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Should I Drive Myself on Crete?

Canton, Michigan
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103 posts
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Should I Drive Myself on Crete?

When my husband and I planned a trip to Crete last year, we were going to rent a car and drive (to the Amari Valley, the south coast, etc.) He died last year before we could realize that dream, but now I am going in September. By myself.

My question is: is it practical for me to rent a car to tool around Crete alone? What with daredevil Greek drivers, twisty mountain roads and the Greek alphabet - will I be able to navigate and drive at the same time? (I've travelled alone in the U.S., but I can read the road signs and predict driver behavior here.)

If the answer is no, can someone point me in the direction of some companies that offer group day tours based out of Chania? I'm spending 2 nights in Heraklion and 5 in Chania. I hope to get to Knossos and Faestos while in Heraklion, and see some mountain villages, the Amari Valley and southern beaches while in Chania.

Any advice is appreciated.

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1. Re: Should I Drive Myself on Crete?

My commiserations.

I found driving in Crete pretty easy, and I'm used to driving on the left! Good new roads in a lot of places, well signposted, you should be fine, and if you get lost, no problem, just an opportunity to find a different village :-)

One word of advice, if you are used to driving an auto, then make sure to specify that when you hire, or unlike when you rent in the US, you will get a manual transmission (aka stick shift).

Athens, Greece
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2. Re: Should I Drive Myself on Crete?

Driving in Crete is failry easy, except perhaps the North Coast Route that runs the island. This is a fast road, that connects many places. Nevertheless for an experienced driver it is not a problem - i am a complete dumbo when it comes to car driving though :)))

Renting a car will give you great autonomy and get you to places no bus or tour can get you. Your timing, your itinerary :)

Pay extra attention on tip Joe points to: Automatic transmission car need some kind of arrangement here in Greece and many other places in Europe, we are too stubborn to understand that auto is zillion times easier :))

Devizes, United...
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3. Re: Should I Drive Myself on Crete?

Hi there

How sad for you - I hope you enjoy your trip this time.

Driving on Crete is straightforward enough - all the major towns and resorts along the north coast are linked by the New National Road, which runs from Kastelli Kissamou in the west to Siteia in the east.

Roads tend to be well-surfaced although you may well find the occasional pothole or the road edges crumbling away. Stories of "crazed" Greek driving are exaggerated and as long as you take care, pay attention at junctions and keep well to the right to let the locals pass, I doubt if you'll have a problem. All road signs are in Greek and English except for in the most rural areas so it might pay to at least familiarise yourself with the Greek alphabet, especially as some lower and upper case letters bear no resemblance to each other.

Also, be aware that many gas stations do not accept credit cards and some in rural areas will close all afternoon for a siesta.

Canton, Michigan
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4. Re: Should I Drive Myself on Crete?

Thank you all -both for your advice and sympathy. You've relived my mind somewhat; I think I will take the bus from Heraklion to Chania and pick up a car there.

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5. Re: Should I Drive Myself on Crete?

My sympathies and best wishes for this trip.

You might be interested in the following site, which contains a small quiz on deciphering Greek road signs. (Never having been to Greece — my first trip is this May, when I also plan to rent a car on my own in Crete — I can’t vouch for how current the info is.) …about.com/od/greeklanguage/ss/greeksigns.htm

In the bottom left of the page, you can find links to the author's tutorials on the Greek alphabet.

I noticed that the Amari Valley was on your original itinerary. Thanks to Travelerjan, I have the phone number of small taverna in Thronos in the Amari Valley where I’m hoping to overnight. Let me know if you’d like the info.


6. Re: Should I Drive Myself on Crete?

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