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Frequently asked questions about Crete as a travel destination
The Island Paradise on your Doorstep
With approximately 600,000 inhabitants, Crete is the largest Greek island and the most southerly (with the exception of the small island of Gavdos). From east to west, Crete is about 260 km wide, whilst the distance from north to south varies between 15 and 65 km. The island has an area of approximately 8,336 square kilometres.
Situated only 320 km south of Athens, Crete is very easy to reach for most visitors.
With its long, flat, sandy beaches, the north coast is the main tourist attraction on the island. All the major cities are also on the North Coast: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos. In the south you will find beautiful coastal cliffs and countless idyllic bays.
The mountainous interior, however, is the least known region of the island: a long mountain chain (up to 2456 metres high), which extends over the entire island. This is just the place to look for small, traditional villages and meet the natives of Crete.
In the very best hands: Hospitality and cordiality are a matter of course on Crete«Crete has a beauty and charm that should be more than seen and photographed. You have to experience Crete, feel it. And that's why people who have visited Crete once come a second time, and a third time, to recapture the atmosphere and immerse themselves once again in this endearing, fascinating Cretan way of life.»
It's hard to think of anyone who will take better care of you than the Greeks. Known for their hospitality and warmth, you will be in the very best hands with your Greek hosts, whether in the local taverna or in an exceptional top-class hotel.
Their kindness, openness and generosity will add a sweet touch to every day of your holiday, making you both feel embraced, pampered and completely welcome far from home.
If you are looking for a destination where you can be sure that people will look out for you, wish you the best and simply want to share special moments in life with you, Crete is a safe choice.
Travel information for Crete
Greece is in the time zone GMT + 2, which means, for example, that there is two hours’ time difference between the UK and Greece.
The voltage on Crete is 220V. The sockets require a standard European 2-pin plug. You will therefore require an adapter for electronic devices using other plugs.
Citizens of EU member states can travel to Greece on a passport or identity card.
Entry requirements for minors: Since 26/06/2012, every child needs their own proof of identity. The inclusion of a child on their parent's passport is no longer valid. If a child is travelling with only one parent, it is recommended to bring a self-written (unofficial) declaration of consent signed by the other person with parental responsibility. All minors travelling alone require an officially certified declaration of consent signed by the parents or the person with parental responsibility.
The official currency of Greece is the euro.
There are two international airports on Crete: Chania Airport (CHQ) and Heraklion Airport (HER) with regular air traffic throughout the year.
Crete possesses an extensive network of licensed specialists, state hospitals and private clinics. You will find a modern, private clinic with specialists in Chania. For holidaymakers who regularly need dialysis during their vacation, modern dialysis centres are available in Chania.
It’s recommended to buy travel health insurance before a vacation. In the case of an acute illness or an accident, travel insurance not only enables you to be transported home if required without any difficulty, but also provides optimal medical care locally, for example by highly qualified specialists.
Package holidays or individual breaks with your own travel arrangements
A holiday trip to Crete can be booked either through a travel agency as a package tour via a tour operator, or individually with your own travel arrangements via online travel agencies (OTAs) or directly with the selected hotel.
In the case of a package tour, travel services such as flight, hotel and usually transfer to the hotel are firmly bundled into a package and sold at a total price. A package tour can be booked in a local travel agency or online on the website of the respective tour operator or a corresponding online travel agent.
In the case of an individual holiday booking, the travel components (flight, hotel, transfer) are not strictly bound together but can be flexibly combined and booked separately. You can benefit from dynamic flight and hotel offers, as the flight fare is not coupled with the hotel rates.
Crete can be reached by plane, ferry and cruise ship
The preferred way for most holidaymakers to get to Crete is by plane. Other options are regular ferry connections from the port of Piraeus near Athens and cruise ships.
There are two international airports in Crete: Heraklion Airport (HER) and Chania Airport (CHQ) with dense air traffic throughout the year. Direct flights to Crete are available from most major European airports from April to November. The duration of a direct flight between the UK and Crete averages at about 4 hours. Outside the tourist season, Crete can usually be reached by connecting flights via Athens.
Heraklion Airport is considered the larger airport and is currently served more frequently. However, Chania airport has been modernised and expanded in recent years, so that significantly more direct flights to Chania can be expected in the near future. Construction of a new international airport in Kastelli near Heraklion has already begun. It is to become the second largest airport in Greece after Athens.
Today, Crete is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean - cosmopolitan yet arcane
The island of Crete is particularly recommended for all holidaymakers who love bathing, nature, hiking, history, and culture all at one place, without ever having to repack their bags.
The island of Crete is a treasure trove for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the beginnings of European culture and retrace a history that goes back for millennia. At the same time, it is a paradise for those sun worshippers who want to relax and enjoy the sweet life on the beaches, those who want to pamper themselves with culinary delights and to de-stress at wild parties.
That’s because on Crete you will find an impressive holiday setting with long, sandy beaches and idyllic coves; with ancient monuments and medieval castles; with a vibrant nightlife and glorious hiking trails through high mountains and deep gorges.
The incredibly dense diversity of the island means that it’s possible to experience a huge range of scenery, settlements and activities, whilst being based in one location, which means that you really can treat yourself to a luxury home away from home, and enjoy it to the full, whilst still having a huge range of activities and options open to you.
Fascinating hiking tours through unique, unspoilt nature«What a contrast! We've hardly moved from the beach and suddenly a completely different world: steep mountains dissected by deep gorges, small hills full of olive trees and vines, meadows covered with wild herbs and flowers of all colours. Look, there's a bee looking forward to the thyme!»
Especially in spring, when the temperatures are mild and nature is green, a hiking holiday on Crete is recommended. From relaxed walks and individual hiking routes to guided hiking tours and excursions lasting several days, there is something for every fitness level. Every hike shows how diverse the scenic beauty of Crete is. Especially the west offers a great combination of mountains and waters.
The highlight for hikers, however, are the more than 400 gorges on Crete. In the south of the island is probably the best-known destination among hikers on Crete: the Samaria Gorge. With a distance of 17 km, it is the longest trekking gorge in Europe and offers spectacular views time and again. A slightly less frequented alternative is the Agia Irini Gorge, which at 7.5 km is also much easier to tackle. For families with children, the 2-hour tour through the Imbros Gorge is a good choice. If you would like to combine a gorge hike with a bathing excursion, take a short tour through the Agiofarango gorge in south-central Crete.
Breathtaking adventure and activity holidays. Fun, excitement and unforgettable activities in Crete
Did you think Crete was all about beach holidays and that they weren't exciting enough for you? Time to rethink! Because on Crete you will experience extraordinary sports and entertainment that often seem extreme to outsiders, although there is hardly any real risk or maximum requirements. Are you brave enough?
For example, you can not only hike the almost 140 m deep Aradena Gorge, but also get to know it by bungee jumping. Canyoning and climbing are also offered in some gorges.
Do you prefer water as your element? Take advantage of Crete's wide range of water sports to go diving, jet skiing or visit a water park. By the way, holidaymakers can also spend an active yet relaxed day by the water at Lake Kournas. At Crete's only natural freshwater lake, colourful pedal boats are available and you can discover various rare animal and plant species.
If you want to combine sporting activity, nature and culture, then why not take a mountain bike tour and explore the hinterland of Georgioupolis. Here you will encounter idyllic landscapes, hidden villages with historic churches, an interesting castle - and of course the friendliness of the locals.
History and myth up close: An exciting cultural journey through time«Princess Ariadne, in a beautiful white dress, rises and honours the boys and girls jumping over the wild bull. King Minos empties his wine jug with relish and beams with joy. He knows we are all happy.... - Hey honey, are you dreaming? Come on, we have to move on, the palace of Knossos is big»
Greece's largest island not only delights holidaymakers with its fantastic beaches and diverse nature, but also has a rich cultural heritage. The first people settled on Crete as early as 9,000 years ago, and in the 3rd millennium it rose to become a maritime and trading power.
Mythology and history are closely intertwined here and are brought to life by numerous archaeological sites, historical buildings, museums and monasteries. Walk in the footsteps of Europe's earliest advanced civilisation, discover the treasures of Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman architecture and learn to understand the Cretans' self-image!
Boundless delights for the palate: Crete's traditional cuisine and culinary insider tips«The sun slowly rises, spreading all the colours of the dawn across the heretofore unrecognisable border between sea and sky. A light sea breeze caresses my face and whispers in my ears: 'You are at home here'. Oh, if only we could enjoy our breakfast like this every day!»
The Greek Mediterranean island of Crete is a real insider tip in culinary terms. In addition to excellent star cuisine with unique upscale food creations and the well-known Greek classics, such as baked feta, souflaki and moussaka, you can experience an incomparable and individual variety of flavours on the island.
Cretan cuisine stands out in its own way from that of mainland Greece and also differs from the cooking on other Greek islands. At the same time, the dishes are much more digestible and in no way comparable to the menus of Greek restaurants abroad.
It is not only the way they are prepared, but also the high quality of the individual ingredients that makes traditional Cretan dishes so unique.
When is the best time to travel to Crete?
Crete has a temperate, Mediterranean climate with over 300 days of sunshine a year. The winter is mild and humid, the summer on the other hand is warm with low humidity. This climate ensures hot summer days with temperatures of at least 25 degrees - perfect for a beach holiday. The rainy season usually runs from the beginning of November until early March, although snowfall in the coastal region is extremely rare. Nevertheless, the winter can be very cold in the mountainous areas: you can still discern snow on the high mountain peaks right into the early summer months.
In January, Crete is already in winter sleep. There is practically no tourism organised by tour operators, all major hotels and resorts on Crete are closed. Nevertheless, Crete's winter is the mildest in Europe. On the coast, temperatures below freezing are almost never reached, even at night, although lovely sunny days with pleasant temperatures are not uncommon. The peaks of the White Mountains of Crete get their magnificent snow cover, which they keep until the summer months.
In February, conditions in Crete are similar to the month before. Although a few rainy days can be expected in Crete in February, the Cretan sun is quickly back! In the end, it shines on Crete for an average of 300 days. Winter in Crete is the best time to discover the island's fascinating rural originality and ancient traditional customs. Lose yourself in the winding medieval streets of charming Chania. Snuggle up in cosy corners of quaint cafés and tavernas, amidst magnificent Venetian architecture.
In March, when Crete's mild winter slowly gives way to spring, our island is transformed into a fantastic sea of flowers. Violet thyme, blue oregano, yellow wood sorrel and red and yellow nocturnal flowers literally compete with each other. This is an ideal time for those who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the high season and discover the island's original character.
The island is awakening. Herald the arrival of spring with your partner and spend a dream holiday in Crete in April. Look forward to the sunshine and the rising water temperatures of Crete and explore our beautiful island and its unique nature. It is the time for those seeking peace and quiet, but also for active holidaymakers - hikers and cyclists.
In May, Crete is in full bloom and makes the hearts of nature lovers beat faster. A breathtaking landscape and pleasant temperatures await you on your holiday in Crete in May. Enjoy wonderful hiking routes through high mountains and deep gorges, dreamy mountain villages, ancient buildings and, above all, quiet, dreamy sandy beaches.
Slowly decreasing, but still wonderfully warm temperatures announce the end of the Cretan summer. The occasional rain showers slowly diminish the pleasure of extended visits to the beach, despite the very pleasant water temperatures. On the other hand, nature experiences a second flowering and recovers from the long, dry summer.
Despite the somewhat more frequent rain showers, the sun is still shining on Crete in November. A breathtaking autumn landscape with pleasant temperatures awaits you on your holiday in Crete in November. Towards the end of the month, you have to turn on the heating in Crete, especially in the evenings. Due to the pleasant conditions, November is considered a very good month for active holidaymakers. In addition, an infinite number of fine sandy beaches and small bays with a wonderful water temperature, almost for exclusive use, await you.
In December on Crete, you can often be out and about in just a T-shirt during the day; after all, the average air temperature is about 17°C. At night, however, it still gets quite cool, although temperatures below +5°C are almost never recorded in the coastal regions. The island is slowly entering its winter sleep: a wonderful sense of peace and relaxation is in the air. Real Crete connoisseurs visit the island once more in December.