right in town.

They overtake from the right at 99% when the cars ie wait in a red traffic light, and the cars are stationary. The best way to avoid traffic by moped is by driving in the middle of the road and left. Everybody does that.

London, United...
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10. Re: Hiring a Car or Relying on Buses for Six Days

Sorry you you've found the west-crete link offensive, Gerlion. The first part is meant to be funny, and that is made quite clear. Obviously no-one is going to take it seriously, and it's not dangerous. The rest is good advice.