There are enough internet information or interesting stories about driving in Greece in general that may scare some tourists away from getting behind a wheel there. But in Crete, driving can be similar to suburban or rural driving in North America. It is definitely not dangerous or scary as one might imply. The following is first hand information from staying and driving around in Crete for a week in April 2008 (updated in April 2016).

As a precaution, you have to get an International Driver Permit from AAA ($15, online application, print and pay in an AAA office) which is good for one year. Greece is one of these oddball Euro countries that enforce foreign driver to have an IDP. During this traveller's one week stay, no police was encountered. But do not bet on it when you are there.

Choosing a car rental company could be a personal preference. But a domestic company can offer lower price than European or American chains. For example, Anna Cars is a local company and it shares the same rental parking lot as other chains across the street from Heraklion Airport. Booking online is done with email and the customer service is efficient. Credit card is accepted. Another  good local company is Auto Rentals Crete [www.autorentals-crete.gr]. If you would like to prefer worldwide car hire company try to use company that offers car hire booking in Crete city or Crete Airport for example car hire Crete Airport. Mostly car hire booking online is similar to Anna Cars.

There are many gas stations around the island, whether in town, around town, or along major roads. Most stations take credit cards, except the lower price ones that take cash only. The operating hours could be daytime for most stations. A few in major towns open after dark along arterials. So plan ahead if you want to choose low price and along your route. Usually the bigger gas stations aren't self service, you pay the station attendant and they'll fill your tank. However there also are some stations that only use automatic gasoline pumps and have no attendants there, some of these stations take cash and some take credit cards, there is no real system to speak of. 

The highway and town roads are well maintained like in North America or Western Europe, although some streets could be narrow for the comfort of a tourist driver. The golden rule for driving in Crete (or may be in Greece too) is willing to slow down, move to the curb side, and let any car behind you to pass. This is a local driving courtesy. Even on highway (whether one lane or multilanes) slower cars automatically move to the right side of the white curb line if there are fast moving cars next to or behind you. It is odd to see cars actually driving on the "ditch" lane (equivalent to a narrow emergency lane) for a while in order to let other cars pass (especially on an uphill one lane highway/road). But everybody is doing it, and tourists have to adapt to the local rule. After a while you actually feel good because the driving environment is friendly and civilized. 

But the common sense of defensive driving always helps anywhere, including Crete. Because the streets are narrower, hazardous condition can present itself in a second. Cars can back out of a hidden driveway, drivers make turns without signaling, opposite car moves partially into your lane while passing a parked car, etc. The second golden rule is not to overspeed, whether on highway or streets. Slower speed can allow one to react to any unexpected situation with ample time for a safe manoeuver. Also there are a lot of speed cameras in Crete, especially along the highway but also in other locations. The speed cameras are often - but not always - announced before by big white, unmistakable signs, and they take pictures of the back of your car once you've passed them.

Getting from one place to another takes time when you're in Crete. When going long distances outside of built-up areas you can count on going a maximum average speed of ~70km/h when using bigger roads or the E75, which is the only highway in Crete. Because even when using the E75 you will often experience speed limits of 40 or just 30 km/h, which slows you down a lot. So it will take you around 2 hours to go from Chania to Heraklion, even if it's "only" a distance of 140km. 

Perhaps the biggest headache for a tourist driver is to find the exact location you are going to. There is no issue with general tourist attractions such as museum or harbor front. There are signs along major roads, especially when you are getting closer. If you want to go to a particular place based on an address, the street name could be an issue. Even when major roads/streets have Greek and English names, the spelling may not be the same as what you got. It helps if you have a handy sheet showing the Greek alphabet. When you are in front of your location, the name of the business (e.g. restaurant) may be different too. Again, the reason could be historical, since Greece was tossed among different language cultures in the past.

In short, leave your lead foot at home, try to motivate yourself to drive the Cretan way, and be rewarded with a safe and relaxing vacation, while you still have mobility around this beautiful and unique island.