So this is for the planners! We have a running joke about how much Cilian and his family like to plan and we thought we’d start some of our posts with a general outline of our trip and some of the travel basics like flight costs, car hire etc.
So we went to Crete in the first week of April 2017, the tourist season was just getting started. Lots of places were still renovating but there was still plenty open and it was generally a bit quieter and a bit cooler (18-24C) than the main season. The locals thought we were crazy for swimming in the sea but though the water was a little cool to get into we thought it was very pleasant (compared to the Atlantic anyway!). Springtime also meant an abundance of wildflowers and an impressively verdant countryside with a backdrop of snowcapped mountains.
Flights: We flew with Ryanair from Dublin to Chania, the second town in Crete, in the middle of the north coast. With a checked bag each it cost €390 return. The flight was long, almost 5 hours, so it was quite late when we got in.
Car hire: We normally book through standard on-line rental sites but this time we went for JustRental, a Greek car rental company and we were very happy with them. Not only were they cheaper than the bigger international companies but they didn’t hold anything against our credit card when we got there. We paid €171 for a new Hyundai i30 for the 7 days. A very pleasant gentleman met us with our name on a sign when we arrived and the car was parked outside arrivals. Return was easy, there is a car park a couple of km down the road that you return it to (“after dropping off your lady”) and there is a shuttle bus to get back to the airport.
Driving in Crete: So driving in Crete is a bit of an adventure – we kept mainly to the major routes but in the south of the island in particular we were on quite small, bendy and sometimes steep roads. These roads are worth it as some of the views are spectacular and it was great to see the small villages and wonderful countryside.
There are plenty of traffic cameras about so we kept to the speed limit but at times it seemed like we were the only ones! We just did what the locals did and used the hard shoulder as an extra lane on the bigger roads to allow people to pass.
We had downloaded GoogleMaps of the island on to an iPhone but this led us astray a few times as some of the roads it tried to bring us on were 4×4 only. It was easy to follow the signs to go the slightly longer but less treacherous / passable way.
Parking in the bigger towns was a bit of a hassle, particularly when we arrived into Chania on a Saturday night as our hotel was right in the middle of the old town on a limited access street.
Accommodation: We booked everything through booking.com – we had looked at AirBnB but the prices weren’t really any better and we had more flexibility regarding cancellation and choice of hotel with booking.com.
Chania: Favela Boutique Hotel €106 for two nights, no breakfast
Rethymno: Poseidon Hotel €80 for two nights, breakfast included
Plakias: Skinos apartments €210 for three nights, no breakfast
After arriving in Chania we went straight to the Favela Boutique Hotel. Our host met us at the place and the room was lovely with a balcony overlooking the busy street. It could get a bit noisy at night but that didn’t bother us as we were out late anyway. We would definitely recommend – only real downside was the parking but we managed to get a spot about 750m away and could walk down with our bags. We have the low down on what we did in Chania HERE.
After checking out we spent a few hours on Notis beach before driving about an hour east to Rethymno. This was dual carriageway most of the way. There was a nice beach across the road from the Poseidon hotel and we could see the sea from our balcony. The rooms were small and basic but clean and the breakfast was nice. It was a pleasant 20min stroll into the main old town and we have a post about Rethymno here.
On our second day in Rethymno we drove to the historical site of Knossos which was where the Minoan ruins were discovered in the early twentieth century. This took about 90 mins each way – we found the site a little underwhelming and we have more of that here.
Our final destination was Plakias but first we took a detour to the very interesting Monastery of Arkadi, about 30mins up some steep roads from Rethymno and we have our post about it here – we thought it was definitely worth a visit.
The journey to Plakias brought us through some fantastic country side, including Kourtaliotiko Gorge which was a worth a stop for some photos.
We stayed in the beautiful Skinos apartments, just outside Plakias. This was our most expensive place but it was worth it – the sound of the ocean lapped into our bedroom and the views on our own private terrace were phenomenal. It was only a short stroll into the town but it really felt like it was out of the way.
During our stay we visited Prevail Monastery and spent a few hours on gorgeous Souda beach, a short drive away and also visited Schinaria beach which was beautiful with a spectacular approaching drive.
We had a late flight back on our last day so after returning to Chania we went to Ancient Aptera which was definitely worth a visit and had some stunning views.
We returned the car with ease and were home in Dublin about midnight after a truly wonderful holiday! We loved the friendliness of the people, the food was fantastic (see here) and though we did loads we also had plenty of time to relax.
We hope thats helpful and if anyone has any questions or comments leave them below and we’ll help if we can!
Cilian & Chloe.